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  #1521  
Old Posted Jan 12, 2013, 12:52 AM
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^ You and I both chk. Good to see you here. Hope you enjoy your time at SSP and look forward to your contributions.
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  #1522  
Old Posted Jan 29, 2013, 4:35 PM
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Article from the Ithaca Journal regarding Cornell's construction projects.

Cornell construction has cranes roosting
Law school expansion, Tech campus part of building boom

7:46 PM, Jan 28, 2013
Written by
D.W. Nutt


ITHACA — As the spring semester begins, Cornell students have returned to a campus with several major construction projects either recently wrapped or still in progress.

Law School expansion
The law school expansion project broke ground in June. The expansion consists of three phases: new classrooms built under the east lawn; renovations to Myron Taylor Hall; and renovation of Hughes Hall.
The expansion will increase the law school area by approximately 43,325 square feet, to a total of 265,090 square feet. Construction of phase one is scheduled to be completed in December.
The expansion will increase program space without affecting the historic courtyard in any significant way, according to university architect Gilbert Delgado. Classrooms will look out onto the courtyard directly, adding “vitality” to the area.
“It will be a terrific plus for the law school in terms of (being) a great common public space,” he said.

Gates Hall
In March, construction began on Gates Hall, which will house the Department of Computer and Information Science. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $25 million toward the $60 million project, which is at the corner of Hoy and Campus roads.
Once finished, it will have an exterior skin of perforated stainless steel panels that will give the building a textured look. More than a third of the building will be dedicated to research and teaching labs.
“It’s a very significant piece of architecture on our campus,” Delgado said. “It has a very dramatic presence.”
The university has accelerated construction so that the building would be completed by December, with the Information Science department, moving in by January 2014.

Dairy Plant
Work continues on the $105 million renovation and expansion of Stocking Hall, Cornell’s Food Science facility.
The diary plant portion is nearly complete, with milk tanks, conveyor belts and an automatic bottling system already in place. The fully functional dairy plant will allow students to gain hands-on experience while producing pudding, yogurt, Big Red Cheddar cheese and the university’s much-loved ice cream, which will be sold at the newly renovated Dairy Bar.
The bar is expected to be open by commencement in the spring, with the entire renovation and expansion finished in August 2014.

Teaching Dairy Barn
After five years of planning and construction, the university’s new Teaching Dairy Barn is up and running. The facility, just off Dryden Road in the Town of Ithaca, is a sleek and modern building that houses approximately 90 cows, with the capacity to hold 60 more for milking and an additional 30 dry cows, as well as 30 calves.
“That’s an interesting example of a pretty mundane building type being elevated as a gateway to the campus,” Delgado said.
The Teaching Dairy Barn is a joint effort between Cornell’s veterinary college and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It is the first building in a projected Large Animal Teaching Complex, which will also include a multipurpose teaching arena, an equine metabolism unit and additional pasture areas.

Bridge nets
In late August, the university began installing steel-mesh nets on seven of its bridges: Stone Arch Bridge, Trolley Bridge, Thurston Avenue Bridge, Beebe Dam Bridge, the suspension bridge over Fall Creek and both Stewart Avenue bridges.
Plans for the nets began after three Cornell students committed suicide by jumping into the gorges within a month of each other in spring 2010. Temporary chain-link fences were erected and then replaced with black fencing.
The nets have been installed, as have infrared cameras that will detect if any objects are caught in the nets, and last week workers began removing scaffolding from the bridges.

Tech campus
Cornell’s ongoing construction projects are not limited to East Hill. A year ago, the university partnered with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology with the goal of building a tech campus in New York City.
A plan for the campus, scheduled to be built on Roosevelt Island, recently received approval from Manhattan Community Board 8. The plan will next be reviewed by the Manhattan Borough President, followed by the City Planning Commission and City Council.
The 12-acre Roosevelt Island campus is slated to open in 2017, with full build-out in 2037. Demolition of existing buildings is expected to begin in 2014. In the meantime, a temporary campus has been opened in Chelsea with building space provided by Google. The first “beta” class of tech students will arrive in January.
Delgado said the schematic design for the campus would soon be finished and will be unveiled to the public in March.
“It’s been a dynamic and exciting year, especially with NYC Tech being part of the mix,” he said. “We’re eager to realize these visions in the next year.”


Here's the link:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...text|FRONTPAGE
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  #1523  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2013, 12:02 AM
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You should start a thread in that other forum about this information. I think that Ithaca could be destined for growth.
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  #1524  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2013, 2:20 PM
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New development outside the city on West Hill (from the Ithaca Journal):

Ithaca to receive plans for new West Hill development

8:52 PM, Feb 5, 2013
Written by
Andrew Casler


ITHACA — Before long, residents of Indian Creek Road could see about 70 new homes built for eco-friendly, mixed-income neighbors.

Cayuga Town Homes development would sit atop 26 acres of Tompkins County owned land near Cayuga Medical Center. Town officials are set to discuss the housing development during a public meeting at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28 in Ithaca Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St.
Like Ecovillage, Cayuga Town Homes would emphasize renewable energy use within a pedestrian-style community. Homes would range from one-bedroom apartments to two-story townhouses, featuring a mix of renters and owners.
Tompkins County Planning Commissioner Ed Marx said most units are planned to be affordable for people earning 60 percent of median income in the county.
Ithaca Town Councilman Rich DePaolo said zoning would have to be changed for the housing development. That gives the town oversight as to how the land can be developed.
DePaolo said the town’s comprehensive plan aims to make the county land an industrial zone, and not high-density residential.
“It’s not clear to me at this point how it (the proposed housing development) fits in with our overall concept of development in that area,” he said.
West Hill has long grappled with growing pains. From 2000 to 2010, the area’s population increased by 22 percent, while the town as a whole only grew by 6.5 percent. Based on previous growth on East and South hills, West Hill development is estimated to occur over a period of several decades.
In 2009, West Hill residents pushed against construction in their area because of traffic congestion. A West Hill development moratorium was enacted in June 2011, and lasted a year, while the town conducted a traffic study.

