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Hotel Syracuse MARRIOTT SYRACUSE DOWNTOWN

Sponsored By:

A Commemorative Publication


Hayner Hoyt is proud of our leadership role in the restoration of the Hotel Syracuse.

“A Foundation of Trust”

625 Erie Blvd West •Syracuse, NY 315.455.5941 www.HaynerHoyt.com


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d Riley and the Hotel Syracuse Restoration Team would like to express our thanks and heartfelt gratitude to all of our partners that have helped us through this tremendous undertaking - The City of Syracuse, SIDA, Onondaga County and the numerous other State and Local government officials that played such a big supporting role. M&T Bank and US Bank who have provided the conventional financing and the Historical Tax Credits piece of the puzzle. Gary Thurston and his team at Hayner Hoyt, Mackenzie Hughes, our two architectural teams at MLG Architects and Holmes, King & Kallquist, IPD Engineers along with the many other subcontractors and vendors in Central New York. Our Community Partners: SUNY EOC, NYS DOL and the near Westside, Northside, and Southside neighborhood organizations that have helped us find talented staff in the downtown Syracuse area. A special shout out to the Onondaga Historical Association for all of their support and to Synapse for their guidance with the grants.

Cheers to another 90+ years for “The Old Girl ”!



5/6/16 1:14 PM


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The Historical Saga of the “Grande Dame” –

BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@cnybj.com

the Hotel Syracuse

1924 On Aug. 5, 1924, the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” first appeared. On the 11th, Lee de Forest, using a new sound-on-film process, filmed President Calvin Coolidge on the White House lawn. Three days later, Coolidge accepted his party’s nomination for re-election at a speech at the Memorial Continental Hall in Washington, D.C. On Aug. 22, Clarence Darrow presented his closing argument in the Leopold and Loeb trial, a murder case that had riveted the nation. Five days later, American Telephone and Telegraph successfully transmitted a color photograph from Chicago to New York. The procedure took less than one hour.

While the country was absorbed by national events in August 1924, Syracuse residents assembled downtown on Aug. 16 to celebrate the grand opening of a new, luxury hotel dubbed the Hotel Syracuse. Public accommodation for travelers had been a tradition since 1806 when Henry Bogardus built a tavern on the northwest corners of what are now Salina and Genesee Streets. The ribboncutting featured John (Jackie) Leslie Coogan, a nine-year-old child actor, who garnered national recognition starring with Charlie Chaplain in the 1921 silent movie “The Kid.” (Coogan also much later on starred as Uncle Fester in the 1960s sitcom “The Addams Family.”) The Hotel Syracuse, designed by world-renowned architect George B. Post, contained three towers connected at the base and boasted 612 rooms with baths; tennis, squash, and handball courts (located on the roof); retail stores at street level, including a barber shop with 10 chairs; and elegant restaurants and meeting rooms including the Persian Terrace, the Grand Ballroom, and the Rainbow Room, added after Prohibition ended. In 1948, the hotel commissioned Carl Roters to paint a 40-foot mural in the lobby. The painting

PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES WAINWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

A shot of the Hotel Syracuse taken this spring.

was a representation of people and events from Syracuse’s early history. During its first eight decades of operation, the Hotel Syracuse hosted a gaggle of celebrities including five U.S. Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. In addition, Charles Lindbergh, Bob Hope, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, and John Lennon accompanied by Yoko Ono all visited the premises. Thousands of area residents celebrated life-cycle events at the hotel, and still carry the memories. The attraction of the hotel to visitors, businesses, and residents began to fade in the 1980s with the rise of alternative options, such as the cluster of hotels and motels at Carrier Circle, additional private catering and meeting halls, and limitedservice hotels. For overnight guests, the small room configuration proved uninviting. Despite the construction of a new facility, known as the Hilton Tower, adjacent to the historic hotel, which opened in 1983, the fortunes of the hotel declined with the rise of growing competition. In 1980, management changed the Hotel Syracuse’s name to the Hilton at Syracuse Square and changed the


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First bankruptcy

The original owners who built the Hotel Syracuse faced bankruptcy while the building was still a skeleton of steel. The hotel corporation had to reorganize and the owners had to scramble to find new investors to complete the project. In 1971, Joseph Murphy, a New York City real-estate executive, bought the hotel. His decision to build the 200-room Hilton Tower added substantial debt to the hotel’s balance sheet and additional capacity that couldn’t be filled. Murphy filed for bankruptcy in 1990 after the City of Syracuse moved to foreclose on the property for failure to make tax payments. “In the late 1980s,” recalls Allen Naples, regional president of M&T Bank, “I was a young commercial-loan officer at Marine Midland Bank. The Hotel Syracuse was in financial trouble and needed a cash infusion to continue operating. Every bank in town joined together to create an $8 million or $9 million loan to keep the hotel afloat. The rescue package didn’t work, because I think it was only a year or two later that we all wrote off the loan.” In 1990, Michael Bennett, an executive with the Syracuse–based Bennett Companies, bought the property from the bankruptcy court. Bennett sank at least $8 million into restoring the lobby and the Grand Ballroom. In 1992, the Syracuse Convention Center (Oncenter) opened its 99,000-square-foot facility just two blocks from the Hotel Syracuse. The Oncenter’s opening created a 23-year debate about whether the Hotel Syracuse or a new hotel built adjacent to the convention facility should receive the designation as the city’s

flagship convention hotel. Bennett sold Hotel Syracuse in 1996 to Allegro Property and Finance, two years before he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges in connection with the familyowned business. The Bennett Companies, including some of its principals, were found guilty of defrauding investors. The Hotel Syracuse was not part of the conspiracy.

Second bankruptcy

In 2000, Valdor Fiber Optics, a Canadian company, merged with Allegro and assumed title to Hotel Syracuse. Valdor, which tried to sell the hotel but was unsuccessful, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2001 just as city hall threatened to turn off its water for nonpayment. At that time, the hotel owed creditors $18.4 million and posted book-assets of $19.1 million. The property had an estimated value of $15 million. In 2002, the bankruptcy judge put the hotel up for auction in order to collect money for creditors. There were no bidders. Two major creditors — Titan Management and the First Bank of Oak Park — took title to the property after paying the court $10.9 million. At that time, the hotel already owed $15.3 million to the lenders. The Hotel Syracuse continued to operate under bankruptcy protection. The hotel cut costs by reducing the staff over time from 250 full-time equivalents to 75, closing off a number of rooms, and dropping all meal service except for banquet catering. In 2002, the occupancy rate averaged 22 percent, generating an operating loss of $1.1 million. The next year, the occupancy rate fell to just 15 percent, producing an operating loss of $2.3 million. The Hotel Syracuse closed its doors on

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

name back to Hotel Syracuse in 1990.

May 28, 2004.

Post-bankruptcy

A month before the hotel closed, HRI Group of New Orleans floated a proposal to turn the then 80-year-old historic property into a four-star hotel at a cost of $90 million. The HRI Group, which includes historic restoration, lodging, construction, and architecture, asked Onondaga County legislators to designate the hotel as the official convention center of the Oncenter. The complex plan called for the bank that then owned the property to turn the hotel over to an arm of the city called Rebuild

Syracuse, which in turn, would transfer title to HRI. The bank would earn a federal tax credit worth 20 percent of the project. The New Orleans firm planned to use private capital and tax credits to create 359 rooms on the assumption it could raise $72.3 million in first and second mortgages. To help lure the investors, HRI wanted Onondaga County to co-sign the loan. Four months after HRI floated its plan for the historic hotel, the Procaccianti Group of Cranston, Rhode Island let its option to purchase the tower expire. Procaccianti, SEE GRANDE DAME, PAGE 34

Supporting our communities is important. At M&T Bank, we know how important it is to support those organizations that make our communities better places to live and work. That’s why we offer both our time and resources and encourage others to do the same. We are proud to support the Hotel Syracuse renovation. Lindsay Weichert CRE Team Leader 315-424-4433 Equal Housing Lender. ©2016 M&T Bank. Member FDIC. mtb.com

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HOMETOWN BOY RESCUES THE HOTEL SYRACUSE BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@cnybj.com

SYRACUSE — When Ed Riley was born in 1954, the Hotel Syracuse had been operating for 30 years as Syracuse’s luxury hotel. Born on Park Avenue on the city’s west side, Riley — a fourth-generation native whose great-grandfather came to Syracuse in 1908 — grew up in Camillus, attended Christian Brothers Academy, Onondaga Community College, and Syracuse University, where he earned a degree in architecture. He never imagined that his vocational path, combined with his love of the area, would lead him to redeem the “grande dame” of Syracuse hotels.

ERIC REINHARDT/ BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

Ed Riley speaks at a June 2015 event at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown hotel under development.

After graduation, Riley opened Ed Riley & Associates in downtown Syracuse offering architectural services. He closed the office after eight years to join Pioneer Development, where he worked for six years. The next step was a five-year stint with Marriott International developing resorts. Riley’s job required commuting to Hawaii while maintaining his residence in Camillus. Riley next joined Intrawest — a North American mountain resort, adventure-experiences, and real-estate company — and also spent two years at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona. In 2003, Riley went to work for Pyramid Hotel Group (PHG), headquartered in Boston. PHG has 75 properties (71 hotels, 4 resorts) scattered over 23 states, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The company

boasts more than 22,000 rooms under brand flags that include Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, and Radisson. During his 15 years in the hotel and resort business, Riley oversaw many projects. While a senior VP at PHG, he was responsible for the $30 million renovation of The Fairfax at Embassy Row luxury hotel in Washington, D.C.; a 259-room Starwood Hotel, also in the nation’s capital; a $60 million renovation of the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Phoenix; and the $35 million renovation of the Claremont Hotel in the San Francisco– Oakland area. Riley has also renovated commercial buildings in downtown Syracuse. Over the years, Riley had watched the slow decline of the Hotel Syracuse, which began in the 1980s, and started to consider options to bring it back.

“I started seriously thinking 16 to 17 years ago as to what a plan might look like to restore the Hotel Syracuse,” Riley recalls. “I discussed the situation with a long-time friend, Gary Thurston, who owns the Hayner Hoyt Corp., [a full-service construction firm headquartered in Syracuse]. Hayner Hoyt had been contracted in 2007 to do the renovation of the Symphony Tower, adjacent to the historic hotel. In 2011, Gary introduced me to Ben Walsh, the deputy commissioner of the Department of Neighborhood & Business Development for the City of Syracuse. Walsh, who had been burned multiple times by plans to restore the Hotel Syracuse, was cautious about pursuing yet another restoration plan.” In time, Riley also spoke to Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. “In 2013, I presented PHG’s proposal to renovate the historic hotel property,” says Riley. “I had arranged, on behalf of PHG, to buy the hotel from the city, which was willing to seize the property for back taxes. Just as we were ready to close, an Israeli mortgage lender paid just enough back taxes to stall the foreclosure. At that point, my company decided to back away from the deal.” Committed to the concept, Riley left PHG to pursue the plan on his own.

The plan

“The concept was to restore the historic hotel to its original luster as a five-star facility,” avers Riley, “preserving as much of its 1924 elegance as possible. The plan did require major reconstruction, because we needed to downsize the number of rooms and make each larger. The original infrastructure — wiring, heating, etc. — was outdated and needed to be torn out and replaced. Because the hotel was on the National Register for Historic Places, we made a special effort to preserve the original look, including restoring the hand-painted ceilings, a 40foot mural in the lobby, and numerous other features.” The plan called for reducing the 600-plus rooms spread across 11 floors in the historic hotel to 248 rooms and 13 suites with separate living rooms. “The restaurants and lounges will feature all-day dining, wines from the Finger Lakes, craft beers, pub fare, exotic coffees at Café Kubal, handcrafted cocktails, and small-plate options,” Riley enumerates. “Guests can enjoy a 24-hour fitness center or utilize other amenities such as the barber shop. They have access to more than 41,000 square feet of flexible event space in multiple meeting rooms, including more than 14,000 square feet of IACC-certified (International Association of Conference Centres) member-venue conference space. The meeting facilities are supported by state-ofthe-art audio-visual equipment and a full-service business center. We can do all of this on-premises, because the building contains 473,000 [square] feet.” When fully operational, the hotel will employ more than 300 people (200 full-time equivalents). The hotel, now called Marriott Syracuse Downtown, also plans to revive its catering service. “When I reviewed the historical records of the Hotel Syracuse,” asserts Riley, “I was more than pleasantly surprised to learn that the catering operation was two to three times the national average [for a hotel of this size]. The catering included everything from business and organizational meetings to events and weddings. I think the community’s bond to this hotel is … [unbroken], because we have already booked 45 to 50 weddings just in the second half of 2016 and more in 2017. The facility also has strong pre-bookings for meetings and events, especially pre-sales to area corporations.”

The juggling act

Renovating the Hotel Syracuse was not Riley’s first rodeo, but it was the most complicated. “My initial challenge was how to convince a number of players that my plan could work,” observes Riley. “Since the Oncenter had opened [in 1992], the executives of the city and county had reviewed a steady stream of proposals. Funding them required substantial support from grants issued by various levels of government. Then there was the need to bring a bank on board to fund the reconstruction. HistorSEE RILEY, PAGE 35

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C E L E B R AT E P E R F E C T LY

RESTORED HISTORIC HOTEL The former Hotel Syracuse is back and better than ever with historical elegance paired with contemporary luxury • Restored public spaces and modern guest rooms • Listed with the Historic Hotels of America and on the National Register of Historic Places LO C AT I O N The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown just two blocks from the OnCenter Convention facility, a short walk from the historic Armory Square District, and less than one mile from Syracuse University & Upstate Medical Center GUEST SERVICES Complimentary WiFi in all public spaces • Wired and wireless access in guest room, suites, and meeting rooms • Full Service business center • 24-hour fitness center • Club level • M Club • Local shuttle service • Pet Friendly RESTAURANTS & LOUNGES Eleven Waters Restaurant Shaughnessey’s Irish Pub Cavalier Room Lounge Legacy Steakhouse ACCOMODATIONS 261 guest rooms • 19 suites with separate living room • Accessible guest rooms • Luxurious bedding • 49 inch LCD HDTVs We have your perfect venue: Grand Ballroom - (shown above) Historic & Elegant, up to 500 people Persian Terrace- Historic & Beautiful, up to 300 people Finger Lakes Ballroom - Modern, up to 650 people Empire Room - Historic space, up to 100 people

RECREATION & LEISURE Heated pool, whirlpool • Sauna • 24-hour fitness center • Life Fitness equipment • four golf courses nearby MEETING FACILITIES Over 40,000 sq. ft. of flexible event space across multiple meeting rooms including 14,200 sq. ft. of IACC conference space • Three Ballrooms offering a total of 18,000 sq. ft. • Twenty breakout rooms • State-of-theart technology and acoustical sound • On site audio visual equipment and support • Conference Services Professionals • Certified Wedding Planners

MARRIOTT SYRACUSE DOWNTOWN 1 0 0 EAST ONONDAGA STREET SYRACUSE, NEW YORK 13202 844.STAY.SYR (844.782-9797) 315.474.2424

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Pinterest.com/MarriottSYR

twitter.com/MarriottSYR


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PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE G. HARVEY

Restoring the old… creating the new. We are proud to partner with

Hotel Syracuse providing furnishings throughout the hotel. Congratulations on the completion of this incredible project!

Workers labor to complete renovations to the Hotel Syracuse.

