Category Archives: Planning

Will the Inner Harbor become the new Central Business District?

White collar companies are building new office space at the Inner Harbor instead of Downtown. This could be the start of a tectonic shift that remakes the City’s economic and social geography.

Equitable’s plan to move from its landmark office building on Madison to a brand new building on Clinton Street is just the most recent (and most dramatic) example of this trend. BHG is building a brand new office to consolidate its workers in one facility at the Inner Harbor. Rapid Response Monitoring built a $22 million addition to its Inner Harbor office in 2018.

This is not what City Hall had planned when it hired Cor to redevelop the Inner Harbor. The plan was for a totally new neighborhood of mixed use buildings with retail at street level and apartments above, densely built townhomes, a college satellite campus—a ‘24-hour neighborhood.’ Instead, the Inner Harbor is getting huge office buildings sharing their enormous parcels with gigantic surface parking lots while Cor plans to build even more surface parking and even fewer apartments on the land that it controls.

Syracuse has realized City Hall’s 1965 vision for a Downtown ringed by surface parking lots

In some ways, this is a real triumph for Syracuse. For 70 years, City Hall has been trying to figure out how to get companies that want new buildings and huge parking lots to stay Downtown. For most of that time, the plan has been to demolish enough of Downtown to provide parking spaces for everybody whose building was left standing. That policy failed to retain office jobs, and it turned a lot of Downtown into a moonscape. It was also one of the longer strands in the tangle of public policies that have made Syracuse one of the most economically and racially segregated cities in the nation.

In the Inner Harbor, City Hall has found a collection of empty building sites that it can pitch to companies like Equitable that might otherwise move to the suburbs and to those like BHG who might never consider moving Downtown. This is a good thing because it maintains the City’s property tax base while also keeping thousands of opportunities for employment centrally located where they are more accessible to more people.

But it can only work so many times. Companies moving to the Inner Harbor are gobbling up land pretty fast. Equitable’s new building and parking lot will occupy 6.9 acres all on their own. Downtown, that company was just one tenant among many in a high-rise tower that sat on a 4.7 acre block. There simply isn’t enough room to give every company a spot in the semi-suburban office park that’s getting built at the Inner Harbor.

It also poses some real challenges to Downtown’s small businesses. Downtown’s residential population is not nearly big enough to support all of the businesses in the neighborhood. Those restaurants and shops thrive because so many non-residents come Downtown every day for work, and while they’re there they eat lunch, buy clothes, grab drinks. Every time a company moves a few hundred employees out of the neighborhood, it reduces that customer base and makes it harder for those small businesses to succeed.

Spreading all of those jobs out over a larger area will also make it harder for people to get to work by bus. Centro’s bus lines are all designed to terminate Downtown so that it never takes more than one bus to get to work there. Only one bus line runs up Solar Street, though, so anybody with a job at the Inner Harbor will have to take two buses to get to work.

BHG’s new building will take up less space than its parking lot, and it won’t have a door facing the sidewalk.

The big question is whether or not continued development will be the result of new jobs moving into Syracuse or existing jobs moving around within the City. BHG is bringing new jobs, but Equitable is just moving them from Downtown. If the Inner Harbor just leeches people and jobs from Downtown, then its development is best understood as more of the same sad story of Syracuse’s decentralization. But if instead it’s all new growth, then the conversion of the Inner Harbor into a sort of urban office park—the ‘Central Business District’ that mid-century city planners tried so hard to build—is a remarkable and welcome innovation in Syracuse’s development.

Neighborhood-Scale Retail

When you’ve already started cooking dinner and realize that you’re out of eggs and that you absolutely have to have eggs for this meal to work, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to just run down the block to buy a dozen without even turning the stove off.

When you don’t own a car and normally have to rely on a bus that only runs every 40 minutes whenever you want to leave the neighborhood, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to just wheel a cart around the corner to make the weekly grocery run.

Living near retail is convenient—especially for people who live car-free—and a lot of city neighborhoods would be a lot better off if they had more of it. More grocery stores, post offices, pharmacies, laundromats, hardware stores, libraries, barbers, and daycares within easy walking distance of more people’s homes.

