News Tidbits 7/9/14: Look Into the Crystal Ball

9 07 2014

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News to peruse and keep you amused.

First, INHS’s Greenways, a project I spend way too much time writing about. The 46-unit affordable townhouse development went up for review with the town of Ithaca at the start of the month (along with a temporary classroom building, a new single-family building lot in Northeast Ithaca, and a YMCA pavilion). Due to a technicality, it was pushed back to the July 15th meeting. Along the agenda attachments are new renders and a simpler site plan drawing. The project will be built in three phases, and if Holly Creek is any guideline, each phase could take a year; so if I had to take a guess, from 2014- October 2015, we’ll see townhouse sections A-E built, a total of 16 units. The subsequent phases (F-K and L-N) would likely be built and sold over roughly 12-month periods.

One thing to note is that Cornell is selling INHS the land for below market-value, with the stipulation that Cornell employees get first dibs on units as they go up for sale. With 7,000 employees, I don’t imagine weak demand from Cornell staff. Cornell is fulfilling a goal it stated way back in June 2008, and one of the first posts I ever wrote for this blog. The image in that entry is one of the very few stock images I’ve ever used, by the way.

As for the townhouse designs, no complaints here. They’re simple and colorful.

I’m going to expand on my old library site ruminations – I don’t see INHS winning the site because they are going to be stretched pretty thin over the next few years, with this and the expansive Neighborhood Pride site, along with smaller builds. While they have shown themselves capable of large projects in recent years, multiple multifamily projects will be a very large undertaking; it’s hard to imagine the county placing another egg in INHS’s already-full basket.

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Next on the whirlwind tour, revisions of the Travis-Hyde’s Carey Building addition in downtown Ithaca (another topic that’s had a lot of keys typed on its behalf). The details are still the same, 18 apartments, most of them tiny, with office space on floors 2 and 3 and retail on the bottom. Compared to the old design, more windows have been placed in the east facade, the top two floors were reworked, and the glass block details are gone, replaced by regular windows. It’s an improvement, though I don’t like the blank wall on the west face.

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Next item on the list, the NYS Dept. of Transportation parcel on the waterfront. Similar to the old library, this site has an RFP for a study and analysis of the relocation of the DOT facility, and a subsequent redevelopment of the parcel. Proposals were due June 26th. Granted, since this involves the state, this won’t move any faster than NYS wants to (i.e. slow and reluctant – they’ve been planning a move to a site in Dryden since 2006; the DOT blames the torpid pace on hang-ups with funding, which is why the RFP is asking someone else to come up with a plan). The feasibility study will be complete by May 2015, with the site re-development expected to begin in early 2017, assuming moving the DOT site is feasible. It’s a large parcel with strong potential for the mixed-use development that the city wants per the comprehensive plan. Who knows, there might actually be something to write about in five years.

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I’ll wrap this up with another potential future development: 215-221 W. Spencer Street, the parcel shown below. The Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (a city department) sold the 0.47 acre property for $110,000 in April. The buyer intends multi-family housing. 701 Cliff Street, a small parcel left vacant the demolition of a dilapidated house, received multiple offers and was sold for well above asking price. Its buyer intends one or more housing units.

Using the zoning map as a guide, 215-221 West Spencer is in an R-3a zone that allows for a 40′ structure with 35% lot coverage. That’s a max theoretical buildout of 28,662 sq ft (which if you give 20,000 sq ft for the housing units, and 1,000 sq ft per unit, we get a hypothetical 20 units), but whatever does get proposed will likely be somewhat smaller. The site is something to keep an eye on in the long-term.

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Boiceville Cottages Update, June 2014

30 06 2014

Decided to pay these a visit while on my way to a Sage Chapel wedding. Also, to prove to myself that I could take pleasant-looking photos of this complex.

