Abandoned Syracuse office building draws police’s attention

Police officers were at the abandoned building in downtown Syracuse most of the day Jan. 14.

Police officers spent a good part of the day at an abandoned building in downtown Syracuse Jan. 14.

Syracuse police and other law enforcement agencies spent several hours Wednesday going through an abandoned 10-story building that has been a daytime hangout for some of the city’s homeless.

My friend James, who sleeps in a doorway of the office building — across the street from city hall — has told me of prostitution and other activities that go on inside.

The building once was home to a telecommunications company, but apparently has been vacant since 1995. County tax records show it’s now owned by a Brooklyn-based outfit, with $2.34 million owed in back taxes and penalties.

Police spent much of the day investigating an abandoned building Jan. 14.

Police cars at 300 E. Washington St., Syracuse.

I couldn’t reach Syracuse police spokesman Lt. Eric Carr Wednesday afternoon to learn the reason for the police presence. And James wasn’t hunkered down in the doorway as usual when I stopped by again after 5 p.m., so I couldn’t ask him.

James has slept on a pile of cardboard in a doorway of the building since at least last winter. Overnight temperatures have dropped below zero recently, and while the doorway is exposed, it’s sheltered from the wind.

James, 49, is a survivor who falls into the “hardcore homeless” category, meaning he sleeps outdoors no matter how cold it gets. He refuses to go to shelters for food or to get out of the elements. I’ve written about him here several times.

My homeless friend James sleeps on the cardboard next to the plywood and the revolving door.

My homeless friend James sleeps on the cardboard next to the plywood and the revolving door.

James minds his own business. He wants nothing to do with what he says goes on inside the building.

Last winter, I lent him a snow shovel so he could clear a path for the shopping cart he pushes around Syracuse to collect returnable bottles and cans.

Someone stole the shovel, so James bought me a new one. I’ve used it several times already this winter.

I’m not sure where he’ll end up sleeping Wednesday night, but I hope the police are done with their business and James can return to his familiar surroundings. I’ll try to gather more information Thursday.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in crime, Homeless, hunger, Irish Investigations, poverty and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Abandoned Syracuse office building draws police’s attention

  1. markbialczak says:

    I hope James can go about his business, Jim. On the other hand, maybe the police can actually help James if they’re compassionate. And he’s concerned. Please fill us in.


  2. A sad story Jim and many people live this way not by choice. I hope James is okay and maybe one day someone can find him a better place to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ksbeth says:

    i hope that everything turns out in a way that helps james somehow. i can’t help being an idealist and i worry about the people who are outdoors when the weather is so severe. please let us know what you find out –


  4. I am so glad that James has a friend like you and I am so glad you have a friend like James. ❤
    Diana xo


  5. I hope he’s okay Jim. I ‘wonder’ if the police presence was called upon or if they were trying to ’round up’ people in the frigid temps to prevent people from dying in the cold????? I hope you find James in good form .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jim McKeever says:

    Thanks, Colleen, I hope to get some answers today. Temps “up” to 2-below this morning.


  7. cat9984 says:

    Your empathy for James is really inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: A reflective walk and a legacy shot | Mark Bialczak

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