community redevelopment

aidypoos / Flickr

Empty storefronts used to be a common site in downtown Syracuse, but now more are being leased out thanks in part to a growing demand from people to live in the city's urban center.

Downtown Syracuse's population rose about a quarter in the past decade. Now businesses are following the young people and "empty nesters" (older couples without kids living at home anymore) downtown.

Twenty-four new businesses opened downtown from October 2011 to October 2012, according to the Downtown Committee. That's up from 13 the year before and from just nine in 2009-2010.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The move to downtown Syracuse was three years in the making for Nicole Samolis. That’s how long it took her to convince her husband to forgo their home in the suburbs.

The couple lives in the newly renovated Dey’s Plaza. The building was once a large department store, and then failed as an office building.

But since it was converted to apartments a few years ago, there’s been a waiting list to get in. Samolis was sold on the place by its view of Syracuse landmarks like the county courthouse.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

For property developers Rich DeVito and Bob Doucette of Paramount Realty, the motivation for taking on large scale renovations of downtown Syracuse’s previously empty buildings was this:

“We wanted to make money,” says DeVito flatly, though Doucette chuckles at the simplicity of the answer. “It’s where the market is,” DeVito goes on to say.

And make money they did.

The pair took the former Dey Brother’s department store in Syracuse two years ago and turned it into upscale apartments with a few office suites.

Its residential units are currently fully leased.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Binghamton looks to many visitors like any other post-industrial city in the Northeast: The historic buildings are in disrepair, and the rundown strip malls hide years of slow progress towards a revitalized Binghamton.

For years, the strategy for rebirth has been to perk up a storefront here, tear down a building there.

That's in evidence at the "Southside Commons," a concrete open space across the river and Route 434 from Binghamton's city center.  The space offers a raised area where bands can play in the summer, and a few tables and chairs scattered around the single lot wedged between two buildings.

It doesn't look like much, but a significant amount of work went into making it happen.

Courtesy photo / Bergmann Associates

There's a lot going on in downtown Rochester these days.

A new bus barn is set to open next year, there are plans to fill in a section of the aging Inner Loop, and the redevelopment of the former Midtown Plaza is slowly taking shape.

So to keep up with what may or may not come to pass, the city of Rochester is tapping a local engineering firm to build them a powerful new tool: detailed 3D modeling software that lets planners zoom around a Rochester of the future.