Staff writer D.W. Nutt contributed to this report.



Link:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...ll-development
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  #1525  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2013, 2:22 PM
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Quote:
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You should start a thread in that other forum about this information. I think that Ithaca could be destined for growth.
I've thought about it, but I have a feeling you and I might be the only people really interested in it. Of course I suppose I could provide a link to this thread over there.
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  #1526  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2013, 2:35 PM
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Kind of surprised by this one. Guess I never realized there wasn't a Mosque in the city. From the Cornell Daily Sun:

Plans Emerge for First Ithaca Mosque

February 6, 2013
By Jinjoo Lee

After almost 30 years of planning and fundraising, Ithaca’s Islamic community has raised enough money to build the first mosque in the area — something it hopes to see happen within the next three months.

“We’ve been trying to raise money for the mosque since the 1980s,” said Ahmed Ahmed, a senior research associate in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Ahmed said that the Muslim population in Ithaca and at Cornell consists of approximately 400 people. Fundraising within the small community — which he said is made up of “mostly students” — to build a mosque was difficult, he said.

Now, with funds in place, Ahmed said that community members have decided to purchase a small building or piece of land, perhaps near The Shops at Ithaca Mall, to establish their mosque.

“If you start even with a small building, you can go to the [big mosques] in big cities and ask them for donations to increase the space. If we don’t have a project, they won’t give us anything,” Ahmed said. “This is the aim — to start anything [so that] at least we can start with something.”

The mosque will not only provide a common prayer space but also allow community members to connect to each other, said Sana Siddiqui ’13, president of the Muslim Education and Cultural Association, a campus organization.

“It’s been a huge problem [not having a permanent place of worship]; you get disconnected from other Muslims,” Siddiqui said. “If you stay isolated, it’s difficult to connect to the larger community.”

Adam Abboud ’14, vice president of the Islamic Alliance for Justice, echoed Siddiqui’s sentiments, saying that Ithaca has been “long overdue in establishing a mosque.”

Abboud said that he hopes the space will “encourage interfaith activities among Muslims, Jews and Christians” — and allow community members, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to learn about Islam.

“The aim is not only to have a mosque but also to get an Islamic center,” Ahmed said.

A mosque would not only provide a permanent place for prayers but it would also provide spaces for learning about Islam, according to Ahmed.

Ahmed said that although Muslims can pray at Anabel Taylor Hall on Cornell’s campus, the mosque would serve as a center “so that people of [all ages] can come and learn about Islam.”

Students said that they have strongly felt the absence of a mosque in Ithaca strongly.

“As an Ithaca native ... I didn’t have a place to go pray,” Siddiqui said. “I’ve been in Ithaca for nine years now. It’s a problem for families that live here. The closest mosque is more than an hour away, so I completely sympathize with their effort [to build a mosque].”

Abboud agreed, saying that students need a place to gather to find religious guidance.

“I find it difficult not having an established mosque close to campus. Unlike many of our peer Ivy institutions, Cornell Muslims do not have a chaplain or mosque to turn to for guidance in both the spiritual and personal realms,” he said.

The process of planning a mosque has faced its ups and downs through the years. Although the Islamic community launched its effort to build a mosque almost three decades ago, it was slowed down in 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to Ahmed.

“[The efforts to build the mosque] slowed down a little bit after September 11 ... because Muslims at the time were afraid to be involved in anything. After that, gradually, people learned that the government would not do anything with them,” Ahmed said.

In 2010, the community reenergized its effort to build the mosque with the help of younger members of the Muslim community, according to Ahmed.

While initially only two or three people were involved in planning the mosque, now, “young people are involved with us. At least 10 people [are involved in the planning] now. … With young people, they have good ideas, and everybody is giving input,” Ahmed said.

In addition to the mosque’s lack of funding, community members could not use a mortgage to fund the mosque because of an Islamic law that prohibits the taking on of Riba, or interest.

“We have to get [the] mosque [to be built out of] pure money. That’s why we need to collect almost the whole thing until we buy it,” Ahmed said.

Finding a suitable space for the mosque near the University was also difficult. Spaces near campus are expensive, and zoning laws designate many buildings for residential use, according to Ahmed.

Ahmed also said that few locations are able to accomodate the mosque’s parking demands, adding that he thinks the site would have to provide at least 15 parking spaces for its visitors.



Here's the link:
http://www.cornelldailysun.com/secti...-ithaca-mosque
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  #1527  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2013, 2:41 PM
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A video about Ithaca Hours currency. The first 20 seconds is in German(?), but it does give info about the system and some shots of the city.

Video Link
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  #1528  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 3:35 PM
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I understand this is more about Cornell than Ithaca, but still good stuff:

Video Link
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  #1529  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 3:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Ithacan View Post
I've thought about it, but I have a feeling you and I might be the only people really interested in it. Of course I suppose I could provide a link to this thread over there.
You may be right, but I think it could show that everything isn't drab in Upstate NY. I think people also forget that Upstate NY entered the recession later. So, while things have slowed down or are going slowly, it is a matter of time before things should pick up again.
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  #1530  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2013, 1:51 AM
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^I see you've taken the lead with the other forum ckh. Guess I'm just not as comfortable over there.

More info on projects for Tompkins County (from the Ithaca Journal):

Major construction projects coming to Tompkins in 2013
Area will see major economic boost

10:09 PM, Feb 7, 2013
Written by
Bruce Estes
@ijbestes

LANSING — Look for a spring migration of construction cranes to arrive in Tompkins County where about two dozen multimillion dollar projects will begin or be completed this year.

The sharp uptick in local construction was one of several economic forecasts for 2013 in the county highlighted at a Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday at the Lakewatch Inn.

Jean McPheeters, president of the Tompkins chamber, presented an overview of the upcoming development.

The projects include housing developments ranging from an expansion with as many as 75 new units at the Boiceville Cottages in Caroline to the completion of the second phase of Collegetown Terrace on Ithaca’s East State Street.

