Eastwood eyesores targeted for new development projects

What is now a vacant lot on James Street in Syracuse's Eastwood neighborhood was once a point of pride. It was the home of the bowling alley where Danny Biasone invented the 24 second shot clock and changed the NBA forever. But over the past ten years, the empty lot at the corner of James and Midler Avenue has become badly overgrown and filled with trash.

"It's an eyesore definitely - along with the building across the street," said Eastwood resident Khristine Bennett.

An empty building that once housed the Steak and Sundae restaurant and other stores sits on the opposite corner.

On Thursday morning the Syracuse Common Councilors will ask the City Planning Commission to "remove roadblocks" and allow developers to put a Kinney Drug store in the vacant lot - hopefully starting a chain reaction that would also renovate the Steak and Sundae building.

Steve Cleland's family's business, Extreme Pizza Kitchen, is ready to move across James Street into a brand new bigger space in the Steak and Sundae building but Cleland says that renovation project is on hold until construction is allowed to start on the vacant lot at James Midler. Cleland says many of the Eastwood businesses are looking forward to the area's new look and he hopes the Planning Commission allows the work to go ahead.

"We're really excited about moving into a new location along with our neighbors. They seem to be pretty excited too and they're in the same boat we're in. Just all sitting there waiting," said Cleland.

Many neighbors hope the two projects will give this section of Eastwood a face lift and start a larger resurgence for one of the city's busiest streets.