Syracuse University wants tax exemption for new construction

Syracuse University is looking to build a new complex next to its parking garage on University Avenue near the corner of Harrison Street. The building would house a bookstore, fitness center, and retail space.

Execution of the construction plan hinges on approval of a thirty-year tax exemption from Syracuse's Common Council. Syracuse University owns the land for the new building, but is currently leasing it to a private developer for $1 each year. The school is asking for a particular tax break which would require it to pay the City of Syracuse roughly $64,000 each year. This is about 83% cheaper than the price of fully taxing the land.

The Common Council is meeting about the exemption on July 9th. Common Councilor Pat Hogan called the tax break a "flagrant special interest giveaway." Others may also see it as a problem.

"There's a lot of non-profit, non-taxed areas in the City of Syracuse," said recent Syracuse graduate Mark Erwin. "So to expand that may be different, may be difficult for the city."

If the tax exemption is approved, it would only apply to the bookstore and fitness center. The retail space would not receive a tax break.