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      As buses move out, developers move in to downtown Syracuse

      T he 300 block of South Salina Street in the heart of Syracuse has become a construction zone as Centro prepares to move its bus transfer hub to the southern edge of downtown Syracuse. The Pike Block project is named after architect Henry Pike who helped design some of these buildings in the late 1800's. VIP Structures intends to bring the crumbling Witherills, Wilson and Bond buildings back to life. Tthe renovations call for 78 apartments with 25-thousand square feet of street level retail.

      P roponents of Pike Block say it is much more than a development. They say when its done in May of next year, it will have transformed downtown Syracuse into an urban residential neighborhood.

      D ave Nutting, the CEO of VIP Structures intends to turn that part of Salina Street into a extension of the already successful Armory Square. He's doing that by creating walkway through the Bond Building. "Probably the most important part of the project will be this new 20 foot wide connection where you'll walk right in on Salina Street, all the way through to the new courtyard we've created at the back of the Bond building and then straight through to Armory Square from there." Nutting told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

      N utting says the courtyard could be set up for concerts and other gatherings . W hat is now an alley behind the Pike Block will feature shops and restaurants within yards of Armory Square. He says the project obtained a grant because he intends to preserve as much of the historical nature of the buildings as possible.

      N utting says apartments in downtown Syracuse are already leased out as fast as they can be completed. "There are almost 450 apartments coming on stream within the next 18 months." Nutting explained, "As we have enough critical mass... I think we'll see retail follow that as well."

      T he catalyst to $300 million in downtown development is Centro's decision to create a new bus transfer hub at the southern edge of the business district. By doing so, much of the congestion in terms of pedestrian and street traffic at Salina and Fayette streets will diminish, making the area an attractive place to live.