Here's another round-up of the projects which will (or might in some cases) be coming to Ithaca. From the Ithaca Times:
More than $130 million in projects planned for Ithaca in 2013
Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 8:55 am, Fri Mar 15, 2013.
By Dialynn Dwyer firstname.lastname@example.org
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With the long awaited Commons reconstruction to start in April, there is no doubt that 2013 is going to be a big construction year for the City of Ithaca. Aside from the large city project, there are numerous private construction operations that will be ongoing during the 2013 season.
A total of 79 housing units alone were given site plan approval in 2012, according to an annual report given to the city’s Planning and Development Board by Lisa Nicholas, city senior planner. Approval for another 315 units is still pending.
Approved and pending projects expected to receive approval in 2013 — both residential and commercial — amount to a total of $130.8 million in construction costs and are expected to bring a total of $113,544 in fees collected for the city.
We met with JoAnn Cornish, the City of Ithaca’s director of planning and development, to get the rundown on some of the projects expected to begin or be ongoing this construction season.
Cayuga Place Residences (Cayuga Green II)
The four story project, termed Cayuga Place II on the city’s list of 2013 construction projects, includes 39 loft-style apartments behind the Tompkins County Public Library.
Cornish said she would love to have the project begin construction this year, but expressed uncertainty whether it would.
“We were doing the work on the Clinton Street Bridge and we moved all the equipment and staging for that project off of the site because (contracting firm) Bloomfield/Schon said they are definitely going to start that project. So we’re hoping to see that happen this year,” she said.
The massive housing project along East State/Martin Luther King Jr. Street, set to be completed in 2016, will continue construction through the 2013 season. The project already has some occupants and Cornish said additional units will be completed and opening up this fall. The project will add 354 units when it is completed in its entirety.
“They just continue to go along,” she said.
The new, six-story apartment building on the corner of Seneca and Cayuga Streets — the former site of the Women’s Community Building — already has several stories climbing upwards. The Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services’ project will contain a total of 50 new affordable housing units. Thirty-five of the units will be one bedroom with 15 two bedroom apartments.
Cornish said she expects the project to be completed and begin renting the units in the fall.
“I think that’s a good possibility,” she said.
The Seneca Way project, on the site of the former Challenge building, is also already underway.
“The demolition is pretty far along and it looks like they’ve shored up all of the areas around it, so the construction on that will start pretty quick,” said Cornish.
A mixed-use project, the building will contain an underground parking garage, with offices on the ground floor and four floors of apartments above.
Cornish said the expectation is the project’s 38 new apartments (32 one bedrooms and six two bedrooms), aimed at professionals rather than students, will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2014.
The mixed-use development proposed at the location of Johnson’s Boatyard, across from the Farmer’s Market, is still waiting for its final approval, but the environmental review has been completed.
The eight building project includes a total of 183 units — six duplex units, 11 townhome units and the remaining units made up of one, two and three bedroom apartments that are convertible to condos — with a total of about 4,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
“We will definitely see that this summer,” said Cornish of the project’s commencement date.
Clinton Street Apartments
The apartment project proposed by Jason Fane at 130 Clinton Street is currently being reviewed by the city’s Planning Board.
“We’re just dealing with some of the environmental issues because that’s on a slope,” said Cornish. “But they would plan to start construction of that probably in the late summer, early fall of 2013.”
The project proposes to construct three, three story residential buildings that would collectively contain 36 units offering 48 beds total.
“My guess is he (Fane) will want to be up and running in the fall of 2014 for occupancy,” said Cornish.
Purity Ice Cream Mixed Use Project
The proposed mixed-use project on the site of the popular ice cream vendor also is currently under review.
“They’re moving ahead with that too, and that’s a really sweet project,” said Cornish.
The project proposes to add four stories to the existing building, offering between 20 and 24 one and two bedroom rental units. Additional rental office space will be offered in the building, while maintaining the existing ice cream shop.
David Lubin’s proposed mixed-use project on the Commons would see the construction of a 140 foot ten story building. The project includes ground floor retail, three stories of office spaces and six stories of up to 36 residential units. The project would require and area variance for height, as well as for a rear yard setback and loading area.
The current zoning for the area is CBD-60, but the project would require a change to CBD-140. The city’s Planning and Economic Development Committee is currently working on a downtown rezoning proposal.
“That’s a very big height variance, so they’re hoping we’re going to be able to get the rezoning done for downtown, so they don’t have to go for the height variance,” said Cornish.
Even if the zoning changes, the project would still need to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals for the other variances before getting site plan approval.
“While they’re just at the beginning of their approval process, they are working really hard to get that to a point where they can actually begin to demolish those buildings,” said Cornish of the project, adding that she though the project could “definitely” begin this year.
The Josh Lower-proposed project, which includes a proposed Green Star market on the first floor, was recently denied a variance needed to continue moving forward with the project. But Cornish still listed the six-story project that proposes to add 50 units — 103 bedrooms total — as one that could move forward if the parking issues could be resolved. The environmental review for the project has already been completed.
“Their plans are pretty well established,” she said. “We’ve seen the architecturals, we’ve seen the renderings, it’s just the parking issue.”
The Planning and Economic Development Committee is reviewing a proposal to eliminate minimum parking requirements for new development in the city.
“Everything is really hinging on what happens within the next couple of months with regard to parking,” said Cornish.
Holiday Inn Expansion
The expansion of the Holiday Inn to add a convention center and a second tower will not begin construction until November this year.
