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Downtown Syracuse living in hot demand

The residential growth in downtown Syracuse shows no sign of slowing down, with the newest property almost filled.

When Blue Cross/Blue Shield moved it’s offices to the suburbs in 2008, it left a gaping hole in downtown Syracuse. The Warren Street complex actually is made up of four buildings, and that’s what Graziano Zazzara has repurposed into dozens of luxury apartments.

"We opened up four months ago, started renting apartments, and we have one left out of 89," Zazzara said. 

It reflects the look of a residential lifestyle that’s taken off in downtown Syracuse. According to the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, there are currently 3,500 residents living downtown with no room to spare - a 99 percent occupancy rate.

What's surprised Zazzara the most is who’s renting. He originally thought these downtown one- and two-bedroom units that range in cost from $1,200-2,300 a month would appeal to graduate students. But that hasn’t been the entire story.

“Maybe 10 or 15 percent are grad students," He said. "The rest are empty nesters, or young guys in town starting a business. We have attorneys and they just want that downtown feel. It’s the different things you can do down here. You don’t have to mow your lawn, there’s things you don’t have to do so it gives you more time to enjoy your life, and that’s what people are doing.”

This isn’t the end of the downtown boom. There are currently 157 apartments under construction, with 300 others in the pipeline. And Zazzara has plans for another apartment building in a Genesee street property he bought six months ago. He doesn’t think the downtown living boom has reached critical mass.

"I know if we had another 80 apartments above us right now, we’d probably have those rented in a couple of months,” Zazzara said. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.