Several buildings were underway, and two were a new style – five-unit gatehouse structures. They appear similar to the three-unit gatehouse structures already built, but the first hint that these were different comes from the dormers being positioned further out. My guess would be they they are one-bedroom units on the end and studios in the middle three units. A set of three houses, the ones with the orange trim below, appeared to be in the last stages of construction. The pink-trimmed and blue-trimmed homes next to them have only just received landscaping, and appear to have tenants.

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In the Long Run: The Chain Works District

8 06 2014

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This blog is due to celebrate its sixth anniversary in about a week (which will gets its own post, per tradition). This means that it’s seen, and written about a lot. When this blog, started, Emerson Power Transmission was still in business in Ithaca. But, it was already on its way out; in April 2007, the headquarters shifted from Ithaca to suburban Cincinnati, taking about 55 jobs with it. At the time, about 400 people were still employed at their South Hill facility.

That wasn’t to last long. I dunno, maybe it was bound to happen – Emerson ended up bleeding 25,000 jobs worldwide during the recession, nearly 20% of its workforce. But for the 228 employees who were at the Ithaca facility in August 2009, it was no less unpleasant when the closure was announced. The last folks closed up shop in 2011, but the facility’s polluted legacy lives on.

It was about 16 months ago when it was announced that the property, which has been for sale for $3.9 million, found a buyer. A lot of things were hush-hush, but it was seen as auspicious.

Fast forward a year – we have a name and a firm – David Lubin, the developer of the Harold’s Square mixed-use tower approved for downtown, and his LLC, the amusingly named “UnChained Properties”. A cadre of architecture, planning and environmental firms are also involved. Lubin et al. is currently asking the town to make the 95-acre parcel a PDZ, Planned Development Zone (likewise, they’re requesting the city make their portion its zoning equivalent, PUD, for Planned Urban Development), which is fairly generous in its uses and form (i.e. conveneient for mixed-use projects). Both city and town portions are zoned industrial. The development firm received money (forfeited by Emerson for failing to meet their IDA tax incentives) to conduct a feasibility study for reanalysis of the site.

The redeveloped property would be a mixed-use neighborhood called the “Chain Works District“. A lot of big numbers are being tossed around. 800,000 sq ft of redeveloped space. $100 million invested. 1,000 permanent jobs on site. 10 to 15 years for build-out. By any Ithaca-centric measurement, this is a huge undertaking. UnChained Properties hosted a public meeting in April (attended by Jason at IB), with a second planned during this summer. A copy of the April presentation can be found here.

10 to 15 years seems like a long time. It is. But the current Emerson site is a hodge-podge of decades of random additions.

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Not all of these additions will be making their way into the final product. Most of the post-war additions will be removed, save for a section on the southwest side that will be reserved as a future manufacturing facility.

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The site calls for office space, artists studios, workshops, a healthy dose of residential loft-style units, and a generous smattering of open-spaces in the form of courtyards and terraces, created by the removal of some of the newer factory additions. The Gateway Trail will run through the site, and it will host some amenities, like event/concert space and a cafe. According to the details submitted to the town, the developer is shooting for LEED certification as the phases are built-out.

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Perhaps just as interesting is that they aren’t solely seeking to build within the perimeter of the old factory spaces. The submission to the town shows multiple sites considered for new construction, with “T4″ and “T5″ PDZ zoning that would allow for 4-story and 6-story mixed use structures respectively.

Does seem all very pie-in-the-sky-ish? Perhaps. It’s a lot of big dreams and it’s going to take a lot of time, money and manpower to make it come to fruition. But I’ll be interested in watching it all evolve as it slowly moves towards reality.