But it’s a real challenge to make those kinds of businesses ‘fit’ into the neighborhoods that need them. Erie Boulevard has a hardware store, a post office, a pharmacy, a bank, multiple restaurants, three (!) grocery stores, and specialized retail like a local guitar store and bike shop all within a mile’s walk, but most of those businesses are huge, set back behind mammoth parking lots, flanked by and dependent on 690. People in Eastwood might want to be able to walk to the grocery store, but they sure as hell don’t want Price Chopper’s 3.75 acre parking lot with all of that car traffic and those glaring floodlights anywhere near their houses. On the flipside, Erie Boulevard is so choked with asphalt that there isn’t any room for anybody to live nearby all those businesses.

Car dependence and excessive bigness go together. No one is supposed to walk to Price Chopper (although plenty of people do out of necessity)—everyone is supposed to drive there. So the parking lot has to be big enough to store every customer’s car, and the streets leading to it have to be wide enough for all of that traffic. The result is a single store that sits on a property larger than the entire Westcott business district. A business entirely out of scale with the neighborhoods that should benefit from its proximity.

So to get more businesses that people can walk to, Syracuse needs more small stores designed for customers who arrive on foot. Dominick’s market in Hawley-Green is a perfect example. It’s small enough to focus on the immediate neighborhood, so it doesn’t need a big parking lot to get enough customers to support itself. It’s a store that fits into Hawley-Green and makes the neighborhood better for the people who live there.

This kind of neighborhood-scale retail is in short supply in Syracuse, but it’s starting to make a comeback. New small stores are opening up on old neighborhood main streets like North Salina, South Salina, and James Street. New zoning laws will make it easier for businesses to better serve their immediate neighbors. New people are moving into these neighborhoods because they want the convenience the comes from living near businesses. It’s all going to make for a better City.

Multifamily Housing and Neighborhood Character

331 Winton St is a 2-story, 3-unit apartment building on the Northside. Jefferson Tower is a 23-story, 295 unit Downtown high rise. ReZone can’t tell them apart—as far as City Hall’s new zoning ordinance is concerned, both are ‘multifamily’ housing, and both will be banned from most of Syracuse.

That will cause 2 huge problems: it will make neighborhoods less able to adapt to change—both population gain and loss, changing family size, climate changeand it threatens neighborhood character because 331 Winton St is part of Lincoln Hill and contributes to its character, so banning that building from that neighborhood necessarily means changing the neighborhood’s character. Fixing the first problem is easy (just add housing), but fixing the second is harder because it means coming up with a definition of ‘multifamily housing’ that can differentiate between 331 Winton St and Jefferson Tower.

The question ReZone needs to answer is this: how many apartments can a building have and still fit in with the rest of the neighborhood? The best way to find out is to just look at which different kinds of housing already are in which neighborhood. This is the only way to describe neighborhood character as it actually exists without resorting to personal opinion.

2-family houses in blue

Here’s a map of all 2-family houses in Syracuse. They’re spread across most of the City and are common in almost every residential neighborhood. The only exceptions are the City’s sparsest neighborhoods—like Sedgwick and the Valley—and it’s most built up areas—like lower James and Downtown.

3- and 4-family houses in red

Here’s a map of the City’s 3- and 4-family houses. 3- and 4-family homes are common in almost every residential neighborhood in the City, and they are absent from Sedgwick, the Valley, lower James, and Downtown.

Here are maps of the geographic areas where you can find these two groups of housing in Syracuse. On the combined map, the blue areas show where you can find 2-family houses, the red areas show where you can find 3- and 4-family houses, and the purple areas show where 2-, 3-, and 4-family houses are all mixed in together. Every single neighborhood that 2-family houses also has 3- and 4-family houses. Every neighborhood that has 3- and 4- family houses also has 2-family houses.

That makes good sense since so many 3-family homes are just modified 2-flats, and it’d be hard for someone to tell exactly how many apartments are in one of these buildings just by looking. They couldn’t have existed anywhere but those neighborhoods that already have 2-family homes, and they fit into those neighborhoods’ character just fine. 

1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-family homes are all part of the character of this Syracuse street

ReZone could (and probably should) make even finer distinctions among multifamily housing—buildings with between 5 and 15 apartments are also common across the City, often look like big houses, and are worth distinguishing from larger apartment complexes—but this is the big one. In any Syracuse neighborhoods where you can find a 2-family house, you can also find 3- and 4-family houses. No neighborhood whose character accepts 2-family houses can reject 3- and 4- family houses. When ReZone acknowledges this, it will make Syracuse more adaptable, more equitable, and more resilient, and it will actually protect and preserve Syracuse’s neighborhood’s character.

