Kennedy Square, located on Syracuse’s near Eastside, was a low income housing project built in the 1970’s with 400 units in townhouses and apartment blocks. When it was closed in 2008, it had significant maintenance problems and high vacancy but approximately 80 families still living there lost their homes. The process of their relocation remains a sore memory for many.The intent of this studio project was to continue discussion among stakeholders around alternative programs and urban design approaches that considered the desires and perspectives of community stakeholders and Upstate Medical University, the new owners of the property.
Topic Areas: Urban design and neighborhood planning
Project Scale: Site Master Plan
Accomplished by: 4th year undergraduate landscape architecture design studio
Faculty: Tony Miller, Emanuel Carter, Robin Hoffman, Gordon Perkins
CCDR: Maren King
Partners and stakeholders: Upstate Medical University, City of Syracuse Department of Economic Development, Metropolitan Development Agency, PEACE, Inc., Home Headquarters, American Friends Service Committee
The Kennedy Square site was acquired in April 2008 by Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY), for development of a Biotechnology Research Center on five acres and unknown development on the other nine acres. Several months earlier, in response to the closing of Kennedy Square and in anticipation of the loss of other affordable housing, the Syracuse Housing Roundtable was formed to address this and other related issues. Over the course of the 12 to 15 months of its active work, the Roundtable meetings and working groups provided a forum for information exchange, dialogue, and building trust amongst the numerous organizations, institutions and agencies that have a stake in the future of the neighborhood. Upstate representatives participated in the Roundtable meetings and recognized the importance and sensitivity of this site to the neighborhood and the city. They held a “Town Hall” meeting inviting and welcoming comments and ideas in advance of preparing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to select a developer for the site redevelopment.
The studio project process was designed to continue the dialogue and community engagement started through the Roundtable and the Town Hall Meeting, and to give form to ideas for development on the nine as yet unprogrammed acres that could be discussed among the stakeholders. It began with series of panel discussions through which the students and participating stakeholders came to understand the perspectives and goals of the different stakeholders interested in the project and the complex nature of this urban site and neighborhood. Participants included a former Kennedy Square resident, representatives from neighborhood organizations, the city Department of Economic Development, a local non-profit housing organization, Syracuse University, a local developer, Upstate and Upstate medical students. These representatives also attended the interim and final reviews for the project, providing comments and feedback to the students. The results of these reviews along with project examples were synthesized and documented in The Summary of Project Results. Upstate will be using selected examples of the student work to describe their intentions for the site redevelopment to the community and prospective developers.