Hotel construction will also take off in 2013 with the expansion and renovation of the Holiday Inn on Cayuga Street in Ithaca, a Marriott Ithaca Inn for the east end of the Commons and the completion of a Fairfield Inn on Route 13.

At least six major building projects or renovations are planned at Cornell University, two projects at Cayuga Medical Center and a major renovation of the The Commons are set to begin or finish construction this year, McPheeters said.

Michael Stamm, president of Tompkins County Area Development, told the group of about 120 people that a purchase agreement is expected soon for the former Emerson Power Transmission building on South Hill.

Emerson closed its Ithaca industrial operations in 2010.

The 100-acre site straddles the city and Town of Ithaca along Route 96B and has a long history of efforts to cleanup decades of industrial pollution in the groundwater.

Stamm said Emerson’s legal department is in the last phase of reviewing the purchase plan. Converting the huge industrial building into a variety of uses including a small business incubator has been the goal of local economic development officials and Stamm’s agency for several years

Retaining air service to the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport will get additional attention in 2013, Stamm said.

The anticipated merger of US Airways and American Airlines and a trend of airlines reducing service by smaller planes, present threats to local air service, he said. US Airways, Delta and United Airlines now service the airport with small commuter flights.

Nearly 119,000 passengers used the airport in 2012, an increase of 30 percent since 2008. Stamm said a planning group is being formed to study the community’s future air service needs.


Here's the link:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/apps...=2013302070110
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  #1531  
Old Posted Mar 2, 2013, 12:36 AM
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I guess this is a good problem to have in a way. It indicates downtown is still alive and will be doing well. From the Ithaca Times:

Downtown Ithaca board hears parking presentation

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013 8:16 pm | Updated: 8:00 am, Thu Feb 28, 2013.
By Rob Montana editor@ithacatimes.com Twitter: @theithacatimes

DIA Executive Director Gary Ferguson gave a presentation about downtown parking at the meeting, stressing the importance of planning and management. With currently planned projects, such as the addition of the conference room at the Holiday Inn, and the start of work on the Marriott Hotel and Harold's Square projects on the Commons, to name just a few slated to start this year, there will be more vehicles utilizing the downtown parking options. There are three parking garages — Seneca, Green and Cayuga streets — as well as two street-level parking lots available for vehicles, as well as the metered spaces throughout downtown.
Ferguson said it make take some managing, but "I think the parking we have can handle this round of projects."
The executive director discussed the need for transportation demand management to deal with parking issues in the future, noting that the current projects could fill the current lots to capacity and it would more desirable to manage the parking than build another parking structure in the near future.
"If we can fill the existing lots with the new projects, that means we have some work to do," Ferguson said. "How do you convince people to take non-car transportation?"
Among the options being discussed include park and ride with a shuttle service, a guaranteed ride home program, van pooling, car sharing, increasing bus ridership and biking. Those options, however, come with various costs.
In addition to determining how to deal with those who come downtown on a daily basis for work, Ferguson said it's important to have strategies in place to handle those who come downtown for shopping, dining, services, special events or who are visiting as a tourist. He said a number of strategies are being discussed as ways to handle those "transient parkers."
Finally, Ferguson said, there has to be a plan to handle the increased numbers that could come with projects in line with the city's the push for increased density downtown.


Here's the link:

http://www.ithaca.com/news/article_3...a4bcf887a.html
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  #1532  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2013, 4:49 PM
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Some disappointing news (from the Cornell Daily Sun):

Major Collegetown Development Stalled After Board Decision

MARCH 6, 2013
BY TYLER ALICEA

A proposal to build a new housing complex on College Avenue may have hit a roadblock. The City of Ithaca’s Board of Zoning Appeals denied developer Josh Lower’s ’05 request for a variance — an exemption from the city’s parking laws — for his Collegetown project in an unanimous decision Tuesday.

Lower’s proposed “Collegetown Crossing” development project would create a six-story building that would contain a GreenStar grocery store, as well as housing for 103 occupants at 307 College Ave.

“As it stands now, the project is dead in the water,” Lower said.

Lower –– who is working with GreenStar as a part of the project’s development team –– added that he is “open to any ideas that can move [the project] forward.”

“We’re just going to explore all options,” he said.

As a result of the city’s minimum parking requirements — which stipulates that one parking space must be created for every two bedrooms built in central Collegetown — Lower’s project would be required to develop a total of 57 parking spaces within 500 feet of the site, which he described as financially infeasible in a previous interview with The Sun.

Since the variance was denied, Lower will not receive an exemption from these parking requirements.

In a resolution, the board said the potential detriments outweighed the potential benefits of the Collegetown project. Some of the areas of concern the resolution addressed involved the spillover of parking into streets and other neighborhoods that could increase demand for parking in Collegetown.

In order to mitigate these possible effects, Lower planned to offer all occupants of the proposed building access to TCAT services and carshare services.

But the board, in its resolution, stated that Lower did not establish how other alternative plans for parking, such as underground parking, would be infeasible.

Hearings on the case were held by the board in November and December, according to Steven Beer, chair of the board. Public hearings concluded on Dec. 20, after which, all five of the members of the board drafted a motion denying Lower his request for variances.

The drafted motion was presented and amended with what board member Moriah Tebor described as “corrections” at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We appreciate very much the case you have brought to us. The board is obviously obligated to decide cases of appeals on existing zoning ordinances,” Beer said.

Beer did stipulate, however, that if the city changes its zoning ordinances, Lower’s case could be revisited.

On Feb. 5, the Board of Public Works made a recommendation to the Common Council that the minimum parking requirements be abolished. If the Common Council were to remove these zoning requirements, Lower’s project would be able to move forward.

“Parking requirements make small scale infill developments impossible,” Lower said.



Here's the link:

http://cornellsun.com/section/news/c...board-decision
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  #1533  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2013, 5:01 PM
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^ That disappointment is off set by this article (from the Ithaca Journal):

Tompkins estimates $250M in commercial developments through 2015
6:15 PM, Mar 5, 2013
Written by
Andrew Casler

ITHACA — The building boom of 2013 is under way, and Tompkins County estimates that 71 new building projects could be finished within two years.

