As Micron arrival nears, push grows for hotels in Central New York – Spectrum News

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President Joe Biden’s announcement last month that Micron will receive $6.1 billion in federal funding signaled the reality that the chip producer will soon have a significant presence in Central New York. Officials say Micron’s new plant in Clay will create nearly 50,000 jobs. Construction is expected to begin sometime next year before opening in 2028. 

But Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says before that happens, the region needs to make progress, particularly in one area. 

“One of the things that I would say we’re really behind on is hotels,” McMahon said. “The number of rooms that we have in the community today cannot satisfy the demand. When we have high-peak weekends, specifically, we’re housing folks that would stay in Onondaga County as far as Oneida County.”

Syracuse recently sold out all 8,500 hotel rooms it has for one of those busy weekends — the days leading up to the solar eclipse, according to Visit Syracuse CEO Danny Liedka. Syracuse ranked second nationally in economic impact among markets in the path of totality, initial data showed, but the numbers could’ve been higher: McMahon said a lack of hotels leads tourists to stay outside the county, making it harder on local businesses to make money and the county to collect room occupancy tax. 

“We’re missing out on revenue,” he says. “So the reality is this is an area we need to get aggressive in.” 

The city now has a harder time attracting big events like conventions, Liedka said, and Syracuse is also essentially ineligible to host NCAA tournament games because of a lack of nearby hotel rooms, McMahon said. 

Syracuse University announced in November it will convert the on-campus Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center into student housing following commencement this spring. While Liedka says he knew that news would come, it’s still had a significant impact. Rates for hotels in downtown Syracuse have been driven up, making affordability an issue. The Sheraton was also an important component of hosting conventions, and groups now have to spread out countywide into the suburbs, Liedka said. 

“Once Micron takes hold and the influx of travelers here, that’s when it’s gonna be the breaking point,” Liedka said. “But the convention business is the big concern right now, just because the Sheraton was a big contributor to our room blocks for those conventions.”

SU also recently purchased the Hotel Skyler, located a few blocks from its main campus, but plans to keep it as a hotel. 

For now, officials are focused on incentivizing development in different spots around the county: Clay, Carrier Circle, the Inner Harbor and downtown. New hotels would allow Visit Syracuse to target larger groups and tourists willing to spend more money, Liedka said. He has met with feasibility companies, and expects a couple of projects to be completed before production begins at Micron’s plant.

“There’s certainly a not a lack of interest in building,” Liedka said. “It’s interest rates right now. There’s probably four or five hotels, if the interest rates were half of what they are right now, there’d be shovels in the ground without question.” 

McMahon says he has been recruiting developers to visit the county, and is also looking at proposing PILOT agreements, where property owners would make payments instead of paying property taxes. 

“We’re willing to incentivize development, and we’re having conversations with developers, trying to encourage them even in what are tough lending environments, to really look at this, because there’s a demand today, and there’s going to be an even greater demand as soon as Micron gets up and running,” McMahon said. 

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