Curb appeal. We know it's important when it comes to real estate investment decisions. We know it's important to business decisions too, because studies show that up to 70% of prospect traffic makes decisions based on curb appeal. Increasingly, it's important for communities, too. Curb appeal is truly product development -- and that is true for commercial and residential realty, as well as cities. In fact, many cities around the country are adopting "first impressions" and curb appeal programs as part of business, community and neighborhood development programs. Since we're literally pouring the new curbs next week for the Connective Corridor, we thought this would be a good issue to focus on curb appeal. Why it's important for the bottom line, things you can do to enhance yours, and resources that can help.
Buildings that are unkempt have lower property values. So do communities. Improving value through streetscape and facade projects provide the value and some of the highest return on investment, according the National Association of Realtors. Curb appeal also demonstrates pride of ownership, adds value to neighboring properties and mitigates crime, according to many studies. Visual attractiveness starts at the street level -- a reason that streetscape projects like the Corridor are so important. They provide enhanced property value, as well as building important basic infrastructure. As communities compete for talent and investment, the view from the streetscape says a lot about the value and desirability of a place. It speaks volumes about how a community is investing in itself, especially through aesthetic enhancements that make for a more vibrant sense of place.
Over the next few months you'll be seeing a lot of curb appeal projects going on across downtown as the Corridor continues to make its way through the heart of the city. There is no doubt that the process is messy -- just like remodeling your house. But the end game is a place that sends a message to people who live and work here -- as well as those considering Syracuse for employment, education and investment -- that this community understands the power of place, and is delivering on it. That creates higher value for all of us.
To the outsider, visiting a city for the first time, seeing a lot of construction suggests activity and momentum. Who hasn't visited a city under dramatic construction and thought, "Wow, things are happening here." So keep that in mind as thousands of visitors come to Syracuse next week from all over the world as part of graduation festivities. If you have the chance to say it out loud, do it. "Yes, things really are happening here." And yes, our curb appeal is building the brand value of Syracuse as a place to live, work, invest, study and stay as a community of choice.
Construction is disruptive. There are some simple things to do to get you through. Construction is temporary, and if you are feeling the pain, there are some tried and true techniques that can help positively attract, draw-in and create attention. Put your marketing creativity to work. Here are some quick ideas.
Use your website and social media to keep your customers in the communications loop. Add some window visual graphics. Think about how to use some prime unused space to get your message out. Stretch exposure opportunity near construction fencing, walls, and other pedestrian and high traffic areas. Be unusual and set yourself apart. Look around and see what your neighbors are doing, and how you can make it work for you. Remember, it's all about curb appeal. We love some of the creative ideas we've seen -- in particular, Mr. Shop has literally "rolled out the carpet" out front to welcome customers, making it easier to tread sidewalk areas under construction in high heels, and keep any construction dust on the street instead of inside. Bravo for a great message.
We're holding weekly schedule meetings with area businesses and posting signage, and have a wonderful customer-service oriented construction team. So don't let construction stop you from going downtown. Next weekend is graduation weekend -- one of the busiest weekends of the city downtown.
SYRACUSE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS. Visit, eat, shop and park. Your smiling faces will add curb appeal as Syracuse welcomes visitors from around the globe.
Some useful things to know:
- There is NO Corridor construction happening evenings or weekends (although you may see separate National Grid construction activity that is unrelated to Corridor work). We have asked National Grid to request their subcontractors be sensitive to business access issues when parking their equipment, especially overnight and on weekends because restaurants and retailers are open.
- SIDEWALKS AND STREETS (one-way) are OPEN during Corridor construction, as is all access to businesses and parking areas. Sidewalks are only scheduled be closed for a few hours during the actual sidewalk pour, and you'll be able to walk on them by the evening of the pour. However, National Grid may be doing separate, unrelated work in sidewalk vaults and ducts that cause temporary sidewalk closures. Please communicate directly with National Grid if you are experiencing issues related to this utility work.
- Folks in the field wearing white hats are project managers. They have the answers, so ask them questions. If you have a question that you can't get an answer to, the CC B&L field office is 315-477-5036. If you have a municipal question, the city/county planning department is 315-448-8110. The SU CC office is 315-443-4137. National Grid contact information is here. We're all here to help. Call us.
Construction low-down for the busy coming graduation week
The construction team is working at a fast pace to align the stars for one of the busiest weeks in Syracuse. West Fayette Street will look dramatically different by the end of next week, with the street reconstruction smoothed over, as well as new curbs and sidewalks. Here are some construction details.
- City drainage work continues along East Genesee Street, focused in the areas around Fayette Park, and from State to Townsend Streets. One-way, one-lane traffic detours will be in effect for this work
- Reconstruction continues on the first blocks of West Fayette Street on the south side from West to Salina Streets. There are one-way, one-lane traffic detours. Sidewalks remain open, along with business access. At the end of next week, you'll see curbing and brick pavers set, and the sidewalks poured. The sidewalks will only be closed for the actual pour, and they set quickly, so will be opened by the evening of the pour. Temporary stone sidewalks are in place until then. There will be increased activity around the Franklin intersection next week, moving toward the Clinton intersection.
