Inside look at downtown Syracuse redevelopment

The busy South Salina Street- Fayette Street intersection in downtown Syracuse will have a whole new look by the end of next year. As the Centro Bus Center moves out of its downtown Common Center, the four historic buildings in the 300 block that wrap around to West Fayette will be converted to apartments and retail space "This will be the largest apartment complex in downtown Syracuse," says Charlie Wallace, the president of VIP Development. 87 apartments are planned in the upper floors, with retail on the Salina and Fayette Street sides. In addition, an urban courtyard will go between the buildings, and alleyways linking to Clinton Street will become covered walkways, which Wallace says will link Armory Square to the 'front' of the project on South Salina Street, and downtown proper.Before the late 2011 completion, there's lot's of work. Right now, the deconstruction of the buildings is going on. So far, construction site superintendent Jeff Shank says they've taken out 16 dumpster loads of trash, including beer cans and kegs (there were two bars in the 'old' building'), dozens of fluorescent lights, fixtures and ballast, old paint cans and just junk that had piled up over the years. When the false ceiling in the old Witherill's Department Store started to collapse, they pulled that down, revealing the original tin. The historic ceiling, along with the many original window frames, will be preserved. We don't know about a wall that has 'Corset Shop' painted on it. Workers will have to remove layers of peeling paint from columns and walls, and old asbestos tile before renovations can start in earnest, but there are already efforts at attracting retail, planned for the ground floors, and apartment rentals are expected to start soon.For more on the Pike Block project,