Hayner Hoyt orchestrates a new score for Symphony Tower BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@cnybj.com

NORMAN POLTENSON/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

now called Marriott Syracuse Downtown, is scheduled for July 4. Riley, an architect and veteran of renovating hotel properties, began talking to Thurston Overture in the 1990s about the ill-fortunes of Strings, brass, reeds, and percussion. the “grande dame” of Syracuse hotels. A composer has to meld all of the or- They bemoaned the sale in 1996 of the chestra’s sections together in order to Hotel Syracuse by then owner Michael produce pleasing, Bennett to Allegro symphonic music. Proper ty and Success requires Finance. In 2000, an understanding Allegro merged of the instruments, with Valdor Fiber a passion for the Optics, a Canadian music, and the percompany. When sonal temperament Valdor filed for to persist despite Chapter 11 bankwhatever obstacles ruptcy protection arise. for the hotel in Gary Thurston 2001, Riley and is just completing Thurston met a symphony in with the First four movements. Bank of Oak Park Thurston, who is (Chicago), which chairman and CEO held the first mortof the Hayner Hoyt gage. The duo exCorp., headquarplored acquiring tered in Syracuse, the hotel. Their has written a score effort was unsucsubstituting steel, cessful: In 2005, concrete, glass, Gmul Investment and lawyers for the Co., Ltd. bought usual musical inthe historic struments found in Gary Thurston, chairman and CEO of Hayner Hoyt Corp., hotel, an adjacent an orchestra. The displays in the company’s Syracuse headquarters a tower, and a parkrestored painting that adorns the newly restored Hotel unofficial title of ing garage out of Syracuse lobby ceiling. Hayner Hoyt was both the general the piece is: “Hand contractor and the construction manager on the bankruptcy. The me a lemon, and I’ll $54 million renovation project of the 92-year-old hotel. company set up make lemonade.” three LLC entities, each with a GML First movement/adagio designation. The idea for the score came out of a long friendship Thurston has with Ed Riley, Second movement/allegretto the local entrepreneur who recently took Less than a year after Gmul acquired the Hotel Syracuse off life-support and the hotel properties, it sold its holdings restored the historic facility to its original luster. The grand opening of the hotel, SEE NEW SCORE, PAGE 36 4

Harden Furniture, Inc. 8550 Mill Pond Way • McConnellsville, NY 13401-1844 (315) 245-1000 • Fax (315) 245-2884 harden@harden.com • www.harden.com


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Congratulations Ed Riley on bringing this historic landmark back to life.

Thank you for using Local Labor

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FINANCING THE Dream CNYBJ.COM

BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@cnybj.com

Morgan’s reply: No sir, the first thing is character … A man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom. John Pierpont (“J.P.”) Morgan was the preeminent banker of his era, financing a railroad empire, U.S. Steel, General Electric, and other major corporations. Because the U.S. had no central bank, he often used his influence and resources to stabilize the economy. In 1895, Morgan headed a banking syndicate that loaned the federal government $60 million. During the Panic of 1907, he called the country’s top financiers to his home for a meeting and convinced them to bail out faltering, financial institutions. His action stabilized the markets, ending the Panic. During his reign, Morgan put together a number of complicated deals, but none to match the deal Ed Riley assembled. Riley, who is a fourth-generation resident of Syracuse, was determined to restore the historic Hotel Syracuse to its original 1924 luster and operate a successful fivestar hotel. An architect by training and a

restorer of hotel properties by vocation, he dreamed for two decades of bringing what he affectionately calls “The Old Girl” back to its pre-eminence. Over a period of three years beginning in 2013, he persuaded, cajoled, argued, entreated, requested, beseeched, and implored scores of people to consider his proposal favorably. To finance the $70 million project, he needed to secure several grants, historic-tax credits, a mortgage, equity, and a PILOT (payment-in-lieuof-taxes) agreement — all while struggling with creditors to gain title to the property.

NORMAN POLTENSON/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

Q

uestion to American financier and banker J.P. Morgan: Is not commercial credit based primarily upon money or property?

Grants

According to Riley, the first step was to get the Onondaga County Legislature, which controlled a $15 million grant from New York State to erect a convention center headquarters hotel, to designate his project as the official hotel for the Oncenter (and its Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center), which opened in 1992. City and county officials listened politely, but initially SEE M&T, PAGE 37

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Allen Naples, left, regional president of M&T Bank, and Lindsay Weichert, right, team leader for commercial real estate, pose in Naples’ office in front of the original, 1924 electric panel removed from the restored Hotel Syracuse. M&T underwrote 100 percent of the mortgage, which Naples described as the “…most complicated deal I have done in 44 years of banking.”

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We’re putting our energy and support into a local landmark. At National Grid, we believe true economic vitality is created when local entities lock arms and take on big challenges together. And we are proud to be a part of the effort to bring the former Hotel Syracuse back to glory. Through our Economic Development Programs, we’ve supported the revitalization effort with grants for asbestos remediation and the redevelopment of the hotel. Over the last decade, National Grid has funded more than $50 million in economic development programs, helping to keep or create tens of thousands of jobs in our region. For opportunities to grow or relocate your business here visit www.shovelready.com


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MANAGING A HOTEL IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING CLIMATE BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@cnybj.com

The selection process

Michael George

Ed Riley’s dream to restore the historic Hotel Syracuse to a five-star hotel was a Herculean task. He first had to convince a bevy of disbelievers that his project was even viable. Then he pursued numerous levels of government to secure multiple grants to help fund the project and simultaneously sought the designation as the convention center headquarters hotel for the Oncenter. Obtaining title to the property was complicated by the hotel’s bankruptcy status and by multiple creditors impeding his path. To complete the funding, Riley needed a financial institution to buy the federal and state historic-preservation tax credits and another one to issue a mortgage. Once the pieces began falling into place, he had to make another critical decision — choosing a hotelmanagement company. Riley, who was born in Syracuse and has maintained his residency in the area all of his

life, knew from the outset that he planned to re-develop the Hotel Syracuse to its original luster and then turn the property over to a management company. “I spent the last 20 years managing resort and hotel properties and renovating large hotels,” says Riley. “I was very familiar with the process and had a lot of contacts in the industry. Before selecting a management company, I first had to choose a ‘flag’ to brand the property and drive traffic to the hotel. I was pleased to receive proposals from Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton and, in the end, chose Marriott. The selection process concluded in July 2104, and we signed a contract with Marriott in April 2015.” The hotel will be called Marriott Syracuse Downtown. While negotiating a contract with Marriott, Riley reached out to six management companies, all of whom had been pre-approved by Marriott. “There were excellent candidates from which to choose,” continues Riley, “who had extensive management experience and knowledge of the hotel segment. I know from my own experience that all manage-

ment companies are not equal and that the contract terms can vary widely. We chose Crescent [Hotels & Resorts, LLC] (CHR) of Fairfax, Virginia and signed a contract with them in the same month we concluded our agreement with Marriott. CHR knows hotel operations, they’re very professional, and they deliver excellent financial results. I think of the company as an extension of my hotel ownership.”

Crescent Hotels & Resorts

Crescent operates more than 100 hotels, resorts, and conference centers in the U.S. and Canada. Its clients are comprised of hotel REITs, private-equity firms, and developers. The company is one of an elite group of independent-management companies approved to operate all brands within the premier organizations of Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt, and InterContinental hotels. Crescent holds Marriott’s highest award — The Partnership Circle — and is a member of Marriott’s Hall

REMEMBER

SEE MANAGING A HOTEL, PAGE 28

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RESTORE

HOLMES KING KALLQUIST & ASSOCIATES PHONE: (315)476-8371 WWW.HKKARCHITECTS.COM 575 N. SALINA STREET SYRACUSE, NY 13208


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A celebration of the past and the future - the Heart of New York’s elegance is back!

FOREVER HOTEL SYRACUSE A HISTORIC GALA Held June 25, 2016

Many thanks to the following event sponsors from Onondaga Historical Association: Presenting

Hotel Syracuse Restoration Leading

Special Recognition Reception

Concierge

BOTTAR LEONE ATTORNEYS a professional limited liability company

Top Shelf

Table Wine- All Ballrooms

Patron Tables

Additional Sponsors Grand Ballroom

Champagne Toast - Diane & Bob Miron Entertainment - Crouse Hospital, Arnold & Libby Rubenstein, Haylor Freyer & Coon Table Wine- Anonymous

Persian Terrace

Champagne Toast - The Marsellus Family

Imperial Ballroom

Champagne Toast - Southern Wine & Spirits Dessert - UBS | The Barter Group

A/V

Visual Technologies

Grand Ballroom

Marilyn & Richard Alberding Charles & Karen Baracco Barclay Damon, LLP Bousquet Holstein, PLLC Community Bank N.A. Friends of OHA Hancock Estabrook, LLP David Murray & Judith Sayles National Grid Partnership Properties, Inc. Syracuse University, Chancellor’s Office

Empire Room

Centerstate CEO/Downtown Committee of Syracuse/Visit Syracuse

Media Sponsors

Persian Terrace

Mr. Shop Omega, Inc. Onondaga Community College Realty USA

Imperial Ballroom

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Roth North America S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, Syracuse University St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center The Bonadio Group


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Hotel Syracuse managers, past and present, meet at the downtown landmark SYRACUSE — The late Spencer Wallace, Jr., who served as general manager of the Hotel Syracuse between 1963 and 1988, last fall met the man who is the first general manager (GM) of the facility now called the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Wallace and Paul McNeil on Oct. 13, 2015, toured the hotel and sat down to answer questions from local news reporters. Wallace referred to the Hotel Syracuse as “the headquarters for Syracuse.” “Everybody in Syracuse and the surrounding area would make it a point to come in … eat in the Dutch Coffee House or eat in the dining room or have a drink in the Rainbow Lounge … it was a real special place,” he said in speaking to the assembled media. Wallace called the hotel’s $70 million renovation project “wonderful.” He also talked about how he became part of the hotel’s management team. As Wallace recalled it, Eric Will, president of Will & Baumer Candle Co., was also president of the Hotel Syracuse. Will & Baumer owned a plant outside Montreal, where Wallace and his family were living at the time. Will made “several trips” to the area, Wallace said, and he eventually asked him if he’d be interested in serving as the Hotel Syracuse’s general manager. “Eric Will brought us down,” he added. In 1970, Wallace was named president of the publicly held Hotel Syracuse, Inc. and served in that capacity until the company was sold, according to Wallace’s online obituary. He continued to serve as the hotel’s GM, and later as a consultant, until his retirement in 1988, the obituary said. Wallace died on Feb. 23 of this year at the age of 92. McNeil, GM of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, opened his remarks in October expressing his appreciation of

I feel as though I’ve come home. I feel as though this project is very inspiring, McNeil said. the chance to meet the former general manager and his spouse. “I really want to say thank you to the Wallaces for being here today. There are certain things in your life that are memorable and you folks being here is very humbling to me,” said McNeil, referencing Wallace and his wife, Margaret, who had joined him for his visit. Spencer Wallace, in a soft-spoken voice, simply replied, “Thank you.”

ERIC REINHARDT/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@cnybj.com

The late Spencer Wallace, Jr., left, who was general manager of the Hotel Syracuse between 1963 and 1988, joined Paul McNeil, right, GM of the facility now known as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, answer questions from local reporters about the hotel. Wallace died Feb. 23, 2016

McNeil later thanked Wallace for his years of service to the hotel with a picture of one of the faces from the hotel’s exterior.

Lifelong hotelier

McNeil’s career started in the mid1980s with Marriott Corp. “I’ve been a hotelier the majority of my life,” he said. He started working at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in 1985, according to a Nov. 16, news release from the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. His career also included stops in Charlotte, San Antonio, San Francisco, New York City, Boston, as well as Springfield, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., McNeil said in his remarks to reporters in October. He most recently worked at the Boston Peabody Marriott. “I’ve learned a lot of the different departments within the hotel … from the dishroom, to housekeeping, to front desk …” said McNeil. At the time of the Oct. 13 press event, McNeil had been working with the Marriott Syracuse Downtown for four weeks. As GM, McNeil is responsible for all aspects of the hotel’s operation. They include managing the 43,000 square feet of meeting space, including corporate-group events; overseeing the hotel’s weddings and social events; and “ensuring quality guest experiences” in the 261 guest

rooms, the hotel said. As someone who has been “traveling for 30 years,” McNeil, a Buffalo native, said he always felt that all that traveling would eventually inspire him “to come home.” “I feel as though I’ve come home. I feel as though this project is very inspiring,” he said. McNeil believes the renovated hotel will be a “little shot in the arm for Syracuse” in terms of economic development “It’s going to benefit local folks, their families, by income and livelihood,” he said. Marriott and Fairfax, Virginia–based Crescent Hotels & Resorts, the property management company, want to “bring back a sense of pride” in the community with the renovated hotel, McNeil said, adding that he wants to be “part of that.”

Hotel revivals

McNeil’s last two jobs were renovation related, he noted, which is one of the reasons why he said the local project “inspires” him. His first job as a GM was in Trumbull, Connecticut at the Marriott Trumbull Merritt Parkway in 2007, he said. “We did a complete renovation of every guest room, every mechanical, every ball room, every public-space area,” said McNeil. His efforts in Trumbull helped him

secure a position in Boston, where the Boston Peabody Marriott underwent similar renovation work with its guest rooms and public space, he adds. Besides getting closer to his home area in Western New York, McNeil also liked the “level of detail” and “collaboration of the contractors” involved in the Hotel Syracuse renovation. “[Hotel owner] Ed [Riley] and I sometimes speak about being a glutton for punishment but it’s in our blood and I’m really honored to be here, said McNeil. As a Buffalo native, McNeil recalls visits to Buffalo’s Statler Hilton (which is currently known as Statler City), a structure near Buffalo City Hall that had the same architect as the Hotel Syracuse. “I remember being there with my grandparents and my parents, and my brother got married there,” he said. McNeil said Riley “created a vision” when he pursued the project. After arriving in Syracuse, McNeil indicated he heard from people who “said [renovating and reopening the hotel] could never be done.” But McNeil believes the public and business travelers will again appreciate having the hotel back in business. “I think a lot of it has to do with the history of the hotel. I think a lot has to do with the memories that [have] been created. This is an iconic hotel,” said McNeil. 


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Marriott Syracuse Downtown introduces executive leadership team BY JOURNAL STAFF news@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — The Marriott Syracuse Downtown recently announced the full executive leadership team for the historic hotel. Currently, in the latter stages of a $70 million renovation to restore the historic former Hotel Syracuse to its 20th Century grandeur, the hotel is slated to open in July. Experienced hotelier, Paul McNeil was named general manager of the property in 2015. The complete executive team includes:

PAUL MCNEIL, general manager

McNeil is responsible for all aspects of the operation of the hotel, including the 261 guest rooms, more than 41,000 square feet of conference space, and its in-house restaurants. Most recently, McNeil was general manager at the Boston Peabody Marriott in Massachusetts, where he oversaw the execution of extensive property renovations. McNeil’s career with Marriott began in 1985, when he helped open the Atlanta Marquis. His experience with the hotel company includes appointments at 14 hotels across the U.S., including: San Antonio River Center, San Francisco Moscone Center, and New York Marquis. McNeil

is a native of Buffalo and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Hotel Restaurant and Travel Administration program.

DANIEL FRY, assistant general manager

Fry has 17 years of experience in hotel management with Marriott brands in North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee. Most recently, Fry was assistant general manager for the Residence Inn and SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee, where he helped oversee construction of the 245room hotel. As assistant general manager of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, he will work with McNeil to implement its brand-service strategy and brand initiatives to ensure customer service.

PHIL AUSTIN, director of finance

Austin’s experience in the hospitality industry includes positions in operations and food and beverage in addition to finance. Prior to joining Marriott Syracuse Downtown, Austin was a regional accounting controller in the hospitality industry. As director of finance, Austin will supervise and direct all financial activities of the hotel.

JERRY KEOHANE, director of sales and marketing

Keohane’s career in sales and market-

ing in the hospitality and tourism industry spans three decades. A Central New York native and industry veteran, he most recently was director of sales for the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel and Conference Center. Keohane also previously was director of convention sales for the former Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau — now called Visit Syracuse — and as VP/director of sales and marketing for the Oncenter Complex.

