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  #1481  
Old Posted Sep 9, 2012, 3:11 AM
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Not sure if this is going to happen, financial concerns could get in the way. The Commons was looking a bit shabby when I was in the city 3 years ago.
From the Ithaca Journal:


An artist's rendering of part the Ithaca Commons by Sasaki Associates. The plan calls for a wide central portion of Martin Luther King Jr./State Street with seating, plantings and trees off to the sides, and new paving, including replacement of the metal trolley rails in front of Center Ithaca with granite. / Photo provided/Sasaki Associates

Commons upgrade plans revealed
$9M project targets infrastructure and better functionality

12:46 PM, Sep. 6, 2012

Written by
David Hill

Consulting design firm Sasaki Associates of Boston presented an ambitious, updated plan for a Commons repair and upgrade project to Common Council on Wednesday.

The project focuses on aging infrastructure, including uneven and damaged sidewalks and outdated utility lines, including water lines more than 100 years old.

Sasaki senior associate Susannah Ross outlined some details worked into the plans since the spring. Among them:

• An open central space through Martin Luther King Jr./State Street with chairs, benches and planters to the sides.

Utilities would be buried in the central part beneath removeable pavers. The idea is to look and function more like a traditional street.

• Lighting on horizontally strung cables over MLK/State Street. Banners could be hung from the cables.

• Metal rails in the circular trolley sculpture would be replaced with granite. Other elements could be added.

The city is facing financial difficulty, including a $3 million deficit for 2013, but it also has received a $4.5 million federal grant that can be used for the estimated $9 million upgrade.

The money could be utilized to turn The Commons into a transit hub for more efficientbus routes between the Cornell University and Ithaca College campuses and downtown. U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, announced the grant in July.

Sasaki began planning in mid-2009 with a public workshop, before developing concepts and offering a preliminary presentation in spring 2010.

Here's the link:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...plans-revealed
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  #1482  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2012, 3:15 PM
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I hope something happens with this building, it's a gem which shouldn't be wasted. From the Ithaca Journal.



STAFF PHOTO/SIMON WHEELER


Masonic Temple draws interest from State Theatre
Potential not-for-profit buyer would redevelop high-profile building

7:51 PM, Sep. 10, 2012

Written by
David Hill

ITHACA — The not-for-profit organization that owns the State Theatre is seeking financing to buy the former Masonic Temple and turn the building into a community center with meeting space, offices and room for use by New Roots Charter School.

State Theatre of Ithaca Inc. has only an agreement in principle to buy the building, at 115-117 N. Cayuga St. But the organization has developed a plan for what would be called the State North Community Center, according to a proposal before the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency Economic Development Committee.
STI is applying for a loan of up to $400,000 from city funds designated for certain types of development projects, and the committee is scheduled to consider the proposal today.
People involved in the deal declined to comment on it Monday.
The proposal before the IURA details what State Theatre Inc. has in mind and reasons to make the loan. Those include replacing meeting and office space lost when the Women’s Community Building was torn down for the Breckenridge Place housing development; room for the growing New Roots school; a financial boost for STI; and making use of a historic building.
An after-school teen center also is suggested in the proposal.
The Masonic Temple is on the southeast corner of Cayuga and Seneca streets, one of downtown’s busiest intersections. It was built in the mid-1920s in a then-popular style evoking ancient Egypt following the 1922 rediscovery of the King Tutaankhamun tomb.
The Masons chapter sold it in the 1990s to developer and landlord Jason Fane, whose Ithaca Renting Co. manages it. With its architectural style and link to Freemasonry, it was given state and federal landmark status, which restricts how it can be used and altered. The owner has not been allowed to tear it down and redevelop the site. The building has since housed a restaurant and a nightclub.
State Theatre Inc.’s project description says the building comprises 17,500 square feet and has been largely unused for more than 10 years. It has a 2,650-square-foot auditorium with a stage, another 2,200-square-foot hall, a commercial kitchen and bar area, and several smaller rooms.
“This is essentially a limited-use building in need of a different sort of plan, one that is non-commercial in nature,” State Theatre Inc.’s project plan says. “The opportunity is at hand, and the need is great to put this historic building to good use once again.”
The anchor tenant would be New Roots. The charter school was using the Women’s Community Building as its cafeteria, and has since been using nearby St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Church. The school would use approximately 7,500 square feet, some shared and some exclusively. The school is based in the Clinton House, the 19th century landmark hotel across Cayuga Street from the temple.
Other space would be rented to not-for-profit community organizations.
The total estimated project cost is $1.3 million, which includes buying and renovating the building.
If owned by the not-for-profit organization, the property would likely be tax-exempt. A draft resolution before the IURA committee calls for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the duration of the loan of $8,500 annually, which equals what the city would lose in property taxes, minus $200 for each documented use of the auditorium or kitchen.
Other sources of funds for the project would be a $500,000 loan from the Park Foundation, a $200,000 bank loan and a $200,000 loan from Tompkins County Area Development.
Projected rents would not pay back all the loans, so State Theatre Inc. has a philanthropic fundraising company lined up to help plan a campaign. The proposed resolution would require a personal guarantee against default from “persons of sufficient net worth and liquidity” to repay the loan.
If the IURA Economic Development Committee offers its recommendation, the full IURA board would consider the application Sept. 27. It also would be subject to approval by the Ithaca Common Council.
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  #1483  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 12:24 AM
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Though I'm not surprised by this news, I do wonder if it's actually going to happen. Afterall, this is Ithaca, a bit of a hippie haven .
From the Ithaca Journal:



Dove Boutilier manages Jabberwock on The Commons in Ithaca. The store is one of several that could be affected by a proposed City of Ithaca tobacco ordinance. / SIMON WHEELER / STAFF PHOTO


Downtown Ithaca Alliance targets smoke shops
Group asks city for permitting, cap on numbers of paraphernalia sellers

Written by
David Hill


Concerned about downtown’s image and effects on youths, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance is asking Common Council to restrict shops that sell smoking paraphernalia.

The alliance has sent to the city a resolution asking that a system of permits be set up to regulate shops selling tobacco and paraphernalia. Shops would have to spend $500 for a permit and couldn’t be within 500 feet of a school or one another, though that explicitly would not apply to existing permit-holding shops.

Under the proposed ordinance, tobacco products, herbal cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia could not be displayed so that they are visible from outside the store.

It wouldn’t seek to shut down existing shops but would require annual renewal of permits and set a limit — the number would be determined by Common Council — on the number of such permits that could be issued.

While the ordinance cites tobacco and many stores explicitly label their merchandise as for use only with tobacco, the paraphernalia are of the type also used with marijuana.

Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson said the board voted to send the resolution to Common Council after some of the most extensive discussion the group has ever had on a topic. The state has given localities the authority to regulate tobacco establishments, he noted.

Bruce Hyde, an assistant manager at Jabberwock Emporium on The Commons, said the community should consider whether the stores are a positive or a negative. The effects beyond the shops themselves should be considered, he said. Most of Jabberwock’s glasswork is locally made by artisans who produce pipes to pay the bills, he said.

“It really is an art form. Blowing glass is extremely difficult,” Hyde said. “It’s a bigger economy.”


Here's the link:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...ts-smoke-shops
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  #1484  
Old Posted Sep 19, 2012, 12:30 AM
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Sad to see the old neighborhood at the mercy of a few greedy landlords (especially Fane). From the Cornel Daily Sun:



Despite Prime Location, Former Green Cafe Lot Remains Unused

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
BY SARAH SASSOON

Amid the thriving businesses on College Avenue — the commercial and social hub of Collegetown — the space that was formerly Green Café still stands vacant, more than two years after the café abruptly filed for bankruptcy in February 2010.

In April 2010, the business’ bankruptcy filing was dismissed by a federal bankruptcy court on the grounds that the company had inadequate legal representation. The business shut down the following day.

Nearly 30 months later, city officials question why the property has not been rented out by its owner, Jason Fane, who owns the Ithaca Renting Company. Though some speculate that the company demands rent that is too expensive, company representatives deny the charge.

Officials said they are concerned by the vacancy at the corner of College Avenue and Dryden Road –– which Alderperson Ellen McCollister ’78 (D-3rd Ward) called “the most valuable real estate in Collegetown.”

Alderperson Graham Kerslick (D-4th Ward) echoed her sentiments, saying that city officials and Collegetown residents are worried about the “negative impact that long-term vacant properties can have on the city.”

Both McCollister and Kerslick said that, prior to the Green Café moving into the lot in 2009, the space had been vacant for years.

“That location hasn’t had a viable business for as long as I can remember,” Kerslick said. “I’ve been in Ithaca for 30 years.”

But David Huckle ’79, commercial leasing and marketing manager of the Ithaca Renting Company, said that although the space may have appeared to be vacant before it was renovated to become the Green Café, it actually had a tenant.

“We had a lease in place with a local bank, which had an ATM at the property and used it for storage and meetings,” Huckle said.