Photo property of UnChained Properties LLC

Photo property of UnChained Properties LLC

 

 

 





2013 Census Estimates, Part II: Everybody Shares the Wealth

24 05 2014

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For the data geeks out there…the 2013 census estimates. A few highlights:

  • No city, village or town in Tompkins County is estimated to have lost population from 2012-2013, or 2010-2013.
  • Ithaca city had an estimated gain of +180 since 2012. The current estimated population is 30,515, 1.67% higher than the 2010 census value of 30,014.
  • Ithaca city is growing faster than Ithaca town, but the pace is uneven. Ithaca town was thought to have lost population from 2010-2011, but gained a greater percentage than Ithaca city this past year.
  • The village of Dryden exploded 8.7% in the past year alone, thanks to the opening of Poet’s Landing. For the decade so far, it’s increased 10.16% to 2,082.
  • More realistically, the second fastest grower is the town of Danby, from 3329 to 3462, or 4% in three years. Decadal extrapolation estimates 13.32% over the period (pop. ~3772 in 2020)
  • The slowest growing community is Freeville, with 0.77% growth from 2010-2013 (520 to 524). Second slowest is the town of Caroline at 0.94% (3282 to 3313). The county average is 2.02% for 2010-2013.

Entity 2010 REAL / 2010 EST / 2011 EST / 2012 EST / 2013 EST / GAIN, 2010-2013 /  DECADAL EXTRAP.

Tompkins County New York 101564 101588 101847 102713 103617 2053 2.02% 6.74%

Cayuga Heights village New York 3729 3729 3733 3756 3776 47 1.26% 4.20%

Dryden village New York 1890 1891 1897 1916 2082 192 10.16% 33.86%

Freeville village New York 520 520 520 523 524 4 0.77% 2.56%

Groton village New York 2363 2369 2371 2389 2408 45 1.90% 6.35%

Ithaca city New York 30014 30014 30167 30335 30515 501 1.67% 5.56%

Lansing village New York 3529 3529 3555 3597 3616 87 2.47% 8.22%

Trumansburg village New York 1797 1797 1809 1819 1832 35 1.95% 6.49%

Balance of Tompkins County New York 57722 57739 57795 58378 58864 1142 1.98% 6.59%

Caroline town New York 3282 3288 3280 3302 3313 31 0.94% 3.15%

Danby town New York 3329 3330 3364 3424 3462 133 4.00% 13.32%

Dryden town New York 14435 14436 14477 14617 14852 417 2.89% 9.63%

Dryden village New York 1890 1891 1897 1916 2082 192 10.16% 33.86%

Freeville village New York 520 520 520 523 524 4 0.77% 2.56%

Balance of Dryden town New York 12025 12025 12060 12178 12246 221 1.84% 6.13%

Enfield town New York 3512 3512 3534 3572 3586 74 2.11% 7.02%

Groton town New York 5950 5973 5985 6027 6091 141 2.37% 7.90%

Groton village New York 2363 2369 2371 2389 2408 45 1.90% 6.35%

Balance of Groton town New York 3587 3604 3614 3638 3683 96 2.68% 8.92%

Ithaca city New York 30014 30014 30167 30335 30515 501 1.67% 5.56%

Ithaca town New York 19930 19930 19836 19958 20132 202 1.01% 3.38%

Cayuga Heights village New York 3729 3729 3733 3756 3776 47 1.26% 4.20%

Balance of Ithaca town New York 16201 16201 16103 16202 16356 155 0.96% 3.19%

Lansing town New York 11033 11027 11082 11256 11362 329 2.98% 9.94%

Lansing village New York 3529 3529 3555 3597 3616 87 2.47% 8.22%

Balance of Lansing town New York 7504 7498 7527 7659 7746 242 3.22% 10.75%

Newfield town New York 5179 5178 5193 5235 5263 84 1.62% 5.41%

Ulysses town New York 4900 4900 4929 4987 5041 141 2.88% 9.59%

Trumansburg village New York 1797 1797 1809 1819 1832 35 1.95% 6.49%





Craigslist, the Wild West of Ithaca’s Rental Market

14 05 2014

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All of the apartments I have ever lived in, I have found through Craigslist. I’ve explored the markets in Ithaca, Albany and the New York City area, and for the most part, I’d say the results were positive.