McNeil

Fry

Austin

Keohane

Anthony

Kiernan

CHUCK ANTHONY, director of food and beverage

Anthony comes to the Marriott Syracuse Downtown from Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, where he was food and beverage manager. His role with Marriott Syracuse Downtown will include directing its Food and Beverage Department with a focus on quality, service, and merchandising. He has more than a decade of experience that includes opening and operating independent restaurants in and around Central New York. As general manager at Bull & Bear Syracuse, he coordinated the opening and programming of the restaurant’s expansion. SEE LEADERSHIP TEAM, PAGE 14

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THE IMPACT

HOTEL SYRACUSE COMMEMORATIVE PUBLICATION I BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK I JUNE 27, 2016

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BY NORMAN POLTENSON npoltenson@cnybj.com

E

xpedia lists 90 hotels within a 20minute drive of the Oncenter (Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center) in downtown Syracuse. Not listed are the new hotels coming on line, such as the Aloft Syracuse Inner Harbor. One hotel, however, is getting all of the community’s attention — the Hotel Syracuse, now rebranded as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, scheduled to open on July 4. The reason is simple: the hotel is an icon with a compelling story. The Hotel Syracuse opened in 1924 as the city’s premier lodging establishment. It operated successfully for six decades hosting thousands of guests, numerous celebrities, organizational events, business meetings, and countless weddings in the elegant 10th-

We have plenty of competition right in our own backyard, says Holder. floor ballroom. Sometime in the late 1980s, the hotel fell on hard times and required a rescue loan to continue operating. The effort was unsuccessful, and the owner, Joseph Murphy, filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990. For the next 25 years, the “grande dame” lurched from one new owner to the next as it stumbled in and out of bankruptcy. The convoluted story has a happy ending only because a local developer, Ed Riley, had the determination to put together a deal that belongs in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. To understand the impact of the restored hotel, start with the renovation. Riley has pumped $70 million into the project — approximately half from the private sector; 34 percent from grants, mostly governmental; and the remainder from rehabilitation tax credits underwritten through the generosity of Uncle Sam and the Empire State. (The original 11-story, 473,000-square-foot structure cost $7 million and carried a mortgage of $3.6 million.) The $54 million spent on the actual construction generated hundreds of jobs. The

operating hotel will employ 300 people (200 full-time equivalents) and is projected to generate close to $18 million in sales in its first, full year of operation. To accommodate the 93,750 guests, the Marriott Syracuse Downtown will expend $5.5 million in payroll. The sales department anticipates handling 250 weddings annually and hosting 112,500 banquet events. The “grocery bill” approaches $2 million a year, and the hotel’s restaurants expect to serve 68,000 meals. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown will also give a boost to the Oncenter’s efforts to attract convention business to the city. “The Oncenter opened in 1992,” says David Holder, president of Visit Syracuse (formerly the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau). “The concept of a successful convention center included a headquarters hotel near or adjacent to the convention space. It took 22 years to resolve the issue, because of the unstable financial condition of the Hotel Syracuse and the difficulty of financing an optional choice — a new hotel across the street from the Oncenter. Either choice required a considerable investment from the public sector, and that complicated any deal.” Holder, who has been at his organization’s helm for nine years, notes that luring conventions is a very competitive business. “We have plenty of competition right in our own backyard,” states Holder. “Rochester has 600 hotel rooms attached to its downtown convention center, and Albany is completing a new, attached hotel. Some meeting planners insist on an attached hotel because it removes one obstacle to attendance — shuttling attendees or asking them to walk two blocks in a Syracuse winter. To minimize the objections of walking two blocks from the new Marriott to the Oncenter, the Downtown Committee of Syracuse is actively working on plans to dress up the distance between the two properties. Plans to make Harrison Street more inviting include sidewalk Until recently, the staff would be pitching events that are three to five years in the future,” Holder continues, “that’s the normal planning cycle. Now, some meeting planners are only thinking 18 to 24 months ahead, which means we have to be flexible. Having the downtown Marriott in our room inventory is a welcomed addition, but we don’t see it as a silver bullet. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown, while adding another 261 rooms to our inventory, still requires us to shuttle people from other downtown hotels if the convention

ERIC REINHARDT/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown

is larger than the Marriott’s capacity.” While the new Marriott may not be Visit Syracuse’s silver bullet, “It’s still welcome ammunition,” Holder quips. “Let’s start with the “WOW!” factor. The historic restoration is absolutely breathtaking and sends a [positive] signal. Whenever meeting planners see what Ed Riley has done, they are impressed. The key is to get more of them here to see what this hotel offers. [To this end] … the staff is organizing a familiarization tour for this fall. The goal is to attract 10 to 20 national, large-scale, event/conference planners to join us for a three-day tour of what Syracuse has to offer. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the only full-service hotel built here in the last decade, is a key component for attracting them.” Holder also cites the importance to the Oncenter of having a headquarters hotel. “The County of Onondaga along with CenterState CEO/Visit Syracuse and SMG, as the manager of the Oncenter, negotiated a room-block agreement with Ed [Riley] to set aside rooms at a discounted rate, so that we could compete more effectively with other communities for conventions and events,” asserts the Visit Syracuse president. “With the attached Albany hotel coming on line, a lot of the state association business will remain in the Capital District rather than convene in other upstate cities, because there is no travel expense involved. That means that Visit Syracuse needs to look outside the region for additional business.” Holder then turns his attention to travel in general. “The Marriott Syracuse Downtown will be a big attraction to a number of leisure and business travelers,” he stresses, “who spend $863 million annually just in Onondaga County. Those visitors support more than 17,000 jobs here and generate $392 million of payroll plus, and another $47 million in sales tax. The main driver of this is the area universities and the medical community, which hold a number of meetings and conferences during the year. The Marriott has a certain caché that attracts

LEADERSHIP TEAM: The hotel announced seven leaders THOMAS KIERNAN, executive chef

Kiernan has been in kitchens since he was 14 years old. His experience includes working in New York City, Boston, and the Caribbean. Trained in the teachings of the masters such as Escoffier & Careme at the Culinary Institute of America, Kiernan came into his own dur-

ing the 1980s with the advent of the “New American Chef.” Over the last decade, Kiernan has worked to promote foods grown locally in Central New York. Working with local farmers, producers, and processors is a big part of his kitchen philosophy. Kiernan was the 2015 American Culinary Federation Chef of

visitors, and the hotel’s rewards program is a strong draw. That should help attract guests to the full-service hotel.” The economic impact of the new Marriott Syracuse Downtown is not confined just to the jobs created in construction and on site, to its vendors, and to the Oncenter. “The opening of the Marriott sends another signal that downtown Syracuse is enjoying a revival,” stresses Holder. “Downtown Syracuse has almost 3,000 residents occupying close to 1,000 apartments with an occupancy rate of 99 percent. The downtown neighborhood population has increased 25 percent just in the last decade. Five hundred new residential units are either under construction or planned, which will bring another 900 residents downtown boosting the current population by nearly a third. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown is another magnet that will help to draw people downtown, offering its amenities to both visitors and residents.” Interestingly, 40 percent of the downtown residents are affiliated with the area’s universities and medical institutions, 37 percent are between the ages of 25 and 34, and more than 60 percent hold bachelor’s or advanced degrees. Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, cites another impact of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. “I can’t overstate the importance of the restoration of the Hotel Syracuse. The positive economic impact to the area around the hotel will be dramatic as new businesses reinvest to be near the hotel and the traffic it generates. And the economic impact extends beyond Onondaga County’s borders to include the neighboring counties. But there’s a non-financial impact that I think is just as important. The Hotel Syracuse restoration was not just one person’s effort; it was a community effort. The project was a leap of faith with a lot of risk attached to it. This community showed the power of collaboration when we all agreed on a common goal. The new Marriott Syracuse Downtown is a symbol that together we can accomplish anything.” 

Continued from page 13

the Year for the Syracuse chapter.

MARY JEAN M.J. PIRAINO, director of human resources

Piraino, a Syracuse native, most recently served as director, convention and events management for Convention Services Unlimited in Cheverly, Maryland. Her

academic and professional training have centered on adult learning, workforce development, and labor relations. She holds a master’s degree in labor studies from University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. and a master’s degree in human resource development from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. 


JUNE 27, 2016 I BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK I HOTEL SYRACUSE COMMEMORATIVE PUBLICATION

I 15 CNYBJ.COM

RICH IN HISTORY Stickley is proud to be a part of the Hotel Syracuse renaissance by providing furnishings made right here in Central New York. We congratulate Ed Riley and his team on this historic achievement.

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HOTEL SYRACUSE COMMEMORATIVE PUBLICATION I BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK I JUNE 27, 2016

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BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — Crews on March 8 worked to install restored chandeliers in two areas of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the new name of the former Hotel Syracuse. Workers from Syracuse–based Associated Industrial Riggers Corp. and Seymour, Connecticut–based Grand Lighting installed nearly 20 chandeliers between the hotel’s lobby and the Persian Terrace, a ballroom inside the facility. “The chandeliers are really proof that the hotel’s coming back together and really starting to put the decorative features back into ballrooms,” says Paul McNeil, general manager of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Grand Light specializes in historic lighting restoration, custom lighting, and lighting replication, says Ryan Stockman, VP of Grand Light.

“All these fixtures have been modified ... to accommodate a safety cable in the event that there’s ever a problem with where they are mounted electrically,” says Stockman. Grand Light spent six months restoring the chandeliers, he adds. “We get them down to ground level where they’re completely dismantled and then we transport them back to our facility in Connecticut and the same for the return,” says Stockman. Grand Light worked with Associated Industrial Riggers to lower the fixtures to ground level. The process also included electrifying and modifying the chandeliers to accommodate a safety cable in case of a problem with the location where they’re mounted electrically. “If there’s a structural deficiency in one of the frames and it happens to separate, there’s

ERIC REINHARDT/ BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

Restored chandeliers return to the hotel’s interior

Crews on March 8 installed a restored chandelier in the lobby of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the former Hotel Syracuse. Workers from Syracuse–based Associated Industrial Riggers Corp. and Seymour, Connecticut–based Grand Lighting also installed additional chandeliers in the Persian Terrace ballroom as the hotel’s restoration effort continues.

a cable that will hold it all together and prevent it from going down,” says Stockman. He calls the restoration effort a “serious process.” “All of the finishes were re-

moved. Any mechanical deficiency is corrected,” he adds Crews then examined the chandeliers for stress fractures and determined their original color. They also worked to repli-

cate any pieces that were broken or missing, using the same techniques employed during the original assembly process. “It’s a lot of handwork,” notes Stockman. 

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BY GEORGIE SILVAROLE Contributing Writer news@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — R. Jerry Sanders recalls spending his junior prom at Hotel Syracuse. Standing underneath crystal chandeliers and donning a tuxedo, the then 17-year-old posed for a photo in Syracuse’s iconic hotel, a fat cigar resting between his fingers.

PHOTO CREDIT: R. JERRY SANDERS, ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIAL RIGGERS

R. Jerry Sanders at his junior prom.

Nearly 30 years later, as Hotel Syracuse takes on a new name (Marriott Syracuse Downtown) and a new look as part of a massive renovation, Sanders’ company has reinstalled those same crystal chandeliers. Sanders, now 46, is chairman and CEO of Associated Industrial Riggers Corp. (AIR), an industrial machinery and systems installation company based in Syracuse that operates along the East and Gulf coasts. “I know the history of that hotel,” Sanders says. “As a young kid in high school, I remember going to the prom there and I remember going to different things there with my parents as a kid.” AIR originated in Syracuse in 1982 when Donald Sanders, Jerry’s father, founded the company at the age of 47. In the same year, AIR opened up an office in the Rochester area and began pursuing jobs both in the Northeast and the South. Lifting and positioning heavy equipment and machinery, pipefitting, and metalworking are a few of the services AIR provides. Smaller jobs like the chandelier installation in Syracuse aren’t as heavy-duty as a rigging job, but hoisting refurbished antiques and expensive fixtures up 30 feet and securing them in front of a crowd of reporters and hotel executives is a challenging task. “It’s a lot of risk with the value of the chandeliers in comparison to what we do every day,” Sanders says. “Some of those chandeliers are $100-grand apiece, so it takes careful control and B:10.25” delicate actions.” AIR installed 10 restored chandeliers to the ceilings T:10” of Marriott Syracuse Downtown on March 8 in front of a S:10” small crowd after securing the job as the lowest bidder,

R. Jerry Sanders today.

PHOTO CREDIT: R. JERRY SANDERS, ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIAL RIGGERS

Associated Industrial Riggers lights up the revived Hotel Syracuse

Sanders says. Using a rigging apparatus and lifts, the chandeliers took five employees and a few days to install fully. Ten additional chandeliers were installed in the upstairs ballroom in April. While Sanders is 30 years beyond that cigar, his connection to the hotel — and to Syracuse — sticks with him. “To rig those chandeliers as an adult businessman — those things were hanging there since the 20s, and nothing had been changed except light bulbs,” Sanders says. “That’s an honor to do that.” 

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HOTEL SYRACUSE COMMEMORATIVE PUBLICATION I BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK I JUNE 27, 2016

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BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — Ed Riley began thinking about restoring the Hotel Syracuse as a “viable project almost 16 years ago.” That’s according to Gregg Tripoli, executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA). Riley then “quietly” began to develop a plan, working with City of Syracuse and Onondaga County officials to line up the designation of the site as the official convention-center hotel. He also started to secure “the historic income-tax credits, the development grants, and the bank loans, the flag, and the project team,” said Tripoli. Riley’s effort sought to “accomplish what would eventually end up as the most complicated and convoluted project of his and many others long careers.” The comments were part of Tripoli’s remarks as OHA awarded Riley its OHA Medal during a May 5 event at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the former Hotel Syracuse. Riley is the owner of the hotel and managing member of Hotel Syracuse Restoration, LLC.

The OHA awards the OHA Medal Award in “recognition for outstanding and meritorious service to local history, and to the preservation and interpretation of the history of Onondaga County,” according to a news release it issued April 19. Hotel Syracuse Restoration, LLC oversees the facility’s restoration, which OHA describes as “one of the largest projects involving historic architecture that has ever been undertaken in Syracuse.” Tripoli described it as an “almost $80 million restoration.” “For his commitment to honoring the history of this community; for his meticulous restoration and preservation of one of our most important historic structures in our city; the Onondaga Historical Association takes the greatest pleasure in presenting this medal, its highest recognition and award,” Tripoli said in announcing the award in the hotel’s Persian Terrace. Riley has worked with the organization to select historic images from OHA collections that the Marriott Syracuse Downtown will use in decorating the hotel guest rooms and public spaces. He has also created a gallery space in the hotel for an exhibit showcasing its “incred-

ible history.” “No one person does this. I have a tremendous team,” Riley said during his remarks in accepting the award. Riley pointed out Gary Thurston, chairman and CEO of Syracuse–based Hayner Hoyt Corp., the general contractor on the restoration project. He also thanked the architect, landscape architect, designers, and engineers involved in the effort. “To all the people that came to our Monday breakfast meetings … the representatives of the city, the county, the state, who found a way to get this done. It truly is and has been a community effort to put this together,” Riley said. OHA is also collaborating with Hotel Syracuse Restoration, LLC to feature historically inspired gift items for the hotel’s retail shop as well as the OHA Gift Gallery

ERIC REINHARDT/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

OHA recognizes hotel restorer Ed Riley with OHA Medal

Ed Riley, owner of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown and managing member of Hotel Syracuse Restoration, LLC, on May 5 addresses the gathering in the Persian Terrace of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown after the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) awarded him its OHA Medal.

museum store. A licensed architect, Riley has worked on other historic-restoration projects in the community, including the Bentley Settle building at 120 Walton St. in Armory Square, Tripoli said in his remarks before awarding the OHA Medal to Riley. Riley has spent 40 years in the design, construction, real-estate development, and hotel operations. His other hotel-restoration projects across the U.S. included the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona; the Claremont Club & Spa in Berkeley, California; and the Fairfax at Embassy Row in Washington, D.C., the OHA director noted. Awarded just 21 times since its inception in 1945, the OHA Medal is a two-sided, bronze piece struck in 1894 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the founding of Onondaga County. 