Huckle said the 4,700-square foot commercial space has not been rented since Green Café — which closed in February 2010 after its owner filed for bankruptcy — left because it is a “specialized” building. Green Cafe was also fined $1 million for labor violations later that year.

“We have been actively looking at any and all opportunities to get the right operators for that property,” Huckle said.

Such an operator would have “experience in their particular field, whether it be hospitality or retail; a proven track record; and the financial wherewithal to take on a property of that size and setup,” he added.

Observers, however, speculate that the rent for the space is simply too high.

Huckle denied that expensive rent is a factor in the space’s continued vacancy.

“Quite frankly, if you were to look at the rents in Collegetown, without getting specific, I can tell you that we’re in line with what other larger stores are paying,” he said.

The fact that the property, 330 College Ave., is only a one-story commercial space is also unusual, city officials said.

“It’s a real economic anomaly to have a one-story building at that corner,” McCollister said. “The land value is just too high.”

Kerslick agreed, saying it does not make sense to limit the commercial space to one story, given the high property values in Collegetown.

Still, Huckle said the Ithaca Renting Company is not focused on expanding the building past a single story.

“Our primary focus has to be on renting the existing 4,700 square feet store,” he said. “A week doesn’t go by where we’re not speaking with various prospects that are looking at that property.”

However, Kerslick said that the vacant property is a waste of space. In addition to not bolstering the city’s sales tax revenue and employment, the empty space “gives the impression that it’s not a thriving community,” he said.

Kerslick compared Cayuga Street to the thriving Aurora Street in the Commons, saying it should be a commercial model for the rest of the city.

“Aurora Street, on the other hand, is a big success story; it is a vibrant setting,” Kerslick said.

But Huckle, rather than focusing on the vacancy of 330 College Ave., emphasized the successes of the Ithaca Renting Company, including the fact that it has rented four other spaces nearby within the past five months.

“The only property that we have that is vacant in Collegetown is 330 College Ave.,” he said.


Here's the link:
http://www.cornelldailysun.com/secti...remains-unused
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  #1485  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2012, 10:30 AM
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More housing for lower/moderate income folks. From the Ithaca Journal:

INHS proposes 35-unit apartment complex proposed
INHS plan would build 35 units on Spencer Rd. for low- and moderate-income renters

8:13 PM, Sep. 24, 2012

Written by
David Hill

Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services and another not-for-profit organization are proposing a 35-unit apartment complex for low- and moderate-income renters at the intersection of Spencer and Stone Quarry roads.

INHS is partnering with Pathstone Development of Rochester on the proposal for a site at 400 Spencer Road. The plan is scheduled for a presentation today before the city of Ithaca Planning and Development Board.
Plans before the planning board call for 16 three-bedroom, two-story townhouses and a three-story multi-family building of 19 apartments, in a mix of one, two and three bedrooms each.
INHS and Pathstone are also taking their plans to the city Board of Zoning appeals seeking a variance from zoning-district restrictions limiting usage to one- and two-family homes, said INHS Executive Director Paul Mazzarella.
Projected rents would range from $388 a month for a one-bedroom unit to $1,144 for a three-bedroom unit, Mazzarella said.
Rental applicants would be subject to income-eligibility rules tied to the project’s financing. The project would be financed through a fedral low-income housing tax-credit program in which investors get tax credits for investing in low-income rental housing.
INHS, which manages 168 rental units in Ithaca, believes there is ample demand given the community’s rental-housing vacancy rate of less than 1 percent and high rents, Mazzarella said.
“We’re extremely expensive and extremely tight with a vacancy rate of less than one percent, which is very, very low and high rents compared to the rest of the region around us,” Mazzarella said. “So we think that there’s a real need for that in Ithaca and a strong demand.”
The property, which now includes Ithaca Dispatch, would remain on the local property-tax rolls, Mazzarella said. Ithaca Dispatch management could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Pathstone has a purchase option on the property. Pathstone is a private not-for-profit organization that provides services for low-income famlies, farmworkers and depressed communities. It has partnered with INHS in Breckenridge Place, the 50-apartment project under way on the former Women’s Community Building site in downtown Ithaca.


Here's the link:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...text|FRONTPAGE
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  #1486  
Old Posted Sep 25, 2012, 11:01 AM
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I sure hope this project gets the go-ahead. Collegetown is in need of a real grocery store.
From the Cornell Sun:




GreenStar Cooperative Market Signs 20-Year Lease in Collegetown
Final approval of market will be decided by co-op’s full membership

September 25, 2012
By Christa Nianiatus

Following months of debate over the feasibility of opening a grocery store in Collegetown, GreenStar Cooperative Market’s Board of Directors has signed a 20-year lease to open a branch at 307 College Ave. The market will occupy the ground floor of developer Josh Lower’s ’05 proposed apartment complex at the site, pending the approval of the cooperative’s full membership in November.

