Gothic Syracuse church could be turned into apartments

Mizpah Tower

There may be new hope for the future of a crumbling landmark in downtown Syracuse.

Attorney Thomas Cerio went before the Syracuse Common Council Wednesday with an offer to buy Mizpah Tower on Columbus Circle for $31,000. Cerio says he intends to shore up the former First Baptist Church and turn it into a complex of office space and residential apartments.

"The development that's going on downtown, it's great," Cerio told city lawmakers. "I think there's a need for larger apartments for more family type living that can occur downtown."

The gothic style Mizpah Tower has been abandoned for decades. Before the city could sell to Cerio, it would have to seize the property for back taxes. The current owner, Syracuse Bancock LLC of Bellevue Washington, owes $115,000 in back taxes.

Cerio said he intends to live in one of the apartments himself, but joked that he hasn't told his wife yet.