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OHA assists former Hotel Syracuse on renovation, retail, retirement party BY ERIC REINHARDT ereinhardt@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — The Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) plans to have a “strong” retail presence in the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the former Hotel Syracuse, when it opens this summer. The OHA is also organizing “Forever Hotel Syracuse: A Historic Gala,” which is set for June 25 in the hotel, which has been undergoing renovation work since the summer of 2015. A news release on the event describes it as “the last opportunity to bid farewell to the name Hotel Syracuse and the first opportunity to celebrate its incredible reawakening.” “It’s the retirement party for this old girl,” Ed Riley, hotel owner, said in his remarks during a March 10 news conference at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. The OHA’s partnership with the hotel-restoration effort included assistance on the construction effort, said Riley. “We’ve also used OHA to get

our construction drawings for this project,” he added, noting the original drawings were on file in New York City. George B. Post & Sons was the original architect on the Hotel Syracuse, according to the website hotelsyracuserestoration.com. The OHA has provided “scores” of photographs from its archives to help the architects and the designers uncover many things that were either destroyed or covered up during subsequent renovations of the hotel, Gregg Tripoli, executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association, said in his remarks at the March 10 event. “That’s why I say that the hotel will be more historically accurate than it ever has been since it was first opened in 1924,” Tripoli added. Besides aiding the restoration effort, OHA also wants to provide souvenirs for the facility’s future guests. OHA is developing a number of products “specifically for the hotel,” said Tripoli. The items will include note cards, post

“They’ll also be working with us to do our museum room, our exhibit space in the hotel,” said Riley.

“Forever Hotel Syracuse”

ERIC REINHARDT/BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK

Gregg Tripoli (at podium), executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA), on March 10 discussed the OHA’s involvement in the Hotel Syracuse restoration project, the artwork involved, and the June 25 event to retire the name Hotel Syracuse. He spoke at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, the former Hotel Syracuse. Listening to Tripoli’s remarks at left are Paul McNeil (in hardhat), general manager of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, and Ed Riley, the hotel’s owner.

cards, and prints of the art that visitors will find in the hotel. “We’re also working on a book that we hope will be in every room of the hotel on the history

and the art of the hotel,” Tripoli added. In addition to the retail options, OHA is also contributing to the facility’s nostalgia.

The OHA is organizing and benefiting from an upcoming event it calls, “Forever Hotel Syracuse: A Historic Gala.” The event, scheduled for June 25, is meant “…to say farewell to the Hotel Syracuse and thank it and show our appreciation for all the wonderful memories that it has created for our community,” said Tripoli. The evening will include vintage cars from the period lining Onondaga Street, people dressed in vintage clothing from the period, and doormen and bellhops wearing original uniforms. “We want to have a … 1924 general ambience for the evening. Bands, dancing, entertainment,” said Tripoli. The event will also mark the first time that people can stay in the rooms and party in the grand ballroom of the renovated hotel. “It will be a hell of a party. It will be historic,” said Tripoli. 

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UNDER

CONSTRUCTION

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A selection of photos from the construction work and renovation of the Hotel Syracuse. Photos courtesy of Bruce G. Harvey.


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A look at some of the rooms that are ready to go at the new Marriot Syracuse Downtown. Photos by Charles Wainwright Photography.

The Rooms


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The Artistry of the Past

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PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES WAINWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE G. HARVEY PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE G. HARVEY

PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE G. HARVEY

PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE G. HARVEY PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE G. HARVEY

PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES WAINWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES WAINWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Restoring the Hotel Syracuse uncovered many detailed pieces of art that were part of the building and left to decay over time. Crews have been working to restore them to their former beauty.


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By the Numbers:

Hotel Syracuse rankings in CNYBJ’s Book of Lists through the years The Hotel Syracuse, 1990-2004

Congratulations on a project well done! Dannible & McKee’s CPAs are pleased to be part of the financial team for this exciting restoration project. We look forward to the successful opening of this historic landmark and our continued partnership in making the hotel a vibrant downtown destination again!

Year 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

Name The Hotels at Syracuse Square No data available The Hotels at Syracuse Square The Hotels at Syracuse Square The Hotels at Syracuse Square The Hotel Syracuse A Radisson Plaza Hotel Radisson Plaza, The Hotel Syracuse Radisson Plaza, The Hotel Syracuse Radisson Plaza, The Hotel Syracuse Radisson Plaza, The Hotel Syracuse No data available The Hotel Syracuse The Hotel Syracuse The Hotel Syracuse The Hotel Syracuse

No. of Rooms/ Suites 725

CNY Book of Lists Rank: Hotels/ Motels List 1

725 725 725 442

1 1 1 1

416 413 416 560

1 1 1 1

482 454 454 454

1 1 1 2

Source: The Central New York Business Journal Book of Lists, 1990-2004

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The storefront of the Hall of Fame Barber Shop on Walton Street in Armory Square. The business also has a shop in DeWitt. Hall of Fame will open a third barber shop in the Hotel Syracuse with a storefront on South Warren Street and access to the street-level hotel lobby. Unlike its two other sports-themed locations, Hall of Fame will share the historic feel of the hotel in this new shop.

Marriott Syracuse Downtown to include Hall of Fame Barber Shop with an ode to history and its original barber shop BY JOURNAL STAFF news@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — The Marriott Syracuse Downtown announced that Syracuse– based Hall of Fame Barber Shop will be the official barber shop of the hotel with a storefront on South Warren Street and access to the street-level hotel lobby. Charles (Chuck) Anthony, director of food & beverage for the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, led the effort to bring a barber shop back to the hotel for guests and downtown Syracuse residents and office workers. “Through all of our work in restoring the original barber shop, which will become the Barber Shop Bar at our Eleven Waters restaurant, we knew that this was something that we needed in order to fully bring back the original experience of this hotel,” he said in a news release. Hall of Fame Barber Shop is a full-service barber shop offering shaves, shampooing, haircuts, beard trimming, and waxing. It has two current locations in Syracuse and DeWitt. Unlike its other sports-themed barber shops, Hall of Fame will share the historic feel of the hotel in this new location. However, it will still have TVs throughout the barber shop. “We are so excited to be the ones to pick up right where history left off at this hotel,” Hall of Fame Barber Shop owner

Matt Hughes said in the release. “There is also a significant demand for our services in this area of downtown Syracuse, between the professionals at the business offices, the weddings, and events that will be held at the hotel, and the other events that come through this part of town.” Located near the Warren Street entrance of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown building, the barber shop will include entrances from inside the hotel as well as from the street. The shop will have five barber stations and one stylist station, offering packages for full wedding parties or just the groomsmen, and for downtown business professionals, according to the release. Services will include the barber shop’s traditional shaves, shampooing, haircuts, and shoe shines, as well as men’s hair color, facials, waxing, manicures, and massages, according to the release. Customers will also be able to purchase hair care, beard care, and shaving products at the shop. “Hall of Fame Barber Shop is really embracing the culture and the history of this hotel,” Paul McNeil, general manager of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, said. “In addition to offering traditional shaves and haircuts, they will also use the actual shoeshining pedestals from the hotel’s original barber shop.” Hall of Fame opened its Armory Square location five years ago and its DeWitt shop in April 2015. 

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A Hotel with History:

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HISTORY FROM OHA

cost money and eliminate revenue. The corporation decided it would be more economical to relocate the building and maintain the income. They approved a daring scheme to literally move the Truax across Harrison Street to a new site. The ambitious project involved not only moving the building, but also turning the 4-story, 6,200-ton structure 180 degrees so it again faced Harrison Street. The building was raised, set on rails and pulled to its new location with steel cables connected to a winch mechanism powered by four horses.

Cover of Prospectus brochure

The next step in the project was the sale of securities. A campaign was developed to sweep the community. Additional construction loans were secured for financing, contracts were let, and finally all buildings, save two, were removed from the block. Leadership of the half-century old Fourth Presbyterian Church refused to relocate, so the hotel had to be built around it. The Truax Hotel on the site was another matter.

Fourth Presbyterian Church surrounded by Hotel steelwork The reality was that the Truax, now owned by the Hotel Syracuse Corporation, was generating income. Demolishing it would

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

For decades, Syracuse had also enjoyed its position as a central location for statewide conventions and meetings. It was well-connected to extensive passenger rail networks. An extra plum for the city was its role, since 1890, as the permanent home for the New York State Fair. There was, however, only one “first class” hotel in the city — The Onondaga. Civic leaders were increasingly aware that they were losing tourist and convention business to other upstate cities. The need for another, large modern hotel was becoming obvious. In 1921, the Syracuse Hotel Corporation was formed. Its goal was to raise $3.8 million though the sale of public stock. Options were taken for a site at the southern end of downtown. Plans for the building were drawn by the New York City architectural firm of George B. Post and Sons, one of the nation’s most noted hotel planners. The prospectus for investors explained features of the design: 12 stories, 600 rooms, and several stores at street level. The top floor would be devoted to an array of meeting spaces.

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

BY DENNIS CONNORS Curator of History, OHA

Moving the Hotel Truax

In a remarkable engineering feat, the Truax, its guest rooms, and its ground-floor stores remained open for business during the trip. Moving the Truax took 90 days. The building stayed in Hotel Syracuse ownership for a time, but later was sold. (Eventually, the Truax was demolished in 1968 and the site now contains a parking garage.) Meanwhile, foundation work was started for the new hotel. Syracuse Mayor John Walrath and hotel directors ceremo-

Jackie Coogan in a Hotel Syracuse Guest Room, 1924 The formal opening of Hotel Syracuse, on Aug. 16, 1924, was celebrated with the official first banquet. This was held in the Terrace Dining Room, off the main lobby. The 11th floor Grand Ballroom was not yet finished. As they entered the lobby, guests were amazed at the lush colors, the soaring ceilings, the rich furnishings, and the fine classical details. There was nothing quite like it in the city. The cost had been close to $7 million, equal to nearly $80 million today. Guests saw their tables decorated with china made by the local Onondaga Pottery Company (later Syracuse China). The plates were emblazoned with an image of an ancient coin from Siracusa, the Italian city in Sicily which inspired the city of Syracuse’s name back in 1820. Dinner guests that night enjoyed several courses. There was, however, no wine served or even a cocktail hour. It was, after

all, 1924, and the country was in the midst of the Prohibition era. The menu, an original of which survives in the OHA archives, discretely lists “Deep Rock Ginger Ale” as dinner’s drink option. Hotel Syracuse enjoyed some initial years of success but the Stock Market Crash of 1929 sent the national economy into a tailspin. Between 1929 and 1933, it was estimated that Syracuse lost almost 50 percent of its industrial jobs. Not surprisingly, revenue at the hotel dropped. There was, however, one bright spot for the hospitality industry during the early 1930s. The noble experiment of Prohibition had proved a major failure. On Dec. 5, 1933, the 21st amendment officially ended the national ban on liquor. When Hotel Syracuse was designed and built in the 1920s, Prohibition had ruled, so no bar area was included. After 1933, wine, beer, and cocktails could now be served. A bar was added to the restaurant off the lobby, but the building needed one of those glamorous cocktail lounges that were now appearing in popular Hollywood movies of the Thirties, such as in the “Thin Man” series starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. And so, the famous Rainbow Lounge was born in 1937, created along the Onondaga Street ground floor from former retail-store spaces. The entrance off the lower lobby featured glass blocks lit with colors from behind, and “Rainbow Lounge” spelled out in neon above.

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

It was the Roaring Twenties. Syracuse’s economy was booming, like the rest of the nation. Local citizens were producing automobiles, typewriters, china, forging hammers, candles, and an array of other products, shipped across the country and the globe. The city’s population had surpassed 170,000 in 1920 and would soar to more than 200,000 by the end of the decade, fueled by the arrival of many European immigrants.

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

The Story of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown

niously turned the first shovels of earth for the construction project on May 3, 1922. The steel framework of the structure was barely finished, however, when the citizensponsored project faced financial difficulties. It had simply run out of money. Fearing catastrophe, a hastily organized second company, the Citizens Hotel Corporation, was formed in January 1924. This new corporation purchased the assets of the old corporation, sold additional stock subscriptions, and re-financed loans. Daniel Murray Edwards, head of a prominent local department store, was one of the first to step forward and make a $150,000 investment. This generated confidence and hundreds more followed, purchasing new shares in the project as its contractors rushed to make the scheduled completion date of Aug. 16, 1924. As the opening approached, the hotel’s management seized on a unique opportunity to publicize the upcoming event. During that summer of 1924, silent film child-star Jackie Coogan had embarked on a rail journey across the United States to raise funds and awareness for relief efforts in the Near East. Although only nine years old, Coogan was a huge celebrity, having already appeared in two popular films with Charlie Chaplin. Additionally, Coogan had Syracuse roots. On Aug. 14, with Coogan in town promoting his relief campaign, he came to the hotel and was photographed signing a specially made guest register card. He posed sitting on one of the hotelroom beds, appearing to be the hotel’s first official guest.

The Rainbow Lounge, 1948 With its streamlining, use of glass and smooth, curved surfaces, the Rainbow Lounge reflected the style known as Art Moderne, a later version of Art Deco. Although the Depression lingered, the New Deal of President Roosevelt helped lift the morale of the nation. Hotel Syracuse rebounded as the great center of downtown activity. While the 11th floor Grand Ballroom was the most elegant space in town for social activities or major business and political dinners, it was the Terrace Dining Room off the main lobby that was becoming the popular gathering spot for a night of dining and dancing. This was, after all, the great era of Big Band music. The Terrace Room’s name echoed the fact that the room had a raised section at its far end. To give it a new identity around 1940, as a special supper club for dining and dancing, the hotel commissioned a large mural along its west wall. It depicted a Middle Eastern scene, and the room was re-named the Persian Terrace. The big band sounds of Louis Prima, Cab Callaway, Les SEE OHA, PAGE 27

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The Persian Terrace, 1942

Carl Roters painting the Centennial Mural, 1948 The hotel was almost a small city unto itself. The lobby’s cigar/magazine stand offered necessities of the day. There was a beauty salon and barber shop, a laundry, carpentry shop and, of course, massive kitchens. Hotel Syracuse provided employment for hundreds of local citizens over the years, including many immigrants or children of immigrants who used their modest incomes to help build the American dream for themselves and their families.

The 1950s brought serious challenges to grand downtown hotels. The New York State Thruway opened in 1954. It ran well north of the city. More people were traveling by car, and suburban motels began to pop up, especially near Thruway exits. In the 1960s, Interstate 81 would add other suburban exits and motels as competition. The Hotel Syracuse responded with redecorating efforts. It added air-conditioning for its guest rooms in 1957 and in 1960 automated its elevators. In 1959, the Hotel Syracuse owners even built a suburban, “motorist hotel” to add to its portfolio, north of the city, near a State Thruway exit, called the Hotel Syracuse Country House. In 1965, a second nearby motel, Northway Inn was also bought. In a manner, the hotel was joining its own competition. (Both motels were later sold by the corporation in 1985 as it encountered increasing financial difficulties.) Other changes in social customs impacted Hotel Syracuse. In 1968, the Persian Terrace ceased offering dining and dancing as regular attractions. The generation that enjoyed such music was growing older and not as

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

The hotel was most famous for the big events held there, the celebrities who entertained or the politicians who gave speeches in the Grand Ballroom. A Hotel Syracuse “experience,” however, also formed treasured moments in the lives of everyday Central New Yorkers, from the time it opened until its unfortunate but temporary closure in 2004.

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

Brown, Benny Goodman, Carmen Cavallaro, Eddy Duchin and other swing-era orchestras were featured. Of course, the hotel also had other dining venues. The ground-floor level had a coffee shop. The fancy restaurant at the lobby level had started out as tea room, but with the end of Prohibition, had become an intimate dining facility known as the Walnut Grill. Prosperity at Hotel Syracuse continued through World War II. In the fall of 1942, the Walnut Grill at the hotel became an Officers’ Club, a rendezvous for hundreds of military officers passing through town. After the war, businessmen in the community asked that the club be continued for their use. Thus, that room off the lobby was renamed the Cavalier Room, opening in December of 1946 as a “men’s luncheon room.” The years following WW II saw the hotel continue as the dominant event venue in Syracuse. It also witnessed the addition of, perhaps, the hotel’s most iconic decorative element. The year 1948 was to mark the centennial of Syracuse’s incorporation as a city. Hotel Syracuse held a competition to design a commemorative mural for the lobby. The commission was awarded to Carl Roters, a professor at Syracuse University’s College of Fine Arts. He would depict several scenes of the community’s history, from its Native American heritage up through the Civil War. The final mural, installed above the lobby registration desk, was over 40 feet wide and 6 feet tall.

