Who are we and how did we become developers on this project?
We all grew up on Syracuse’s east side, graduating from Nottingham High School in ‘93, ‘94 and ‘95. In our youth, we went to Westcott’s variety and hardware stores with our parents; and later to the Westcott Cinema and Seven Rays (the new-age bookshop). As teenagers we hung out at Fastbreak Pizza (now Dorian’s, the site of this project), eating broccoli slices after practice or in the evenings, likely up to no good.
Brendan, Zack, and Damian building Huckster Hill park on Westcott Street in 2013
Between 2006 and 2010 we returned to Syracuse from years building our professional and personal lives in other parts of the U.S.; Brendan in Seattle, Damian in Brooklyn, and Zack in Denver. We wanted to be close to our families and figure out what we might contribute to our hometown. Damian and Brendan wound up sharing a studio space on N. Salina Street, which became the art, design, and co-working partnership known as Echo. Due to changing partnerships and opportunities, Echo eventually became more focused on design and architecture, and less on creative events. In 2017, Zack partnered with Echo to lead the architectural work at the company.
Brendan, Damian, and friends building a bus shelter on Westcott Street in 2016
2017 was also the year that Damian was working with landlords (in his role as a Westcott Neighborhood Association board member) to figure out how to bring a grocery store to Westcott Street. It was during that effort that we began to dream of transforming the Dorian’s property into a contemporary urban mixed-used building, with a grocery store and other businesses under a couple stories of apartments. Once that vision took hold, it was hard to shake the feeling that a transformation of this underutilized property could have a positive and significant impact on this little commercial district. We decided not to leave it up to others and to take a chance at making this change we hoped to see in the world. Which leads us to today.