Get Rid of ReZone’s Apartment Bans

City Hall’s ReZone project is an opportunity to unmake the mistakes that have made Syracuse into a segregated city. That will require change, though, because the new zoning map is drawn in such a way that it will entrench inequality and exacerbate the disparities between the City’s neighborhoods.

To see how, look at Census Tract 45 on the Eastside. This tract includes most of Westcott—a neighborhood where people want to move, where new businesses are opening, where people are investing. But Westcott is also a neighborhood where there’s not enough housing to accommodate all the people who want to live there, so rents are going up, and more people are having to crowd into what little housing there is.

3,784 people live in 1,649 homes in tract 45. Just over half of those homes are in multifamily buildings (green on the map below). The remainder are 1-family houses (yellow on the map below). Both types of housing are mixed across the tract.

Housing in tract 45. Single family homes in yellow and multifamily homes in green.

ReZone allows single family housing everywhere in the City, but it bans multifamily housing from huge swaths of Syracuse, mostly in high opportunity neighborhoods like Westcott. The most recent draft of the new zoning map bans multifamily housing from most of tract 45. If it had been law when Westcott was originally laid out, less than half of the existing multifamily housing in the neighborhood could ever have been built.

Thankfully, all that existing multifamily housing will be grandfathered into ReZone as ‘noncomformities,’ but that label limits owners’ ability to invest in these homes—they won’t be able to make major renovations or additions—and the lot-by-lot ban on multifamily housing also will limit the opportunity to build enough new housing to relieve the neighborhood’s housing shortage. That will drive up rents even further, leaving Westcott unable to accommodate the people who want to live there and excluding people according to their income and wealth. The predictable result is increased residential segregation and the spread of gentrification to other parts of the City.

Westcott is a good neighborhood with access to jobs, businesses, schools and transportation. All of those things attract people looking to make a good life in Syracuse. But legal limits on multifamily housing exclude too many of those people who want to take advantage of all that Westcott and so many other neighborhoods have to offer. This exclusionary zoning is one root of Syracuse’s shameful history of economic and racial segregation, and ReZone is an opportunity to rip it out. The new ordinance must legalize multifamily housing across the entire City if neighborhoods of opportunity are going to be fully accessible to everyone who wants to live in them.

Finding Space for Social Distancing

Coronavirus has put space at a premium. A lot of the places where we gather weren’t set up for people to keep six feet apart from each other. Packing into crowded restaurants, churches, arenas, or malls just won’t work the way it used to, and if those businesses and institutions are going to work at all, they’re going to need more space.

You don’t have to look far to find extra space. Just watch this video from the Post Standard, and you’ll see just how much space Syracuse really has.

Acres and acres of empty streets, freeways, and parking lots. All of that space is up for grabs right now, and all of it could be put to better use.

Let’s put some numbers to that. This picture shows part of Armory Square—a spot where lots of people used to pack into tight spaces. But restaurants, shops, and offices only account for about half of the total space in this picture. Sidewalks and tiny Armory Square Park are another eighth of the space. The rest is parking garages, parking lots, parking lanes, and travel lanes. Fully one third of Armory Square is reserved for the movement and storage of cars.

This is so obviously stupid that people have fought against it for years. New buildings have gone up on parking lots, pop up markets have taken over entire streets, businesses have turned parking lanes into outdoor seating, and City Hall is looking at closing one block of Walton Street to cars for good.

Coronavirus only makes all that even more necessary in every city neighborhood—people need space to meet up, to have church, to pass each other on the sidewalk. Syracuse can’t work the old way—ample room for cars, but not enough for people—when we’re all keeping our distance. If it’s going to work at all, then we’re going to have to make more space for people, and the fastest way to do that is to take it back from cars.

Three Reasons to Free Streets From Cars

As Syracuse plans to reserve more of its streets for buses, bikers, and people on foot, it’s important to be clear about why that’s a good idea. There are at least three different reasons to keep cars off a city street.

To make an intersection safer

Intersections where lots of streets meet at odd angles can be hard to navigate. All the different traffic lights are confusing, and it’s hard to time them well. Traffic backs up, and no one’s sure when they’re supposed to go. People get frustrated, and that’s dangerous when so many of them are operating 2-ton steel motor vehicles.