“I haven’t seen this type of activity in the 17 years I’ve been with the county,” Tompkins County Director of Assessment Jay Franklin said. “I’m absolutely amazed at what is going on.”

Although the spurt in development will bring traffic congestion and tremoring earth from pile drivers, it will also be a boon to the tax base.

Franklin estimates that $250.5 million dollars in property value will be added to county assessment rolls by 2015. He said about 25 percent of the $250.5 million could be added to the 2013 assessment roll, 50 percent more could come in 2014, and the rest would affect tax rolls in 2015.

At the 2012 Tompkins County property tax rate, the developments could add $1.7 million in tax receipts to the county coffers. The county’s $6.4 billion taxable property-tax base generated $43.8 million in tax receipts for 2012.

Local governments will also benefit from a boost in property taxes, including school districts, towns and the City of Ithaca.

Another effect is that residential property values could increase, Franklin said, with so many large-scale commercial developers coming to Tompkins County.

Here’s a snapshot the county assessment department has taken of the big projects getting planned or now under construction:

• Four hotel projects with about 450 rooms;

• 27 apartment projects with about 2,100 new units;

• 18 mixed-residential-and-commercial projects;

• 516 lots for residences.

Housing shortage filled

County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson, D-Dryden, said the new developments fill a housing shortage.

“We’ve known for a long time that we have a very serious housing shortage in Tompkins County — a shortage at all levels, at all pricepoints, but especially at the low-to-moderate income level,” Robertson said. “While we would love to see more designated low-or-moderate income housing, it is really exciting to see the market responding to this need.”

The average vacancy rate for apartments in urban areas of Tompkins County was .5 percent in December 2011, according to a study by the Danter Company, which analyzes market demographics. Robertson and Fred Bonn, director of Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that’s proof of very low supply.

Tompkins County hotels are also in high demand, Bonn said. He said hotels in the county outperform other Upstate communities, and the hotel room occupancy rate was 60.1 percent in 2012.

Robertson was quick to point out that the increase in tax base doesn’t necessarily mean that property tax rates will fall.

“It’s more than a two-sided equation,” Robertson said. Commercial and residential developments can actually increase property taxes, because sprawling development can cause new need for infrastructure like sewer, water and roads. Police and fire services can also be stretched thinner.

“I wouldn’t say I’m in favor of all developments no matter what it is,” Robertson said, but a great deal of the projects are in already-developed areas.

“This is also very consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan,” she said. “You’re seeing a very efficient use of infrastructure ”

Traffic

The City of Ithaca will see the greatest amount of development, Franklin estimates. The towns of Ithaca and Lansing are second.

City of Ithaca Transportation Engineer Tim Logue said some construction will cause detours, but most will come with closed traffic lanes and sometimes slower commutes.

“It depends on where you’re going, and what time of day you’re going at, and what streets and what projects are going to impact that,” he said.

There won’t be much room for widening roads after the projects are finished and the city has added housing capacity, Logue said.

The Town of Ithaca, however, has some room for beefed up infrastructure, according to officials.

“If they need a turn lane, they have to put a turn lane in,” Town of Ithaca Director of Public Works Jim Weber said.

Initially, it’s the developer’s responsibility to improve infrastructure that their buildings could overload, Weber said. Without developers building up infrastructure, the town may choose not to approve their plans.

“The town would theoretically take over long-term maintenance of that (infrastructure),” he said.

Developers that increase the value of land within the town should cover those long-term maintenance costs with the property taxes they pay, Weber added.

Town Director of Planning Sue Ritter said it’s also hard to say what the finished developments will do to traffic because they’re spread across the town and serve a variety of purposes.

“We’re hoping that we would locate development in locations where people do not solely have to rely on the car,” she said.

Some of the projects, like senior housing or additions to Ithaca College, won’t weigh heavy on rush hour traffic, Ritter said.

To fix congested city traffic, it’s important to improve the traffic system. Logue is focused on well-timed traffic signals, encouraging people to bike and walk to work, and working with businesses to spread out peak road usage times.

Timing traffic signals is the No. 1 strategy, Logue said, but the process is hindered because the city doesn’t own all of its roads and the process is very labor intensive.

“That makes timing traffic signals downtown particularly tricky,” he said. “Any tweak you make at one intersection is likely to impact two or three or even four more, depending on where it is.”

Logue added that many changes could come to the city in the next few years, and there may be some negative impacts on traffic, but the city thinks those projects are good for Ithaca.

“Part of our goal is to encourage development while minimizing those negative impacts,” he said. “Hang in there, things will always be a little bit rough during construction at times, but things get better soon after that.”


Here's a summary:

Projects proposed or under way
The number of major commercial and residential projects under way, by town, that have been identified by the Tompkins County Department of Assessment. Smaller projects are not included in the summary.
• City of Ithaca: 30
• Caroline: 2
• Danby: 1
• Dryden:1
• Ithaca: 18
• Lansing: 18
• Newfield: 1
• Total: 71
Source: Tompkins County Department of Assessment
Types of development
• Apartments: $90 million
• Bed & Breakfast: $1.5 million
• Hotel: $35 million
• Manufacturing: $6 million
• Mixed use: $90 million
• Office: $2 million
• Restaurants: $1 million
• Retail $5 million
• Senior
Apts: $20 million
Source: Tompkins County Department of Assessment


Here's the link:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...t|Local%20News
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  #1534  
Old Posted Mar 11, 2013, 4:12 PM
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Ithaca does have a foodie history. Quite a variety and range of quality for such a small city. Article from The Ithaca Independent:

The Next Ithaca Foodie Thrill: Pop-up Restaurants and Food Trucks

By: Ed Sutherland | March 3, 2013 | 2 Comments

Upstate New York college town is so dense with restaurants, the New York Times called Ithaca a “gastronomic oasis.” Now the city of around 30,000 is more of a moveable feast, adopting pop-up restaurants and neighborhood food trucks to pique the interest of today’s ADD foodie.

