Tear it Down or Fix it Up? DEC terminates clean up agreement at abandoned Syracuse factory

Built in 1953 by the Easy Washing Machine Company of Syracuse. The building has sat vacant since the late 90's. (Brett Hall/CNYCentral)

In an area where many relics of Syracuse's industrial past have been washed clean of their former appearance, a former washing machine factory lies dormant and decaying with no immediate sign of change.

The 261,800 square foot facility has an address of 128 Spencer street placing it on the edge of Syracuse's Inner Harbor, two blocks from Destiny USA. While other former factories surround the property, many of them have been converted into loft apartments where the younger community has moved in.

"I can see it right from my living room window it’s not the most best thing to look at during the day," Norah Hoodmaker, who lives across Spencer Street, said. "It’s creepy looking."

Shattered windows, denigrating brick and peeling paint cover the property. A freedom of information law request reveals Syracuse Code Enforcement has written up the property for numerous violations in the last 10 years.

Built in the early 1940's with an addition completed in 1953, the Easy Washing Machine Company designed and built electric washing machines on the site up until 1963, according to information provided by the Onondaga Association. Following their departure, several other companies manufactured various materials inside the facility, with Baby's Bedroom, leaving the facility in 1997.

In 2015, Syracuse based Empire Housing & Development company bought the property for $2 million according to Onondaga County property records. The nonprofit typically works to develop affordable housing for low and moderate income households in New York State according to its website. called Empire Housing & Development twice to ask what the plans were for the property. The calls were never returned.

Empire did apply to make the site a Brownfield Cleanup site, according to the state's Environmental Site Remediation Database. The Brownfield program run by the New York State DEC works to remove some of the barriers to, and provide tax incentives for, the redevelopment of properties with environmental contamination.

However, in a statement to the DEC said the agreement was terminated in August 2017 "for not submitting required work plans to advance the brownfield cleanup."

In 2016, public records indicate Empire Spencer Street Company, LLC sold the property to COR development for $1. COR development is currently redeveloping Syracuse's Inner Harbor into a waterside community that includes apartments, hotels, shops, office buildings.

A site plan on COR development's website details that the 8 acre property will be used for a parking garage and office space. No timeline for completion has been released.

The City of Syracuse Code Enforcement office continues to monitor the deteriorating structure.

"Code Enforcement follows up on any complaints received on the property and reports them to the property owner, who has been responsive to public safety issues," Ken Towsley, Director of Code Enforcement, said in a statement. "The city is prepared to take further action regarding the property if public safety concerns go unaddressed. While the building has not been cited for structural deficiencies, there are open violations for painting the exterior and protection of any exposed structural members."

We reached out to COR Development to ask if the current building would remain standing with redevelopment plan, and if open code violations would be addressed. A spokesperson took our questions over the phone on but has yet to call back.

Two executives of Fayetteville based COR Development are currently facing federal corruption charges in New York City in connection to economic development projects. At this point, no evidence has come forward to suggest this property is involved in the case.

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