Hotel Sale Goes Through
Investors must begin renovating part
of the Hotel Syracuse to keep garage
Friday, September 16, 2005
By Frederic Pierce, Staff writer
There aren't too many property owners in Syracuse who can walk
downstairs from their bedrooms and swim in an indoor pool, take a seat
in a movie theater or eat in a full-service restaurant: All beneath the
same, gargoyle-guarded roof.
But that's exactly the kind of permanent living space envisioned by an
Israeli company that officially purchased downtown's Hotel Syracuse
complex late last week.
Gmul Investment Company LTD closed on a deal to buy the historic hotel
complex from Illinois-based First Bank of Oak Park last Thursday or
Friday, said Robert Germain, a Syracuse lawyer involved in part of the
sale. The building's price was not available.
The sale starts the clock ticking for Gmul, which must begin renovating
the first two floors of the 80-year-old hotel building and its attached
garage within 120 days of the closing, or turn title to the garage back to
"I really get the impression they want to get started as soon as
possible," said David Michel, the city's economic development director.
"They seem to be really focusing on the tower in particular."
Gmul plans to renovate the hotel's 22-year-old tower into a stack of
about 65 modern condominium units as part of a $19 million first phase of
renovations. That phase would also include repairs to the now-closed
garage and renovation of the historic lobby, ballrooms and commercial
space on the lower floors of the historic original building.
Other details of the hotel complex's future are still evolving, and the
company is not yet ready to comment publicly on them, Arie Kotler, a Gmul
executive, said Thursday.
Sources familiar with the project, however, outlined some of the plans
being discussed on condition they not be identified.
One possibility is the creation of a movie theater in the space
formerly occupied by the Viva Debris comedy club.
"That would be great," said David Mankiewicz, deputy director of the
Downtown Committee of Syracuse. "The good thing about the Hotel Syracuse
is that it's so large they can create the environment of a neighborhood in
Much of the space in the original building - up to 100 units -
eventually are to be converted to condominiums, sources said. That will
leave 150 to 200 traditional hotel rooms in the historic building.
Most of the 65 or so condos filling the tower will sell for $200,000 to
$250,000, sources said. A handful of luxury condominiums, however, could
go on the market for as much as $500,000.
Condominiums have traditionally not sold well in Syracuse, but experts
Thursday said they believe the downtown market has improved to the point
where the time to sell condos is probably ripe.
"There does seem to be a surge of interest," said Lynnore Fetyko, of
the Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors. "I think the feeling is
downtown is being revitalized and this is a positive development."
One real estate agent told Michel she had a list of more than 30 people
who were interested in buying condominiums downtown, he said. Occupancy in
downtown rental units, meanwhile, is at 99 percent, Mankiewicz said.
© 2005 The Post-Standard.