In a statement to the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board on Sept. 11, Brandon Kane, general manager of GreenStar Cooperative Market Inc., reaffirmed the company’s commitment to Lower’s “Collegetown Crossing” project and urged its timely approval.

“The purpose behind the statement is to reinforce our support so that the planning board could make a decision and move it forward to the board of zoning appeals,” Kane said. “We have a time limit to get this built and occupy it within a certain time range that makes it affordable and feasible for us.”

Lower has provided GreenStar with significant financial incentives that will support market’s success at 307 College Ave., according to Kane.

Due to the financial incentives Lower is offering GreenStar the “co-op will be saving approximately $1 [million] to 1.5 million in occupancy expenses over the 20-year term of the agreed-upon lease,” Kane said in his statement to the board.

Pending city approval, Lower plans to demolish the site’s current building and remake the area into a highly trafficked “pedestrian arcade,” filled with storefronts along a pedestrian passageway that would connect College and Linden Avenues. The upper floors would provide additional residential units to the Collegetown community, according to Lower.

Approval of the project has been delayed due to the developer’s request for variances on — or exemptions from — parking requirements under current zoning laws.

“In the current project there are roughly 113 beds and existing zoning law requires 57 parking spaces and four loading spaces. Currently, there is a deficiency of three loading spaces being offered and no parking,” said John Schroeder ’74, a member of the planning board and The Sun’s production manager.

Lower said he has been “trying to come up with a plan that makes as many people happy as possible,” but that a financially feasible building plan must be reached before the project can move forward.

“On a 60-foot wide property, it’s just not possible to provide the parking,” Lower said. “If we had a larger property we could fit it on, we’d already have the project approval.”

At a meeting in April 2012, the planning board requested a study be conducted to determine the percentage of Collegetown residents that have cars in Ithaca. According to Schroeder, the study found that Lower’s proposed appartments would only result in the need to accommodate approximately 19 additional cars — a number that could be reduced to 13 with the potential provision of free bus passes and Ithaca Carshare credits to residents, according to the study.

The city is considering these transportation options so that Lower can proceed with the project as planned, Schroeder said.

“My expectation is that the planning board will approve the full environmental assessment so long as it meets what we discussed at our last meeting,” Schroeder said. From there, he said, the project would go to the Board of Zoning Appeals, which would consider requested variances.

While some residents are attempting to push the project forward quickly, citing the need for a full-service grocer in Collegetown, Common Council member Graham Kerslick (D-4th Ward) said that, considering the weight of the board’s responsibility, there has been no undue delay.

“I do know the board is being pressured, but their job is to make sure they consider all the impacts. This is not an insignificant project,” Kerslick said.

He added that in light of the significant transportation concessions being requested by the developer, it is reasonable for the city to expect something in return.

“To begin with, the building should be very well built, high quality and have the appropriate mechanics,” Kerslick said. “The board raised some good questions about providing more space for pedestrians by proposing the building [be] set back a bit more … They’re looking for anything the developers can do to provide the necessary amenities for pedestrian traffic.”

Despite its complications, the potential benefits of this project for the community are not lost on the planning board, according to Schroeder. He said the addition of residential units and retail space would be a step in the right direction — and particularly, an upgrade from the two-story building that currently stands at 307 College Ave.

“Frankly, it’s just an ugly building, and a clear prime development site in Collegetown,” Schroeder said.

Lower said he hopes that Collegetown Crossing will not only be convenient for students living in Collegetown, but will also foster a sense of community in the area.

“We’re just trying to bring some excitement back to the 300 block of Collegetown,” Lower said.


Here's the link:
http://www.cornelldailysun.com/secti...se-collegetown
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  #1487  
Old Posted Sep 27, 2012, 2:46 PM
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https://docs.google.com/a/cornell.ed...ZmEyYWVhMjMyYw

67 more townhomes planned in the town of Ithaca. Location looks to be an expansion of a previous development (Eastwood Commons).

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  #1488  
Old Posted Sep 28, 2012, 12:15 PM
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^ Thanks for the info Vis. The east side of the city continues to grow.


Here's an article from The Ithacan (the IC newspaper) reference the proposed Ithaca Hotel site. Looks like a new group is involved (Urgo hotels/Marriott), and things might finally start to move forward. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Plus there's a new rendering, which doesn't have an accurate background, but what the heck.

