Last year, on the day after Labor Day, just after the New York State Fair had closed shop for another year, the new Centro downtown transfer station opened in its brand-new facility at the triangle where Adams Street meets Warren and Salina.
With $18.8 million of federal money, the place where up to 8,000 people board or switch buses every day moved three blocks south. No more waiting outside in the snow. No more trying to get access to the restroom of a local business.
The new hub, heated and restroomequipped—which has elicited a few complaints (could use a few more bathrooms)—is by and large considered a step up by most bus riders. The relocation has eased traffic congestion at the crossroads of South Salina and East Fayette that has been the heart of downtown since canal days.
There were a number of solid reasons to move the Centro hub. The corner of South Salina and East Fayette was getting congested. Doughnut shops, law firms and other businesses found their entrances blocked by the crowds waiting for the bus. Panhandlers and pickpockets like to go where people gather, and those crowded corners attracted their share of the less fortunate, at times discomfiting even the kind-hearted. There was the occasional criminal act, usually getting more attention than it deserved—but what can you expect? What happens downtown does tend to draw the camera’s eye.
One of the most poorly hidden of hidden agendas was that this move was a quid pro quo demanded by the business community as a necessary condition for the pending redevelopment (i.e. gentrification) of downtown. It is no secret that high-end condo developers and Manhattan-style coffee shop owners like more pleasant streetscapes than the Centro crowd provided.
Moving the bus riders to the edge of downtown moves them out of sight of the new higher-end business and residential developments whose long-awaited arrival is bringing so much buzz of downtown renewal. Without saying it in so many words, some of our upper crust did not care much for rubbing elbows with the proletariat.
Three-piece suits over here, hoodies and Carhartt down the road apiece, if you don’t mind.
But now the tables have been turned, and those who would prefer to avoid mingling with the rich and infamous might soon have their own dreams come true. Yes, two can play this gentrification game.
Later this year, according to the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority, a new hangar and conference center will open at Syracuse Hancock International Airport. The Syracuse Jet Association will be for members only and will cater to owners of private jets, corporate jets and “fractional owners,” who share a piece of the costs and benefits of a particular aircraft.
The association has five members. The company will pay the airport an annual rent starting at $65,000. As far as we know, no government money will be spent to build the $6 million facility, which will include 40,000 square feet of heated hangars and 10,000 more for offices, conferences and services including discounted jet fuel, a fitness center, ground transportation, lockers and showers, wi-fi access, a galley kitchen and more.
The venture, the first of its kind for an upstate airport, comes at an auspicious time. Corporate high-flyers were forced to curtail private jets at the height of the Great Recession, in part from financial pressures but also because it appeared unseemly to peer out at a nation teetering on the edge of collapse from the window of a Lear Jet Bombardier Challenger.
Now the private jet market is poised for a new takeoff. The biggest player in the time-share jet market is NetJets IP LLC, a Warren Buffet enterprise. The company is so confident that it has placed orders to nearly double the size of its fleet of 700 private jets-for-hire. The cheap seats go for about $1,500 per hour of flight.
What a boon for the rest of us. No polite middle-class air traveler will say it, but it is kind of nice to have “those people” off to the side in a little corner of their own. No longer will we have to wait in line behind businessmen in $6,000 suits placing their Gucci slippers and their Rolex watches in the plastic bin to pass security for a JetBlue flight to New York City.
Gone will be the days of having to overhear the frantic wireless conference calls of the corporate elite while visiting the restrooms at Hancock. Parents traveling with children will not live in fear of their darlings upchucking on the well-heeled passenger in the next seat. “Those people” – you know, they’re just not like us. You understand.
You go your way, we’ll go ours. It’ll be nicer this way.
Read Ed Griffin-Nolan’s award-winning commentary every week in the Syracuse New Times. You can reach him at email@example.com.