St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center announces plan to revitalize Syracuse’s North Side
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
Things are looking up for the neighborhood surrounding St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, on Syracuse’s North Side. St. Joseph’s recently announced that it would be partnering with federal, state and city groups as well as the private sector to revitalize the region.
To implement the initiatives to revive the area, the boundaries of which run from James to State Streets and Butternut to Townsend, McBride, Catherine and Lodi Streets, St. Joseph’s has joined forces with the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York (MDA) to conduct a comprehensive strategic plan for the redevelopment of the neighborhood. “We’re really excited to be a partner in this project,” said Robert Simpson, president–elect of MDA.
“All these initiatives represent a series of public and private collaborations that we expect will revitalize the area around St. Joseph’s known as Prospect Hill,” said Theodore Pasinski, president of St. Joseph’s. “Our hope is that by focusing on a specific area we can act as a catalyst for businesses to locate here, housing to be stabilized, and a corridor created that connects our patients, families and employees to the area.”
St. Joseph’s will work with the City of Syracuse, Home HeadQuarters and Housing Visions to begin revitalization of the 500 and 600 blocks of North Townsend Street, as well as the 600 block of Catherine Street.
In addition, a 50-unit project is planned which includes constructing new buildings and rehabilitating existing structures. The housing rehabilitation project cost is projected to be $14 million.
Home HeadQuarters has bought or reached agreements to buy 20 houses containing more than 80 rental units around the hospital. Tenants are being relocated from those properties, and rehabilitation work should begin within the year. Home HeadQuarters is helping those tenants to offset the costs of relocating. In addition, several case workers from the home division of the Syracuse Housing Authority are helping the displaced residents to find housing that is equal to or better than the housing that they live in now. Displaced residents who are qualified will also be given special consideration in securing the new rental apartments that will emerge from the properties.
To get the project moving, the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative was the first to pledge support for the proposal, dedicating $500,000 secured by Congressman Jim Walsh (NY-25), who has spearheaded numerous projects on Syracuse’s North Side and at St. Joseph’s. Walsh said that he is working closely with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to secure additional federal funding. “I’ve always believed that federal investment can serve as the key catalyst to get worthy projects such as this off the ground,” said Walsh. “When St. Joseph’s first came to me with this idea, I could see the potential and the need and was thrilled to help. Now we have the broad base of public and private support, including, most importantly, the involvement of the neighborhood, necessary for this project to succeed.”
The EDA funding will be matched by the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation and used to develop an economic master plan for the North Side. The plan will be developed through cooperating with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board looking to attract new businesses and employment opportunities to the neighborhood.
The City of Syracuse plans to allocate $1 million for the project and, in addition, provide a $500,000 loan to facilitate the acquisition of these properties. “We are excited about the opportunities the expansion of St. Joseph’s Hospital has brought to the city‘s near North Side,” said Mayor Matthew Driscoll. “We are leveraging this asset with public dollars to revitalize the neighborhoods adjacent to the St. Joseph’s campus. This project has created a powerful partnership with private, public and community investment, which will demonstrate this area’s resurgence.”
Also collaborating with St. Joseph’s is the non-profit organization, Housing Visions. It will work with Home HeadQuarters to redevelop the houses and then manage them as low-income rental properties.
The Franciscan North Side Collaboratory, a mission of the Franciscan Church of the Assumption in Syracuse, plans to make sure that neighborhood groups have a role in the redevelopment project. The Collaboratory seeks to improve the quality of life on the North Side of Syracuse by engaging residents, businesses, non-profit organizations and major institutions in collaborative projects focused on community and economic development.
The Collaboratory has been working with St. Joseph’s to make GED classes and job training available to residents of the neighborhood. The organizations have also been involved with assisting the refugees living in the area.
“I’m very supportive of Home HeadQuarters’ methods of helping the people who are being displaced in the neighborhood,” said Dominic Robinson, director of the Collaboratory. “This is a very just and humane project and it is being done in a morally, justifiable manner.”