Marriott proposed for South Aurora


Courtesy of Urgo Hotels

By Patrick Feeney — Staff Writer
Published: September 12th, 2012 11:33 pm

A proposal to build a 159-room Marriott hotel on South Aurora Street is awaiting approval from Ithaca’s Planning and Development Department this month.
JoAnn Cornish, director of planning and development, said the project has been in the works since 2008, when property developer Jeffrey Rimland proposed construction of a hotel on his property. Cornish said the project took off in the past six months, when Rimland partnered with Marriott International to bring the chain to Ithaca.
If approved, the building will be completed with conference space and a restaurant. It will be erected on the east side of The Commons next to the Green Street parking garage.

Other additions to hotels are also taking place across Ithaca. The Marriott will join a new Fairfield Inn, which will be located on Route 13, and planned expansions to the Holiday Inn.

Fred Bonn, director of the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the growth of hotels in the city is an indicator of interest in the market.

“This is a great sign for our city,” Bonn said. “I think we’re one of the few cities that’s seeing this level of interest in development of their downtown core in the Northeast.”

Cornish said hotels in the area often have few or no vacancies.

“They often end up sending guests to other communities,” Cornish said.

The Marriott Hotel, if approved, will rise alongside a major revitalization project on The Commons. Cornish said the new hotel partly spurred the $7-8 million renovations.

“The Commons is upward of 40 years old now,” Cornish said. “It needs a lot of work done on it. So, we are planning to make it worthy of having a Marriott, and this will be one of their top-of-the-line Marriotts.”

Some of the business owners within The Commons are looking forward to the new business the hotel will bring. Dean Zervos, co-owner of Simeon’s Bar and Grill, said the possibility of having so many rooms close to his restaurant could improve business.

“People get out of the hotel, what do they want to do?” Zervos said. “They want to eat, so I think the closer [the] better.”

However, Akira Sakoda, manager at Viva Taqueria, said she isn’t expecting to see a serious change in clientele once the hotel is finished.

“We’ve been in town for 20 years,” Sakoda said. “Our local clientele are extremely loyal and students love us. That’s not going to change because we have a hotel in front of us.”

Owners of local lodgings, such as bed-and-breakfasts, feel similarly. David Dier, innkeeper at the William Henry Miller Inn, said his business is always full and he doesn’t expect to see changes.

“You’ve got people who come here partly because of the amenities, and then you’ve got other people who are just coming to see people,” Dier said. “A hotel works for them. It’s a place to get sleep, get breakfast, and go.”

Bonn said the new additions to Ithaca’s hotel selection will not affect the area’s current establishments.

“They’re reaching a little different type of traveler that is used to staying in a flight hotel property,” Bonn said of the city’s bed and breakfasts. “They are in the city delivering some very unique and memorable experiences that you just can’t find at a traditional chain hotel.”

Cornish said the chances of the hotel being approved are very good, and the plans could be approved by the end of the month. The 18-month construction schedule would begin this fall, weather permitting, or by March 1.

Cornish said she thinks the hotel will improve the aesthetics of The Commons.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Cornish said. “It will be an iconic piece of architecture for The Commons.”


Here's the link:

http://theithacan.org/24662
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  #1489  
Old Posted Sep 28, 2012, 11:31 PM
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If that's the design it looks like it might make better use of the space than the original Hotel Ithaca design, but it's not as attractive. Of course, it'd be a massive improvement over what is currently there.
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  #1490  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2012, 2:03 AM
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^ Agreed.
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  #1491  
Old Posted Oct 24, 2012, 9:59 PM
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Whoa, I didn't see this one coming. What a major change for downtown if it ever happens. Looking at the cell phone pic, it appears the 6 story apartment building will be built on top of the back of the office/retail building. (from the Ithaca Journal)



New retail-office-apartment complex proposed for Commons

Six-story apartment building part of plan for site extending from Commons toward Green Street
12:20 PM, Oct 24, 2012
Written by
David Hill



The family company that owns the former Harold’s Army Navy store and adjacent buildings on The Commons plan to redevelop them into a retail-office complex and add an adjacent six-story apartment building between there and Green Street.

The new building, with 60- to 72-market-rate apartments, would be perhaps downtown Ithaca’s tallest at more than 135 feet.

The Commons-side buildings would include retail and office space with a three-story inner atrium. The complex would have an exterior bridge connecting its third floor to the Green Street parking garage.

L Enterprises, majority-owned by brother and sister David Lubin of Elmira and Enid Littman of Ithaca, showed the idea to the city Planning and Development Board Tuesday night and announced details today. The project must go through the board’s site plan review process and will likely require variances from city codes, such as a height variance.

