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Officials optimistic about Inner Harbor outlook

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Officials optimistic about Inner Harbor outlook
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For years, Syracuse has been working on revitalizing an area stretching from downtown to the Onondaga Lake shoreline. But a major piece of the puzzle has been missing. YNN's Bill Carey says there is hope that problem will soon be resolved.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It all began years ago. An area filled with abandoned buildings was transformed into a thriving center for business, entertainment and residential development.

Armory Square was a success story. The city has been working to build on that accomplishment.

"You don't want to spread your resources too thin and you need to focus enough to make sure that what is happening is sustainable and can grow," said Ben Walsh.

That growth continued in recent years. Improvements were made to Clinton Square and its neighbor, Hanover Square. Old factory buildings were rehabbed and found new life as Franklin Square. Just down Solar Street came the massive development of Carousel Center and now Destiny USA.

But there was a major gap. In between the mall and Franklin Square stood the dilapidated Inner Harbor, off Onondaga Lake.

The city spent a fair amount of money doing what it could to improve the Inner Harbor. It built docks for boats to come in. A harbor master station. Even an amphitheater. But the remaining area surrounding the Inner Harbor was controlled by the state. And nothing was happening there.

After years of studies, disputes and failed deals, the state's Canal Corporation, which controlled the area, finally ceded that control to the City of Syracuse. And the city says it's ready for a new era here, as well.

"It's waterfront property. We think that's attractive for residential development. We think it's attractive for commercial and retail development. So we really want to see mixed use," Walsh said.

The state often voiced confidence about the Inner Harbor's future, as well, only to face new roadblocks to development. For now, the city is optimistic.

Walsh said, "Given the discussions we've had in the development community, we know there's interest there. And we plan to do everything we can to make sure that those interests become actual development. Again, hopefully in short order."

Another piece of the puzzle in place.

The city doesn't expect any one developer to handle all of the work. It expects to receive proposals from several companies who will each control development on a portion of the 35 acre site.

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