While the Mercato Bar & Kitchen prepares for its April return after its December closing due to fire, two employees of the restaurant have become the latest to venture into pop-up restaurants. The trend, borrowed from the business sector, allows would-be chefs and discontented kitchen staff to strike out on their own without the heavy investment in traditional bricks-and-mortar restaurants.

Chef Graham Elliot Bowles "It’s a good way of saying ‘Screw you’ to the whole system,” explains Chicago chef Graham Elliot Bowles to the Food and Wine website. Bowles, who in 2008 was a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, explained the “pop-up idea takes away a ton of the pomp and barriers, like having to make reservations months in advance or wear certain kinds of clothes.”

For Mercator bartender Manny Flores and sous chef Gentry Morris, who created “Belly Ithaca,” the goal is more light-hearted. The men serve local pork creations two nights a week at the Lot 10 lounge on Cayuga Street.

“The main thing is that we want this to be fun,” Flores told the Ithaca Times. First opened on Feb. 15, the “indoor food truck” serves customers Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm to 12:30am. The pop-up has a one-month trial run with Lot 10, which stopped offering a restaurant in 2012 due to too few customers. Since opening its two-night per week gig, Belly Ithaca sees around 75 patrons each evening.

The downtown Ithaca lounge has also hosted other restaurant workers looking to strike out on their own. In early February, Asya Ollis held a one-night event with two seatings. Ollis, general manager at the Southwest-inspired restaurant Agava, used the pop-up to highlight her Southern Indian recipes. During the summer, Ollis sells Sadya Snacks at the Ivy League Cornell University and the Ithaca Farmer’s Market, a popular foodie gathering along the city’s waterfront.

Indian food is most often prepared around a family dinner table, rather than a formal restaurant. The small city filled with students from a wide-range of cultures is well suited for her style of cooking.

“You need the right type of population, and Ithaca is a great fit for this type of cuisine,” she told the Times.

While pop-up restaurants for now are predominantly appearing in Ithaca’s downtown, near the captive student population and the city’s restaurant row, in the west side — where most foodies fear to tread — is the Circus Truck. The truck, parked in an unused West Seneca gravel lot, is the brainchild of a cook turned circus sideshow and independent restaurateur.

“Circus Truck is a street food vendor where hungry Ithacans can get both food and circus entertainment. The ringmaster is a confident, self-made chef and sideshow artist named J.P. Vico,” writes the Ithacan, the student newspaper of Ithaca College.

Vico serves staples of the working man and woman, including spaghetti and homemade noodles. The truck is available 9am to 3pm, Monday through Friday and 6pm to 3am Friday and Saturday. Fans can also order ahead of time on Facebook.

According to the Ithacan, Vico embraces traditional street vending. “There’s no middle person. When I make food here, I can make what I want to make, and I can get it right to you, hot and fresh,” he explained.

Although the creator of the Circus Truck has worked at everything from construction to desk jobs, cooking has always been his chief interest. At the same time he’s fulfilling his dream of being a cook, Vico also enjoys the independence while supporting his family.

Being located in the west end of Ithaca, where you’re likely to see more homeless people pushing Wegman’s shopping carts than upscale foodies, Vico makes a point of also handing out his culinary creations to local passersby.

While the concept of pop-up restaurants and food trucks may appear new, both are only a twist on age-old business tactics coupled with the Twitterization of genetic urges tracing their origin back to the African savanna.

For years, businesses have adopted pop-up stores during busy holidays such as Christmas and Halloween. The benefits are many, reports suggest.

“Pop-up stores started getting very popular a few years ago. They’re cheaper solutions than year-round rentals, and they can generate a lot of buzz for companies during essential months,” BusinessInsider.com writes.

In Ithaca, pop-stores usually open in unleased shopping strips hawking Halloween gear.

As for food trucks, they’ve been in existence for decades, serving work sites with hot lunch. Although Ithaca’s factories are closed, food trucks remain – just revamped to serve a new generation with more adventurous tastes.

The idea of limited availability is perfect for customers accustomed to living in short bursts online. Indeed, the concept seems like it could have been created in the classrooms of Cornell’s Johnson School for Business. For some time, marketers have used the ‘limited time’ offers and ‘buy now’ come-ons to move products.

“People are really hooked on something that’s limited,” cookbook author Josh Greenspan explained to Food and Wine. If there is no urgency, potential customers may just put off tasting that new delicacy.

If pop-up restaurant patrons don’t like the idea that they are being manipulated, perhaps a genetics explanation is more palatable.

Chasing after food harkens back to the days of hunting and gathering, when we stalked gazelles or big game. While most modern urban executives don’t commute with spear in hand, they get the same thrill through pop-ups, one brain researcher argues.

“Humans as a species are characterized by novelty- and intensity-seeking,” psychologist Marvin Zuckerman wrote in a report for the Dana Foundation, which supports brain research. The same old thing — like going to restaurants — means less of a rush of endorphins.

“For food lovers, there’s always another pop-up to supply the next fix,” says New York City writer Abdelnour.

Here's the link:

http://www.ithacaindy.org/20130303/t...od-trucks.html
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Old Posted Mar 15, 2013, 10:52 PM
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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 reporter@ithacatimes.com | 0 comments

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.

Collegetown Terrace

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.

Breckenridge Place

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.

Seneca Way

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.

Cascadilla Landing

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.

Harold’s Square

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.

Collegetown Crossing

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.

Planned Parenthood

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.

Impacts

“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.

Here's the link:
http://www.ithaca.com/news/article_2...a4bcf887a.html

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Old Posted Mar 18, 2013, 10:55 PM
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This could be a tough fight, but the project does have a lot of local backing (from the Ithaca Journal):

IDA to weigh fate of tax breaks for Marriott hotel
County-level board considers abatements under city program promoting downtown density


A rendering viewed of the proposed Ithaca Marriott as seen from the corner of State/Martin Luther King Jr. and Aurora Streets. / COOPER CARRY / URGO HOTELS

6:56 PM, Mar 17, 2013
Written by
David Hill

The fate of the 159-room, 10-story Marriott hotel proposed for the east end of the Commons may lie now with the board of the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency.

