Within the next month, developer John St. Dennis intends to reopen a 110 year old apartment building on James Street in the Eastwood section of Syracuse.
Located next to Blessed Sacrament church, St. Dennis has renamed the building Barbara Jean Apartments, after his mother. Between the purchase price and the top to bottom renovations to all 33 apartments, S t. Dennis says he has sunk more than a million dollars into this project. "It's a labor of love. Real estate is something I got into 14 years ago. I look at Eastwood as a community that deserved one of these projects so I moved forward."
In 2010, CNY Central's Jim Kenyon visited the building while investigating the source of a string of break-ins and burglaries that plagued that part of the city. The building was called the Royal Windsor then. Though the building had been boarded up and falling apart, it had become home to drug users, criminals and the homeless. Neighbors in Eastwood complained that the people who broke into the apartments would often create havoc in the neighborhood.
T oday , it's a different place. St. Dennis says people are already lining up to move in. He says each tenant will undergo a thorough background check.
A ccording to building manager, S tephane Griffin, several of the tenants are elderly individuals wanting to return to a part of the city they once knew growing up. Griffin told Kenyon, "We want to blend in. We want people to like us. We don't want to get, what it was before. We don't want that reputation."
A fter buying the building , S t. Dennis says he immediately paid up $140 thousand in back taxes. He says he's renovating the barbara jean apartments entirely with his own money, without any government help. "I've never been given any tax breaks, never asked for any, not received any state or federal money at all."
T wo years ago , the apartment building at 3107 James Street was becoming a symbol of the decline of Eastwood. Now, some feel its becoming a symbol of its revitalization.