Standing at the Syracuse Inner Harbor, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, today introduced new legislation to revitalize inactive industrial sites. COR Development plans to develop the Inner Harbor, a brownfield site, into a residential, commercial and higher education mixed use community. The Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act would award grants to local government and nonprofits that redevelop abandoned, idled or underused industrial properties on waterfronts. Brownfields are inactive facilities where expansion is often complicated by environmental contamination. The grants authorized in the legislation would spur economic development and protect the environment by cleaning up and developing dormant industrial facilities and reconnecting communities with their waterfronts through the revitalization of these sites.
"Downtown Syracuse sits on this beautiful waterfront -- bursting with potential for economic growth," said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "New York's industrial economy powered us through the 20th century, and put sites like this on the map. Now we have an opportunity to revitalize our communities, attract new businesses and create new jobs, and make our waterfront a place for Central New Yorkers to live, work and raise a family. This commonsense bill can harness the potential for our waterfronts to drive our local economy, and help Syracuse thrive."
"For the first time in our history, Syracuse has the opportunity to create an entirely new neighborhood from scratch," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner. "This development will help create jobs and expand our downtown core to an exciting waterfront. The Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act would help make all of this possible."
"The Inner Harbor redevelopment project has the potential to be an incredible economic driver for the City of Syracuse and surrounding region," said Steven Aiello, President COR Development Company. "The transformation of this idle site will create jobs, enhance the look of the landscape and help clean up the environment. Senator Gillibrand's legislation will provide critical federal support for the remediation of the brownfield area that is vital to moving this project forward."
"DEC commends Senator Gillibrand for her foresight in introducing the Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "In New York State, brownfields can be an impediment to achieving economic development and improving environmental quality. Governor Cuomo's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils have recognized them as primary areas in community centers and waterfronts which have the potential for future economic growth. This federal legislation would provide funds to complement the state's waterfront revitalization and brownfield redevelopment initiatives and would enable the state and its communities to appropriately redevelop these areas."
The current redevelopment plans for the Inner Harbor site would create 1.4 million occupied square-feet, which would include a satellite campus for Onondaga Community College, community rowing facility with Syracuse University, and a 100-room hotel and banquet facility that will partner with Onondaga Community College's Center of Excellence in Hospitality to help prepare the regional workforce for growing needs in the sector. The facility would also feature 120,000 square-feet of office space, 229,000 square-feet of retail shops and restaurants, 432 affordable apartments, 80 townhomes, a Syracuse University community tennis center, and a 750 car parking garage. In order to complete the redevelopment of the site, an estimated $2.5 million in brownfield remediation still needs to be completed.
It is estimated that the project, financed through a public-private partnership, would have a short-term economic impact of $570 million, and create more than 8,000 temporary jobs. In the long-term, it is estimated that the project could generate up to nearly $260 million in total annual output, and sustain more than 4,300 jobs. Estimates for annual retail sales could be up to approximately $90 million and as much as $140 million annually once the project is fully operational. This past April, Senator Gillibrand brought federal officials from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to Syracuse to tour and meet with project stakeholders on the $350 million Inner Harbor project, beginning a discussion on federal resources that could be helpful with the redevelopment.
Under Senator Gillibrand's Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act, public entities and nonprofits would apply for competitive grants up to $500,000 for the remediation, reuse or site characterization and assessment of brownfields properties. Additionally, the legislation would establish a task force to examine existing and potential funding, methods to coordinate waterfront brownfields revitalization, and identify barriers to solutions and technical assistance. The task force would be commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and would include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state and local government, and community-based organizations. The legislation would authorize $220 million each fiscal year from 2013-2017.