Historic preservation must be part of Micron’s planning (guest opinion by Andrew Roblee)

Andrew Roblee is president of the Preservation Association of Central New York. He writes on behalf of the PACNY Board of Directors.

The Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY) is following with keen interest the progress of Micron technology Chip production ‘mega-complex’ planned at Clay’s White Pine business park. With 9,000 jobs expected to be added over the next two decades and billions of dollars to be spent, the long-awaited return of mass manufacturing jobs to the region is being hailed as transformational. Together, the construction of the Micron complex and the reconfiguration of Interstate 81 through the city will bring about a fundamental shift in the regional economy.

Beyond the economic impact, there will undoubtedly be questions about population growth, infrastructure systems and demographic changes. The complexities and intertwined systems involved in these changes often create “thorny problems,” a term used by planners to describe a situation in which the solution to one problem uncovers or even creates other problems. Most of us are familiar with the story that unfolded across the country of the mid-20th century manufacturing boom, creating good jobs and a thriving economy (for some), suburban neighborhoods and expanded commercial space. . Eventually, business models changed and jobs moved, leading to the depletion of urban and rural communities. Decades of declining value and opportunity then leave communities hungry for big developments like the Micron complex. How will we apply the lessons of the past 70 years?

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon called on developers to start building new homes, promising to help remove any obstacles in their path. There are still 1,800 vacant properties in Syracuse alone, not to mention numbers in other communities in the area. Moreover, recently renovation eclipsed new construction for the first time in almost 20 years, due to the convergence of several factors. For example, in places where buildings are much more valuable than the land they sit on, which is the case in almost all of central New York, rehabilitation is the most efficient and valuable use. Resource. Rising housing costs, along with current inflation, supply chain issues and the like, make rehabilitation more economically attractive. To further underscore the issue, we are still in the midst of a real estate crisis in which commercial space cannot be filled due to a lack of tenants and a housing crisis due to a lack of affordable space for potential tenants.

The question of the practical use of space has been resolved by historical preservation for years. PACNY implores local planners and leaders to consider historic rehabilitation as part of McMahon’s call to provide “rehabilitated housing units or new housing units” to the region as a whole. It must be considered to avoid the destruction of our history and our built heritage, to protect our cultural landscapes and open spaces by avoiding new developments with bland and identical houses built with toxic and inferior materials. This can be accomplished through creative application and expansion of existing incentive programs. The successes of historic rehabilitation tax credit projects have been proven in the city of Syracuse and elsewhere in the region, but a local (county, city) incentive would strengthen this effort. The historic homeowner rehabilitation tax credit at the state level needs to be strengthened and expanded to ensure it is more attractive and feasible for developers.

As the regional advocate for historic preservation in Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties, PACNY works for the region’s approximately 750,000 citizens to protect historic resources and cultural landscapes from destruction, neglect and development that could have a negative impact. PACNY in no way seeks to freeze a built or natural space in time, nor to be a sort of anti-growth Cassandra. We must, however, render our members and constituents the service of making their voices heard when it comes to the highest and best use of our historic resources that may be affected by these future projects. The next 20 years will be crucial for the development of central New York and the protection of its historic and cultural resources. We are about to go through the proverbial needle’s eye when it comes to historic preservation in our region, and so we must try to focus construction and renovation efforts in our urban areas. What good is the promise of bringing opportunity to underserved communities if we are simply continuing the trend of suburbanization that has led to mistrust and disinvestment in the past.

Related: Start of construction of loft apartments at the Syracuse factory with a house above

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