A problem corner in Syracuse will become a food hall that welcomes all
Syracuse, N.Y. -- Plans to build a $22 million, 5-story building on a problem corner in Syracuse are moving forward. And the developers want to make it clear: It will be a space for everyone.
"This is intentionally a space for all,” said Maarten Jacobs, director of community prosperity at the Allyn Foundation, the group behind the project.
The main public space in the building, being developed and funded by the Allyn Foundation, will be a 24,000-square-foot food market with about a dozen food vendors and a grocery store. The idea is that people from all walks of Syracuse -- downtown workers, people waiting at the Centro bus hub across the street and people from the nearby neighborhoods -- will eat together.
The building will be on the corner of South Salina Street across from the renovated Hotel Syracuse. It has long been a vacant lot known for drug dealing and other troubles. The Allyn Foundation formed a nonprofit, Syracuse Urban Partnership, that bought the property in the spring.
The group has taken great pains to reach out to the entire community and really listen to what people are saying, Jacobs said.
The name, Salt City Market, is an example of how that listening has informed the project. Last year, the Allyn Foundation put out a survey asking people what they thought of two potential names: Five Points Market or 484 Market (One from five streets coming together, the other from the street address).
The resounding answer: No one liked either. Instead, people wrote suggestions for other names.
Nearly everyone said the name should mention Syracuse or the Salt City.
So they changed the name to Salt City Market.
“We want this to be a space that people feel they have ownership of the minute it opens,” Jacobs said.
The market already has a manager, who will steer the design and hiring. The group has now hired Adam Sudmann, the force behind the “With Love,” Onondaga Community College’s teaching kitchen on Syracuse’s North Side, and the My Lucky Tummy pop-up food events. Sudmann recently left “With Love,” to plan the food market, recruit the talent and run the market when it opens.
He was a natural fit to help plan the market, Jacobs said.
Jacobs has known Sudmann for years. He carried the tables into a restaurant for one of Sudmann’s first events. He immediately thought of him as the food hall idea moved forward.
Like Sudmann’s other projects, the food hall will serve as incubator space for chefs who have the cooking talent to make it in the restaurant world, but perhaps not enough resources or business knowledge.
The idea is also to use food to bring people from all parts of the community together.
“People are hungry to be involved, to rub shoulders,” Sudmann said.
The market will have about a dozen stalls, each with its own kitchen. Then there will also be a commercial kitchen that Sudmann hopes to use for events and classes.
Allyn Foundation and Syracuse Urban Partnership will be working with CenterStateCEO’s UpStart program to choose the chefs.
Sudmann wants to hear from anyone who is interested. The market already has a website where people can apply to be considered. Then the group will figure out who would be a good fit. Chefs will have to put up some of the funding for the businesses, but the foundation plans to have some creative lending available.
Aside from the food hall, there will be a grocery store on the first level. The upper floors will be office space for the Allyn Foundation and another nonprofit. The final three floors will have 37 apartments.
The majority of them will be for people making $48,000 or less, and some will be reserved for low-income tenants who have housing vouchers.
Meg O’Connell, the executive director of the Allyn Foundation, said she wants the project to set an example.
“We want to show we can do mixed income housing,” she said.
Construction will begin on the project in June with an anticipated opening of fall 2020.