The unplanned theme of the week: affordable housing projects.
1. This week and next, the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency will be holding public hearings as part of the process to determine who will receive money from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants awarded to the city. The 21 applicants ranges from jobs training to community services to the development of affordable housing. In total, $1.78 million has been requested, and there’s $1.215 million available, just a little over two-thirds of the total requested.
Without discounting the value of the other applications, the focus here will be on the real estate development projects. For the record, writing about a project is neither an endorsement or opposition from this blog.
A. INHS is requesting $457,326 dollars for its 210 Hancock Street redevelopment project (also known as the Neighborhood Pride site). The total cost of the project as stated in the application is now up to $17.3 million. The application only applies to the apartment buildings, not the townhouses. The townhouses and apartments are going to be subdivided into separate parcels, because certain affordable housing funds are targeted towards renters and others towards homeowners. Subdividing the Neighborhood Pride parcel into the apartment and owner-occupied parcels will make for a smoother application process, and they’ll be separate projects within the larger framework of the 210 Hancock property.
210 Hancock will have 53 apartments – the 3 bedrooms have been eliminated and split into 1 and 2 bedroom units, so the number of units has gone up but the total number of bedrooms remains the same (64). The units are targeted towards renters making 48-80% of annual median income (AMI). The AMI given is $59,150 for a one-bedroom and $71,000 for a two-bedroom. The one-bedroom units will be rent for $700-1,000/month to those making $29,600-$41,600, and the two-bedroom units will rent for $835-$1300/month to individuals making $34,720-$53,720. Three of the units will be fully handicap adapted.
One of the commercial spaces will be occupied by local social welfare non-profit Tompkins Community Action for use in an early head-start program for approximately 30 children from lower-income households. The other two spaces have strong interest but do not have tenants lined up yet.
B. This second project is something new. Alpern & Milton LLC (local buisnessman Ishka Alpern and his brother, Franklin Milton) are requesting $250,000 towards a $1,285,000, 12-unit project proposed for Inlet Island called “The Flatiron”. The project seeks a renovation of 4,900 sq ft at 910 W. State/MLK Street (shown above) and a 3,700 sq ft addition onto the neighboring parcel at 912 W. State/MLK. The finished project will resemble the triangular form of the famous Flatiron Building in NYC. the application says “the project will be of a historic nature, but the structure being proposed is not currently, nor will it be, deemed ‘historic’ in terms of housing or building code”. Ten of the units will be available to 30-50% AMI, and the other two will be available to those making 50-80% AMI.
The brothers do have some small projects to their credit, according to the filed paperwork. They handled the renovation of Brookton’s Market and 514-516 W. State/MLK Street. Judging from the google maps dating back to 2012, some renovations have already been done to 910 W. State.
2. In this week’s Journal, there was an article that gave a rundown of recipients of the Tompkins County Affordable Housing fund paid for by a combination of the city of Ithaca, Tompkins County and Cornell. Most of them I recognized – Holly Creek, the Habitat for Humanity duplexes in Groton and Trumansburg, Breckenridge Place and so on.
There was one I didn’t recognize. The Amici House proposal, which is being planned by Tompkins Community Action. I vaguely remember coming across this during the Stone Quarry debate last year, but at the time I couldn’t even verify if it was a real proposal. TCAction is proposing to build approximately 15 units affordable townhouses at 661-665 Spencer Road, just east of the Salvation Army store. There haven’t been any formal plans presented yet, but the project did receive $75,000 from the fund to pay for a pre-development feasibility study.
3. Like single-family home development? Have lots of extra money lying around? The second phase of Lansing’s 21-lot Farm Pond Circle development is up for sale. Jack Jensen, the original developer, passed away last fall. Of the ten lots in phase two, four have already been reserved; there are also two lots left in phase one. The second phase is being offered for $155,000.
The Farm Pond Circle development is fairly stringent. Current deed restrictions limit the size of each housing unit to 2600 sq ft, vinyl or aluminum siding isn’t allowed, and only very specific subsections of the lots can be developed. Buyers aren’t limited to green energy, but there is a strong push in that direction. Also, at least four of the lots are earmarked for affordable housing (single-family or duplexes, buyers muse make less than 80% of median county income of $53k)). The affordable units, at least two of which have already been built, are being developed in partnership with Jack Jensen’s non-profit, Community Building Works!.
4. It’s back again. The county’s Old Library committee will be meeting next Friday the 3rd at 9 AM in the legislature chambers. The goal of this meeting will be to review the formal proposals received for the Old Library site, which is likely the same four remaining from the RFEI, but in theory it could one or a hundred. Whereas the RFEI submissions were general, the proposals get into the nitty-gritty – site plan, architectural details, funding, time frame, proponents, all of it. Expect revisions to the previous four designs as a result of commentary from the public and legislators.
Since most folks can’t make Friday meetings, if anyone has general comments, conflicts or concerns about the proposals, I’ll just leave the committee’s contact info here: Legislature@tompkins-co.org. Use “Old Library” as the subject.