Destiny USA

Syracuse’s Destiny USA was designed in order to drive local and international visitors to the struggling city to not only provide revenue to the city, but to promote tourism throughout Central New York. Destiny USA has plans to expand the mall further through the expansion of the inner harbor area close by. There are plans for Destiny USA to develop a 1,342-room hotel as well as expand retail along the harbor. The hope is for the newly developed center would provide a significant number of jobs in the Syracuse area. As of now, the only hotel plans within the Inner Harbor is a new Aloft that will contain 130 rooms and a movement has begun in the area to clear out the brush and demolish the vacant buildings on the land.
Under the new addition of now Destiny USA, Onondaga County Legislature asked for property tax exemption to allow for the expansion of the newly added sectors. The IDA exempted property tax, which allowed Destiny USA the opportunity for construction without the accumulation of debt before stores open. The elimination of property taxes until the completion of the new addition helped Destiny USA plan accordingly and not pressure construction that would lead them to be LEED Gold Certified. However, with future expectations of leading to be the second most visited mall, developers are ranging to expand in a different direction. Before the newly built addition previous plans and proposals of a Hotel complex was in the works. The plan for the hotel was to bring more tourists into one main location filled with, shopping, restaurants and entertainment. Overall with the intent to increase the amount of visitors and revenue since it’s a center point within Central New York and Canada.
Although there is a high demand to continue to expand and develop Destiny USA the impact for the city of Syracuse as a whole has moved in a different direction. There has been a main focus to turn Destiny USA as the main attraction of Syracuse. However, its focus tends to put aside the affects on the city and its need. Although the mall has much collaboration such as revenue towards other developing programs and waste product initiative, there is no direct improvement for the city. The overall impact of this design and development is to bring a new direction to the city as the developer and a main tourist attraction.
As seemingly great as these plans may seem, however, the question of how effective this would actually be must be asked. The city of Syracuse and the Destiny USA proponents are putting in a lot of work into “improving the city” by developing a highly commercialized area of Syracuse to attract outside visitors to the city. But what good would actually come from this? If the Inner Harbor and Destiny USA is the one sector of the city that is attracting tourists, then what will happen to the other, less developed areas of the city? Looking into the existing downtown of Syracuse, Armory Square has similarly been developed and planned to spur revenue and make the city better than it was before. However, there is a clear disconnect between Armory Square and the rest of the downtown areas; the class of people are different, the prices at stores and restaurants are different, etc.
At the current rate of development, the Inner Harbor/ Destiny USA will segregate the city further. How much good will a newly developed area of the city have if it is solely geared toward the entertainment of upper-middle class visitors?

From the Ground Up: A Million Dollars Worth of [marketing] Houses for [SU] the Near West side area

A couple sentences and some images of sexy architecture is all the explanation prospective and new students get about the From the Ground Up project. And this project is marketed extensively as it is probably the most costly intervention the School of Architecture at SU has participated in. I say “participated in” instead of “completely responsible for” because after talking to the Director of Upstate, Mark Norman, Becky and I learned how limited a role the School of Architecture actually played in the project. Mark was put in as director not long after From the Ground Up was completed.

Mark defends From the Ground up because it accomplished goals like building three new houses and the educating of the city of implementing sustainable energy systems in them, but it failed at others like the goal of affordability ($80,000 each). Each house in the end cost from $250,000-$350,000. These prices were subsidized down to $90,000 each, but this was still way to expensive for anyone to purchase from the neighborhood so people from outside the neighborhood bought them instead. Not only that but no bank would not even give loans on the houses because they appraised much lower then the very subsidized prize because of their location. A local non profit organization, Home Headquarters who donated the three vacant lots, now begrudgingly hold the mortgages.

Was the education purposes worth spending $1 million on houses that are too expensive to be reproduced again? You have to ask yourself how you wold raise $1 million dollars to build more but lower cost houses that aren’t as sexy? That would be too boring to raise funds. And the explanation to prospective students that the houses aren’t  as awesome looking but we were able to build more of them instead of just a sexy picture? well, that would just take too long.


What is redhouse?

Redhouse is a non-profit multi-arts organization founded in 2004 (when it was opened to the public). Originally it began when there was a group of local artists looking for a home, in 2001. It is a facility that provides art education and cultural activities to the CNY region. The three-story building was old and abandoned but the group of artists still saw potential and character despite the fact that it required some major renovations.  A campaign was organized in order to raise funds to renovate and transform the building from a previously known boarding house into a home for the arts.

