In the mid-2000s, a group of community organizers began conceiving of a food hall and public market to show off our hidden culinary gems. Taking inspiration from places like Westside Bazaar in Buffalo, La Cocina in San Francisco and (above all) the vaunted Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, they collaborated with the city and likeminded CBOs on World Market Square – a concept that made the national semifinals for funding through the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge.

That first attempt gave fuel and insight to future iterations. Up Start took shape as a series of business trainings and one-on-one technical assistance for budding business owners in our neighborhoods. My Lucky Tummy (a traveling popup food court) and With Love restaurant (incubating a new entrepreneur and new national cuisine every 6 months) were other bites at the apple, both of which whetted appetites, laid groundwork and left fans, chefs, entrepreneurs and big dreamers wanting more.


With a commitment to Syracuse, and a deep interest in building economic empowerment and opportunity for local residents, the Allyn Family Foundation formed a not-for-profit operating entity, the Syracuse Urban Partnership (SYRUP), to bring to life the 10 years of dreaming, planning and collaborating.  While rare for a private foundation to proactively step forward to fund, lead and create a project of this magnitude, the Board of Directors of the Foundation, believed that private philanthropy should be more proactive in facilitating change; “acting” rather than just “reacting” to address community priorities, felt called to support this project.

Illustration of the Allyn Foundation's journey to create the Salt City Market. Illustration created for Syracuse Urban Partnership by InkFactory.

In 2018 the Allyn Family Foundation, through the newly created Syracuse Urban Partnership, began the process of assembling the right team to bring this project to lIn 2018 the Allyn Family Foundation, through the newly created Syracuse Urban Partnership, began the process of assembling the right team to bring this project to life. To design the building, VIP Architects was selected with two other firms, iCrave and Snow Kreilich.  With their individual areas of expertise, they worked together to design a building that would fit our unique urban setting, that would work well for our small businesses, and would be a place where people of all walks of life would want to gather together. Throughout the process, the Foundation held a series of focus groups and community gatherings to ensure that everyone in Syracuse could feel connected and invested in the project. In the fall of 2019, construction officially began and continued at a rapid pace until the Market officially opened on January 29, 2021.

To make this all possible, the Allyn Family Foundation committed approximately 25 million dollars toward the project and was able to secure a series of grants and tax credits. Most notably, in the fall of 2020, in partnership with the Rose Urban Green Fund and JP Morgan Chase, the project was able to receive New Market Tax Credits.  This marked only the second time that a real estate project in Syracuse has ever secured New Market Tax Credits. 

Today, the Salt City Market is a space for Syracuse to show itself off in all of its culture, glory, richness and grit. A space for people to build generational wealth doing what they love. A space where everyone feels a sense of belonging, ownership and civic pride.  It is the home of ten black, brown, or women-owned food-based businesses, a coffeeshop/bar, and is the home of the only full-service grocery store in all of downtown Syracuse.

Since opening in early 2021, it has incubated 15 small businesses, has employed over a hundred under its one roof, and has averaged over 350,000 people per year. In doing so, the Salt City Market has become a hub of commerce, culture, and engagement.  It is seen as the “third space” in our downtown – where everyone is welcome to experience the best Syracuse has to offer.  Likewise, it has built generational wealth for the small business owners in the Salt City Market, allowing several of them to own a home for the first time.

With the success of the Salt City Market, and the ongoing interest in our community to support small business, the Syracuse Urban Partnership, in collaboration with Centerstate CEO, hosts ongoing small business development programs that give individuals the knowledge and the tools to develop their own business plan, gain access to capital, and find the right location to launch their business.