If approved, plans are for construction to coincide with the planned renovation of the Commons itself, now in the final planning stages. The owners hope to complete the retail and office parts in the summer of 2014, with the apartment tower to follow.

It will include redevelopment of the Henry Miller Building, most recently occupied on the ground floor by Benchwarmer’s restaurant, along with new construction extended west to include 135 and 123-27 The Commons, recently housing Race Office Supply.

The project will be called Harold’s Square. Their father acquired the National Army-navy Store on Cayuga Street, renamed it Harold’s and relocated it to State Street in 1969. It closed in 1998. The family kept 137-139 and 135, and acquired 123-27 earlier this year, and anticipate completing the purchase of 133 The Commons in early 2013.

The Commons side is being designed to emulate the scale and texture of the historic buildings on the downtown pedestrian mall, including the adjacent Home Dairy building, now occupied on the ground floor by the Mate Factor cafe. The Green Street side would be in a more modern style, according to the company.

The developers estimatethe project will help create or retain 110 to 115 full-time office jobs, 12 to 15 full-time retail positions and 100 construction jobs, while generating $500,000 in revenue from property taxes to local taxing authorities over what the existing properties produce.

“Retaining and renovating historic structures in downtown is very important,” Lubin said in the project announcement, “but so is recognizing that change is also a good thing. We’re restoring a key part of Ithaca’s history that once housed the office of 19th century architect William Henry Miller. At the same time, we’re replacing three primarily single-story buildings that, while may be part of people’s cherished memories, including my own, can’t meet downtown’s need for more housing, shopping choices, and modern office space. That need has been documented in study after study, and we’re pleased to be a part of the solution.”
Lubin developed and operated three Hilton-brand hotels, including one each in Horseheads and Oneonta, as well as commercial property in Horseheads and Corning.
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  #1492  
Old Posted Nov 3, 2012, 12:44 AM
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At least this project seems to be showing some movement forward. From the Ithaca Journal.


The proposed design for the Collegetown Crossing building at 307 College Ave., Ithaca, just downhill from th city's fire station Number Nine. / PROVIDED

6-story Collegetown apartment building nears Ithaca approval
57-space parking variance at issue

Written by
David Hill

ITHACA — Collegetown Crossing, a 53-unit apartment project proposed by landlord and developer Josh Lower, is facing its last major regulatory hurdle Tuesday when it goes before the city Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance from a requirement that it have 57 parking spaces.

The project is on a parcel through the block from 307 College Ave. to 226 Linden Ave. A former pharmacy on College Avenue would be replaced with a six-story main building, while the three-unit Linden Avenue apartment building would remain. It’s viewed as a bellwhether for large-scale development in the neighborhood adjacent to Cornell University, something the city has been trying to steer for years and which was complicated when a plan for closer architectural scrutiny was turned back by property owners in 2011.
“In some ways this is a test case for what could happen in Collegetown, and it’s important to get it right,” said Common Council member Ellen McCollister, from the adjacent Third Ward.
Final site plan review by the Planning and Development Board would follow a variance by the BZA, according to McCollister.
Lower and his development team conducted a study of Collegtown parking and concluded that providing parking in effect encourages residents — overwhelmingly Cornell students — to bring cars to Ithaca. Lower maintains parking is a public good that should not be mandated. He says he’s taking a risk by not providing parking and wouldn’t seek the variance were it feasible but the site isn’t big enough. “You’d get a couple-story building surrounded by a parking lot.”
Third-Ward alderman Graham Kerslick said he’s on record that the parking requirement has negative consequences, but if it’s waived or removed, effort should go into better buildings. “I mean a better quality buildings, better designed buildings, making sure that there are provisions for if people have fewer cars. Then we need to make sure the pedestrian environment is provided for and is much safer — things like wide sidewalks.”

One potential benefit is a long-sought sizeable grocery store in Collegetown. For part of the 5,500 square-feet of ground-floor retail space, Lower said a lease has been approved by the Greenstar Cooperative Market council and is going before a membership referendum. Also planned is an indoor, heated, 24-hour bus stop along the lines of one on Green Street occupied by Gimme Coffee!