(continued from page 26)

motivated for a fancy night on the town. The year 1968 brought the women’s liberation movement to town as the local NOW chapter picketed the hotel for refusing to serve “unescorted women” at its Rainbow Lounge bar. Leading the effort was local attorney Karen DeCrow, later elected national president of NOW in 1974. Local newspaper editorials called the protests, silly “publicity stunts,” but it brought increased local attention to the nascent women’s movement. Within a year, the 1930s Rainbow Lounge would be made over and, eventually, so would attitudes toward female rights. Despite suburban competition, Hotel Syracuse continued to attract major events. No motel could yet match the size of its meeting or banquet facilities. Weddings, proms, political gatherings, and fundraising banquets continued for years in the elegant Persian Terrace and Grand Ballroom. The annual New Year’s celebration at the hotel certainly was SEE OHA, PAGE 29

Our community. Our history. Our passion. Preserving our history didn’t just happen. It took creativity, vision and fortitude to bring the Hotel Syracuse back to life. Barclay Damon is proud to have played a role in making Ed Riley’s dream a reality. Working with the City of Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, our Public Finance, Eminent Domain and Tax attorneys helped navigate this historic undertaking. We celebrate with the community at the beautifully restored gem of downtown Syracuse and congratulate Ed Riley and all the project partners who made this dream a reality. Thank you for letting us be a part of history.

b a r c la y d a m o n .c o m

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MANAGING A HOTEL: CHR was founded by Michael George, an upstate New York native and career hotelier

PHOTO CREDIT: CHARLES WAINWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

of Fame. Crescent Hospitality was founded in 2001 as a management firm for institutional clients who wanted to be involved with the strategy of deploying their assets. In 2006, the company changed its name to Crescent Hotels & Resorts and launched its Canadian division in 2009. CHR offers its clients’ management services, such as operations, sales and marketing, budgeting and revenue strategy, a national purchasing platform, risk management, and pre-opening services. It also provides business development to include acquisition opportunities, brand selection, debt sourcing, and revenue-strategy audits. In addition, CHR provides project management, including oversight of the entire capital-improvement project process. The company employs more than 12,000. CHR was founded by Michael George, an upstate New York native and career hotelier. George began his career as the general manager of premier hotels with the Hilton, Sheraton, and Westin-brand affiliations. Prior to launching Crescent, he was the senior VP of operations for Destination Hotels & Resorts, an operator of luxury, independent hotels and resorts. His 30-year career also included positions as the COO of Sunstone Hotel & Resorts and as the senior VP of operations for MeriStar Hotels and Resorts (now called Interstate Hotels). George serves as CHR’s president and CEO.

Financing Crescent

According to a PR Newswire story in September 2006, CHR was launched as a third-party management company of hotels. Michael George was quoted as saying “… we would like to add 10 to 15 new third-party management contracts annually.” In addition to managing properties, CHR expanded its focus in 2006 and initiated an acquisition fund to acquire up to $1 billion in hotel assets over a 12- to 18-month period. Allied Capital (NYSE: ALD) and The LCP Group provided the capital and became shareholders in CHR. The corporate strategy now included hotel management, ownership, and silver investments (10 percent to 20 percent equity). The acquisition fund could provide direct investments or joint-

Marriott Syracuse Downtown general manager Paul McNeil, an employee of Crescent Hotels & Resorts, points to a 40-foot mural which is part of the restoration of the original Hotel Syracuse.

venture arrangements with affiliated and unaffiliated partners. The fund’s target was upscale hotels and portfolios located in primary and secondary markets as well as resorts. According to George, CHR sought to acquire full-service hotels, typi-

cally in the 200 to 500-room range, that could benefit from an infusion of capital and management. The first transaction was the acquisition of the Detroit Marriott Livonia hotel. In 2006, Allied Capital had $4 billion

Continued from page 10

in assets and aggregate revenues of $12 billion. The company provided debt and equity capital for management and sponsor-led buyouts, recapitalizations, acquisitions, and funds to grow middlemarket companies. During the financial crisis in 2009, Allied’s lenders called their short-term financing at a time when the company’s balance sheet was illiquid. In an all-stock deal, Allied sold to Ares Capital Management, LLC (NASDAQ: ARCC) on March 26, 2010, at a discount of nearly 90 percent from its peak valuation in 2007. Ares currently holds both senior-subordinated debt and equity in Crescent. The LCP Group (formerly known as Lepercq Capital Partners) is a private, real-estate-investment firm formed in 1974 to acquire, syndicate, and oversee major, real-estate properties. The company buys single assets or small-portfolio transactions targeting quality assets, strong brands, and key locations. LCP looks for multiple assets within a single market or region to take advantage of scaling management operations. The LCP Group is active in the U.S. government’s EB-5 program, where it acts as the general partner of a lender to foreign investors seeking permanent residency in the U.S. In 1993, LCP created Lexington Corporate Properties Trust, a real-estate investment trust (REIT) listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: LXP). In 2006, the LCP REIT merged with Newkirk Realty Trust and was renamed Lexington Realty Trust (Lexington). In 2015, the trust had more than $3.8 billion in assets and a market capitalization of $2.6 billion. Lexington has invested in approximately 215 properties located in 40 states. E. Robert Roskind is the chairman of LCP, the REIT, and Crescent.

The hospitality industry in flux

Saying the hotel industry is in flux is an understatement. To create business strategies and budgets that will achieve occupancy and revenue goals, hotel management needs to understand how the industry is changing rapidly and modify their operations in response. “Especially during this time of change for the indusSEE MANAGING A HOTEL, PAGE 32

Visit bizeventz.com to check out our upcoming events

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HISTORY FROM OHA

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

the local place to be, for ringing out the old year and welcoming in the new year.

Jimmy Carter campaigned for president at the Hotel, 1976

PHOTO CREDIT: OHA COLLECTION

And if there were events in downtown that attracted any celebrities needing lodging, the hotel was convenient and its suites were large. Some former guests included Charles Lindbergh, George Gershwin, Joe DiMaggio, former President Eisenhower, John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971, and Elvis Presley inbetween his two concerts in July 1976 at the War Memorial. And downtown Syracuse still was home to many law firms and businesses that used the hotel’s restaurants and lounges for small-scale meetings. But as a stopover for travelers and businessmen, its guest rooms were starting to appear dated, and parking was not free downtown for people increasingly arriving by car. By 1969, the hotel was marketing itself as the “Hotel Syracuse Motor Inn” in a weak attempt to appeal to the American public who drove cars when they traveled. That year, management also got rid of the once-fashionable Rainbow Lounge and replaced it with the Hansom Cab Lounge. In 1971, they added an adjacent lounge called the Tack Room. Other changes followed in an attempt to keep up with the times. In 1974, the traditional Dutch Coffee Shop, a local institution for 50 years, was closed.

The Dutch Coffee Shop, 1948

The space would reopen in October 1974 as that symbol of the 1970s, a discotheque known as “The Library.” Meanwhile, in the lobby, a refurbishing resulted in covering over some of the historic detailing, either with white paint, or in the case of the iconic 1949 history mural of Carl Roters, with mirrors. The 1980s saw the hotel make an even more aggressive move to regain business

(continued from page 27) by embarking on a bold expansion project: construction of a 197-room hotel-tower annex immediately to the north of the original hotel, with a connecting pedestrian sky bridge above Onondaga Street. This was just part of an ultimate $18.5 million construction program that also included creation of a new “Imperial Ballroom” on the hotel’s first level, inside a new wing built on the former site of the Fourth Presbyterian Church. By December 1985, however, the hotel appeared to be sinking, financially, having taken on huge loans for the expansion. By 1989, it was reported that the hotel was millions in debt and behind in paying city taxes. Hope for a re-birth of the hotel occurred in the early 1990s when it was purchased by the local Bennett Family. In 1992, the county also opened its new convention center (Oncenter) just a block away. It was hoped that the center would help drive business to Hotel Syracuse, bolstering its finances. The Tack Room was converted into a sports bar, dubbed Coach Mac’s, named after Syracuse University’s popular football coach in the 1980s, Dick MacPherson. One of the most noticeable changes came in 1997 when the hotel’s prime dining spot, the Cavalier Room, was converted into a politically themed restaurant named Bernardi’s Bistro. The name was borrowed from then Syracuse mayor Roy Bernardi. Caricatures of local and national political figures decorated the walls. The Bennett Family, however, ran into its own financial and legal problems within its main business and the hotel was sold in 1996 to a Canadian corporation. Bennett’s improvements, while welcomed at the time, did not go nearly far enough. There were more attempts to sell the hotel again, but it went into bankruptcy in 2001. By 2002, the Syracuse Post-Standard was editorializing that while a “handsome piece of architecture,” the hotel was, “teetering between mediocrity and oblivion.” In addition to its physical and financial problems, Hotel Syracuse was caught in a community debate about whether public funds should go toward rehabilitating it or be directed toward building a brand new hotel adjacent to the convention center. The uncertainty led to further decline in the property, now owned by out-of-town owners who seemed disinterested. While a small cadre of staff tried to carry on, the hotel’s run-down condition was increasingly becoming a liability, driving convention business away, instead of benefiting from it. The Hotel Syracuse, officially in bankruptcy, closed its doors May 28, 2004. Some 60 full and part-time workers lost their jobs. Ironically, the Hotel Syracuse was added to the National Register of Historic Places after it closed, in 2008. The hotel then entered a confusing, downward spiral of foreign owners and outof-town bankruptcies. The 2008 worldwide financial recession didn’t help. A visionary, however, was watching the drama unfold for a while. In April 2013, Ed Riley, an executive of Pyramid Hotel Group, of Boston, made an offer to City of Syracuse officials to buy, renovate, and reopen Hotel Syracuse. Encouraged by Riley’s track record, the city began a successful eminent-domain seizure process. In 2014, Ed Riley finally acquired the hotel. Riley set up the Hotel Syracuse Restora-

tion Company, to oversee a $70-plus million rejuvenation project. He assembled a talented architectural team including the MLG firm of New York City, specialists in hotel work, and the local Syracuse partnership of Holmes-King-Kallquist & Associates. The general contractor is Syracuse–based Hayner Hoyt Corporation. Meanwhile, plans for a new convention center hotel had gone nowhere over many years. So, Onondaga County signed on board and designated a renovated Hotel Syracuse as the official hotel for the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center, a block away. Riley used his longtime connections with major hotel chains to secure the hotel as part of the Marriott family. Riley had emphasized that success of the Syracuse project depended on both its designation as the county’s official convention center hotel, plus the value of historic income-tax credits that investors could use because of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In a 2016 interview, as construction dust flew, Riley added that the Hotel Syracuse restoration project was the most complex of his career. He was committed, however, to a complete reclamation of the hotel’s historic public features while gutting its dated guest rooms to make them as attractive as any first class contemporary hotel. The refurbished hotel will have 261 rooms. Room furniture and built-ins were styled and crafted by locally based Stickley Audi & Company. Stickley is a prestigious firm with a history dating back to 1900 that also embraces the great design

legacy of Gustav Stickley and his brothers. From the beginning, the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) has been an honored partner in the project. OHA was instrumental in securing copies of the original architectural plans from the archives of the New York Historical Society in Manhattan. OHA also provided key historic photographs to help Riley’s team re-create lost details. Riley insisted that the hotel’s artwork — in rooms, public spaces, new restaurants, and corridors — reflect local history and paintings. OHA has provided dozens of images from its collections that will be reproduced as permanent hotel decoration. There have been, and will be, future opportunities for cooperative tours of the hotel. And the hotel’s gift shop will feature several one-of-akind, local items from the OHA Museum Gift Gallery to offer as local souvenirs and gifts for guests.

Historic photos from the OHA collections helped architects with re-creating missing details such as the original entrance marquee Ed Riley’s restoration plans for the hotel also included re-opening the lobby to its original size, removing the pedestrian bridge above Onondaga Street, which connected to the 1980s annex; recreating the deteriorated gargoyles that were part of the roof cornice, as well as restoring the original marquees above the hotel’s main entrances SEE OHA, PAGE 31

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BY JOURNAL STAFF news@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — On May 16, Greg Owens, CEO of Sherrill Manufacturing and Liberty Tabletop, and his team delivered the specially selected flatware to be used throughout the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. The Sherrill–based manufacturer also recognized hotel owner, Ed Riley, for his “commitment to utilizing local firms

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and products” throughout the more than $70 million renovation of the former Hotel Syracuse, according to a hotel news release. The hotel announced the selection of Liberty Tabletop as its flatware manufacturer in February. Marriott Syracuse Downtown eateries will feature the Betsy Ross pattern from Liberty’s Sherrill Lux line. “The pattern embodies the nature of the renovation. The sleek lines and slope lend a modern twist to a classic style,” Chuck Anthony, director of food and beverage for Marriott Syracuse Downtown, said in the release. The first of the restaurants to open will be Eleven Waters, the main restaurant, near the prow of the building. “Inspired” by New York’s Finger Lakes wine region, Eleven Waters will seek to offer “unique local flavors in a modern but rustic bistro experience,” according to a restaurant description on the Marriott Syracuse Downtown website. The restaurant’s bar will have a “Barber Shop” theme. The eatery will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Owens said the hotel’s selection of Liberty Tabletop flatware is a source of pride for him and his team. “[Ed] Riley has done a commendable job bringing this landmark back to life and in the process provided an excellent showcase for

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Manufacturer delivers flatware to Marriott Syracuse Downtown

Ed Riley (center), owner of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, holds a plaque from Sherrill Manufacturing and Liberty Tabletop, that Greg Owens (left), the Sherrill firm’s CEO, had presented him on May 16. Matthew Roberts (right), president of Sherrill Manufacturing, looks on as Owens made the presentation. The company delivered the flatware that same day. The hotel announced Liberty Tabletop as its “selected flatware manufacturer” in February.

locally made products and businesses,” Owens said in the release. “The selection of our flatware for the hotel is recognition of our high-quality craftsmanship and reinforces the message that quality products are being made in our region every day.” Hiring local companies to provide goods and services for the renovation process has been a key focus for Ed Riley, and one supported by the hotel’s management company Crescent Hotels & Resorts. “From the start, this renovation has been an expression of community. To incorporate so many local companies and products speaks volumes about the resources available in Central New York and Riley’s commitment to the region’s economy,” Joe Blewitt, regional director of operations for Crescent Hotels & Resorts, said in the release. “Local support for products that are produced within our community continues to increase, and companies like ours depend on that,” said Owens. “Post-2008, projects nationwide slowed to a halt. Riley’s renovation of the Hotel Syracuse renovation is a symbol of perseverance and the resilience of the American economy, and I hope that the success of this project inspires others to do business

with local companies and keep the momentum going.” The Marriott Syracuse Downtown is a historic hotel originally opened in 1924, located at 100 East Onondaga St. in Syracuse. The hotel closed in 2004, and now the Hotel Syracuse Restoration Company is renovating the property to integrate the landmark’s historical components with modern amenities. The property will have 261 guest rooms, more than 41,000 square feet of meeting, wedding, and event space including a completely modernized Finger Lakes ballroom, two historic ballrooms, five in-house restaurants and bars, and eight IACC- (International Association of Conference Centres) certified meeting spaces. Crescent Hotels & Resorts currently operates more than 100 hotels and resorts in the U.S. and Canada. Crescent’s clients include hotel REITs, private-equity firms, and major developers. Sherrill Manufacturing was formed in 2005 by Greg Owens and Matt Roberts after the two partners purchased substantially all of Oneida Limited’s flatware-manufacturing assets at the Sherrill facility. They created the brand Liberty Tabletop several years later. 