“The reason that they do it that way is they want to get through the tourist season and the summer season,” said Cornish.
After getting through the summer, Cornish said she thought everything would close in November to demolish the two-story wings. The existing tower will be renovated in time to be ready for occupancy by graduation weekend. The main tower would then continue to be occupied while the conference center and the second tower are built.
Cornish said the demolition of three houses on 600 block of Seneca Street to clear space for the new Planned Parenthood building could occur in the next month. The two story project will likely be completed in about 16 months, she said.
The 18,000 square foot facility will house the outpatient clinic, a conference center, an education resource center and the administrative staff that are currently de-centralized.
Marriott (Hotel Ithaca)
Along with the Harold’s Square project, Cornish pointed to the development of the Ithaca Marriott on the end of the Commons as one of the most anticipated projects headed for construction this year.
“Harold’s Square and the Marriott are the two most complicated projects because they are in a very confined spaces,” said Cornish. “But they’re also the most important projects. The Marriott will act as an anchor to the Commons, which we’ve been looking for years and years and years. So in terms of importance to the local economy, to the downtown economy, the Marriott is top priority. So we’ve been trying to do everything we can to help them get going.”
The 10-story hotel, located at 120 S. Aurora Street just off of the Commons next to the Rothschild Building, will take about 18 months and $19 million to build.
The project has received all approvals with the city and is seeking a tax abatement with the IDA.
Other projects during 2013
— The Fairfield Inn on Route 13 is under construction already and is expected to be ready for occupancy in the fall or winter of this year.
— Magnolia House, TCAction’s apartment project on Meadow Street, is also scheduled for completion this year and ready for occupancy this summer. The project contains 14 transitional housing units for women and their families.
“It got approved a couple of years ago and they started it and it was on hold for, it seemed, forever because they had to move some power lines,” said Cornish. “So that’s why it kind of got dropped from people’s radar. It just took so long for it to get going.”
— The 24, market rate units in the three story Iacovelli apartment project on Meadow and Seneca Streets should be ready for leasing this fall.
— The Aurora Street Dwelling Circle will be ongoing for a targeted completion of fall/winter this year.
— On the hill, construction of the Cornell Klarman Hall building, the Computer & Information Science Building, Big Red Marching Band facility and Cornell Law School expansion will be, or already is, visible during the 2013 year.
“I think that in the core of downtown there will be some issues,” said Cornish of the potential impacts of construction with so many large projects ongoing this season. “There’s definitely going to be a lot of construction traffic. When you have such big projects you have delivery of materials, you have construction workers, you have construction worker parking — those are some of the issues that we’re dealing with.”
A coordination meeting for the projects was held in February.
“We invited all the developers who are dealing with projects in the downtown core to come and talk to us about coordination, about truck routes, so that we could first of all give them the heads up that there’s a lot going on, but also so that we could begin to plan on how best to keep everything moving,” said Cornish. “Because then we also have the Commons, which has the same issues.”
Cornish said the city has asked all developers for a parking plan, showing where the hundreds of workers will be parking while the projects are underway.
“Some of the suggestions have been — and this is probably what’s going to happen — they may purchase five passes for the garages just for their foreman and their supervisors but they’ll probably have construction workers park off-site, like at Emerson,” said Cornish.
Areas in the southwest part of the city also may be used for parking, shuttling the workers to the construction site.
“The upside of that is we’re going to have all these workers downtown, they’re going to be getting coffee, they’re going to be buying lunch, they’re going to go to Lou’s for hotdogs. And that’s pretty exciting,” said Cornish. “And we’re working really hard to keep the Commons open so all of these additional people in the community can really take advantage of businesses on the Commons.”
Traffic plans and plans for pedestrian traffic safety — making sure if a sidewalk is closed that pedestrians are protected from the construction work and there is clear signage — are also required of the developers.
“The other concern we have really is local labor and local skilled labor,” Cornish added. “There’s a lot going on and skilled labor is already in short supply. So we really want these construction companies to be aware that they’re going to have to really think about the construction crews. The upside of that is we’re going to have a lot of work for a lot of people for a couple of years, which is always a good thing.”
To try and limit traffic impacts, Cornish said there is also talk of coordinating deliveries of materials.
“We really have to figure out how we’re going to get trucks in and out and materials in and out, where we’re going to store materials. That’s the other thing,” she said. “Everything has to be coordinated. It’s nothing to have 40 concrete trucks in a day for a major project. So it’s constant.”
Previously walkie talkies have been used on large projects to communicate project movements.
But the largest concerns for downtown, Cornish said, is for the businesses.
“I do worry that we’re going to be really impacting the businesses,” she said.
While the complication of the state repaving Green and Seneca Streets will be absent this season, the city’s work on the Clinton Street bridge will also continue this summer.
“That’s going to resume in the spring, but they won’t close it completely, they’ll just take it down to a single lane,” said Cornish.
The city’s improvements to the State/Mitchell intersection slated for this year will also complicate traffic movements in the downtown area, as will the improvements to Old Elmira Road.
“That’s going to have an impact because that is a very heavily travelled road,” said Cornish of the controversial road project.
Cornish said there is a hope the addition of 394 new housing units will aid the city’s housing demands.
“It’s definitely going to help with the overall housing shortage,” she said.
Including approved and pending projects, the breakdown is 17 for sale units, 35 low to moderate income units, 64 student housing units and 539 market rate units.
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