The board plans to decide Wednesday evening if it will grant a package of tax abatements to the project developer under a city program aimed at luring development downtown.

The hotel is seen as a potential anchor for The Commons and a boost to not just the tax base, but the city’s tourism industry.

Some local advocates, however, have urged that the breaks not be given without a promise from the developer to pay a certified living wage to all employees and to use local construction workers, also paid at the prevailing scale. The development company has so far not been willing to make such promises, according to its application for the incentives program.

Hotel Ithaca LLC, with Bethesda, Md.-based Urgo Hotels as the company that would own and operate the hotel, are applying for the city program’s enhanced abatement program.

The program forgives 100 percent of the added value of the property in its first year, 90 percent the second, 80 percent the third and so forth for 10 years until at the end of the period, the owner would be responsible for the full value. The abatements would apply to city, county and Ithaca City School District taxes.

The estimated abated taxes in the period would be $3.6 million, with $3.4 million in new taxes paid, according to the company’s application. The company is also applying for abatements on construction-related sales tax and the mortgage recording tax.

“The project’s not economically feasible without the abatement,” Urgo principal Kevin Urgo said in an interview Friday.

The application estimates total construction costs of $32 million, with revenues by the third year of about $11.25 million and a profit of $3.5 million.

At last Tuesday’s IDA public hearing on the abatements, pledges for living wages, local construction labor and prevailing wages for construction workers were sought by an array of individuals and organizations. On hand were the Tompkins County Workers Center and local affiliates of the United Auto Workers, Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The Rev. Rich Rose, pastor of First Baptist Church of Ithaca, sought measures to ensure the hotel management would not evade the pledge by keeping employees below 30 hours a week. Stacey Black, membership coordinator of IBEW Local 241, said local workers spend money locally.

Urgo Hotels Director of Development Mathew Jalazo said Tuesday the company agreed to pay $11.31 an hour to housekeeping staff.

Urgo said the company will pay competitively.

“I know that we will pay a competitive wage rate that the market dictates, and that may equal whatever you’re talking about,” Urgo said. “That’s the way it works in our country.”

The incentives application asks if a developer is willing to pay a liveable wage as determined by Alternatives Federal Credit Union, whose wage studies are widely cited as a Tompkins County benchmark. Its most recent liveable wage was $11.67 an hour.

The developer expects 75 permanent full-time jobs by its second year in operation, according to the abatements application.

Among those in favor were Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson, who said the hotel could put 50,000-60,000 people a year on the Commons. He said the last four new hotels in Tompkins County were not built downtown and thus were out of the IDA’s purview.

The site is the most expensive place to build it in the county, and the hotel needs help “getting over the finish line,” Ferguson said.

Also endorsing the abatements were developer Mack Travis, who said the hotel company working with the Marriott chain could decide to go elsewhere in Tompkins County, and noted the Village of Lansing’s incentive program remains simpler than the city’s.

Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce President Jean McPheeters noted hotels generate sales and room taxes as well as property taxes. Together with a planned expansion and added meeting space at the Holiday Inn about three blocks away, downtown could have critical mass for a new level of conferences and conventions, she said.

In November, Common Council adopted a simplified policy for its downtown density incentive package with only three stated criteria.

To qualify under the new criteria, a project must result in an expected increased in assessed value of the property of at least $500,000, rise at least three stories or be a major restoration of an existing structure, and be a redevelopment of a registered brownfield contamination site or be within the city’s density district.

Return on investment is not to be more than 20 percent in each of its first five years. The downtown density district is barbell-shaped, extending from just east of the Tuning Fork intersection east of The Commons to the Cayuga Inlet waterfront, connected by a narrow swath between Green and Seneca streets.

Kevin Urgo said he believes the community will be proud of the hotel when it’s complete.

“This is the upscale, full-service hotel, beautifully designed, it’s a gorgeous building, beautiful interior designs ... lovely restaurant, lounge, bar, beautiful lobby,” Urgo said. “It’s just an amenity that doesn’t exist in the marketplace.”


Here's the link:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...Marriott-hotel
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2013, 10:29 PM
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^ Yippee, the IDA approved the tax breaks for the Marriott Hotel project. From the Ithaca Journal:


IDA approves tax breaks for proposed Ithaca Marriott
New hotel would have 159 rooms, be situated on Commons

10:06 PM, Mar 20, 2013

Written by
David Hill

The Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency approved a package of tax incentives Wednesday for the proposed 10-story, 159-room Marriott hotel for the east end of The Commons.

The IDA voted 6-1 in favor of the measure. Will Burbank was the only member of the agency to vote against the plan.

The developers of the hotel, led by Urgo Hotels of Bethesda, Md., contend the project is not financially feasible without the breaks on property taxes and sales taxes for construction materials offered under the City of Ithaca’s downtown density incentive program.

The program aims to stimulate development in the urban core instead of the suburban fringe. The incentive program is overseen by the county IDA as it involves county and Ithaca City School District property taxes, as well as those for the city.

The enhanced version of the incentive program forgives 100 percent of the added value of the property in its first year, 90 percent in the second, 80 percent the third and so forth for 10 years until, at the end of the period, the owner would be responsible for the full value.

The estimated abated taxes in the period would be $3.6 million, with $3.4 million in new taxes paid, according to the company’s application. The company also is applying for abatements on the mortgage recording tax.

Labor interests, with several elected officials’ endorsements, have urged the IDA to have the developers commit to using local construction workers and to pay all employees a living wage.

Urgo Hotels has pledged to pay housekeeping staff about $11.31 an hour, and said they would pay everyone competitive wages, but has not made a public commitment to a specified living wage. The developers expect about 75 permanent full-time jobs by the hotel’s second year in operation.

The hotel has been endorsed by much of the business community and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.

The project has received the necessary city planning approvals. The developers hope to begin construction this spring and finish in 2014 at an estimated cost of $32 million.

It’s to be built on a narrow triangular site between Green Street, Aurora Street, and the Rothschild Building, with its main parking facility being the city’s Green Street garage. The main street entrance would be on Aurora Street.