Lower said TCAT bus passes will be subsidized and Ithaca Carshare credit made available to residents. The project will generate an estimated $700,000 in property and sales taxes, compared to about $40,000 now, he said.
McCollister and Kerslick said the city is working on planning mechanisms that could lead to more public benefits on major projects and a more comprehensive approach to parking. For McCollister, her ward feels spillover parking from Collegetown and the variance is significant, but the bigger issue is that if a variance is given, it should come with improvements above tenement-like buildings too often seen up to now. Collegetown Crossing’s plans have improved since first filed, and with improvements could do that, she said.
“I would like to raise the bar for what’s possible in Collegetown,” she said. “It’s not there yet.”



here's the link:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...text|FRONTPAGE
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  #1493  
Old Posted Nov 8, 2012, 10:56 PM
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Well the board met for the project variances requested in the project from the above post (#1492), and all was defered. But there is good news ref: the Marriott Hotel project (see post #1488). From the Ithaca Journal:


Ithaca zoning board defers on Collegetown Crossing
Time constraints lead to adjournment until next meeting

7:10 PM, Nov 7, 2012

Written by
David Hill


ITHACA — The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday deferred a decision on variances for the Collegetown Crossing apartments and retail project.

The board heard from applicant Josh Lower and his development team, and began the public hearing on the matter. It set aside 15 minutes per interested party and heard from three in favor of the project and one against. But given the board’s goal of adjourning by 11 p.m., a large number of people wanting to speak and two other matters before it, the board suspended the case until a subsequent meeting.
“I don’t think we can decide this case this evening, given the complexity of it,” board Chairman Steven Beers said.
Lower wants to demolish a two-story commercial building at 307 College Ave. and build a six-story building with 50 apartments housing 103 occupants. In conjunction, the apartment building at 226 Linden Ave. would be kept.
The principal variance would be for 57 total parking spaces required under zoning regulations. Lower and his development team maintain that providing parking would lead more tenants to bring cars, while making redevelopment of the neighborhood prohibitively expensive. Some board members expressed skepticism, though, at Lower’s contention that parking cannot be provided on the site.
Variances also are sought regarding off-street loading space and rear-yard setback.
Two Cornell University students spoke in favor, saying Collegetown needs more housing and improved retail grocery options. Lower and GreenStar Cooperative Market plan a market on the first floor of the apartment building.
A TCAT representative endorsed the plan for an indoor bus stop. A nearby property owner also endorsed it, while another spoke against it as potential spot zoning and asserted there’s a difference between impossible designs and those less profitable.
On other matters, the board granted variances on off-street loading, height and setback for a planned Marriott hotel at the eastern end of the Commons at Aurora Street.
The board also deferred action on an apartment complex planned by Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services for a site on Spencer Road at Stone Quarry Road.


Here's the link:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...text|FRONTPAGE
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  #1494  
Old Posted Nov 8, 2012, 11:04 PM
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In a big surprise to me, I contacted the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and was informed that the long delayed Seneca Way project (post #1393, page 70) will finally be breaking ground on November 14th. A nice addition to the eastern entrance to downtown Ithaca. Good stuff.
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  #1495  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2012, 1:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Ithacan View Post
In a big surprise to me, I contacted the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and was informed that the long delayed Seneca Way project (post #1393, page 70) will finally be breaking ground on November 14th. A nice addition to the eastern entrance to downtown Ithaca. Good stuff.
That would explain the fencing that went up a few days ago. I was fearful it might only indicate the demo of the building.
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  #1496  
Old Posted Nov 10, 2012, 3:22 AM
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That would explain the fencing that went up a few days ago. I was fearful it might only indicate the demo of the building.
That might well be ithacat. She wrote "groundbreaking", but that may be the start of demo of the old Challenge building. However, at least that's movement, and Challenge does have to come down.

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  #1497  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2012, 7:18 PM
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Two updates from today's papers...

The Ithaca Journal had an article on the ground-breaking for the Seneca Way project:

http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...ext|Business|s

The Cornell Daily Sun has an article on the city granting final approval for the Marriott on the Commons:

http://cornellsun.com/section/news/c...ng-high-demand
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  #1498  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2012, 10:36 PM
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^ Good news, thanks for the tip-in cat.
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  #1499  
Old Posted Nov 15, 2012, 10:12 PM
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Not to belabor a point, but here's another article about Seneca Way from the Ithaca Journal. I hope this is the start of something big for downtown.






