path for a sustainable future

Village Cores

The Village Cores Character Area is best described as the traditional center of the incorporated villages in Onondaga County.  Commonly focused at the intersection of State or County roads, these areas serve as historic retail, service, government and religious centers surrounded by and connected to Traditional Neighborhoods areas. 

During the suburbanization movement, many of these areas struggled to maintain relevance, resulting in high vacancy rates and disinvestment.  Across the country, however, these areas are undergoing a revival as more residents are embracing a distinct and livable neighborhood experience. 


While each Village Core is unique, common features may include a highly connective sidewalk system, public parking to the side and rear of structures, two- to four-story buildings in both block and freestanding formats and a mix of uses. While lower in intensity and scale than the Urban Core, Village Core areas require a vibrant mix of uses supporting an active streetfront, upper-story residential, walkable and safe streets, multi-modal accessibility, well maintained landscaping and public art. Village Core areas are well suited to provide niche retail, personal services and eating establishments. Village Cores also tend to provide urban infrastructure, such as water and sewer service, allowing for increased development densities.


Village Cores once served as the civic and commercial centers for residents of Onondaga County. While the form and structure of these areas are still mostly intact, much of the function has been lost during post-World War II development trends. To strengthen and enhance the Village Cores again, communities should take advantage of the increasing demand for village living to spur significant investment in and adjacent to Village Cores, particularly in Traditional Neighborhoods. In support of a vibrant mix of uses and housing types, upper story areas should be largely residential, increasing the volume of foot traffic and generating 24-hour demand for uses such as convenience retail, banking and laundromats.

Sample Strategies

  • Provide regulations and programs that permit and support upper-story residential and retail build-out of first floor spaces.
  • Encourage the formation of Business Improvement Districts to effectively maintain and enhance the public realm.
  • Improve on- and off-street parking supply through shared lots, locating lots behind buildings, proper screening and enhanced wayfinding systems.
  • Support pedestrian friendly environments through sustainable streetscape design and Complete Streets.