- As the work is completed in the first two-block stretch on the south side of West Fayette, it will move to the north side. Work is being done two blocks at a time to move through quickly and complete the project, so businesses can get on with life and back to quick more quickly.
- National Grid Gas and Electric work is independent of the Connective Corridor work. It is our understanding that NG work will continue along West Fayette and East Genesee Street to Townsend-McBride. That work is being independently coordinated with the City. Some of that work will involve de-energizing and removing street lights, and providing safety lighting. National Grid is doing major electric vault work, installing new conduit and replacing street lights.
Corridor profile: Wes Hood, Project Superintendent
Wes Hood knows downtowns. He's supervised major transportation infrastructure projects in the heart of upstate cities, and now he's bringing his talent to the streets of Syracuse as Project Superintendent for BPMI, the lead contractor for Connective Corridor construction. If you see him out on the streets today, give him a wave and say Happy Birthday. And give him an extra smile back because he's on the front line for one of the largest, most complex construction jobs that a city can undertake.
Wes manages his work with a smile, as well as a smart, sensible, solution-driven approach to getting the job done. We are thrilled to have Wes in this all-important role, because it takes a special disposition to keep a project like this moving on schedule, with so many sub-contractors working together as a team, and the challenge of keeping so many customers happy. He does it, all the while dealing with weather changes and the various elements of surprise that invariably present themselves in a project of this magnitude. Wes brings street smarts to streetscape reconstruction, coupled with a sense of good cheer. Anf for all those reasons, we are so grateful to have him on our team.
Like the other team leaders, Wes is proud upstater. He hails from Canastota, and is a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College and SUNY IT in Utica with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and an emphasis on transportation. He's worked in construction upstate throughout his career, and has been with BPMI since 2002 in project supervision roles. Two of the projects that he is most proud of include major work in the City of Binghamton reconstructing the roundabout involving the major streets and arteries in the heart of downtown around the Courthouse area, as well as a large roundabout in the core of downtown Utica. He particularly enjoys complex urban transportation projects that require a high degree of involvement with the city -- such as complete streetscape projects like this. He truly brings enthusiasm, energy, critical thinking and problem-solving to the complexity of details and challenges that go into urban projects like the Corridor.
So, happy birthday, Wes. And thanks for all that you do as part of the team!
We are pleased to begin accepting formal applications for Round Three of the Connective Corridor Facade Improvement Program beginning May 1, 2014. Empire State Development provided funding for this project through the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) Capital Fund.
The Connective Corridor will award $200,000 in this round through a competitive process. The maximum award per applicant is $25,000. Award decisions will be made by a Facade Review Committee comprised of academic, business, and community and government partners. Funding will be announced on a rolling basis, based on availability. Applications are due by May 29 for consideration in June by the Facade Review Committee.
Eligible properties must be located within and adjacent to the Connective Corridor (as outlined in the application). Competitive proposals should catalyze redevelopment of core urban properties by businesses and nonprofit organizations in ways that open them to higher usage while respecting, preserving and highlighting the unique or historical character of individual properties. Property owners will be required to invest 10% equity for each funded project and comply with participation opportunities for New York State Certified MWBEs as defined by NYS.
For details about the program and the application: Connective Corridor Facade Grant Application Process - Round three
For information about NYS MWBE requirements and required forms that must also be submitted as part of the application: NYS MWBE required forms
For more information: email@example.com or 315-443-4137.
CC façade grant highlights
From lighting iconic buildings to expanded outdoor seating, historic preservation projects and mixed use redevelopment of underutilized buildings, 56 Connective Corridor round one and two façade improvement projects are changing the face of Syracuse. You’ll be impressed at the diversity and creativity of the projects.
See a photo sampler here.
There are more projects underway this spring and summer, so keep watching as improvements keep taking shape along with the Corridor complete streetscape reconstruction. You’ve seen many of the projects that have added color to the street, but you may have not have noticed others that have helped preserve important local historic assets. Very soon you’ll see beautiful buildings being illuminated – the spire of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the turret of the MOST, Onondaga Tower, the CNY Philanthropy Center, and the gorgeous windows of University Methodist Church.
Round three is the last CC façade improvement grant round, so we’re looking for some special projects to fund. Do you have one? If so, check the program guidelines here.
Take a seat:
As the weather warms, who doesn’t like to be outdoors? One of the true pleasures of urban life is walking city streets, sitting outdoors and watching life go by -- as well as outdoor dining and sampling great local foods.
CC red bistro sets brighten city streets
One of the goals of the CC is to activate streets with pedestrian activity and enhanced curb appeal. We think that fun, vibrant cities have great street life – with plenty of outdoor dining opportunities. That’s why we launched our Café Corridor mini-façade grant program – to encourage businesses and organizations along the Corridor to activate outdoor space for public use.
We were thrilled with the response to our solicitation last year. This spring you’ll see festive red bistro sets (the same as those in Times Square and other great public spaces in NYC), appearing along Syracuse streets. Thanks to businesses who are participating in the program. Go enjoy new bistro table seating at Café Corridor locations: Café Kubal, Gannon’s, Crowne Plaza Syracuse (Redfields), Jolime, Sheraton Syracuse University, the Redhouse Café , Samir’s Imported Foods, 800 Café and bc Restaurant. Eat outside and take in the street scene. Watch for more to come, as well.