Sometimes, cities can make these kinds of intersections simpler—and safer—by closing part of a street to car traffic. That’s what New York City did at Times Square, it’s what Boston has proposed for Kenmore Square, and it’s what Syracuse has done at Onondaga Circle, Columbus Circle, and is planning to do at Butternut Circle.

To create a destination

New York City’s Times Square redo also created a brand new public space in the middle of Manhattan—a place where people came to hang out, rest, and enjoy the city.

Plenty of other cities have closed small sections of central streets to create similar destinations: Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace, Ithaca’s Commons, Boston’s Faneuil Hall. These ‘pedestrian malls’ are all at the center of their Downtowns—they’re all designed to draw people from across the metropolitan area, to act as commercial/cultural hubs for their regions.

But many tried to do this and failed. For every Ithaca Commons there’s a lifeless Buffalo Main Street. Arian Horbovetz recently argued that pedestrian malls are likely to fail in smaller cities, and that traffic calming is a better option. The reason is that, in Upstate’s car-dominated cities, most people could only reach these car-free destinations by car. Pedestrian malls will only work when people can walk, or bike, or bus to them.

To make it easier to get around

Cities can make it a lot easier for people to walk, bike, or bus by setting aside entire streets for those means of transportation. That was the idea behind taking cars off 14th Street in New York City and Market Street in San Francisco—buses running on those streets are now free from car traffic, and bikers on those streets don’t have to worry about getting run over anymore.

Syracuse can do the same. It was built to house and move a much higher mid-century population, and now it’s got plenty of extra streets that cars don’t need. Already, Onondaga Creek Boulevard is just for bikes and walkers. City Hall should do the same thing on Water Street between Erie Boulevard and Townsend Street, creating a safe, convenient, flat connection between Downtown and the Eastside.

Screenshot 2020-03-15 at 11.25.21 PM

The good news is that Syracuse doesn’t have to pick just one of these reasons for keeping cars off some of its streets. Simplifying an intersection can create a new public square where people can sit and enjoy the city. Turning a regular street into a bikeway can bring more people to a city’s public squares. Reserving one street for buses can simplify a whole bunch of intersections. All of these different reasons can work together to create a safer, simpler, happier city.

Walking to the Market

It was 5 degrees Saturday morning, but people still walked to the Farmers Market. They put up with the cold, the unsafe streets, and the snow-covered sidewalks because the Market provides access to good cheap food, and because Saturday’s weather was too common to change anybody’s weekly routine.

And if people were willing to walk there on Saturday, then you know they’re willing to walk there in just about any weather. People walk to the Market because that’s how they get around town.

So it’s a mess that walking to the Market is so dangerous. There aren’t sidewalks between Hiawatha Boulevard and the Market. That’s a problem all year, but especially when it snows. No sidewalks mean no one has to shovel a path for people to walk, and so no one does. That forces some people to walk through the snow, and it pushes others onto the streets.

Even where there are sidewalks, they don’t go where people need them. The streets around the Market and RTC are all designed for cars not people. They’re too long and too circuitous, taking people way out of their way to get where they’re going. That’s not much of a problem when you’re driving a car, but it’s a huge hassle on foot—why walk an extra hundred feet along a curving driveway when it’s a straight line from the bus stop to the bus station? There’s no good reason, so people don’t, and so they end up having to walk through more snow because no one ever gave serious thought to making life easier for people who get around on foot.

So it’s a very good thing that SMTC and City Hall are working on plans to make it safer and easier for people to walk, bike, and bus in this area. The RTC/Market Area Mobility Study catalogs many of the ways that this part of the City fails people who live car-free, and it proposes some simple fixes: paving the gravel path at Carbon Street, adding crosswalks, a separated bike path, SIDEWALKS.

Tens of thousands of people in Syracuse get around on foot, but too much of the City ignores their needs. The Market and the RTC need to be more accessible to more people, and SMTC’s ideas are a good starting point to make that happen.

Apartments Go Up and Rents Come Down

Two new residential projects planned for Downtown’s eastern edge indicate that developers may have finally run out of tenants willing and able to pay $2,000 a month to live in the city center, and now they’re building more affordable apartments.

For a full decade, this didn’t feel possible. Every single new apartment project got a front page story in the Post-Standard, they all filled up immediately, and they all charged ridiculous rents.