Sometimes, when I glance at Ithaca development projects, I look at the Ithaca branch of Craigslist postings. Where we once had those cute little printed apartment guides and phone books, now we have a website that shares housing ads with space occupied with postings for old CRT TV stands, scuzzy photos of human anatomy, and the inevitably creepy missed connections. Some of Ithaca and Tompkins County’s smaller projects, the token single-families, duplexs and triplexes that are the bread and butter of the community, are hardly noted in more prominent publications, and barely mentioned in bureaucratic paperwork.  It’s easier to find renderings and so forth through Craigslist (I’m lazy, and just use the keyword “new”, which seems to catch a lot of them).

With that acknowledgement of utility, I still roll my eyes at some of the ads. There’s no real policing of the ads beyond extreme instances, so looking for housing becomes a case of caveat empetor. Some don’t need policing so much as a proofreader, being a schoolteacher’s nightmare of horrific spelling and grammar (especially the dreaded ALL CAPS), but there’s a few out there that are just an outright crock. But someone new to the Ithaca market won’t know that.

To avoid confrontation, I’m not going to link to the culprits. But they’re easy enough to find.

I’ll use my keyword for example: new. There’s one local rental agency that uses the phrase “brand new” to describe a townhouse complex built in 2003. According to them, by care-worn boat of a car is “brand new” (and worth about two months of their rent), as are the Iraq War and rapper 50 Cent‘s first album.

Another example – describing any house as being “in Ithaca” when it’s actually in Newfield, Dryden or Caroline. The most egregious offenders aren’t even in Tompkins County. On a related note,  advertising a house on Coddington Road as “urban living” won’t fool anyone so long as they make an effort to visit the place.

Then we have adjective abuse, which isn’t a new thing but it merits every ounce of scorn it receives. Luxurious is the biggest offender, but affordable is rapidly catching up to it (resulting in the facepalm-worthy phrase “affordable luxury”). We also have “contemporary”, “upscale”, and even “trendy” pokes its ugly head every now and then.

While writing this entry up, I found something especially cringe-worthy, at least for me. Two photos of an apartment being advertised, which I have separated from their post out of politeness. Unless someone happened to rent the same unit and use the same shower curtain, that photo is from when I lived there during 2008-2010. The bedroom photo was my room. In fact, the desk on the left could very well be the exact same one from which I wrote the first post for this blog. Feel free to hate the bedroom color, I shared the room and we were trying to make each room its own color; this one had the soap opera name “Dylan Verdant”. I’m kinda surprised the room is still that color, since that was one of the reasons we left that apartment with our security deposit much, much lighter than when we moved in (the day we learned to have written and signed consent; on the bright side, I’ve always received my full deposit back ever since).

The last thing I’ve learned from Craigslist is that some folks make a veritable mint on graduation weekend. Looking there now, I see 2 nights in a home for $850, a three-night stay in a Cayuga Heights home for $1800 (for 2015, it’s already rented for 2014), and a few places going for more reasonable values of $150-200 per night. Now that’s what I call a vacation fund.





News Tidbits 5/6/14: INHS Wants “Woonerfs”

6 05 2014

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I have to be honest, up to last night, I had no freaking clue what a woonerf was. It sounds like a children’s made-up word (ex. thingamigjig or doohickey; my brother used “pedewa”). But apparently, it’s a legit urban planning concept. Woonerf is Dutch for “living yard”, and is a type of “living street” where equal priority is given to cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians (the speed limit is no more than about 10-12 mph). They’ve seen substantial implementation in Western Europe since their introduction in the 1970s. The more I read about them, the more I get the impression that it’s a curious blend of a thoroughfare and a courtyard, or Ithaca Commons with vehicle traffic.