We were also pleased to fund a beautiful new al fresco patio seating area at the Everson Plaza where you can bring lunch and enjoy the outdoor sculpture garden – a truly beautiful setting to take a break and enjoy this gorgeous world class museum. Take a walk and enjoy this wonderful spot to unwind. The new patio opened last week for the season. Be one of the first to enjoy it!
We’re interested in learning if more businesses would be interested in another round. If so, here is a simple form indicating your interest. If we get enough applicants, we’ll consider funding a second round.
Round IV of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) competition for up to $750 million in state economic development resources kicks off May 1, with applications now being accepted. The funding opportunity includes:
The Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) enables businesses, municipalities, and not-for-profits to apply for assistance from dozens of state funding programs through a single application for job-creating and community development projects. The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council (CNYREDC) will be accepting CFA state funding applications for Round IV between May 1 and June 16. For more information about the CNYREDC, please go to the website below: http://regionalcouncils.ny.gov/content/central-new-york
- Up to $150 million in capital funds
- Up to $70 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects and activities identified by the Councils as priorities in their regions
- Up to $530 million from state agency programs to be awarded through the CFA process
For those planning to submit, the CFA is available on-line at https://apps.cio.ny.gov/apps/cfa/
May is "I Love My Park"
May is New York State’s third annual I Love My Park – a day that park lovers across the state are encouraged to give back to natural landscapes by hosting clean-up, improvement, beautification and stewardship projects: www.ptny.org/ilovemypark
Come show your love at Forman Park on May 17
Here in Syracuse, show your love at Forman Park beautification day, May 17 from 9 a.m. to noon. You’re invited to help with spring weeding and mulching activities at this event sponsored by the Police Retirees Association of Syracuse and Central New York, along with the Connective Corridor and area businesses and residents.
Can’t make it but want to help? We really could use your support. Keeping Syracuse beautiful requires resources as well as volunteer commitment. It is easy to contribute on-line to the Beautify Syracuse Fund established at the CNY Community Foundation: https://www.cnycf.org/syracusebeauty
Or put your social media activity to a higher good through Centscere, a SU student startup that is the recent grand-prize winner of the regional Startup Labs competition: https://www.centscere.com/charities/central-new-york-community-foundation-inc
Green Streets and Local Eats highlights:
See photo highlights here
Our first festival celebrating sustainability along the Corridor
There is no doubt that green streets and local eats create major curb appeal. Nor surprisingly, a number of urban planners have advocated for mapping green streets and green resources in communities to make them more obvious. They're increasingly obvious here, thanks to Onondaga County and Save the Rain. And, when in doubt, walk the Connective Corridor or ride some green bike lanes. To anyone in the know, our community is a sustainability showcase.
New York City just created a Green Apple Map, offering a perspective for visitors on where to find the green. A great idea (but want to remind NYC that we had the green apple brand first guys, so hey, get your own brand). It turned out that the map was a huge draw for international visitors, many of whom used the concept to organize visits to events like the United Nations Earth Summit.
What's a green streets map? Its a local framework for promoting sustainability. Mapmakers like Wendy Brawer who founded the Green Map System (GMS) call it a "visual shared language" that can direct residents and visitors to gardens, parks and places of local beauty, farmer's markets, green buildings, pedestrian zones, bike lanes, mass transit and car-free options, and other environmentally significant assets. Green Map System has engaged over 850 communities in 65 countries in mapping green living, nature and culture with adaptable tools and award-winning icons. Each completed map is posted and linked on the GMS website: www.greenmap.org.
A few green map efforts have started in Syracuse, and wouldn't it be fun to tie them together? Who's game for working to "greenmap" the Corridor as one component of Syracuse's Green Map? We'd love to work with you. E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sweet ending #discoverSYR
This newsletter wraps up with a sweet ending from our friends at NOexcusesSYR and a team of talented young creatives we are proud to call collaborators. And wow, talk about curb appeal. It doesn't get any better than this.
Watch this video
#discoverSYR in this short film, "Discover Syracuse," shot and edited locally by the very talented James Domroe with many local partners. It's a sweet love story set against parts of the Corridor and the Civic Strip -- Armory Square, Forman Park, Columbus Circle, Everson Plaza (watch for the UVP scene!) and other pretty little downtown gems. We guarantee this short film will make you smile and want to fall in love all over again. (We'll supply the city. You supply the love interest.)
NOexcusesSYR gives distinctive insider tours of Syracuse neighborhoods and throws special events throughout the city. It is featured in the film giving a tour around the Erie Canal Museum. If you're having family and friends in this graduation season, or this summer, think about taking a NOexcusesSYR tour. Learn more at www.noexcusessyr.com
Oh ... we highly encourage dancing in Forman Park. And holding hands as you walk the Connective Corridor. It's springtime. Find magic. Fall in love for the first time, or all over again. See with new eyes. Enjoy life in this special place.