But for all of the noise it made, Downtown’s population boom wasn’t actually all that big. Downtown’s boosters estimate that about 1,500 more people live there now than did in 2010. That was a big increase for a small part of town, but it only accounts for 0.22% of the metro area’s total population. There just weren’t that many new apartments getting built, and so there weren’t that many people moving Downtown.

Developers understood that they were only building enough new housing to accommodate .22% of potential tenants, so they priced their apartments to attract the richest .22% of the metro area that they could get. $2,000 a month is an affordable rent for people making at least $75,000 a year. In 2010, only 71 Downtown households made that much. In 2018, 290 did. Households making at least $75,000 a year accounted for 83% of Downtown’s population growth over that period.


But there are only so many people willing and able to pay that much to live in the city center, and at least two developers think that part of the market is pretty much tapped-out. Grazi Zazzara (who previously turned the Blue Cross Blue Shield building into $2,000 a month apartments) and Matthew Paulus (who previously turned the Dietz Lantern factory into $2,000 a month apartments) have both recently announced separate projects to renovate Downtown buildings, and both developers will only charge people $1,000 a month to live in them. These guys are capitalists—they’re not lowering their rents out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re doing it because they don’t think they can get enough people to agree to pay $2,000 to live in these new apartments, and that’s because most people willing and able to pay that much already have a $2,000 apartment to live in.


Syracuse has a housing shortage. Too many people can’t make their rent, too many houses are poisoning the people who live in them, there are too few section 8 vouchers for everybody who needs them. These are the most pressing housing problems that City Hall, HUD, and all of the housing non-profits need to address.

But while all of those actors are attacking those problems, it’s good to see private developers building so much new housing that they’re forced to lower the rent in order to attract tenants who make a little less than the people living in Downtown’s penthouses. Those new tenants will still be richer than the City as a whole, those developers will still call the apartments ‘luxury,’ there’s still a lot more work to do to make Syracuse’s housing market equitable, but this is a sure step in the right direction.

Trouble with the Curb

In the 2020 State of the City address, Mayor Ben Walsh announced that City Hall is going to try and find a way to take full responsibility for sidewalk maintenance and snow removal, and he announced that City Hall is going to repair a lot more pavement. These two promises have the potential to remake Syracuse’s streets so that they work for everybody in the City.

Streets are the publicly-owned space (all of it) between private property lines. That space contains the paved lanes where cars drive and park, and it also contains the raised concrete area where people walk and wait for the bus, where neighbors stop and chat, where kids set up lemonade stands.

For decades (forever?) City Hall has spent millions of dollars to maintain the portion of that public space below the curb, and it has sheepishly suggested that everybody else could, maybe, if it wasn’t too much trouble, use their own time, money, and energy to maintain the little plot of public space above the curb in front of their property. This local experiment in the Tragedy of the Commons has left Syracuse with broken sidewalks covered in snow, and it’s left people dangerously exposed to car-traffic because the only place they can walk is on the pavement below the curb.

So it’s a big deal that Mayor Walsh is trying to get City Hall to take full responsibility for the full width of the public street instead of confining DPW’s maintenance work to the car-dominated area between the curbs. So many people get around Syracuse some way other than in a car, and they need wide, clear, level, ADA-compliant sidewalks across the City. The Mayor’s commitment sidewalk maintenance can meet that need.

But it would be much better to get past this backwards notion that got Syracuse in this mess in the first place. The notion that the street is made up of two parts—space for cars below the curb, and sidewalks above the curb. One the real street that has to be maintained, and the other a nice amenity if we can afford it.

The Mayor’s commitment to major road reconstruction has the potential to eliminate that division by redesigning city streets to actually accommodate all of the different people who need to use them in different ways.

Bollards that carve out space below the curb for bikes, raised crosswalks that extend the sidewalk past the curb through the intersection, additional curbs that separate bus lanes from all other paved lanes, getting rid of curbs entirely, banning motor vehicles even below the curb—all of these potential changes blow apart the idea that the curb is some special boundary line that marks the edges of the real street. All help people make good use of the whole street—from property line to property line—in a variety of ways, and all make it clear that City Hall has an obvious responsibility to maintain the whole street for all of those uses.