As a part of the production, redhouse facilitates the public with a place to hold public, private special and corporate events.

The NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts) typically assists any institution that supports artistic excellence and creative freedom in the New York region. They go about assisting such institutions through its grant making activity. Their main aim is to achieve cultural development in the State of New York.

Redhouse brief:

Red House Arts Center:

            -non-profit multi-arts organization founded in 2004

            -provides art education to the region

            -provides cultural activities


            -Professional theatre

            -music shows

            -dance shows

            -monthly radio shows

            -art education (5 programs)

            -art installations

            -independent film series

            -special events (private party spaces for rent)


       as an organization that is supposed to be community based and artist driven they are geared towards a certain subset of people

       pricey membership and event tickets

       maybe geared towards the professional community rather than the poorer communities (service/labor industry)

       even youth classes (redED) seem to be pricey for the average person

       seems to be geared at middle to upper class communities

       considered part of the connective corridor bus route but doesn’t really partake in being a part of the community

       seem to be more interested in the theatrical aspect than the singer/songwriter aspect (flaws in residency)


       Why are there no hours listed on the website?

       If they wanted to be seen as a community organization they should list hours and also be more inviting to the public?

       Why is there little to no publicity? Limited advertising seen.

       With limited amounts of advertising how do people find out about them in order to donate? (they claim to be dependent upon the donations of individuals).

       Is there another source of income?

SYR | HopePrint + the Refugee Community

Approximately 12, 000 refugees currently reside in Syracuse, about 800 arriving each year.  Upon arrival, they have a caseworker for 90 days and for 8 months, receive housing, food, and a small stipend with no questions asked.  However, in New York State, refugees must be employed or enrolled in the JOBS Plus Program actively seeking employment.

HopePrint is a non-profit (donation/volunteer/grant funded) founded 3 years ago after a group of soon-to-be graduates responded to a request of furniture by a Nepali family they had met.  (4 years ago Syracuse saw the largest influx of refugees to date).

Located in the Northside neighborhood (where the majority of the refugee population lives), HopePrint addresses the notion that the greatest need for incoming refugees are relationships.  Programs include ESL tutoring, GED Tutoring. Leadership Development (gather leaders of various ethnic groups to share ideas), Kids Club, collaboration with Northside Urban Partnerships (entrepreneurship start ups).  Also has worked with local middle school to address the bullying of refugee students (of the 100 middle school students, only 3 knew the meaning of refugee).

~5 members of HopePrint live upstairs of the “HopePrint” home (Americans+ previous refugees from the Congo, one recently got job at the hospital, one American was an AmeriCorps Vista – lives at poverty level).  The founders/directors have other jobs to sustain themselves/are continuing their education.  It is somewhat reminiscent of MIUFI in Detroit in that the founders first purchased a home in the community and said they went from “outsiders to neighbors.”

Some questions:

How are the programs advertised?

What is the distribution of Syracuse natives + Refugees throughout Northside?

Participation of native Syracuse community? (kids are involved but what about the adults?  Also harder to reach out to/are working so the extent of interaction of the immediate locals with the refugee community at HopePrint I have seen tends to be sending their children to Kids Club as a form of free daycare, but kids walk to the home themselves)

Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse

Syracuse has a similar problem as Detroit in relation to the access to an adequate amount of healthy food. In Detroit it is mediated by Urban Farming and large companies such as Whole Foods, implementing low-cost versions of their stores in the afflicted areas. The Rescue Mission serves a similar purpose to the low-income populations of Syracuse. They provide food to anyone who enters their doors, temporary housing for those requiring it and provide support services for those people getting back on their feet. The Syracuse model is reflected in the efforts of the Unitarian Church that we stayed at in Detroit.

The Rescue Mission

A Christian run foundation whose mission statement is “No one should have to be hungry or homeless. It can happen for so many reasons and once there, it can be a difficult road back. You can help the Rescue Mission work to end hunger and homelessness by join our mission”.

Their main objectives are to

  • End Hunger
  • End Homelessness
  • Outreach
  • Spiritual Care

Founded by a group of local churches to reach out to the homeless of Syracuse in 1887. Founding mission was to bring men, women and children to Christ, to offer spiritual and physical renewal and to help those most in need to provide food and shelter.

