City

Project that would demolish Chuck’s moves forward as city agency approves tax breaks

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

With the approval of tax breaks for a construction project on South Crouse Avenue, Chuck's is nearing its final days, at least in the short-term.

The Syracuse Industrial Development Agency on Tuesday morning approved tax breaks for the construction project that would demolish businesses along South Crouse Avenue. In doing so, the IDA declared its support for the project and pushed it a step closer to implementation.

Developers from BLVD Equities, a real estate development firm based in New Jersey, are planning to demolish several structures on South Crouse Avenue — including the popular student bars Hungry Chuck’s and Orange Crate Brewing Co., commonly known as Lucy’s — to make room for an eight-story “mixed-use building.”

That demolition could begin as soon as March, developers said Tuesday.

The developers previously requested about $1.7 million in mortgage and sales tax breaks from the IDA. The IDA voted to approve those tax breaks following a brief public hearing during which Jared Hutter, who manages BLVD Equities along with Brian Rosen, pitched the project as one that would benefit the city of Syracuse and the Marshall Street area.

Rosen said after the meeting that the developers are hoping for the demolition process to begin by the end of March, with the project ultimately being completed by Aug. 1, 2018. The mixed-use building would include both retail space and student housing.

“We’re excited for the ability to move forward on our project,” Hutter said following the meeting. “The fact that the SIDA is behind this project … It’s tremendous that the city is engaged with developers to help promote development.”

During the public hearing, Hutter portrayed the current Marshall Street area as a rundown section of the Hill. He referenced violence in the area — there was a shooting on Marshall Street last week, and there have been several stabbings on the street in recent years — and said the buildings that would be demolished are currently “decrepit.”

BLVD Equities’ construction project, Hutter said, would fix those issues.

“From our experience in communities around the country, when development starts to happen, it cleans up the area … and the area becomes safer and there’s tremendous benefits,” he said.

Hutter added that the developers would hire exclusively local contractors for the project. He said about 150 construction jobs and 60 permanent jobs would be created.

When the mixed-use building ultimately opens, Hutter said it will likely comprise a mix of both local businesses and national tenants. Stephen Theobald, the owner of Chuck’s, has said he plans to move into the new space once it is completed.

Some Syracuse University students have voiced disapproval of the project and its proposed demolition of Chuck’s. As of Tuesday night, 37 people have signed the Change.org petition “SAVE CHUCK’S.”

Hutter, though, said Tuesday that he thinks it’s important for members of the Syracuse community to “take a long-term view” when it comes to the project and its potential effects.

“This is all better for Syracuse in the long-term,” he said.

Moving forward, Hutter said the developers will “push through with the development process,” though he declined to specify what the next steps are for the project. He also did not say whether the developers have applied yet for construction or demolition permits.

Rosen said he believes the IDA’s approval of the tax breaks on Tuesday represents “a win for everyone.”

“I think it’s a win for us, the university, the student body,” he said. “We’re excited about it.”

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