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BY JOURNAL STAFF news@cnybj.com SYRACUSE — Marriott Syracuse Downtown announced that its meeting space has received international recognition. The hotel, managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts, has been awarded membership in the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC). Built-in audio and video systems and flexible conference rooms built for groups of 10 to 600 highlight the newly renovated meeting and conference spaces, the hotel said in a news release. Members of IACC need to meet the “highest quality standards in room design, food and beverage services, and meeting technology.” “IACC accreditation supports all our hard work to create a premier meeting space in the region,” Paul McNeil, general manager for the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, said in the release. “In partnership with the

Oncenter, the city of Syracuse can now offer meeting-goers luxury accommodations in a state-of-the-art historic hotel, within one block of a major convention center.” The hotel’s high-tech meeting and conference services include: • High-speed wireless Internet • Built-in video systems with the latest LCD/LED technology to accommodate presentations and videoconferences • Dedicated tie lines to route audio, video, and data signals to and from conference rooms • Advanced acoustics engineering designed to reduce unwanted sounds and noise • Point-source speakers in each conference room that can easily be controlled by the presenter The hotel will have more than 41,000 square feet of meeting, wedding, and event space. That includes more than 14,000 square feet of IAAC-certified member-venue conference space. 

PHOTO CREDIT: MARRIOTT SYRACUSE DOWNTOWN

Marriott Syracuse Downtown gets IACC certification

Marriott Syracuse Downtown General Manager Paul McNeil, an employee of Crescent Hotels & Resorts, oversees construction and restoration of the historic hotel lobby.

HISTORY FROM OHA off Warren and Onondaga Streets. While the exterior of the hotel “shines,” like it hasn’t since 1924, it is the interior work that is most stunning. A major mystery surrounded the mural created by artist Carl Roters back in 1948-49. In 1977, during a hotel renovation, the mural was unfortunately covered with a wall of mirrors. No one was sure if the mural had been damaged, or even removed, in the process. Riley had the mirrors taken down. It was revealed, to the community’s great relief, that there had been almost no damage. The mural was intact. Restoration artist Marek Mularski was hired to clean and repair the painting, which included images representing the formation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; Harvey Baldwin, Syracuse’s first mayor; the local salt industry, and William (Jerry) Henry, of the famed Underground Railroad “Jerry Rescue” episode. Everyone entering the hotel now will know that they are in Syracuse, New York, a city with a tremendously rich history.

Proud to be a part of the Hotel Syracuse Restoration

(continued from page 29) Other, smaller paintings, including imaginative chess murals from the Cavalier Room, also by Roters, and a framed work of George Washington’s 1792 presidential inauguration, which hung above a mantel in the lobby, have been restored by West Lake Conservators of Skaneateles. Massive 1920s chandeliers have been restored. Classic details on lobby and Persian Terrace ceilings, once painted over or covered with acoustic tiles, have been recreated along with original ceiling colors. A faux paint scheme returned the Terrace Dining Room’s plaster ceiling to its 1924 look as a rich toned, wood coffered ceiling. The results are breathtaking and have not been seen for decades. After waiting over a dozen years to see if the hotel would ever re-open — and even more years hoping it might return to its former glory — Central New Yorkers will celebrate that event on June 25, 2016, with “Forever Hotel Syracuse” — a sold-out benefit gala for the Onondaga Historical Association.

Thus, after 92 years, the Hotel Syracuse has evolved to become the Marriott Downtown Syracuse. It again will be the place to stay and celebrate good times in this city. It again will be a vital part of the community, an asset that confirms its

place within the history of our town. It was, and will continue to be a landmark where memories are made. . . “a real special place,’’ in the words of Spencer Wallace, the hotel’s general manager for many of its glory years. 

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MANAGING A HOTEL: Riley is launching the Marriott Syracuse Downtown at an auspicious time try,” opines George, “[Crescent Hotels & Resorts]… relies on its unsurpassed level of resources, its systems, and our talented leaders [who] have extensive [hotel] experience. It is this combination that enables us to produce superior results for our clients.”

Who owns the customer?

The first hospitality trend that management needs to understand is who owns the guest. Today, hotel managers not only compete with traditional travel agencies, and travel-management companies for reservations, but they also increasingly compete with online travel agencies (OTAs) and even home-sharing services such as Airbnb. Last year, Booking.com announced that it would no longer provide a guest’s email address when it sent a confirmation to the hotel. This action impedes the hotel’s ability to capture repeat guests, the lowest cost and highest-value travelers.

Distribution channels

Hotel operators understand that the most profitable registration transactions come through direct sales where there is no external commission. The next most profitable avenue is selling rooms through traditional travel agencies and management companies where the commission averages 10 percent and the agents deliver a higher-yield customer. (Traditional travel agencies generate a higher average daily rate for bookings, a longer average stay, and the travel agency clients spend more money.) So why are hotels spending so much money — 15 percent to 30 percent commission plus promotional costs — on OTAs when they currently deliver a small share of total hotel bookings? The answer is clout: the OTAs have too much marketing power to ignore, while travel agencies and hotels have comparatively low visibility. The power of the OTAs is further enhanced because the marketplace is dominated by a duopoly. Expedia and Priceline are in a heavyweight match to dominate the OTA industry. Expedia, which controls a 75 percent share among U.S. online travel agencies, went on a buying spree in 2015 to shore up its position. The company spent $6 billion on Travelocity, Orbitz, and HomeAway. The

buying spree netted Expedia a modest, 1 percent gain in the U.S. and Canadian online travel market. The total U.S. travel market (online and offline) is $388 billion; Phocuswright estimates the global travel market at $1.4 trillion, a 7.7 percent increase over 2015. Priceline is dominant in Europe and Asia and holds the biggest market capitalization at $64 billion. Because the two online giants invest so heavily in research and promotion, hoteliers are becoming more dependent on their online distribution channels. And as these OTAs take a bigger slice of the online pie by controlling room inventory and limiting competition, hotel managers shouldn’t be surprised to see them charge higher commissions. As Expedia and Priceline continue their slug fest for market share, the dynamic growth of the industry has attracted new options. In the first half of 2014, TripAdvisor morphed from being a reference site and introduced its Instant Booking option. In just two years, the company has achieved the highest, firstpage display rate by a significant margin. Its search product leads a consumer through the purchasing funnel from start to finish. Because of its dominance, major hotels such as Marriott and OTAs such as Priceline have gladly struck deals with TripAdvisor, whereby some of their rooms can only be booked through TripAdvisor. The transition from a reference site to the dominant instant-booking platform has recently caught the attention of Google. On March 8, Google introduced Destinations on Google, which allows the user to make travel plans on a mobile phone and integrates the site with Google Flights and Hotel search. The viewer can review real-time fares and rates and book on the Google site.

Competition

Hotels have traditionally competed with other hotels for available rooms. With demand rising faster than supply, there is a rush by REITS and developers to bring more rooms on line and a noticeable increase in merger-and-acquisition activity. In April, Marriott International and Starwood Hotels stockholders voted in favor of a deal that would create the world’s largest hotel company. Marriott

agreed to pay Starwood $12.4 billion in cash and stock. The deal has already cleared the pre-merger, antitrust review. (Starwood owns the Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton, and Four Points brands.) In addition to competing with traditional hotels, hoteliers must now battle nontraditional, home-sharing services. The concept was launched in 2008 by Airbnb to create an option for travelers and for those who own a residence to connect at any price point. Airbnb is now available in 34,000 cities and 191 countries. To date, 60 million guests have stayed at some of the 2 million listings worldwide, including more than 1,400 castles. The travel-service’s valuation now exceeds that of any hotel chain. This travel option has typically attracted pleasure travelers, but 250 businesses are now utilizing the service to control experiences while offering a new experience. (Airbnb now offers business travelers a dashboard that includes travel itineraries, financial reporting, and central billing.)

Understanding your guest

Hotels are wrestling with the challenge of catering to a variety of audiences. They have to respond differently to the business traveler, who is focused on completing a work assignment, favors a hotel app that can be utilized to book travel arrangements, access hotel amenities, read reviews, and access their rewards points. The hotels also have to please the leisure traveler, who is not in a hurry and wants to enjoy the hotel’s on-site amenities and area attractions. To the leisure traveler, what’s important is the comfort of the room, the view, recreational activities, a kid- and pet-friendly policy, and the relaxing atmosphere. Catering to the business and leisure travel is compounded by the different demands of various age groups. Those guests over the age of 45 work less in the hotel lobby or common area, while those 18-44 prefer to work in an open setting. Millennials, who will comprise half of all guests by 2025, tend to be brand loyal, are comfortable with change such as a new, online booking tool or a virtual card, consider value more important than cost, and are very comfortable combining business and pleasure. What all age groups seem to agree on is more person-

We are grateful for your commitment to buy local in support of manufacturing in Central New York

Continued from page 28

alized service and amenities.

Meeting the challenges

Hotel management is responding to the multiple challenges. To combat the rising cost of acquiring guests, hotels are turning to increased direct marketing through new marketing-and-sales cloud platforms in order to engage returning guests online and to offer personalized experiences. Hotels are also being inventive to attract business by targeting lastminute mobile promotions and creating new ideas such as “staycations,” designed to attract locals for a short respite. Hotels are also monitoring rates and crafting new strategies to include alternative accommodations. Social media has become the arrow of choice in their marketing quiver to promote word-of-mouth awareness. Hoteliers are concentrating on prestay service to help set the operation apart from the competition and to reduce the likelihood of cancellation. They are girding up for a new trend where 58 percent of all travelers will decide at the last minute to plan a trip; in the case of Millennials, the number is 73 percent. In addition, hotels are shoring up their phone-channel reservation sales, which generate 38 percent more revenue than OTAs and close to 9 percent more than web reservations.

Forecast

For the hotel industry, this year is projected to be outstanding. According to STR, a hotel research and data provider, the U.S. hotel industry will post an average occupancy increase of 0.8 percent to 66 percent, a 5.2 percent increase in the ADR (average daily rate), and a 6 percent increase in RevPAR (revenue per available room). The 2.2 percent increased demand in 2016 will outstrip the supply growth of 1.4 percent trend that has been constant since 2010. (The industry added 44,584 rooms in 2012; this year it is expected to add 94,628 and another 113,000-plus in 2017.) The imbalance of supply and demand should allow hotels to raise their rates by 4 percent to 6 percent. Whatever performance metrics or industry benchmarks SEE MANAGING A HOTEL, PAGE 38

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GRANDE DAME: Renovations on the historic hotel began in 2015 which was managing the hotel for the First Bank of Oak Park, had planned to convert the tower to a 190-room, independent hotel propelled by a $13.2 million investment. The deal fell apart after the bankruptcy trustee filed for permission to auction off all of the hotel properties and liquidate its assets. The move to liquidate was precipitated by the bank backing out of the deal after discovering that the tax breaks would not benefit the bank as originally projected. In 2005, the Pioneer Companies stepped in as a potential developer of a convention headquarters hotel on South State Street across from the Oncenter. Following negotiations with the city, county, and the state, Pioneer was prepared to offer the city additional sales-tax revenues, and any risk to area taxpayers was offset by a guarantee from New York State to provide $15 million for the project: $5 million each from the Senate, Assembly, and the governor’s office. Pioneer proposed investing $65.3 million to build a 350-room hotel. The developers offered to put up $10 million and take out a construction loan of nearly $24 million issued by the Onondaga Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA). Pioneer requested a 30-year PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) that would be used to repay the bonds issued by OCIDA over a 25-year period. Since the PILOT was insufficient to cover the bond payments, Onondaga County would have to depend on state aid or revenue-generated hotel sales and room taxes. Pioneer walked away from the deal because of a “neutrality agreement” imposed by the state Assembly requiring an employer to support a union’s attempt to organize the company’s workforce.

The Phoenix Rises

The Hotel Syracuse, like the long-lived bird of Greek mythology, was regenerated by arising from the “ashes” of its predecessor. The process, however, was tortuous. In August 2005, Gmul Investment Co. Ltd. based in Hertzliya, Israel, agreed to buy the hotel and the adjacent garage owned by the City of Syracuse. The deal closed in September. The company invests in real-estate development and in other sectors including financial markets, energy, infrastructure, communications, and hightech. Gmul has investments in the U.S. and Canada, Romania, Albania, Turkey, Cyprus, and France. The plan was to renovate the property into a four-star hotel with about 60 condominiums in the renamed Symphony

Tower. Most of the condos were priced to sell at $200,000 to $250,000 each with a handful of luxury units priced at $500,000. The historic hotel would become a combination of a 155-room business hotel plus 150 apartments. Renovation plans also included the lobby, banquet facilities, street-level store-fronts, parking garage, pool, and gym.

Third bankruptcy

In May 2006, Gmul sold the property to Ameris Holdings, Ltd., controlled by Levi Kushner, as part of a larger package deal. Kushner reconfigured some of Gmul’s plans by shifting the condos to the historic hotel. He also reopened the banquet facilities in 2006 and renovated the parking garage, which reopened in September 2007. Ameris began work on the tower in 2007, converting the property to apartments. In 2008, the Hotel Syracuse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Shortly thereafter, Ameris filed for bankruptcy. Construction on the tower by Hayner Hoyt Corp. of Syracuse stopped just 20 percent short of completion.

2010

In July 2010, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney threw her support behind a proposal by Berkley Acquisitions, LLC to buy the Hotel Syracuse, the garage, and the adjacent Addis Co. department store. The New York City developer, Berkley, is a privately owned real-estate holding company that purchases, renovates, and manages hotels, office, retail, and multi-family properties in the Northeast. The company currently owns apartment complexes and office space in the Central New York area. Berkley was to get the $15 million allocated by the state, plus $10 million in low-cost financing that would be provided by Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse by selling federally subsidized Recovery Zone bonds. Berkley would be required to repay the bonds but not the state grant. The agreement required Berkley to invest $20 million of its own money before spending any of the $15 million state grant. The city also agreed to certify Berkley’s project for the state Empire Zone program. As of June 2010, Berkley had lined up about $30 million of private equity and was looking for another $25 million in public incentives. Berkley’s deal was not the only one on Mahoney’s desk at that time. Wilmorite,

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Inc., which had been proposing since 2008 a Westin convention hotel across from the Oncenter, devised a plan to finance the hotel by pairing it with a harness track and videogambling business at the State Fairgrounds in Geddes. Wilmorite, a Rochester–based commercial, real-estate developer for more than seven decades, has developed more than 30 million square feet of retail, office, hotel, apartment, and convention space. The company is currently building the del Lago Resort and Casino, a $425 million investment project in the town of Tyre in Seneca County. In 2010, Hotel Syracuse’s properties were under the control of a receiver appointed by an Israeli court to liquidate the assets of Ameris, which was still the majority owner. Berkley had a tentative agreement with the receiver to buy the properties. To complicate the deal, the Addis building and the tower were subject to foreclosure proceedings in New York State Supreme Court in Syracuse because of multiple liens on the properties. Neither the Berkley deal nor the Wilmorite proposal came to fruition.

2011

In 2011, another New York City–based firm, called Fundamental Advisors, expressed interest in acquiring and renovating the historic hotel. Fundamental had no interest in acquiring the tower, the 560space parking garage attached to the hotel, or the five-story Addis building adjacent to the tower. Founded in 2007, Fundamental invests primarily in distressed municipal debts and the properties associated with the debts. The hotel carried no municipal loans, but it did owe $470,753 in taxes dating back to Ameris’s bankruptcy filing in 2008. In November, the city considered Fundamental’s offer serious enough to notify the hotel’s owner and the creditors that it would seize the property if at least $196,523 of the delinquent taxes weren’t paid by Dec. 17. Ashish Mehta, an Israeli investor, had acquired the purchasing rights to all the properties from the Israeli bankruptcy court earlier in the year. In December, Financitech, Ltd., an Israeli company which had loaned GML Syracuse, LLC nearly $5.2 million in 2008 to cover two mortgages, stopped any foreclosure action by handing the city a check for approximately $200,000. (GML Syracuse, LLC was the entity set up by Gmul Investment Co., Ltd. to buy the Hotel

Continued from page 3

Syracuse out of bankruptcy in 2005.)