Image Courtesy of localmile.org

Image Courtesy of localmile.org

I’m not inclined to look up new words without a purpose, and the reason this time around comes courtesy of the planning board of the town of Ithaca, with the following project up for review at the meeting on May 20th:

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed Greenways project located off Sunnyhill Lane and Strawberry Hill Road, Town of Ithaca, Tax Parcel No.’s 60-1-34.2 and 60.1-1-46.22, Medium Density Residential (MDR) and Multiple Residence Zones (MR). The proposal involves the development of 46 townhouse units west of Eastwood Commons, fronting woonerf-style roads that will connect Sunnyhill Lane and Strawberry Hill Road.The project will also include new parking areas, open space, recreation areas, trails, walkways, landscaping, outdoor lighting, and stormwater facilities. Cornell University, Owner; Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, Applicant; Peter Trowbridge, Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects, Agent.

Regular readers will recognize the name Greenways because I’ve latched onto this project and followed it with interest since first proposed about 18 months ago (one could argue I’ve beaten a dead horse here). The project was originally proposed with 67 units, but then dropped to 46 by the time updated specs were submitted in February. The site is still the same, seeking to use woonerfs to connect Sunnyhill Drive and Strawberry Hill Circle. Note that google is not correct here, the street labels are all botched up. An accurate map with the parcels outlined (copied from the county tax map) is included in the lede for this post. Given a preferred completion in October 2015, and that this project consists of 46 units of townhouse-style housing, it makes sense that it would be seeking planning board approvals now.

Image property of Greenways at Eastwood Commons

Image property of Greenways at Eastwood Commons

So make way for the woonerfs, I suppose.

EDIT 5/15: Now we have renders and site plans. It looks like the project will be built in three phases, and access to “Greenways Lane” will be primarily through Strawberry Hill Toad and Sunnyhill Lane. The “woonerfs” seem rather gimmicky in this context.

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Ithaca’s Big Plan

29 04 2014

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I realize that the city’s comprehensive plan might seem a bit abstract. So let’s break it down into Q and A.

1. What is a comprehensive plan? Is this just more government bureaucracy?

Kinda? A comprehensive plan is the overarching theme for a city and its neighborhoods.  It’s not as specific as zoning is, but it helps determine what zoning should be, given the city’s concerns, desires and goals. So yeah, it’s more documentation, but it’s also allowing the community to determine the “forest” to be created by its “trees”. The plan helps to decide whether a project is appropriate for an area, because the planning board and zoning board will understand the desires for a given location. Used effectively, it may actually save time and mental energy in the long run by establishing a basic framework (i.e. developers will know that the chances of building a massive apartment building in Fall Creek are pretty low).
2. Why does the city need a new comprehensive plan?

The old one dates from 1971. A time when computers were the size of rooms, green was just a color and not a cute term for ecologically sensitive, and the Brady Bunch epitomized the way many wanted to live, in a posh contemporary in the suburbs with a Plymouth Satellite wagon in the garage. Times, and Ithaca itself, have changed. The plan has been amended in bits and pieces, but given its age, it needs a big overhaul, such that a new plan would be the easier option at this point.

3. Just how do they plan on making this plan?

In two parts: Phase I involves the preparation of a city-wide plan that identifies a vision and future goals for the community, and Phase II will include the creation of individual neighborhood or thematic plans, based on Phase I’s results. Committees, focus groups, surveys, meetings with community members, the whole years-long shebang. The current state of affairs can be found located here, and the current planning issues (using community input) is here. A 277-page PDF discussing environmental issues and goals for the plan is here. A draft of the plan, a mere 16 pages, can be viewed here.

4. Sum up the issues for me. I didn’t come here for long PDFs.

Parking’s a b*tch, and people want more walkable neighborhoods. Ithaca is expensive and only getting worse. The Jungle. Development pressures are threatening Ithaca’s historic structures, but the development process is too onerous for most folks to even bother with trying, vacant lot or otherwise. More jobs that aren’t colleges or retail. Protect the gorges and other local, natural amenities.

