Student Housing: Upstate Medical University buys vacant downtown Syracuse apartment buildings for student housing

Student Housing: Upstate Medical University buys vacant downtown Syracuse apartment buildings for student housing

James T. Mulder for The Post-Standard

Syracuse, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University has purchased two vacant apartment buildings in downtown Syracuse as part of a plan to create housing for students and medical residents.

Upstate announced today it has acquired Townsend Tower and Harrison House from the state and will spend about $18 million renovating them.

Upstate has been negotiating for two years to take over the two former low-income housing complexes near Townsend and Harrison streets.

New York state took over the 21-story buildings last year. The complexes, which each have 200 units, struggled for years with high vacancies, debt and poor maintenance. They were built in 1973 with financial help from the state to provide affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people. Empire State Development Corp., a state agency, held the mortgage on the properties.

Upstate wants to increase its enrollment, but has no room to expand on its nearby campus.

The state transferred the property to Upstate in exchange for a pledge by Upstate to pay a portion of the property’s $2 million in back taxes owed to the city and county. The property will remain on the tax rolls because it is held by a private arm of the Upstate Foundation. By keeping the property private, Upstate will have more flexibility to partner with businesses that can manage the property and provide amenities for residents like recreation facilities. That would be much more difficult to do if the property were owned directly by Upstate. That’s because Upstate is part of SUNY and is subjected to regulations that make if difficult to contract with private businesses.

[syracuse.com]

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