path for a sustainable future

Urban Core

A strong, vibrant and dense Urban Core is vital to the success of the greater region. In Onondaga County, the Urban Core contains areas where the highest density and mix of uses in the region occur. Located at the center of Onondaga County, the Urban Core Character Area consists of three connected yet distinct urban districts – Downtown Syracuse, University Hill, and the Syracuse Lakefront.


The Urban Core districts serve as primary centers for employment, commerce, culture and entertainment for the region’s residents and visitors. The vibrancy of the Urban Core is defined by the intimate connections between the area’s massing and mix of buildings and its public spaces including sidewalks, streets, lighting and furniture, parks and plazas. Transportation to, from and within the Urban Core plays an essential role in defining the character of the area. Each district within the Urban Core also encapsulates a distinct character, and function, ranging from business and commerce (Downtown District), to academic and medical (University Hill) to recreation and tourism (Syracuse Lakefront).


Development in the surrounding towns created a pronounced shift in investment over the last 50 years, yet the Urban Core continues to be the center of the region.  Fostering continued reinvestment and resettlement will require flexible regulations that are in step with contemporary urban design and land use patterns, as well as significant investment in high quality public spaces. Encouraging the high levels of pedestrian activity and interaction desired in this area requires a well organized, safe and connective infrastructure accommodating all modes of transportation..This will help to continue the trend of residents seeking urban living arrangements in the City and help to strengthen its mixed-use character.

Sample Strategies

  • Mix uses vertically and reserve the first floor for uses generating high volumes of foot traffic.
  • Devote significant attention to wayfinding, landscaping and public art to create a high quality and inviting public realm.
  • Maintain and enhance cultural and institutional destinations, as well as programming for festivals and events.
  • Explore Transportation Demand Management and Complete Streets concepts to foster multi-modal solutions for mobility.