It wasn’t MTV Cribs or Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It was Salina Street, after all, not Sunset Boulevard or Park Avenue. It was more like HGTV’s House Hunters, a show I am totally hooked on for some reason.
Whatever you want to compare it to, visiting five apartment/condo complexes in downtown Syracuse on Saturday was an incredibly interesting experience. Throw in a good meal sitting outside the Blue Tusk in Armory Square on a warm breezy afternoon, and you have a very fun day.
Wife L and I took part in the fifth annual Downtown Living Tour. We were blown away by some of the uber-hip contemporary spaces we got to walk through with smart phone camera in hand and booties on feet. One of our favorites? The condos at Jefferson Clinton Commons. The two-bedroom, two-bath condo we toured had a small balcony overlooking the Museum of Science and the funky shops and restaurants that encircle it.
A gas fireplace was the prominent feature at one end of the main living space, with flat sandstones pancaked from floor to ceiling along the entire wall. A green and gray tiled master bath featured a glass-door shower that was the size of my bedroom in my first Buffalo student apartment. Big, roomy, tasteful.
Ten-foot high ceilings throughout, a great office space, and a long breakfast bar topped with granite that served as the main dining area also were highlights. I learned that because of tax abatements provided to the complex and similar historic renovations, taxes on a unit valued at $380,000 are only about $400 annually. I am not missing a zero there. That is the estimated tax rate for at least the next four years.
We strolled over to Center Armory to see a couple of its 38 townhouse units. A wonderful shared courtyard space links the units and puts you above those walking on a pedestrian alley to restaurants and shops. I never knew the apartments existed until Saturday.
We had never been to The Blue Tusk Pub and Wine Bar before Saturday, either. The wide variety of select beers, which number around 70, should impress any suds aficionado. You order food at the counter, find a seat, and wait for the buzzer to sound so you can pick up your meal.
I had a terrific pannini with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and thin slices of tomato, all on a wonderful crunchy Italian stretch bread.
The mozzarella was just gooey enough and a terrific complement to the salty flavor of the prosciutto.
Wife L enjoyed her country-style pate served with small slices of Italian bread and all the appropriate garnishes. She also had a spicy cup of crab and red pepper soup.
The menu has lots of eclectic specialty sandwich options, and a good sampling of meat and cheese offerings to go with any of the fine wines you might want to sample.
It was great fun to people watch as Walton Street bustled with activity and as we looked across the street to the outside dining areas of PJ’s Pub and Grill and the Empire Brewing Co., wondering if those diners were faring as well as we were.
Fortified, we worked our way over to Salina Street to the Syracuse Trust Condominiums, almost directly across from the Landmark Theater. These four condos, which range in the $400,000s, were amazing to behold. One condo unit featured a small vault from the building’s financial days. Each has a long hallway with two bedrooms off to the side and a guest bathroom, leading up to the amazing kitchen/eating space and then the living space, awash in bright light from the magnificent arched windows overlooking Salina Street.
The backsplash in the kitchen has already been put on our home-improvement list. The room proportions were perfect, and one unit was perfectly appointed for the tour with Stickley furnishings. A high-tech security system is in the foyer, next to the elevator, for each of the condos, and parking is in a secure covered lot just a short distance away.
Sixteen apartments are slated for construction in a nearby building, a $25 million rehab project will soon begin across the street, and it was great to see the steel beams rising as part of the Landmark Theater’s expansion.
A stop at the awe-inspiring Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception included a guided tour and a visit to the crypt below the main altar area, and some interesting high-tech conversation was had during our visit to the Technology Garden.
All this, folks, was in downtown Syracuse. No question there is plenty of room for improvement in the downtown area. But there also is absolutely no question that some significant progress is being made.