Disclaimer: “They recognize that the community is a multi-faith community and that they do not discriminate. People are not required to get spiritual care in order to receive the services of the organization. Freedom”

Food: Served at the Rescue Mission Center

“The number of people who need a meal has risen to record levels in the last few months, he said. The mission had been serving about 650 meals a day in Syracuse but since May the number spiked to more than 800 and sometimes more than 900 a day toward the end of every month” Alan Thornton, President

    • 3 Meals offered per day, every day a year

    • Volunteer work for serving meals (Supervised by paid employees)

      • Anyone in the community, including Alpha Phi Omega (Community Service Fraternity)

      • 55 people per day- Syracuse University

      • Many local community members serve on the weekends

    • Recipients don’t have to hear the gospel to receive the food, No Preaching, Not forced to repent for sins.. Belief that God should be experienced on one’s own terms.

    • There are permanent staff are employed by the organization and receive a salary

      • Facility Managers, Spiritual Advisors (Making Bank), Administration

      • Unpaid Internships – Students and Community Members

      • Volunteers – Can serve meals/work anytime you want.

    • Supported by generous donations of individuals, companies, churches, schools, community participation, which allows for low food cost

    • Donations

      • Panera Bread – Donates leftover pastries and stuff

      • Individual can donate any non-perishable food items or household items

    • Statistics

      • $2.19 provides a meal for 1 child = $45.00 a week feeds a child

      • Last Year the food service center served 225,000 Meals



  • What is the master plan that has been developed?

    • Increase housing by 50-60 Units

    • Conversion of the Recreation Center to expansion of emergency shelter and adjacent day center

  • Is the Rescue Mission working with local large scale grocery stores like Wegman’s to get their food?

  • How is the Rescue Mission making its presence known to those in need other than the Homeless Intervention Services Team? Is it just word of mouth? If someone is hungry but not homeless, who tells them about the Rescue Mission?

  • How does the Rescue Mission get volunteers?

  • What is the percentage of paid staff vs. volunteers?

  • What is the structure of the hierarchy within the non-profit?

  • Do the chaplains have congregations outside of the rescue mission? Are they paid?

  • What are the success rates of the work placement programs/initiatives?


  • They do not provide homeless shelters for women, only men. Does the new master plan having women’s housing in mind?

  • Faith-Based Organization, but it is more progressive than most. They will not force the word of God down your throat along with your food.

  • Transparent Financial Agenda

Syracuse Case Studies

In order to better understand our own ability to act in  context we have researched NGOs in the Syracuse area in regards to their tactics, motives and institutional structures similar to our approach towards Project 2. Our intention in doing this is to be able to define our own social initiative  in more concrete terms. To follow are our findings.


Detroit: Movement City Conference

On October 25th (this Friday) will be a scholar/activist exchange on urban struggle and community building focused on Detroit.

It is called “Detroit: Movement City” and will be at the Rackham Amphitheatre from 12:00pm until 6:00 pm.

Notable speakers are Detroit activist Grace Lee Boggs, and also Kim Sherobbi who you all met at the Cass Commons during our Detroit trip.





Project 3

U of M and SYR

It’s too bad we didn’t have class today because I felt very rushed in class last week to decide on what our final project will be. I think we should meet before class Tues the 22nd to get some ideas together. To SYR and U or M, Becky and I talked about doing a project related to communication. Communication could possibly be the theme of a curated exhibition at the Store Front (the Store Front is a space that is operated by the Architecture program in downtown Syracuse, we use it to get the word out on projects we are working on). Like Becky’s last post, I think it would be interesting to show work from U of M students in Syracuse, since Detroit and Syracuse are in a similar situation in many ways. From project 2 that I worked on with Secil, I am really interested in how Architecture for Humanity is held responsible for what they do. It was very hard to find critical information about AFH besides smiley, color saturated photos. They are responsible to the local government, which could be opposite of the needs of the clients. Also they are responsible to their funding from businesses like Google. The evidence I found that AFH uses to show their funding support is images with smiley kids suggesting AFH has solved everything and there are no problems now. So the responsibility that they are held to is very narrow with limited visibility. I think communication could raise accountability. I am interested in how the communication gap could be closed between client/NGO/funding, something similar to the bridging that the Center for Urban Pedagogy project, that Carla and Peter worked on, is about. A project that could cross language boundaries and leverage the ability of architects (and artists) to distill complex information into legible graphics. This idea it still very general and I would like other people’s input. I would also like to hear about what other people are interested in working on even if they don’t want to work in collaboration of some degree.