The light at the end of the tunnel

In 2012, the dispute over the tower was initially settled when a New York court severed the title to the tower from the other hotel properties and awarded ownership to Hayner Hoyt, the major lien-holder, for $1.4 million. The decision was contested by Altshuler Shaham Provident Funds, which spent three years in litigation to overturn the decision. Hayner Hoyt and Altshuler arrived at a settlement in 2015, giving Hayner Hoyt clear title to the tower property. Another suitor for the hotel appeared in 2013. Pyramid Hotel Group (PHG) of Boston manages hotels and resorts in the continental U.S., Hawaii, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The company has 75 properties with more than 22,000 rooms under brands which include Marriott, Hilton, and Starwood. Ed Riley, a Camillus native and senior VP of PHG, led the company’s review of the project. In May, PHG’s attempt to acquire the historic hotel was thwarted by Financitech, which blocked any tax-foreclosure plans by the city with the delivery of a check for $361,855. Financitech’s move came just days before the Syracuse Common Council was prepared to approve PHG’s proposal to renovate the historic hotel for $60 million. Financitech held two mortgages on the hotel totaling $5.165 million and a $1.5 million mortgage on the parking garage. Convinced that a renovated Hotel Syracuse could be financially successful, Riley left PHG to pursue his dream. In December 2013, the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) agreed to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the hotel and transfer it to Syracuse Community Hotel Restoration Co. 1, LLC, a company owned by Riley. In February 2014, Onondaga County lawmakers voted unanimously to use $1.1 million in state grants to buy the hotel. The funds came from the original $15 million grant to build a convention-center hotel adjacent to the Oncenter. On June 11, SIDA petitioned the state Supreme Court for possession of the hotel under its eminent-domain authority. On July 3, SIDA seized the property and that same afternoon turned over the title to Riley’s company. GML Syracuse, LLC did not contest the decision. Renovation on the historic hotel began in 2015. The “grande dame” is scheduled to officially reopen on July 4, 2016, as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. 


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RILEY: Choosing a construction project manager to coordinate and supervise the project was easy. ic tax credits offered both at the state and federal level required attracting a second bank or an insurance company to make a major investment equal to 20 percent of the rehabilitation work. Add to this the requirement to carry the convention center’s designation that the facility would be the official convention center headquarters hotel.” He continues, “With all of these balls in the air at the same time, there was the additional burden of negotiating with creditors, lien-holders, and bankruptcy courts and their appointed trustees in not one but two countries in order to close a deal and take title to the historic-hotel property. The fact that a total of four properties were involved in the ownership wrangle complicated the deal even further. Overlay all of these with a very tight construction schedule that required beginning the renovation even before all of the funding was in place. That’s what I mean by complicated.”

Taking title

The first step to starting the project was securing the $15 million grant set aside by New York State in 2006 to support the “official” hotel of the Syracuse convention center. “I spent 18 months talking to city, county, and state government, elected officials, and CenterState CEO before securing approval,” Riley says. “It was like pushing a boulder up a hill. I next tackled the challenge of obtaining title to the property, working with Mayor Miner and SIDA (the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency) to secure ownership through the process of eminent domain. In December 2013, SIDA approved an agreement to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the historic hotel from GML Syracuse, LLC, which still held the title. In February 2014, the Onondaga County Legislature voted to use $1.1 million, from the $15 million state grant which it controlled, to buy the property, and I invested $500,000. SIDA petitioned the state Supreme Court in June for possession, and in July, the agency took possession and transferred the title to my corporation. During this process to obtain title to the property, I also had to negotiate a 14-year PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) agreement.”

Financing the deal

Financing the project presented a

special challenge. Having lined up the state grant and grants from the Regional Economic Development Council, the county, and a grant from National Grid for streetscape and energy efficiency, Riley needed to convince a banker or bankers to issue a mortgage for more than $30 million of the $70 million project. “If this project were in New York, Boston, or San Francisco where the ADR (average daily rate) was $400 a night, it would be easy to fund this deal,” posits Riley. “Since the project is located in Syracuse and rates are more in the $150 to $160 [a night] range, it becomes a real challenge. How do you tell a banker you are spending $70 million to renovate a property whose value upon completion will be around $34 million? And you want to do this with very little owner equity. Add to this the fact that the property hadn’t operated for a decade, and the deal could only work if all of the moving pieces came together. The payoff comes only if the financial projections showing the long-term cash flow actually work. It took a lot of convincing, but M&T Bank stepped up to the plate, even before U.S. Bank came on board to purchase the tax credits. The financial package ended up with approximately $22 million in grants, $15 million in tax credits, and a $33 million loan. All of these agreements required contracts which were reviewed not only by the parties to the agreement, but also by lawyers representing the other players.” Riley also negotiated a contract with the Oncenter, which was a requirement for receiving the $15 million state grant. In exchange for being designated the convention center headquarters hotel, the Hotel Syracuse agreed to set aside a block of rooms at a discounted price. This agreement permitted the Oncenter to compete in attracting conventions and events. In addition, Riley needed to select a “flag” to represent the property. “I was fortunate to have proposals from Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton,” Riley notes. “I wanted a company with a national brand and a strong reservation system to drive business to the hotel. I chose the Marriott in July 2014, and we finalized the deal in April 2015 when we renamed the hotel the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. With the flag selected, I then needed to choose a management company. I interviewed a half-dozen that had already been approved

by Marriott. In the same month that I finalized the Marriott contract, I signed a contract with Crescent Hotels and Resorts, which operates in the U.S. and Canada. The founder and CEO, Michael George, and his wife grew up in the Watertown/ Alex Bay region, and they felt a special connection to the hotel.” Choosing a construction project manager to coordinate and supervise the renovation project was easy. Riley and Gary Thurston, chairman of Hayner Hoyt Corp., were long-time friends who had discussed, over many years, the demise of the Hotel Syracuse and its potential future. Hayner Hoyt had done the renovation work on the adjacent tower back in 2007-2008, before the work was halted when Ameris Holdings declared bankruptcy. In 2012, Thurston took title to the tower only to spend the next three years in litigation before settling with the chief creditor. Riley trusted Thurston’s extensive construction knowledge, his company’s capabilities and reputation, and his dedication to seeing the historic hotel restored. Thurston loaned Riley money to purchase the hotel in 2014 and worked on the project along with the subcontractors for a year before anyone was paid. “The dream is really coming together,” Riley says with a smile. “Downtown is coming back. Just look at the gentrification. The hospitality industry is seeing a shift in hotel demand to urban settings as more travelers prefer to stay downtown. These days, many of the travelers are experiential, and they don’t like cookie-cutter facilities … Syracuse University alone generates a lot of room nights, and visitors love to earn member-points with Marriott … I’m in the heads-and-beds business, and this project is sustainable for the longterm. It’s a home run,” he contends. During the prolonged negotiations to move the project forward, Riley’s dedication to the project was closely observed by his attorney Richard C. Engel, a partner at Mackenzie Hughes LLP in Syracuse. “It has been a privilege for me … to work with Ed from the project’s earliest stages. I have actually known Ed since the early 90s when he was a practicing architect in Syracuse. The universal support … [received from] the mayor, Common Council, county executive and county legislature, Assemblyman [William] Magnarelli, [State] Senators [John] DeFrancisco and

Continued from page 4

[David] Valesky, the state, Rob Simpson [of] CenterState CEO, and many others is a testament [both] to the importance of the project …, but in my observation, far more so a testament to Ed Riley’s character, tenacity, extreme competence, and vision. Ed’s capability and character were also key to Allen Naples’ and M&T Bank’s willingness to help finance the project and to Marriott’s wanting to partner with Ed as the hotel’s franchisor. For quite literally hundreds of meetings pitching and advancing the project with Ed, I have observed his unwavering enthusiasm to restore the hotel in a first-class manner … true to its origins, … utilizing at every available opportunity local vendors, contractors, and employees. He is really a model businessman who is primarily interested in bettering the community. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown … will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the Central New York region.” One might think that Ed Riley would take a break after the grand opening of the new Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Even jugglers need a break between acts. But not Riley. The friendship between Riley and Thurston has developed a synergy that goes beyond just restoring the 92-year-old hotel. When Thurston assumed title to the tower, he planned to create 75 apartments. Now that the Marriott Syracuse Downtown is coming online, Riley convinced Thurston to open the tower as an extended-stay hotel because the two facilities complemented each other. Crescent could manage both properties, and the reservation system could drive traffic to both. The efficiencies are obvious. The extended-stay rooms also serve as potential inventory for large events, when the historic hotel is fully occupied. Residents at the tower could easily avail themselves of the hotel amenities just across the street. In addition to working with Thurston on the extended-stay concept for the tower, on Sept. 28, 2015, Riley filed for a new corporation with the State of New York. Brine Wells Development, LLC is headquartered at 205 S. Townsend St. and currently employs eight people, including his son Kevin. “I’m only 62,” quips Riley. “I have a lot of ideas to develop, and a great team of professionals, many of whom I have worked with in the past. I’m eager to get started.” 

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NEW SCORE: On June 18, 2012, Hayner Hoyt sold the property to Symphony Tower, LLC to Ameris Holdings, Ltd. Ameris renovated the garage, reopened the banquet facilities, and, in 2007, began renovation of the 15-story tower, renamed Symphony Tower, which originally opened in 1983. Hayner Hoyt was selected by GML Tower, LLC as the general contractor on the project. The plan was to create a 75-suite apartment complex. “We began working on the project in July 2007, and it was 80 percent completed,” Thurston recalls. “The company stopped paying me in May 2008. By September, Hayner Hoyt and its sub-contractors were owed $3.2 million. That’s when I pulled the plug and stopped working on the tower.” Ameris filed for bankruptcy protection later that year. Hayner Hoyt is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a construction company. Headquartered in Syracuse, the commercial builder generates an annual construction volume of $100 million to $200 million. Hayner Hoyt builds a diverse range of projects, including hospitals and healthcare facilities, warehouses, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, financial institutions, nursing homes, churches, and hotels. Recent clients include Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health, Turning Stone Resort Casino, and manufacturers such as Anaren, Byrne Dairy, Fulton Companies, Inficon, Lockheed Martin, and SRC. Hayner Hoyt is the construction manager and general contractor renovating the historic Hotel Syracuse. Thurston, a graduate of Utica College with a bachelor’s degree in construction management, joined the company in 1978. His son Jeremy, who has worked at Hayner Hoyt since 1998, was appointed president in 2008.

Third movement/dirge

Maestro Thurston’s symphony went atonal in 2008. The dissonance was created by a gaggle of lawyers representing the mortgage holder, the contractor, the guarantor, subcontractors, and the bankruptcy receiver. This movement of the concert began in December 2008 when Perfect Provident Fund, Ltd. (later renamed Altshuler Shaham Provident Funds, Ltd.) began a foreclosure action against GML Tower LLC, GML Addis LLC (the five-story Addis building adjacent to the tower), and Ameris. The defendants

were all parties to a $10 million note and mortgage held by Altshuler, which had been originally executed in March 2007. The contract specified that $5.5 million be allocated to pay off the existing loan with First Bank of Oak Park and the remaining $4.5 million be used for construction. “[On Halloween 2008], Hayner Hoyt filed a mechanics lien in the amount of $3,238,106,” notes Thurston. “Several of the subcontractors filed cross-liens. Our argument was that Altshuler had failed to file the loan agreement [in violation of Section 22 of the New York State Lien law]. That meant that the plaintiff’s mortgage was subordinated to my company’s mechanics lien.” (The purpose of Section 22 was to enable a contractor to learn exactly what sum the loan in fact made available to the owner of the real-estate property. The section only deals with building-loan contracts, not building-loan mortgages.) On May 17, 2010, Judge Deborah H. Karalunas wrote the opinion for the state Supreme Court, County of Onondaga, which ruled in favor of the defendants by subordinating the plaintiff’s claim to that of the lien holders. “Altshuler appealed the decision, and the case went to the Fourth Appellate District for the State of New York,” says Thurston. “The court unanimously agreed with the lower court giving Hayner Hoyt and the subs first priority to satisfy the liens. It was the signal I was looking for to take title to the property and finish the renovation. In June 2012, the company bought the tower at a foreclosure auction for $1.3 million. We were the only bidder.” On June 18, 2012, Hayner Hoyt sold the property to Symphony Tower, LLC, for which Thurston was the registered agent, and paid all of the subcontractors and suppliers who contracted with Hayner Hoyt on the project. At the time of the auction, there was still a motion by the plaintiff to appeal the original decision.

Intermezzo

What appeared in 2012 to be the crescendo of Thurston’s performance became an intermezzo in 2013. The New York State Court of Appeals agreed to hear Altshuler’s appeal and rendered its decision on June 11, 2013. “As I recall, the Court of Appeals voted

five to one to amend the lower court’s decision.” Thurston laments. “The court issued a split-decision that said Hayner Hoyt’s lien outranked Altshuler’s $4.5 million renovation loan, but not the $5.5 million purchase loan. The judges concluded that the lien law (Section 22) does not apply to purchase loans. The net result was that my priority ranking to receive funds from a foreclosure sale was nullified. I was still the owner of the tower, but now Altshuler was in a position to demand that Hayner Hoyt pay them $1.4 million.” When this reporter interviewed Thurston shortly after the Court of Appeals decision, his response to paying the former plaintiff was “No f------ way I’ll pay them a penny.” In March 2014, Altshuler moved to modify the judgment of foreclosure and sale of the tower. On June 12, 2015, the Fourth Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court vacated the referee’s sale of the tower, set aside the deed, and ordered a new foreclosure sale.

Rewriting the third movement

While the court drama played out over a three-year period, and the tempo of restoring the tower came to a rest stop, Thurston rekindled his discussions with Riley about the property. At the time of the foreclosure sale in 2012, he and Riley began to compose a new score that involved both the tower and the historic hotel. “Ed [Riley] was developing a proposal for his company [PHG] to renovate the Hotel Syracuse,” explains Thurston. “I asked Ed for his ideas to redevelop the 140,000-square-foot tower. He suggested that I consider converting the property to an extended-stay hotel with 120 keys and retail space on the first floor. “[According to Riley,] there is a trend in the hotel industry to develop these properties,” Thurston asserts. “Corporations increasingly utilize outsourcing of their … [specialized work] to consultants. The consultants need a place to stay for weeks and sometimes months while working on a temporary project. Since the extended-stay rooms resemble the apartments we already created in the tower, converting the property wouldn’t require a lot of work. Ed also pointed out the synergy between the historic hotel and the Symphony Tower. I could use his reg-

Continued from page 6

istration platform to drive traffic and some of the back-office functions. The management company he needed to hire could also manage the extended-stay hotel. Between the two properties, we had more capacity to handle overflow situations. It all made sense.” Research by Smith Travel Research (STR) confirms Thurston’s assumptions. Hotel News Now, which is owned by STR, reported in 2015 that “Extendedstay hotels are popular among investors due to their steady and satisfying performance over the years.” Since 2009, the demand growth rate has risen 7.2 percent while supply has only grown at 5 percent. Upper-scale, extended-stay hotels performed well in occupancy with a rate of 78.2 percent, an average daily rate (ADR) of $130.87, and revenue-peravailable room (RevPAR) of $102.31. The demand for more extended-stay options is driven by the business traveler dealing with corporate relocation, training programs, and long-term consulting assignments. The leisure traveler is also driving demand, preferring hotels with kitchen amenities and more spacious rooms. To meet the growing demand, major hotel chains such as Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Hyatt Hotels, Starwood, and Intercontinental are “… implementing rapid expansion strategies for their extended-stay brands.”

Illegitimi non carborundum

Thurston didn’t let the endless parade of litigators wear him down. Buoyed by Riley’s suggestion to convert Symphony Tower to an extended-stay hotel, he reconsidered his initial reaction to the 2013 court decision not to pay a penny, and eventually reached a settlement with the lender. The deal cost him another $1.7 million. Thurston expects to spend $5 million to $10 million converting the property into an extended-stay hotel. He anticipates opening that facility in 2017.

