Odds and Ends Construction Updates, June 2014

6 07 2014

Random odds and ends. First off are the Lehigh Valley House condos, which will take the century-old Lehigh Valley House and renovate it into ground-floor commercial space and six condominium units on the upper floors. The project is being developed by Tim Ciaschi; the Ciaschi family has a long history of work in Ithaca. I note that my photo is a few days before IB’s latest update, given the progress of the siding installation.

6-29-2014 184

A couple blocks away on 13 is Magnolia House, a $2.7 million project that provides a 14-person shelter for homeless women. It took a while to open, but it looks like that it’s occupied, if the furniture in the second photo is any clue. I liked this better when the copper was fresh.

6-29-2014 194 6-29-2014 195

Here’s a project that’s flown under the radar. Downtown at 144 the Commons (Mockingbird Paperie/Ithacards building), local developer Jim Merod is building seven apartments into renovated space on the second and third floors, three each on the second and third floors and a new penthouse suite in an expansion of the top floor. This one will probably be available for renting by late fall.

6-29-2014 268 6-29-2014 269 6-29-2014 285

I figured I could use a couple photos of the completed Breckenridge Place. The affordable housing project by INHS brings 50 units of moderate-income units to downtown, and as Jason has covered, the lack of affordable housing in Ithaca is a major, major issue. Recently, there’s been some drama with the Old Library site since the projects have been more focused on apartments rather than condos. Condos would be nice, but from the county’s perspective, there’s a problem – condos require someone to have considerably greater financial assets than an apartment; you buy a condo, you rent an apartment. This pushes a project out of the affordable range, and the DPI proposal has already said it’s geared towards middle-to-high end incomes. I’m sure a project like that would be financially profitable (see the Danter study for evidence), but that’s not the point. If the county gets to choose the developer, and is seeking affordable housing as a way to provide the greatest community benefit with its assets, why would they choose a project that benefits only the wealthier portions of the community? I realize I might be stepping into s–t on this one, but this has been nagging me for a while. Condos are a great idea, but these are the wrong circumstances.

6-29-2014 273

6-29-2014 277

The site of College Crossings, just south of Ithaca College. The land is cleared and some construction equipment is on site, but it’s hard to tell if this is one is actually under construction. A friend who lives nearby explained that in her perspective, “they spend all day in the bulldozer pushing dirt back and forth, but not actually doing anything”. This project has dragged for years, so I wouldn’t be surprised. The website claims two of the six retail spaces are rented and a third space is pending, and the sign on the property indicated a Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts were future tenants. The upper floor will have two apartments with four and five bedrooms respectively.

6-29-2014 199

About these ads

Actions

Information

15 responses

6 07 2014
Joan Brumberg

DPI projects that the range of units will be from 170k to 500k which really mirrors the “for sale” market in our town. These are for studio to three bedroom penthouse. Remember: Owners behave differently than renters and they will contribute to the economic revitalization of center city. Moreover, DPI project fits city goals of increasing density and the parking will be underground.

7 07 2014
B. C.

Hi Joan,

I don’t believe these mirror the market. Regarding the DPI proposal, I think it’s safe to assume one would pay $170k for a studio and close to $500k for a 3-bedroom, right? $170k is close to the average home selling price in Ithaca of $195k, which is mostly 2 and 3-bedroom properties. These proposed condo units are very much upmarket. http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Ithaca-New_York/market-trends/

My concern isn’t the project design. It’s the county and its prerogative, which is concerned with providing affordable housing on that parcel, especially for senior citizens. I think the DPI proposal this would be great for the community if built on another parcel. But it’s highly unlikely that the county will choose this proposal for the old library site.

10 07 2014
B. C.

A postscript to all of this, looks like some pro-condo community members might want to attend the next old library committee meeting if they’re to counteract the NIMBYism (I swear, hardly a single project in this county moves forward without a fight):

http://www.ithacajournal.com/article/20140709/NEWS01/307090039

11 07 2014
Joan Brumberg

BC. Why have condominiums become a popular option in so many cities and towns seeking economic revitalization but Ithaca has none in center city?
I am told that local developers make more money from renters than from condos. Condos, however, generate regular taxes, city filing fees, real estate and legal work, a lot of other money besides what middle class owners will spend downtown. And owners, in this case on the old library site, will not take up surface parking ( that’s underground in DPI proposal) and they will be quieter than renters (who will be more youthful).

10 07 2014
duc1701

I saw that. I never find out about these things until it’s too late. Fortunately I have been writing my county legislator Kathy Luz Herrera, but I’m now going to be extra vigilant about keeping an eye out for the next meeting.

