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      Breathing new life into Syracuse's Inner Harbor

      Photo Credit: Photo: Chris McGrath

      For years, there have been plans to develop Syracuse's Inner Harbor -- but nothing significant has truly taken shape.

      This weekend, thousands of people took in Blue's Fest from the Inner Harbor -- the first time the event has been held there. Many people enjoyed three days of live music from their boats, docking just a few yards from the main stage. But many boaters said the Inner Harbor has the potential to host more than just a few festivals each year.

      "It's a goldmine," said Theo Brauch, who docked his boat on July 4th to make sure he had a prime location at Blue's Fest. "I think that anybody who's been to place like Philadelphia and seen its harbor or if they've been to the Baltimore Harbor -- it goes without saying, (Syracuse's Inner Harbor should have) a mix of restaurants and retail stores."

      City leaders tend to agree -- which is why they are in the process of gaining ownership of the 40 acres of lakeside property. Right now, the land is owned by the New York State Canal Corporation. A vote later this month could transfer ownership to Syracuse and get the ball rolling on future development.

      "It's prime, water-front real estate," said Ben Walsh of the city's Department of Neighborhood and Business Development. "We want to see residential, we want to see retail -- mixed use. We want it to be a vibrant part of the city where people live work and play."

      Walsh said if the vote goes in the city's favor, the land would be transferred shortly thereafter and prompt city officials to seriously look at development proposals.

      It's music to the ears of the folks who spent most of their weekend at Blue's Fest.

      "The more they can do down here the better," said Kip Homphrey, of Syracuse. "If they clean it up a little bit the boats will come, the people will problem."