None of this is guaranteed. The Mayor only announced his intention to maintain every sidewalk—City Hall still has to work out the actual details of how to actually do it. And more street paving could actually make Syracuse worse if it’s just a way to reassure car-drivers that City Hall still thinks they’re the most important people on the street.

But the promise is there, the potential is there. In a City where 30% of households don’t have a car, 20% of people are too young to drive, and 13% of workers walk to their jobs, it’s ridiculous that local government has left its sidewalks to deteriorate so badly for so long. This new commitment to sidewalk maintenance can change that, and a new understanding of how people really use our streets can make sure that it never happens again.

ReZone and Syracuse’s Housing Shortage

There aren’t enough places to live in many Syracuse neighborhoods, and the City’s new zoning ordinance needs to help do something about it. Between 2000 and 2016, in 18 census tracts containing ⅓ of the City’s population, the number of people looking for a place to live increased faster than did the total number of apartments and houses. In those neighborhoods, the housing shortage caused depopulation, high rents, and gentrification. ReZone can alleviate some of that stress by allowing more housing construction in those neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods where growth in the number of households outpaced growth in housing supply from 2000 to 2016

These are the neighborhoods where the housing shortage has gotten worse since 2000. They are all places where, relative to the rest of Syracuse, more families are moving in, but there are fewer apartments and houses for those new families to move in to.

Even though new people moved into all of these neighborhoods, population actually decreased in some of them (red in the map on the left). That’s because the average size of the families living in many of these neighborhoods decreased (yellow in the map on the right).

The housing shortage is pushing up rents (orange in the map on the left) in Downtown, Franklin Square, Westcott, Eastwood, Salt Springs, the Northside and the Valley. Housing costs are becoming unaffordable (brown in the map on the right) for more people living in most of these neighborhoods, and even in some other neighborhoods where rents are going down like parts of the Northside, Tipp Hill, Eastwood, the Valley, and the West End.

The two neighborhoods with housing shortages where rents are going up but people are more able to afford them are Franklin Square and Downtown. This is gentrification, and more housing is the only way to give more people access to all of the benefits that come from living in these two increasingly wealthy neighborhoods.

In Westcott, the Northside, and parts of the Valley, rents are going up, people are less able to afford them, and households are growing. These are neighborhoods where people want to be, but high housing costs are forcing them to find more roommates to share resources and split the rent. Something similar is happening in Hawley-Green as well. More, smaller, cheaper apartments could relieve pressure on the people living in those neighborhoods and better match the types of housing available to what people need.

In Tipp Hill, the West End, and Eastwood south of James, rents are falling but people are still increasingly unable to afford them, and the population overall is falling because households are shrinking. These are also places where more, smaller, cheaper apartments would give people living options better suited to their changing financial and living situations.

In parts of the Southside, Near Westside, Nob Hill, and Skunk City, rents are falling and becoming more affordable for the people who live in those neighborhoods, but overall population is falling because households are getting smaller. In these places, it should be legal to subdivide existing houses into smaller apartments in order to make more room for people who want to take advantage of the increasingly affordable housing.

 

New housing of different kinds would be so helpful in all of these neighborhoods, ReZone’s new zoning map will determine whether or not it’s legal to build new housing in any of them.

City Hall has released four drafts of that map in the last three years. The current December 2019 draft, on the right, addresses the housing shortage in some neighborhoods, but not others. It will allow new apartments across Downtown, Franklin Square, lower James Street, Nob Hill, and the Southside.

The map also allows 1-family houses to be converted to 2-(or more)-family houses in all of Tipp Hill, Skunk City, the Near Westside, Hawley-Green, and the Northside. But the most recent draft is worse than City Hall’s first map from February 2017 (above on the left). That earlier map allowed more housing with looser parking and setback restrictions in the MX (blue) zoning districts in these neighborhoods, but each successive draft has reduced MX zoning in all of them.

The new map also preserves the ban on multi-family housing, a ban that can only make the housing shortage worse, in most of Westcott, the West End, the Valley, and Eastwood. In those neighborhoods, big 1-family houses are either filling up with young people squeezing in to save on rent, or they’re emptying out as smaller families struggle to afford apartments too big for their needs.

The housing shortage in Syracuse is pushing up rents, emptying out some neighborhoods, and making it too difficult to move into others. It’s causing depopulation and gentrification. It’s bad, and one part of fixing it is removing City Hall’s purely administrative ban on new housing. ReZone is a chance to do that.