11 07 2014
Joan Brumberg

The DPI condo proposal is mixed age, market rate, high density but with nice green space, and covered underground parking. There is a market for this kind of housing in a town that offers few for sale options downtown for people who do not want to maintain an older home. The price of a two bedroom in this building would probably be less than buying an older home in Fall Creek and renovating so you had a bedroom and bath and garage all on first floor.
These are the things that many people are looking for.c

10 07 2014
duc1701

Ah, I see it’s a regular meeting. I’ll be there.
http://tompkinscountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Calendar.aspx

11 07 2014
B. C.

Hi Joan. Regarding your comment at 1441z…

I have not made the claim that condos are a bad thing. My commentary rests strictly on the county’s preferred development as stated in the RFEI – a project with affordable senior housing. DPI’s condo proposal has difficulties meeting that specification, as we’ve already covered in these comments. If this were a privately-owned parcel, the project would be an easy sell to the city planning board. But it’s the county’s land, and this is essentially a contest. In contrast to the DPI proposal, the Franklin/O’Shae proposal, as much as I hate its appearance, has the buzzwords and neighbor support that the county wants to see.

Tying into the IJ article posted below, it’s not my commentary you need to be concerned about, it’s the neighbors who are attending these meetings and speaking out against the condo proposal because they feel it’s too big for the site.

7 07 2014
Joel Savishinsky

The characterization of the potential market and buyers for the DPI condo proposal on the Old Library Site is misplaced. Estimated purchasing prices of the condo are fully in line with single-family homes in the downtown and adjoining areas. Furthermore, the middle-class purchasers of these condos would bring a great deal of civic energy and disposable income to downtown Ithaca. Finally, the county has multiple responsibilities and priorities, and supporting ‘affordable housing’ — a good deal of which has recently been provided downtown — is only one of them. Helping to provide appropriate housing for older, middle-class people, with all the financial and other assets they provide our community, is surely another goal the county needs and wants to support. There is currently a large cohort of such people who have expressed keen interest in the DPI proposal; and they are ready to “make their move” now — not five or ten years down the line. The county stands to gain, or lose, a lot of great human capital in this decision.

7 07 2014
duc1701

That’s too bad if it’s true the DPI proposal has little chance of success. INHS just bought that massive plot that Neighborhood Pride sits on. There’s plenty of focus on affordable housing but few options for those who want to own something high-end in the heart of downtown (Belle Sherman’s pretty swanky I guess, but no condos as far as I know).

Trust me, I’m not someone who can afford a $500k condo, but I sure as hell want those people and their money downtown rather than Cayuga Heights. Plus while I love my Lower Northside house, it’d also be nice to able to consider a simpler more urban condo life in the future.

7 07 2014
Joan Brumberg

Most of the people who favor DPI condo want units that should be no nore than 350 k . They are people who can not afford Kendal. They are not the 1% although they have ample resources from hard work!, retirement funds, and sale of a house. Let’s not make them out to be the super rich.

7 07 2014
Ex-Ithacan

Wow BC, you’ve been hella busy lately. Great to see all the posts/updates.

As far as DPI vs affordable housing goes, I have to side with the DPI proposal. I can’t say I know what the tax breakdown would be between an INHS project as opposed to a nice condo development, but I’m guessing the condos would certainly help the city’s tax revenues including the sales tax/ property tax/ and such.

I believe affordable housing is sorely needed in the city, but as mentioned already, there are other sites available which could provide a goodly number of units. I just hope the powers that be streamline the process for new housing proposals getting approved. Waiting years to get underway isn’t helping anyone.

23 07 2014
Joan Brumberg

Your assertion that neighbors adjacent to the site are against condos is no longer the case. A number of folks from Court and Cayuga have written directly to the legislature about why DPI is best for them: underground parking, owners make better neighbors and keep up real estate value, there will be a green corridor between the two proposed buildings.

Other landlords in the immediate area are also in favor of condo development. Bob DiPaola of DPI has even met with owners of Dewitt Inn to respond to their concerns about their property line and any future development.

This is a mixed age development in close proximity to Brevkenridge place which is affordable housing. By adding a condo development, and more affordable housing on the old Neighborhood Pride site, we begin to get a vibrant, high density downtown with many different kinds of people.

23 07 2014
B. C.

Great, good work getting them to see your side. I’ll keep an eye out to see which proposals move forward in the process, and do a write-up as that info becomes available.

23 07 2014
Joan Brumberg

There is supposed to be a public meeting on these different plans on August 12 at 5:30 pm in chambers of the old court house on Court Street.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers

%d bloggers like this: