Syracuse’s City Center development suffered a major blow, as the project’s main anchor, Aspen Dental, has officially withdrawn from the development project at the site of the former Sibley’s Department Store.
Aspen Dental Management Inc. had intended to move its headquarters, and its 600 workers, from Dewitt, NY to downtown Syracuse. But back in December, Aspen reportedly pulled out of its signed lease, citing major project delays.
Gary Thurston, the chairman and CEO of Hayner Hoyt Corp — the former general contractor turned developer for the project — told Syracuse.com, “Aspen signed a lease last year, but they pulled out in early December because things they expected to happen didn’t happen.”
Aspen’s decision has had a major impact on both the development project and the city itself. Robert Doucette, the original developer, sold his stake to Hayner Hoyt in February as a result. Local political leaders and businesses had been counting on the positive economic impact Aspen would have on downtown Syracuse. Around 64.4% of Americans visit a dentist every year, and the 600 workers at Aspen Dental offices could have really boosted the local economy.
But Thurston is still optimistic. He’s currently looking for another tenant, but he says he’d be glad to discuss more with Aspen if the company had a change of heart.
Thurston also highlights some of the exciting additions that are still going ahead as part of the project. Construction is ready to begin at 400 South Salina Street, where the Redhouse Arts Center will eventually move into its new theatrical home.
While Redhouse, a development partner from the onset, currently stages its productions on South West Street, they’re hoping to move into their new space by the end of the year. The new main stage will be 243% bigger than their current theater and will hold around 400 people. They’ll also have a second, smaller theater that can house 100 to 125 patrons; though on the intimate side, this capacity is still bigger than that of their current venue. They hope to host their first show in the new space with a soft opening in March of 2018.
Redhouse Executive Director Samara Hannah noted to LocalSYR.com, “City Center is designed to draw a lot of audience and people into kind of a culminating place in Downtown Syracuse that focuses on the arts in Downtown Syracuse.”
So even though Aspen Dental may be officially out, at least there will be some high-quality art for Syracuse audiences to sink their teeth into.