5. Okay, so what does the community want? What are the big changes?

Under consideration, we have a bunch of overarching themes. Here’s a map:

ith_big_plan_map

Ithaca loves itself some compact, mixed-use developments. If it fits that criterion and it also fits the area, the city wants it. Surface parking lots (231 acres) and vacant parcels (194) comprise just under 10% of the land in the city, and a number of these are what the city hopes to be appealing to developers (if the RFEI for the county library is any clue, the interest is there). Many of the currently developed parcels should be protected – homes in Cornell Heights, Belle Sherman and Fall Creek, for examples. The red spans above are what the city sees as areas for new, dense development – underutilized parcels downtown and on West State, the large swath of big-box land in the southwest, and the frequently-flooding land to the west of big-box land (the city hopes to fix that with dredged soils to raise the land).  Some accommodation for local commercial spaces is created with the “Neighborhood Mixed-Use” land use option. The final plan linked above notes the challenges with each neighborhood, and the desired changes moving forward.

The asterisks denote focus areas, areas the city wants sees significant and unique development opprotunities. There are four – Emerson (which is now in the earliest stages of redevelopment),  the flood-prone/retail-heavy southwest part of the city, the large undeveloped swaths of West Hill, and the Waterfront/Inlet Island. All are seen as very underutilized – all present unique opportunities to significantly expand housing and commercial options, if a developer is willing to fight the adverse factors and work with the city.

6. So are we going to see anything develop out of this?

Explicitly, no. This doesn’t dictate massing of new structures, or curb cuts and sidewalk widths. But it says where Ithaca wants growth to be focused, and where it would be more amenable to playing nice with anyone who comes forward with a plan in those areas.

7. Can I have a say?

Well, the public workshops are this evening, as I write this. But if you can’t/couldn’t attend, feel free to answer the online survey, or email the city planner with your thoughts and concerns.





The Six Contenders for the Old Library

22 04 2014

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Most people are aware that the old Tompkins County library is about to be left completely vacant. As covered by Ithaca Builds last fall, the county issued a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI), inviting developers to cast their lures and offer proposals, and the plan perceived as best would garner its developer the ability to buy the old library and build on the parcel. The county expressed preference for proposals that were eco-friendly and would create senior housing, so the proposals play to that preference. In a long if thorough process, the County Planning Advisory Board will make a preliminary review, recommend its choices to the legislature, and the legislature will select the finalists, who will be asked to submit more thorough proposals of their initial entries, detailing info such as project financing. The county makes it final selection in November, with sale of the parcel to the winning developer in March 2015.

This is exciting, it’s like watching competitors at an Olympic event.  All proposals can be found at the county website here, individual links are included with each shot below. Feel free to voice your opinion on your favorite proposal in the comments.

1. DPI Consultants

DPI Is a private developer operating out of Rochester. Their group has some previous local involvement, converting the old county jail to offices in the early 1990s, and they were involved with the Johnson Museum addition a few years back.  Their plan calls for 76 condos and 8 apartments in 2 5-story buildings (max buildable height for the parcel is 50 feet, for the record). The condos would be mid-to-upper tier for pricing, and the project would have underground “automated parking”.  This proposal is the only one that does not have a focus on seniors.

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2. Franklin Properties

Franklin Properties of Syracuse has teamed with a group of local firms (STREAM Collaborative and Taitem Engineering, among others) to propose a 68,000 sq ft “wellness center” for the library site, which they call the “Cayuga Community Education Center”. The first two floors would have a cafe and medical offices for doctors and non-profits, with three floors (32 units) of senior housing on top. The building would incorporate solar panels and is aiming for a 2017 opening if selected. The proposal seems to be the only one that reuses the original library, and already has some letters of support from local businesses.
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3. Integrated Acquisition and Development

IAD proposes a LEED-certified, 115,500 sq ft, four-story structure they call “Library Square”, with 90 apartments, conference rooms, a library and fitness center space. The project suggests a late 2016 completion. Parking is behind the L-shaped primary structure. IAD has been involved in the Ithaca area previously, being the owner of several properties in Lansing (Warrenwood, the medical offices of Trimhammer), and the lead developer of several of the office buildings in Cornell’s office park near the airport.

