“I think it’s important to recognize that what’s going in the city isn’t happening in a vacuum. A number of visionary people have taken on a huge amount of risk by investing their money in downtown real estate at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty about the city’s future.” – Chris Voll
Be impressed, Syracuse.
Senior Newhouse student Chris Voll has made our lives a bit easier. For those of us interested in our city’s many development projects, how much they cost, why we choose them and how they contribute to our larger urban infrastructure, you’re welcome. Chris has built an online comprehensive site detailing the city’s latest major projects. His interactive site, Syracuse Rising, is where you can navigate your way through each project and easily compare its impact on Syracuse. Boy, don’t I wish I had this chart when I first started this job…
Having garnered information from the Downtown Committee, Chris used data from their 2014 development report to outline total investment in local construction projects. He also filtered through old Syracuse.com articles, public meeting records and development timelines. He discovered that a significant portion of the near $3 billion dollars going towards these projects falls under our greater need for housing. However, major projects like the Inner Harbor, Loguen Crossing and Destiny USA developments seem to be pulling in the most investment per dollar.
Notice that mixed-use development is high on the list. This is one form of development that communicates the importance of allowing residential and commercial construction to cross paths, giving way to a new kind of conveniently tight and livable community.
Chris broke down the 99 listed projects by cost, type of development and where they are taking place – Lakefront (which is benefiting the most), University Hill, Downtown, Near Westside, etc. Healthcare projects cost the most, which makes sense with places like St. Joseph’s and SUNY Upstate Medical Center adding major construction developments to their existing structures. The good news about that is that construction in healthcare equals more room for more jobs.
On the site, you can also explore how the economic stability of Syracuse compares to the rest of the country in this crazy calculative and interactive map. It’s based on poverty levels throughout each county in the United States. Onondaga County is shown at 9.6 percent. Here is my hometown below with a significantly higher average.
So why did Chris feel inspired to create this huge project? Well, it was a combination of a love for the city, an interest in urban planning and the urge to get an A in his interactive data visualization course at Newhouse.
“Cities have always fascinated me,” he said. “If I wasn’t pursuing a career as a web developer, I likely would have gone into architecture or urban planning.”
Chris said this project, made him realize just how much good stuff is going on in Syracuse. A native resident of the area, he grew up learning about the city’s history, but never fully appreciated its potential for growth until now.
“I can’t speak for everyone who lives in Syracuse, but I know that I often fell into the trap of comparing the city to other larger and seemingly more livable cities in the Northeast,” he said. “But by doing this, I was ignoring the culture and history that Central New York already offers. All of the new development and interest in downtown residences proves that Syracuse is a healthy city on the upswing.”
For more information, check out Chris’s site, Syracuse Rising, at this link here. He plans to update as these construction projects continue to unfold and reveal their economic impact on the city.
Chris Voll is an advertising major at Syracuse University’s Newhouse school. After graduating this month, he will move to New York City to return to SeatGeek, a technology startup that he’s worked for throughout college.