The somewhat surprising news that the Westcott Theater is being quickly made-over by its enterprising new owners makes me feel like this is one Syracuse-area revitalization that bears close watching. There’s no real sense of how many actual funds these folks have for their ambitious plans, but one thing that’s different from other revitalization plans we’ve seen: it’s happening very, very quickly – almost feverishly.
Death of old businesses and institutions in Syracuse may be inevitable, but delay in reanimating the corpses could be the factor that ultimately proves fatal. Almost all of the restoration and reinvention efforts in Syracuse focus on buildings that have been empty and unpurposed for years, decades even. Isn’t it time to start anticipating failures and planning for these newly empty spaces well ahead of time, instead of hoping hard and hand-wringing?
That said, if you anticipate failure too far ahead of time, you may have to deal with the specter of gentrification, which presupposes worthlessness according to what the “experts” say, and pushes out businesses (and people) while they are still very much alive. However, it could be that the Westcott Theater has been re-struck while the iron is truly hot. We’ll see.