Rick Destito: Creative Community Builder
Rick Destito is standing outside a 19th century brick warehouse trying very hard to see something completely different. Anyone who knows him knows he can’t help himself. He is a transformational artist and an entrepreneur who re-creates old buildings, turning them into livable neighborhoods.
“This building was once an epicenter for innovation and creativity. It can be again,” he said.
At the intersection of South Geddes and Fayette Street in Syracuse’s near West Side, Destito sees opportunity. He believes that by renovating the old factory, he can plant a seed that will grow into something wonderful. His dream is to create an environment in which art and culture thrive, small businesses flourish, and where people are invested in their neighbors and their community.
“This can be a place where entrepreneurs and residents build our city into something we want it to be,” he said.
Destito grew up in Sherrill, NY and left the area shortly after graduating college. Since returning, Rick has grown to love the creative artistic talent that exists in CNY, the affordability to live and work in the area, as well as the convenience of being located near several major cities.
Right now, his challenge is turning the old industrial factory into an artist’s live-work space. To do that, he’s undertaken a slow steady effort to re-make the building. Since purchasing the building in 2005, Rick has renovated the entire first floor into artist workspace studios. In 2012 he built a green roof on top of the building that saves and recycles water. Currently a new heating system is being installed, and plans for further studio space renovations are in the mix.
The Gear Factory was approved for a $680,000 reimbursement grant from New York State in December of 2012 to renovate the exterior windows, second stairwell, elevator, and fire safety system. Being left with the challenge to fund the project upfront has proved rather frustrating, until now.
Kerry Quaglia of Home Head Quarters has shown interest in helping fund the first phase of construction for the Gear Factory’s renovation project. Gear Factory enthusiasts helped prove to HQQ’s board of directors that there is a need and deep interest in having music rehearsal studio spaces available for artists to rent in the city of Syracuse. Now there are just a few more details Destito is working out with HQQ in order to seal the deal and begin renovations.
If you’re interested in renting a space in the building, Destito wants to hear from you. He’s currently taking reservations for a music rehearsal space, and more will be coming online soon. Destito can be reached here.