Some weeks ago I went downtown in Syracuse to the main Onondaga County Library, which is in the Galleria Mall between South Salina Street and Warren Street. Since I don’t live in the city I hadn’t paid much attention to the area for a long time. There have been a lot of changes; most of them aren’t all that good.

IMAG1809For one, the Galleria is now less of a mall and more of a place for some fancy office space. Gone are all the stores that used to populate it. Some of the spaces are still empty, while others have been filled by some kind of business. Luckily, the library occupies most of the space, upwards of 4 floors, but I have no idea if many of the upper spaces in other areas of the mall have any residents in them at all or not.

IMAG1810 There’s still the diner/bakery Cristo’s, along with an office supply/gift shop, but that’s pretty much it. The food court, which was a big deal when there were still tenants in the old Sibley’s building space (Medicare used to occupy that space but they’ve been long gone), has been closed in and now Traveler’s insurance is there. Just like other cities that have tried putting malls into their downtown areas, it’s an idea that just didn’t work, and that’s unfortunate.

What’s also unfortunate is what’s going on in the rest of that block. While you see all sorts of things happening in the 300 block (where the Landmark Theater is) and in the 500 block (where the new Greyhound transportation center is), the 400 block is a mess of dilapidated and empty buildings with no purpose and not even any consideration as to what can be done about it. There’s still a large space that may or may not contain a post office; it was dark when I was there, though it could have been the windows keeping the light from escaping.

IMAG1807Part of that mess includes what was supposed to be both a community center of sorts and luxury hotel rooms or condos in some of the old Hotel Syracuse space that overlooked the city, now empty with a chute of some kind coming out of one of the rooms, as if the place is up for demolition. Frankly, it was pretty depressing walking in this area and it made me wonder how or if someone, anyone, might be trying to market it to prospective buyers.

This is definitely a major eyesore, especially being in the middle of two blocks going through some major renovation. Once again I have no answers; I’m only pointing things out. As we look towards making downtown both beautiful and prosperous again, a place where people will not only feel safe but want to shop, we can’t forget things like this, which aren’t going to be easy to solve.

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