Developer's Lofty Ideas May Transform Masonic Lodge

Plan: 35 medium-income professionals would live and work in old lodge building.

April 22, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

By Rick Moriarty, Staff writer

A former Masonic lodge in downtown Syracuse that has sat vacant for eight years could soon find new life as a place for young entrepreneurs to live and work.

James Monahan, president of Monahan Development Corp., announced plans Friday to turn the five-story, 68,500- square-foot building at 320 Montgomery St. into 35 apartments.

The apartments, between the YMCA and St. Paul's Cathedral, would be about 1,150 square feet each and include studio space for the tenants' businesses. All but one would have two bedrooms. They would rent for $750 a month.

Monahan said only people with moderate incomes - generally those who earn up to about $16 an hour - will be allowed to rent the apartments. That's a requirement for the project to be eligible for federal low-income housing tax credits.

Those tax credits, along with federal historic building rehabilitation tax credits, will pay for about half the $5.76 million cost of the project and allow him to keep the rents affordable, he said.

Tax-free bonding under the federal Empowerment Zone program will also help finance the project. Further assistance will come from tax exemptions from sales and mortgage recording taxes and property tax discounts, said Monahan, who will be managing member of a limited liability corporation that will be formed for the project.

Monahan said he will rent the apartments only to people who operate their own professional businesses, and they'll have to prove it with documentation. That requirement would make the Masonic Lofts, as the project is being called, the first "live-work" residential development in Syracuse.

2006 The Post-Standard.