Seneca Way complex a boost for Ithaca
City to welcome new apartments, office building

Written by
David Hill

ITHACA — In about a year, 38 new apartments and two offices are scheduled to open at the foot of East Hill with the new Seneca Way complex on the site of the former pink concrete-block Challenge Industries building.
Newman Development, the Vestal-based company in charge of the project, hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking in Challenge’s former parking lot Wednesday afternoon.
City officials and bankers joined representatives of Newman to herald the redevelopment of the site, vacant since Challenge moved to a new home two years ago on South Hill.
The Seneca Way project, at the westbound and northern tine of the Tuning Fork intersection east of The Commons, will have an underground parking garage, offices on the ground floor and four floors of apartments above.
The project is the latest in a series of major developments in downtown Ithaca.
Already under construction is Breckenridge Place, apartments on the site of the former Women’s Community Building at Seneca and Cayuga streets. Other planned projects include an expansion of the Holiday Inn on South Cayuga Street; another phase of Cayuga Green, the retail-apartment complex in the vicinity of the Tompkins County Public Library on Green Street; and Collegetown Crossing, the student-oriented apartment complex just up East State/Martin Luther King Jr. Street from downtown.
A plan to redevelop a group of buildings on The Commons into retail, office and apartment space is in the early stages of city review.
A Marriott hotel is also in the works at The Commons east end. The 10-story hotel received its final approval from the city Planning and Development Board Tuesday evening.
Newman Development vice president Jeff Smetana said the company approached the city a few years ago with the goal of building more student housing.
The company was told there were too many similar projects under way and what the city really needed was more non-student housing for professionals.
As the project went through city review, it got smaller and economically less viable, but Newman contacted the National Development Council, a not-for-profit organization that helps arrange financing for underserved communities.
National Development packaged a federal tax-credit program sold to an investor, in this case PNC Bank of Pittsburgh.
Also backing Seneca Way are M&T Bank and Tompkins Trust Co., Newman said.
The building will be owned by a partnership of Newman Development and Warren Real Estate of Ithaca, which has committed to leasing office space in the building for its new city location. The Park Foundation is also lined up as a tenant.
Mayor Svante Myrick lauded Seneca Way Wednesday as not only a boost to the tax base, but a sign of where the city is going — drawing more downtown residents, revitalizing the city and heading off suburban sprawl.
“This project and the other projects that are happening downtown are going to answer that question,” Myrick said. “They are saying where we are headed. We are headed to a city that’s livable, that’s walkable, it’s sustainable, not just environmentally but economically.”
Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, predicted that the Seneca Way building will become a landmark and the eastern gateway to downtown.
“We’re going to build another landmark for our city, for our community,” Ferguson said. “Anyone coming east and west in this city is going to see this building. So not only is this an important, I think, economic movement for us, but it’s for our community psyche as well.”
Remediation work has begun in the Challenge building, Smetana said. The site presents challenges, including a steep grade, rock and poor soil, he said.
Apartments will range from about 900 to 1,300 square feet.
Rents have not been set, but the units will be aimed at the professional, not student, market. The project is not receiving local tax abatements, he said.
Design of the project has been done by HOLT Architects. Construction will be performed by Northeast United Corp., which is part of the Newman Development Group.
National Development packaged a federal tax-credit program sold to an investor, in this case PNC Bank of Pittsburgh.
Also backing Seneca Way are M&T Bank and Tompkins Trust Co., Newman said.
The building will be owned by a partnership of Newman Development and Warren Real Estate of Ithaca, which has committed to leasing office space in the building for its new city location. The Park Foundation is also lined up as a tenant.
Mayor Svante Myrick lauded Seneca Way Wednesday as not only a boost to the tax base, but a sign of where the city is going — drawing more downtown residents, revitalizing the city and heading off suburban sprawl.
“This project and the other projects that are happening downtown are going to answer that question,” Myrick said. “They are saying where we are headed. We are headed to a city that’s livable, that’s walkable, it’s sustainable, not just environmentally but economically.”
Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, predicted that the Seneca Way building will become a landmark and the eastern gateway to downtown.
“We’re going to build another landmark for our city, for our community,” Ferguson said. “Anyone coming east and west in this city is going to see this building. So not only is this an important, I think, economic movement for us, but it’s for our community psyche as well.”
Remediation work has begun in the Challenge building, Smetana said. The site presents challenges, including a steep grade, rock and poor soil, he said.
Apartments will range from about 900 to 1,300 square feet.
Rents have not been set, but the units will be aimed at the professional, not student, market. The project is not receiving local tax abatements, he said.
Design of the project has been done by HOLT Architects. Construction will be performed by Northeast United Corp., which is part of the Newman Development Group.

Here's the link:
http://www.theithacajournal.com/arti...text|FRONTPAGE
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  #1500  
Old Posted Nov 19, 2012, 1:01 PM
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Here's a recent entry into Visiteur's blog, good stuff:

http://brancra.wordpress.com/2012/11...se-in-mapping/

Very comprehensive look at new development in the Ithaca area (except Cornell & Collegetown which will be coming up soon).
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