The fourth movement/presto

Everything speeded up in 2015. Riley left PHG in 2013 to take on the historic Hotel Syracuse renovation personally. For the next three years, he pursued legislators at multiple levels of government, SEE NEW SCORE, PAGE 38

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M&T: Naples came around slowly to the Hotel Syracuse renovation project considered the likelihood that Riley would be successful akin to believing the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series anytime in the next century. Since The Old Girl closed in 2004, a bevy of suitors sought the blessings of government to bestow the convention-center flag, accompanied by a $15 million dowry in the form of a grant. No nuptials were recorded, only skepticism. “I spent 18 months talking to city, county, and state government, elected officials, and CenterState CEO, recalls Riley. “Frankly, it was like pushing a heavy boulder up hill.” Unlike Sisyphus, condemned to repeatedly roll a heavy stone up a hill only to see it roll down again, Riley successfully rolled his boulder to the top of the hill. In December 2014, the Onondaga County Legislature voted to name the Hotel Syracuse the “headquarters hotel” for conventions held at the Oncenter. The action freed up $13.9 million of the state grants. (In February 2014, the county had voted to set aside $1.1 million to acquire the hotel.) The same month, Riley received a $3.645 million grant from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s regional-economic-development-council (REDC) initiative. The grant request had been a priority in the fourth round of funding. National Grid also provided three grants to the Hotel Syracuse project, $1.3 million for brownfield cleanup, streetscape improvements, and energy-efficiency investments. In addition, the project received a New York State CAP grant for $1.7 million, Restore New York provided a grant in the amount of $1.1 million, and the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) added a grant for $1.25 million. “The grants collectively totaled approximately $24 million,” Riley stated.

Historic-preservation tax credits

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program was instituted in 1976 to encourage the private sector to invest in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings. In the past 40 years, it has leveraged more than $40 billion in private investment to preserve more than 41,000 projects. The program offers a 20 percent, income-tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing properties. The Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service, certifies all historic structures. The state historic-preservation offices and the National Park Service review the work to ensure it’s in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards. The IRS defines the rehabilitation

expenses on which any credits can be claimed. The final amount of the tax credit, which excludes items such as furniture, fixtures, and equipment, is determined by the cost of the rehabilitation. Riley anticipates that the federal tax credits will add up to 16 percent to 17 percent of the total project cost. New York State also offers rehabilitationtax credits. In 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the program until the end of 2019. Owners of income-producing properties that have been approved to receive the 20 percent, federal-rehabilitation tax credit automatically qualify for the additional state tax credit. Owners can receive an additional 20 percent of the qualified tax-rehabilitation expenditures up to a maximum of $5 million. According to Riley, the federal and state tax credits combined, which amount to about 20 percent of the project, were a key investment component and provided $15 million toward the project. U.S. Bank — which is headquartered in Minneapolis and one of the top 10 largest banks in the U.S., ranked by total assets — bought the credits in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The PILOT

Futurists tell us that it won’t be long before we fly to grandma’s house for Christmas on an unmanned aircraft. In the meantime, we still require a pilot. PILOTS (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) are also required on many, large projects where the property owners need some time to become profitable. In Syracuse, an applicant for a PILOT files with SIDA to request an agreement. The agency and the Syracuse Common Council must approve the request. Riley’s application met the class-6 requirements of SIDA’s uniform tax-exemption policy. It’s for commercial businesses that invest a minimum of $15 million; create at least 100 new, permanent, full-time and part-time jobs created in the city within three years of receiving PILOT approval; and use mostly local (Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego counties) labor for the construction. SIDA offers a 14-year plan with a fixed payment for the first 10 years and increasing payments for the next four. In year 15, the company pays the full tax assessment. The Marriott Syracuse Downtown (the new name for the Hotel Syracuse) is scheduled to pay $1.6 million over the 14-year period, based on an initial assessed value of $1.15 million. Once the restoration is complete, the assessed value will rise to $14 million. Riley also requested an exemption

Continued from page 8

from paying sales tax on construction material and on the mortgage filing-fee. The PILOT and exemptions were approved by Syracuse lawmakers in August 2014.

Getting a loan

“Getting a construction loan was challenging,” Riley says. (When Riley uses the word “challenging,” he is thinking of a one-legged, blind climber on Mt. Everest with no oxygen, pickax, crampons, map, or guide.) “How do you tell a banker you are spending $70 million to end up with a project whose value is $34 million? Their eyes tend to glaze over,” he says. Riley’s visit with Allen Naples, president of the Central New York division at M&T Bank, was typical of the financialservices industry’s reaction. “I listened politely to his presentation,” recalls Naples. “In the back of my mind, I was thinking of a deal the Syracuse–banking community made back in the late 1980s when I was just a commercial-loan officer at Marine Midland, still wet behind the ears. All of the local banks put together a rescue loan of $8 million or $9 million for the Hotel Syracuse so it could continue to operate. We all wrote off the loan within a year or two. After Ed [Riley] left, I said to myself: ‘There’s no way I’m doing this deal.’” Fortunately for Riley, Naples turned his proposal over to Lindsay Weichert, senior relationship manager and team leader for commercial real estate at the bank. “I looked at the deal with a fresh set of eyes,” explains Weichert, a St. Lawrence University graduate with a master’s degree in real estate from New York University. “It certainly was complicated and there was limited cash equity from the owner, but as I studied it I saw that the numbers could work. I was particularly struck by Ed’s modesty and conservatism. Unlike many of the proposals I review, Ed used very conservative assumptions in his projections. I actually felt he undersold the project. I was also impressed by how hard he and his team worked. I often got responses to my questions… [long before the sun was up]. In addition, I was very impressed with Ed’s technical expertise and his years of experience. He understood the process, and he understood risk.” Naples came around slowly to the Hotel Syracuse renovation project. He invited all of the area banks to attend a presentation by Riley. Following the meeting, Naples asked his colleagues to join him in a consortium to fund the construction. The response was a polite but universal “no.”

Undeterred, Naples decided to ask M&T Bank’s loan committee to approve the entire loan. “I thought a long time about the risk of underwriting more than 100 percent of the building’s value,” Naples intones. “I’ve been in banking now for 44 years, and I have probably done more than $10 billion in deals. During that time, I have probably written off only $5 million, all while I was in Syracuse. I think that’s a pretty good record. Still, I wanted to do this deal … We must have done a good job presenting to the loan committee, because the members only had a half-dozen questions before approving the deal.” M&T, headquartered in Buffalo with total assets of nearly $125 billion, issued the Syracuse Community Hotel Restoration Co. 1, LLC, a company Riley established to monitor the renovation, a mortgage in the amount of $61 million. The amortization was spread over 25 years with a balloon payment due at the end of five years, when the parties may renegotiate a new, permanent mortgage loan. “The deal calls for interest-only payments for the first two years,” emphasizes Naples. “We wanted to help the hotel get into a strong operating position … The negotiations with Ed went on for 18 months before we cut the first check for $20 million. (The mortgage was approved in October 2015.) What amazed me was that construction on the project, which was on a tight deadline, began long before anyone was paid or was certain of payment. Gary Thurston [of Hayner Hoyt Corp.] and his subs carried the project knowing the risk involved. I think Gary was critical in making the renovation successful.” Thurston didn’t see much risk attached to the project. “The Hotel Syracuse is an icon,” declares the chairman and CEO of Syracuse–based Hayner Hoyt. “With a good operator, I didn’t see any risk. I knew from the beginning it would be a home run, because everybody in Syracuse has a story about the hotel. It’s a love relationship.” J.P. Morgan would have agreed with the decisions made by the Syracuse Common Council, the Onondaga County Legislature, National Grid, REDC, New York State, SIDA, and M&T Bank. Commercial credit is not based on money or property; the first consideration is character. The fact that Riley successfully financed his dream to restore the Hotel Syracuse leads this reporter to believe that the Chicago Cubs might actually win the World Series sometime in the next century. 

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NEW SCORE: Thurston is getting ready to release his new score for the Symphony Tower investors, economic-development gurus, bankers, executives at the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau, hotel franchisers, management companies, contractors, the Syracuse mayor, and the Onondaga County executive. Riley took title to the historic hotel in June 2014, and work on the renovation began in 2015, long before bank financing was secured. Hayner Hoyt undertook the $54 million construction project working in concert with the project’s subcontractors for a year before receiving the first progress payment.

“There are 300 to 350 people working right now to finish the job on time,” Thurston said in a May 4 interview. “This is such a special project, because of its historical significance and because of the community’s attachment to the hotel’s history, that all the workers have a stake in its success. This is clearly one of the most interesting projects I have ever worked on. I would call it iconic … The best part about being a builder is that you can drive by and point to a project like this and say, ‘I did that.’” Thurston also has high praise for the cooperation of

Continued from page 36

the various entities that worked together to ensure the renovation was completed. But he saves his highest praise for Ed Riley and his unwavering commitment to the project. In addition to their friendship, Thurston and Riley share three important characteristics — perseverance, resilience, and a strong work ethic. Even before the Marriott Syracuse Downtown opens, Riley has formed a development company to pursue new projects. Thurston, who recently drove to Utica to open a “storefront” office for Hayner Hoyt, instead

MANAGING A HOTEL: Riley is launching the Marriott Syracuse Downtown at an auspicious time you use — occupancy, RevPAR, ADR, hotel supply and demand, market-penetration index, average-rate index, or the revenue-generation index — they are all positive. Riley is launching the Marriott Syracuse Downtown at an auspicious time. The marketplace is favorable to additional demand that is outpacing the supply of hotel rooms. His team has positioned the hotel

as a unique, luxury experience for the region supported by decades of affection for the property. The Marriott flag is an important component to establish a strong brand and to drive traffic, and the choice of Crescent, whose team is already on the property in pre-operation mode, brings experience and professionalism to the operation. Michael George summed up the com-

munity’s feeling. “There is simply no other hotel in the region with the history; the physical, historical detail; or with the magnitude of offerings as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown,” he said. “Guests at the Marriott Syracuse will be able to enjoy all of the preserved features, as well as brand-new offerings for this area, such as beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites, spectacular … ballrooms, invit-

bought the former ConMed building on Broad Street. He plans to invest $4.5 million to rehab the building for mixed use. The renovated property will contain 27 high-end, loft apartments; office space on the ground floor; and light manufacturing in an adjacent building. As for why he’s pursuing this project, Thurston says simply, “I couldn’t help it.” Thurston is getting ready to release his new score for the Symphony Tower. What could have been a requiem played in a minor chord, he rewrote as a symphony in a major chord to be played grandioso. 

Continued from page 32

ing and enjoyable restaurants and bars, and IACC-designated conference space … [The] hotel staff will not only be able to ensure guests are well provided for, but will also be able to share stories from the hotel’s history — making an even richer history for our guests. It is a privilege and a pleasure for Crescent to be part of such a legendary hotel and the city of Syracuse.” 

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•Additions Or Remodel Projects •Design/Build Projects •Generator Systemswww.moodmediafcc.com 315 469.7711 Erik Szemplenski e.szemplenski@moodmediafcc.com •Lighting Design & Installation •New Updated Electrical Service •New Construction •Fire Alarm And Security Systems

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE BUILDING ENVELOPE SYSTEMS

Proud to be part of the Hotel Syracuse Restoration Team

Proud to to bebepart RestorationTeam Team Proud partofofthe theHotel Hotel Syracuse Syracuse Restoration 5710 Commons Park Drive 5710 Commons East Syracuse, NewPark YorkDrive 13057 East Syracuse, New York 13057

Voice: 315-446-9201 Voice: 315-446-9201 Voice: 315-446-9205 315-446-9201 Fax: Fax:Fax: 315-446-9205 315-446-9205

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ADMINISTRATIVE PUBLISHER Marny Nesher mnesher@cnybj.com PUBLISHER EMERITUS Norman Poltenson npoltenson@cnybj.com

210 Sixth North Street Syracuse, NY 13208 Phone (315) 479-9004 Fax (315) 479-1059

BUSINESS MANAGER Kurt Bramer kbramer@cnybj.com

Lori M. Lupini, President

A N N I V E R S A RY

1986-2016

THE CENTRAL NEW YORK BUSINESS JOURNAL (ISSN #1050-3005) is published every week by CNY Business Review, Inc. All contents copyrighted 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Cover Price $2.50 Subscription Rate $89 per year Call (800) 836-3539

LUPINI CONSTRUCTION www.lupiniconstruction.com Specializing in Masonry Restoration • Cleaning • Repainting • Shotcrete • Caulking • Brick, Stone, and Concrete Repair •Waterproofing • Air Vapor Barrier 6081 Trenton Road, Utica, NY 13502

(315) 736-6397 • Fax: (315) 736-8809 Cell: (315) 525-8378 llupini@lupiniconstruction.com NYS Certified WBE

Syracuse Signal Systems, Inc. Scott Strachan

strachans@syracusesignal.net Traffic Signal and Lighting Installation and Maintenance 410 Marcellus Street Syracuse, NY 13204 Office: 315.426.8712 Fax: 315.295.2568 www.syracusesignal.com

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HOTEL SYRACUSE COMMEMORATIVE PUBLICATION I BUSINESS JOURNAL NEWS NETWORK I JUNE 27, 2016

CNYBJ.COM

Proud Partner of the Hotel Syracuse Renovation Project

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MEET THE TEAM BEHIND SOME OF THE BEST WORK YOU’LL NEVER SEE.

The Hotel Syracuse Restoration Project When Ed Riley tackled the massive challenge of restoring the Hotel Syracuse to its former grandeur, he looked to the IPD Engineering team to design all new mechanical and electrical systems. From concept to design to assisting with commissioning of all HVAC, plumbing, electric and fire protection

infrastructure—that which was once very old is now brand new. What started out as a complex project grew into a labor of love for the IPD Engineering team. We are proud to have worked side-by-side with Ed Riley and his team to be part of a collaborative effort that helped to restore another star in the Syracuse skyline.

HVAC | PLUMBING | ELECTRICAL | STRUCTURAL | FIRE PROTECTION

ONE WEBSTER’S LANDING

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SYRACUSE, NY 13202

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315.423.0185

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T R AV E L B R I L L I A N T LY S TAY H I S T O R I C A L LY RESTORED HISTORIC HOTEL The former Hotel Syracuse is back and better than ever with historical elegance paired with contemporary luxury • Restored public spaces and modern guest rooms • Listed with the Historic Hotels of America and on the National Register of Historic Places LO C AT I O N The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown just two blocks from the OnCenter Convention facility, a short walk from the historic Armory Square District, and less than one mile from Syracuse University & Upstate Medical Center GUEST SERVICES Complimentary WiFi in all public spaces • Wired and wireless access in guest room, suites, and meeting rooms • Full Service business center • 24-hour fitness center • Club level • M Club • Local shuttle service • Pet Friendly ACCOMODATIONS 261 guest rooms • 19 suites with separate living room • Accessible guest rooms • Luxurious bedding • 49 inch LCD HDTVs RESTAURANTS & LOUNGES Eleven Waters, featuring all day dining crafted with locally sourced ingredients and the best wines of the Finger Lakes region • Shaughnessey’s Irish Pub, a warm welcoming Irish Pub serving a wide range of craft beer on tap and traditional pub fare for lunch & dinner daily • Cavalier Room Lounge, meet in the lobby for hand crafted cocktails and a savory snack before heading to dinner in one of our restaurants • The Committee Room, enjoy artfully crafted cocktails inspired by the speakeasy’s of a bygone era. Enjoy small plates and shareables before heading to dinner.

RECREATION & LEISURE Heated pool, whirlpool • Sauna • 24-hour fitness center • Life Fitness equipment • four golf courses nearby ATTRACTIONS Armory Square District • Clinton Square • Syracuse University • Everson Museum of Art • Erie Canal Museum • MOST Museum of Science and Technology • Landmark Theater • Palace Theater • NBT Bank Stadium • Carrier Dome • Oneida Shores Park • Destiny USA Mall • The Great New York State Fair • Rosamond Gifford Zoo • Onondaga Historical Society Museum MEETING FACILITIES Over 40,000 sq. ft. of flexible event space across multiple meeting rooms including 14,200 sq. ft. of IACC conference space • Three Ballrooms offering a total of 18,000 sq. ft. • Twenty breakout rooms • State-of-the-art technology and acoustical sound • On site audio visual equipment and support • Conference Services Professionals • Certified Wedding Planners MARRIOTT SYRACUSE DOWNTOWN 1 0 0 EAST ONONDAGA STREET SYRACUSE, NEW YORK 13202 844.STAY.SYR (844.782-9797) 315.474.2424

MARRIOTTSYRACUSEDOWNTOWN.COM facebook.com/MarriottSyracuse twitter.com/MarriottSYR Pinterest.com/MarriottSYR


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