Dairy Bar and Bar Argos, 4/2014

15 04 2014

Two of the bars I hit up last weekend. For the former, it was my first time inside the new Stocking Hall (the old one is undergoing renovation, and the project won’t be fully complete until 2015). It was absolutely packed with 4H kids/parents, and Cornell Days kids/parents. To order and receive ice cream was a 40-minute endeavor. But I got my Italian lemon cream cake, and that’s what matters.

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Meanwhile, on the more adult end of the spectrum, this past weekend was also my first time inside Bar Argos, the open-to-the-public bar of the Argos Inn. I had a Cuba Libre that was not overpowering, just the right amount of bite. Drinks here run on the high side of average, but the interior was fairly warm and inviting.
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Boiceville Cottages Update, 4/2014

14 04 2014

I had an alumni event in Ithaca, and my drive in always take me in via 79. The Boiceville Cottages are about a mile out of the way, so I had just enough time before dinner to stop by and shoot a few photos.

Unfortunately, spring is also mud season in upstate, and that became all too clear when I stepped out of my car on the edge of the parking lot, and the mud went halfway up my dress shoes. Luckily, I had a second, not-as-dressy pair on hand, but this is definitely not the time of the year to be walking around in nice shoes.

Compared to my last time through Boiceville in December, all the foundations laid at that time are now occupied by homes that are largely complete, with exterior finishes and detail work underway on the newest cottages. No more foundations have been laid, so I’m unsure if more are planned for this year; some areas had been cleared, but it looked to be used for the staging of construction equipment.

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Miscellaneous Project Updates, 12/2013

9 01 2014

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After forever and a day, the Argos Inn is finally open, and the “Bar Argos” watering hole opens to the public January 17th. The high-end boutique hotel offers 10 choices of rooms to the deep-pocketed visitor.

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Apart from some underground telecommunications that still need to be tweaked, phase II of the Commons renovation, the utility rehabilitation and replacement, is complete. Surface improvements (i.e. the pretty things) will begin this spring, or sooner if the rest of the winter turns fairly mild (not likely).

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Press Bay Alley. It’s a project I’ve never really covered on this blog, but Jason’s kept a watchful eye on over at Ithaca Builds. What we have here is a rather unusual concept, urban micro-retail, which is becoming popular as a form of urban infill in larger walkable communities. The recent renovated space right across the alley has an “entertainment venue” proposed, which would complement retail well. It’s a great idea as a sort of micro-business incubator; if a retailer’s concept works out, hopefully the retailer will move to a larger space within the community.

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Sheathing and waterproofing are complete at Planned Parenthood’s new 16,000 sq ft location (not 18,000 as I initially wrote last year), located northwest of downtown on West Seneca Street near Meadow. Windows have yet to be installed, (as of December 30th), but I would say they’re not far off. Planned Parenthood hopes to have the $6.12 million building completed by May 2014.


Stocking and Klarman Hall Progress Photos, 12/2013

7 01 2014

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This photo is probably timed similarly to Jason’s over at Ithaca Builds. Consistent with his analysis, a little bit of scaffolding visible in this image gives indication of the roof work being done to Goldwin Smith, and underground work over east Avenue is closed up, if temporarily. The $61 million dollar token glassy box adds 33,250 sq ft of new usable space.

Note for Cornell visitors – from this Wednesday (Jan 8th) to April 19th, 2015, the southbound lane of East Avenue will be closed to facilitate construction of Klarman Hall. I’d get around to feeling sympathetic, but I had the Thurston Ave. bridge detour my freshman year, and then years of Milstein, so…eh. Deal with it.

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The time difference between photos 1/2 and 3 is about 15 days. I just happened to pass through Ithaca twice in December, for two separate events (the first one though, I was only able to take photos on Cornell campus). I doubt I’ll be as lucky in the next few months.

Stocking Hall phase 2 is underway. Luckily for me, I have a friend that is a food science alum, who sends me all of the email updates. Quoting the one sent this past Thursday:

Phase 2 of the renovation project started several months ago with a focus on getting as much of the slate roof replaced as possible before winter. I think they were able to get about 70% of Stocking re-roofed. Asbestos abatement was the first part of the inside work. Once a floor was abated, Pike [construction company] worked on demolishing all interior walls.  Last Thursday (1/2/14) an independent testing agency certified the air test was safe after the abatement was completed on all floors. We took our first look on Friday.

The basement has been gutted, the first floor has undergone asbestos abatement and will begin demo shortly, the second and fourth floors have been gutted, and the third floor isn’t far along, still in the initial teardown/salvage stage. The renovation of old Stocking is due to be complete in August 2014.

Collegetown Terrace Progress Photos, 12/2013

6 01 2014

I always carry a second set of charged batteries on me when I do these little photo tours, because the last thing I want is to have my day cut prematurely short, or pay out the nose for a new pack of AAs (I rotate through two sets of rechargeables, for the record). It doesn’t help me much when I leave the extra set on the passenger’s seat of my car, which is parked way up on Pearl Street. I was cold and soaked to the bone by the time I finally finished getting all the shots I wanted. Here, there are not only construction photos, but also shots from some less familiar angles of the project.

It still astounds me when I think of the numbers associated with this project. Seven buildings over 12 acres. The net increase in bedrooms is 589 (1,226 total, in at least 610 units). The construction cost exceeds $70 million. Using the Danter study (which assumes a 98-99% occupancy rate), that would mean 580 more residents in this area (although given the intended market, it’s mostly re-appropriation of tenants from other parts of the county). That’s more than the population of nearby Freeville. Certainly, the project has been fraught with contentious debate since it was first proposed. As development goes, it’s the proverbial 800-pound gorilla.