Here's the link:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...thaca-Marriott
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Old Posted Mar 21, 2013, 10:33 PM
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Nice little bit of info for Ithaca area from News10Now TV.

Economic opportunity keeping students in Ithaca

Updated 03/20/2013 06:36 PM
By: Tamara Lindstrom

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The latest numbers put out by the American Institute for Economic Research show a trend locals have known for years.

"We're retaining a lot of knowledge here in Ithaca from folks coming out of college because there are opportunities here," said Kristy Mitchell, marketing manager at the Ithaca and Tompkins County Visitors Bureau.

The AIER named Ithaca the best college town under 250,000 residents for the second year in a row. Using data gathered from sources like the Census Bureau, National Science Foundation, and Small Business Administration, Ithaca came out on top.

"We're seeing more opportunities for businesses because we have groups like the Industrial Development Agency, we have business parks, we have Cornell's technology campus that's going to be coming. And all of these are opportunities to make it easier for young entrepreneurs to start out," said Cornell graduate and Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa.

But making the list isn't all about economics. Researchers took a look at what's going on around town to get students off campus as well.

"Because of the thriving downtown district and the festivals and the outdoor rec and the waterfalls, you don't stay on campus," said Mitchell, an Ithaca College graduate.

Factors like student diversity, and arts and leisure were taken into account. But some say it's the things you can't measure that keeps former students sticking around.

"When I came to New York and I came to Ithaca, I realized that there was a real community here. And I loved that fact," Shinagawa said. "And I also loved that you could be young, a person like me, and be 22 years old and run for the county board. And then at 29 run for Congress."

It's a community, he says, that gives young people a chance.

For more information, visit http://www.aier.org/article/7841-aie...ties-2012-2013.

Here's the link:
http://ithaca-cortland.ynn.com/conte...nts-in-ithaca/
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Old Posted Mar 26, 2013, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Ex-Ithacan View Post
Nice little bit of info for Ithaca area from News10Now TV.

Economic opportunity keeping students in Ithaca

Updated 03/20/2013 06:36 PM
By: Tamara Lindstrom

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The latest numbers put out by the American Institute for Economic Research show a trend locals have known for years.

"We're retaining a lot of knowledge here in Ithaca from folks coming out of college because there are opportunities here," said Kristy Mitchell, marketing manager at the Ithaca and Tompkins County Visitors Bureau.

The AIER named Ithaca the best college town under 250,000 residents for the second year in a row. Using data gathered from sources like the Census Bureau, National Science Foundation, and Small Business Administration, Ithaca came out on top.

"We're seeing more opportunities for businesses because we have groups like the Industrial Development Agency, we have business parks, we have Cornell's technology campus that's going to be coming. And all of these are opportunities to make it easier for young entrepreneurs to start out," said Cornell graduate and Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa.

But making the list isn't all about economics. Researchers took a look at what's going on around town to get students off campus as well.

"Because of the thriving downtown district and the festivals and the outdoor rec and the waterfalls, you don't stay on campus," said Mitchell, an Ithaca College graduate.

Factors like student diversity, and arts and leisure were taken into account. But some say it's the things you can't measure that keeps former students sticking around.

"When I came to New York and I came to Ithaca, I realized that there was a real community here. And I loved that fact," Shinagawa said. "And I also loved that you could be young, a person like me, and be 22 years old and run for the county board. And then at 29 run for Congress."

It's a community, he says, that gives young people a chance.

For more information, visit http://www.aier.org/article/7841-aie...ties-2012-2013.

Here's the link:
http://ithaca-cortland.ynn.com/conte...nts-in-ithaca/
Nice story and I hope other Upstate cities/college towns can follow lead.
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Old Posted Mar 28, 2013, 3:06 PM
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^ I agree ckh. The future does require an educated group to help attract investment for job growth.


Here's another story about the Harold's Square project downtown from the Ithaca Times):

Mixed-use project to offer up apartments, retail and commercial space on the Commons

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 12:00 am
By Rob Montana editor@ithacatimes.com Ithaca Times


Apartments, retail and office spaces will combine in the next several years to bring a large mixed-use project to the Commons – a project that could shape the face of downtown Ithaca’s pedestrian mall as much as its upcoming reconstruction.

Coinciding with the Commons reconstruction project, Harold’s Square will help create a new look for development downtown. The project will include redevelopment of the historic Henry Miller Building (formerly occupied on the ground floor by Benchwarmers) at 137-139 The Commons, as well as new construction extending west that will include parcels at 133, 135 and 123-127 The Commons.

The new complex will total approximately 126,000 square feet. That will include:

— Approximately 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail space

— Approximately 47,000 square feet of professional office space on three floors

— Approximately 36 market rate apartments in a six-story tower, which is planned to be set back approximately 75 feet from the project’s four-story Commons-facing façade.

The developer for the project, L Enterprises, is planning the project under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED guidelines, with emphasis on energy efficiency, natural light, healthy work and living space, and the incorporation of natural green rooftop elements on the four-story portion of the project.

In addition to the split levels planned for the project — four stories on the Commons side, with an additional six stories on the Green Street side — another unique aspect is the look of each portion.

David Lubin, who is the majority owner of L Enterprises with his sister, Enid Littman, said the idea to create the four-story Commons side and the six-story tower on the Green Street side was to keep it from being too imposing next to the pedestrian mall. The different looks for both sides was planned to enhance the visual impact of the new construction.

“The Commons is made up of a number of different architecture types and designs developed over the last 100 years or so, there’s a kind of rhythm to it,” Lubin said. “The newer buildings on the Commons don’t really capture that rhythm. The idea, on the Commons side, is that if you look at the entryway, it looks like one sort of building, if you look at the front, it will look like another building.

“The design is done with a few different features, we put a balcony in there, to give it a rhythm,” he added. “It won’t be one roof line, so it doesn’t look like a solid, 130-foot building face. But, we also wanted to make it have a more classic look to keep it in context with the Commons, which is more or less a historic site.”

The apartment tower will be more modern looking, a design that Lubin said, wouldn’t have fit in as well with the Commons facades.