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4. INHS (Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services)

Locally prolific non-profit INHS comes up to bat again, this time proposing a project for the library site. Their proposal, called “DeWitt House”, calls for a 4-story, 60,000-80,000 sq ft building with 60 to 70 units of affordable housing, not specifically geared to seniors. The selling feature is an internal courtyard, along with community space and 6,000-8,000 feet of commercial space for rent. This one also has underground parking. The time frame for this one seems to be the latest, with completion in the 1st quarter of 2018.

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5. Rochester Cornerstone Group / Cayuga Housing Development

Cornerstone is a Rochester based non-profit housing developer. CHD is directed by the same people as the Ithaca Housing Authority, who operate Titus Towers. The proposal consists of 70-80 units of affordable senior housing, in a 4-story 54′ structure (i.e. it would need a zoning variance). The building would have covered ground-level parking and some surface parking. Full occupancy would be in late 2016. Token snark here, but next time, ask the architects not to use the glare tool in your renderings. Building roofs are not shiny.

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6. Travis Hyde

Ithaca based private developer Travis Hyde submitted the last proposal on this list. Travis Hyde is involved with the renovations of the Carey Building, the construction of Gateway Commons, and further back, Eddygate in Collegetown. Travis Hyde teamed up (once again) with Ithaca-based HOLT Arechitects for their proposal, which is probably the one that discusses architectural context the most out of the six. The 4-story 90,000 sq ft building would have 48 apartments with office and community space at street level. While it discusses providing senior housing, it doesn’t appear to be explicitly senior housing. Parking would be minimal, on the western edge of the site, with mass transit/municipal parking garage incentives being explored. Spring 2017 is the suggested completion date.
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May the best project win.





Ithaca’s Economic Mystery (Again)

18 04 2014

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I don’t consider myself an optimist. Maybe that’s the result of growing up in upstate New York, or working in a field that suffered its share of setbacks due to the recession. I don’t like the term pessimist either, preferring to go with the more socially acceptable term “realist”.

But this IJ article citing the state Labor numbers doesn’t make one damned bit of sense. I’m not even talking about the fact that they threw Ithaca into two separate employment regions (Ithaca and Binghamton, and Ithaca and Syracuse). to quote a section of the article:

“In the Ithaca region, financial activities, trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality each added 100 jobs.

The education-and-health-services sector lost 1,300 jobs from March 2013 to March 2014. That sector’s employment was 38,300 this March.”

Doesn’t it seem just a little unusual that the area lost 1,000 jobs? Recalling the headcount numbers for Cornell that were shared last month, the difference in employee headcounts on East Hill over the period of November 2012-November 2013 is a loss of about 50. Ithaca College’s headcount reports 1,822 employees,  about 12 less than the previous year. So those are both from the fall, and the state counts health and education are grouped together, but if we’re talking about 1,000 jobs, and it’s not Cornell or IC that caused it, then who did? I don’t recall any news of a huge layoff in Tompkins County.

The state regional breakdown PDF says the number of jobs went from 70,900 to 69,900 in the region (IJ says 60,900 to 59,900…someone in their office needs to double-check their numbers, because the 2011 average jobs number was 66,194).  The state description of their methodology says they use a time-series regression model and a sampling of 18,000 establishments statewide to determine jobs data. I’m wondering if this is all a quirk in the sampling, given that Ithaca is a small market (and small sample size in turn).

Maybe Ithaca’s economy really is in the crapper. But honestly, it’s not the first time the state has given overly-negative assessments, and the county agencies have to do damage control. But do we really have to go through this every other year?

 





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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