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Wednesday 30 November 2022
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State Board Sides With Cor on City Permit Issue in Syracuse

The ongoing battle between Cor Development Co. and the city of Syracuse rages on. Although Cor has had its troubles over the last few years, the development company received some good news this week when a state appeal board ruled in its favor. The board found that the city made an error when it denied Cor a necessary building permit for construction at Syracuse Inner Harbor.
Typically, the cost of a building permit can range anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more, depending on the area and the scope of the project. But the cost was the least complicated factor in this case. Syracuse initially granted Cor a permit to build the foundation of the building — the first of two that were to contain 50+ apartments, as well as retail space on the ground floor. But the city then denied the permit needed in order to build the rest of the structure, supposedly due to fire safety codes.
The city told Cor it would grant the permit only if the company gave it ownership of a street the company was planning to build next to the structure. According to the city’s director of permits, Nick Altieri, in order to meet the state’s codes, the street has to be dedicated to the city and available for public use.
But an architectural engineer with GHD Inc., Tim DeRuyscher, said that there’s nothing in the state code that says the street needs to be owned by the city. The fact that the street is there, either before or after the completion of the building, is enough to meet the required standards for the project.
Cor chose to appeal the city’s denial, citing that it was impossible to finish the street and turn it over to the city until after all of the building was complete. This is because the new street would be ruined by the construction activity required for the structure.
In addition, the current pathway there has already been designated by the Syracuse Common Council. One of Cor’s attorneys, Catherine Johnson, noted that whether the company decides to dedicate the street to the city or not, the state’s fire code wouldn’t be impacted because the city of Syracuse wouldn’t allow anything to be built on that existing pathway.
The Department of State’s Syracuse Regional Board of Review ruled in Cor’s favor, 4-0, to grant its appeal of the permit denial. Currently, it is unclear when the company will actually receive the building permit. City officials informed the company that they’d be waiting for written confirmation from the board before issuance.
But the Cor vs. City of Syracuse fight is far from over. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sued Cor over a tax deal the company made last year when Cor applied for and obtained $44.6 million in tax exemptions. Miner alleged that Cor broke its promise not to seek such tax exemptions for its development at the harbor. A judge later dismissed the lawsuit.
The city of Syracuse has also refused to sell the last three out of 32 acres of the Inner Harbor to Cor. Despite the fact that their 2012 agreement outlined such a deal, lawyers for the city maintain that, due to Cor’s legal troubles, they have no obligation to adhere to the agreement. The city says that the company may not be able to withstand the federal bribery and bid-rigging charges being brought against principals Steven Aiello and Joseph Gerardi.
While this decision is a small win for Cor, whether either party will emerge a real winner in this case remains unknown.

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