“As you’re seeing it from the hillsides, hopefully we will have a nice influence on the skyline of the Commons,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be a unique building that will help frame the Commons.”

The retail spaces, he said, should offer businesses looking to set up shop in downtown Ithaca a different footprint to offer their wares and services.

“One of the big problems with the Commons is that the buildings are 130-feet deep and not very wide for that depth, so a lot of existing retail is not what we call mainline retailers. There are a lot of restaurants, galleries, unique shops,” Lubin said. “If you only want 2,500-square-feet, a typical retail size, you become a place like Alphabet Soup, where you have a space that is 20-feet wide and 130-feet long. The retail space (at Harold’s Square) would allow for more generally accepted retail space. That was one of the ideas, to be able to offer a variety of spaces that are not available on the Commons now.

“We’re hoping to have new retail, companies that are obviously not the mall-type places, but ones that are different than what’s there now,” he added. “Hopefully this will help, I won’t say it will eliminate it, but I hope it will help mitigate the urban sprawl that’s been going on.”

The apartments will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom offerings, but the details are still being finalized. They will be market rate apartments, Lubin said, meaning the rents will be in line with what the cost of newly-constructed units are going for in the City of Ithaca.

“We’re not going after just the college market, we’re hopefully going to have young professionals and visiting faculty,” he said. “A lot of people come into the community from not only outside of the area, but outside of the country. Those visiting faculty may want more of an urban experience – some people don’t feel comfortable in the country – and they tend to want to continue the experience with which they are comfortable.”

The project will include an atrium in the center of the complex, with two main entrances – one to the Commons, the other to Green Street – and an connection on the third floor to the Green Street parking garage.

“A lot of people will be parking and coming in from the Green Street side, but businesses want to have their entrance on the Commons and to be a part of the Commons,” Lubin said. “It’s kind of hard to put an entrance on the front if everybody is coming in on the back side – if the office had a front entrance and a back entrances, you’d have to have two receptionists – so we decided to put in the common area space. This way, people can walk up the stairs to get to the offices, and it helps unify the parking garage to the Commons.”

The former Alphabet Soup (the store has moved into a space in Center Ithaca), Night & Day and Race Office Supply (currently the home of Funky Junk) buildings will be demolished to make way for the new construction; the historic Henry Miller building (home to Mate Factor and former location of Benchwarmers) will be incorporated into the project.

“The reality is they are one-story buildings,” Lubin said of the three that will be torn down. “Obviously, if you’re going to put up a four-story building, you’re going to make better use of the spaces. It creates more customers and a lot more density.

“Of course, all your services come together in downtown, so we’re going to leverage those utilities, the infrastructure, like the public transportation, banking, government institutions,” he added. “Obviously, developing that area helps create a better situation.”

According to information from the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, as it announced the project late last year, it is estimated the project will lead to the creation or retention of between 110 and 150 full-time office positions, 12 to 15 full-time retail positions and 100 construction jobs expected from the start of demolition through the completion of the project.

Addtionally, the new construction is projected to add a total of $500,000 more in property tax revenues for the City of Ithaca, Ithaca City School District and Tompkins County, as well as add $200,000-$300,000 in new sales tax revenues.

With the extensive height – a total of 10 stories and 140 feet – for the proposed Green Street side of the project, a variance would be required for Lubin to move forward. It has been proposed, however, – and it is currently being considered by the Common Council’s Planning & Economic Committee to re-zone that area of downtown Ithaca to allow for heights such as what the project is proposing. If such a re-zoning effort went forward, that would not require application for a height variance.

Even with that variance or zoning change still undetermined, Lubin is hopeful demolition on the buildings not being incorporated into the design will commence this summer.

“I hope to have that completed and have the initial four stories built out in about a year; I want to have them ready to start tenant improvements by next June or July,” he said. “I would like to have the tower finished, probably, by the end of 2014, the end of December 2014.

“It will depend on the tenants and the financing, but that’s the plan if things go well,” Lubin added. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from the city and everybody has been very cooperative.”

With a mix of retail, office and residential spaces in the complex, there is a potential for Harold’s Square to become a hub of activity in downtown Ithaca.

“Certainly some kind of a hub, in that, we’re trying to give people a destination and bring in businesses – we have three floors of office space, and we’re trying to provide new jobs and continue to have jobs on the Commons,” Lubin said. “We’re hoping it will create a strong consumer area and those offices may, depending on what they are, draw people to the area.

“I’d like this to be an important building to downtown,” he added. “I really think, and I’ve said this before, that Ithaca is one of the very few downtowns in upstate New York that I would invest in.”

The reconstruction of the Commons should bring about a renewed interest in downtown Ithaca and bring with it an uptick in its cyclical nature of commerce, something Lubin has seen before.

His father acquired the National Army-Navy store that was located in the Clinton House on Cayuga Street in 1962, renamed it Harold’s and later moved it to the Commons in 1969. Lubin later ran that business which had developed into a 16-store chain, closing it in 1998 when he decided to get out of retail business.

“Retail was changing, there wasn’t a good future there,” he said.

But the fact remains that Lubin did bear witness to a bustling Commons in the 1990s when Harold’s was still open.

“When I had the store on the Commons, it was hopping, people hung out down there,” he said. “The Commons has run down and it isn’t as attractive a spot as it had been. But, I think it’s a cyclical situation and with the advent of the new Commons surface and new investment, retail will come back and it will again be a popular spot.

“Everything has taken this suburban flight, has gone to the shopping centers and malls, so we’re not going to get a K-Mart or Target to come downtown,” Lubin added. “But Ithaca is a unique area and I think it can attract a unique retail contingent unlike anything else in New York state. I think it can be very successful again; I’ve seen it happen before and I think it can happen again.”



A rendering of what the new construction portion of the Harold’s Square complex will look like on the Commons




A rendering of what the proposed Harold’s Square complex will look like from Green Street. In view are the six stories of apartments planned to rise above the four stories of commercial and retail space.



Here's the link:

http://www.ithaca.com/news/business/...a4bcf887a.html
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