Buildings 5 and 6 are well-underway, heading towards a completion/occupancy date of August 2014; building 7, which is very similar to building 5 but further south (i.e. deeper into) on the property, will be constructed in the 2014-2015 timeframe.

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Building 5 and the elevated walkway.

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Building 6, complete with winter-friendly plastic wrap.

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The rear addition of the George C. Williams House.

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The “Mithcell Plaza“, which incorporates elements from the locally-relevant Delano House that was demolished to make way for the project.

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Vinyl-tastic. I thought these were supposed to be metal panels…?


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No one mind me, I just needed a place to briefly dry off.

Gates Hall Progress Photos, 12/2013

5 01 2014


With an anticipated opening date early in 2014 (slightly behind schedule), the $60 million, 101,000 sq ft Gates Hall project is nearly complete. The work left at this point appears to be completion of the primary entrance structures (the “feet”, to use Jason’s term), a little landscaping, and interior work. Kinda odd to think the discussion of Gates Hall on this blog goes back to nearly the very beginning (and technically, since Bill Gates donated the money in 2006, this project has been in queue for even longer).

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Breckinridge Place and Seneca Way Progress Photos, December 2013

4 01 2014

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Breckinridge Place and its 50 units move closer to completion. In his last update, Jason over at Ithaca Builds noted the removal of bricks for what he surmised to be the architectural shades, although in the renderings they were located only two-thirds up the windows, rather than at the top. These photos seem to support that. The building is slated to open in early 2014, and at least from the outside, it looks like only minor work remains.

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Across downtown, Seneca Way is putting the finishing touches on its eastern facade as it inches toward its opening date this month (haven’t heard specifics, so I’m assuming a soft opening). Apart from a few details like installation of garage doors on the ground level, signage and some ground work, this building is nearly complete as well. Seneca Way brings 38 apartments and 8,600 sq ft of office space to downtown Ithaca.

Belle Sherman Cottages and Boiceville Cottages Progress, 12/2013

3 01 2014

Over my New Year’s holiday, I passed from Albany to Binghamton to Ithaca, to meet with someone and carpool west to Buffalo. This gave me a few hours to kill waiting for that person to arrive, so…carpe diem.

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I really don’t care for the finish on the new cottages. It makes them look prematurely aged and gives them a less inviting appearance vs. their older cohorts.

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Compared to the last photos, the cluster in the left of the second photo from top is now complete, with slab foundations in place for the next dozen cottages. I suspect these will mostly be built during the spring.

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Notably, when this day started, it was raining and in the low 40s.

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Next up were the Belle Sherman Cottages (a.k.a. Vine Street Cottages) on the east edge of the city.

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The “craftsman bungalow” on lot 19 is nearing completion, from the looks of it.

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Meanwhile, another house will be starting construction in the near future. This one looks to be lot 14, another “Victorian Farmhouse”, like the beige home in the lead-in photo. I wonder how many homes will have to be sold before marketing starts for the townhouses?

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As a quick side note, I noticed the grassy lot next to where I usually to park my car is now occupied by a two-story home. It’s not the same as the spec home proposed in the initial ad (the lot sold last August), but this house doesn’t look half bad (the entryway seems a little spartan).

A Random Mix of Project Updates 7/2013

1 08 2013

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Over at Breckenridge Place, the installation of the brick facade is nearing completion, and some of the windows have been installed in the six-story building. Originally slated for occupancy this fall, it looks like this has been pushed back a few months to very early 2014, according to the INHS website. This seems reasonable, as the vast majority of interior work still needs to be completed, not to mention the rest of the facade, window installation, and finishes/landscaping. An application lottery is underway for qualifying individuals.

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Looks like I can mark Collegetown’s 107 Cook Street as complete. Developer Dan Ligouri’s four units (12 bedrooms) will welcome their first tenants this summer (June/August thereabouts).  Replacing it in the queue of small residential projects, local nonprofit INHS will be launching construction on a 4-unit townhome project at the sharp corner of South Cayuga and South Titus Streets, just south of downtown. This is in addition to the aforementioned Breckenridge, a few rebuilds/renovations they have underway and the second phase of the Holly Creek townhomes, which will add another 11 units to be completed in late 2014.

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Ithaca makes this almost too easy. Ithaca Builds has been keeping tabs on the Planned Parenthood development, where foundation work is underway. The other two won’t start for a few more months.

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It sure is odd to see a treeless Ithaca Commons.  Excavation and utilities replacement will be underway through December, with reconstruction and new surfacing planned for next spring and summer.


Seneca Way Updates, 07/2013

30 07 2013

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My compliments to the DIA for deciding to use renderings as wall posters on the construction barriers of Ithaca Commons.

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Seneca Way still has two floors to go before topping out, although the stairwells appear to be fully built out.  Wall panels are in place up to the fourth floor, and the wood reinforcements on the fifth floor suggest installation will begin shortly. Seneca Way will add 38 apartments and 8,600 sq ft of office space to downtown when it is completed in Spring 2014.  The office space will be fully occupied by Warren Real Estate and the non-profit Park Foundation, which had also been looking at space in the Cayuga Green Condos before that project went all-residential.

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I assume that the Argos Inn is open for guests at this time. The landscaping is tidy and the new 13-room boutique hotel breathes life into the ca. 1831 Cowdry House, which once served as the headquarters for Duncan Hines. The last owners, non-profit Unity House  (a treatment/rehab facility), moved up to Lansing right by the mall.


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