Back in 2014, the Roth Steel Corporation closed their scrapyard, located at 800 Hiawatha Boulevard in Syracuse, and filed for bankruptcy. The 23-acre property was purchased for $687,500 in a bankruptcy sale by American Iron and Metal Company. But when county officials expressed concerns that American Iron and Metal would reopen the former scrapyard, the property was purchased by the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency for $787,500. Now, the agency voted unanimously to spend up to $500,000 demolishing the eight buildings that still stand on the property.
But that’s not the end of the agency’s costs. The former scrapyard needs a major cleanup, which will cost up to $143,000. The agency has also authorized costs of $100,000 to remove automotive shredder residue; $12,5000 for new fencing installation; and another $100,000 for any extra cleanup that’s deemed necessary. All told, the agency could spend upwards of $1.6 million on the project before it’s finally done.
OCIDA voted to hire an East Syracuse-based demolition and remediation company, Electronics Recycling and Scrapping, Inc., to tear down the buildings. While the U.S. construction market was worth $1,162 billion in 2016, ERSI will be paid up to $500,000 to complete the job, which is estimated to take up to six months. But before that work can begin, the land needs to be cleared, cleaned up, and investigated for contaminants.
The site is of major interest to both the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. It’s located only a short distance from shopping hub Destiny USA and the soon-to-be-redeveloped Syracuse Inner Harbor, which will house a hotel, a retail center, residential units, and offices. The county is also planning to dedicate part of the Roth Steel property to extend the existing Onondaga Lake pedestrian trail. Since 50% of respondents in a recent Urban Land Institute survey said that walkability is either the top or a high priority in choosing where to live, this area could be key in attracting would-be residents.
Onondaga Lake itself is a major source of excitement, as there’s now a possibility it could be turned into a public beach. While it’s been nearly 80 years since swimming was allowed there due to years of sewage outflow and industrial pollution, that may change in the near future. After the lake received a multi-million dollar cleanup effort, a report was subsequently released stating that the northern two-thirds of the lake were indeed safe for swimming. In addition, the county recently won a $30,000 state grant, which will fund a feasibility study outlining what it might take to build a public beach. The study will include valuable information pertaining to water quality, sand, infrastructure development, and more. Once the study is completed, the county will decide whether building a beach is a possibility. Although some residents still say the waters are too polluted, city officials are optimistic that locals can soon enjoy this natural resource.
As for the former site of Roth Steel, OCIDA hopes that the portion of the land not used for the Loop the Lake Trail can also be sold for commercial development.
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