Klarman Hall Construction Update, 2/2015

17 02 2015

Time to take another look at Cornell’s Klarman Hall for a progress report. It was low 50s F when I stopped by in late December and I thought that was pretty awesome. I completely and totally regret saying anything and will next time reserve to complaining about how cold it is, in an effort to spite Mother Nature.

Anyway, construction firm Welliver has been busy craning the new steel atrium trusses into place, with at least four installed when these photos were taken the weekend before last. My laymen’s mind would call the shape almond-like or a pinched oval, but wikipedia tells me the proper terms are “vesica piscis” or “mandorla”, both of which sound like alien species doing battle with Captain Kirk. One of the site cranes has completed its work and has been removed, while the other will stay in place until all the structural steel has been erected. On the lower floors, fireproofing, mechanical and electrical rough-in (plumbing and wiring) is underway, while concrete pouring is taking place in parts of the upper levels. Some of this work would be visible from the fences, were it not for the plastic sheeting put up to keep the frigid winds at bay.

Over the month of February, construction schedules indicate that fireproofing will wrap up on the south side of the ground level, leading the way for sheetrock installation and exterior and interior wall framing. At the same time, fireproofing will begin on the north side of the ground level, and concrete will continue to be poured for the auditorium space and upper levels.

The 33,250 sq ft building was designed by Koetter | Kim & Associates, and is due to open in December 2015. Construction cost is estimated at $61 million.

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Belle Sherman Cottages Construction Update, 2/2015

16 02 2015

It feels a little surreal to be walking down Walnut Street (fun fact, there was originally a Walnut Street plated for Ithaca’s West Hill in the mid-1800s) and have it fulled out with homes on either side. Yet that is indeed the case. It’ll be easier at this point to count what’s not yet built in the Belle Sherman Cottages development – the townhouses (10 total, 5 due to start this Spring and 5 yet to be marketed), the new cottage design for the not-yet-marketed lot 9, and lots 10, 12 and 13, which are sold and probably awaiting the arrival of warming weather before the foundations are excavated, poured and CMU block is laid. Heck, they might already be poured, but hidden under several inches of snow. So 15 of the 19 houses are built, with a couple of those, like lot 17, undergoing interior finishing and still in need of a little porch/column paint work before being turned over to their new owners. If you’re interested in learning more about the construction process, there’s a little more info in my previous post here, and on Ithaca Builds here.

Every couple of weeks, another sale shows up in the county property records, typically in the range of the low 300s to low 400s. Formal sale isn’t happening until a house is move-in ready (I suspect that while underway, a “sold” lot is actually reserved with a down payment), so following the county’s record of transactions is a useful indicator of progress. According to the Belle Sherman Cottages facebook page, Skaneateles-based Agora Homes and Development intends on completing the 29-unit development in 2015.

Veering into editorial territory here, I’ll admit that I was pessimistic about the project early on, thinking it was too much money for what was provided. But in retrospect, I think this is the right type of single-family housing for more suburban parcels, such as other sites in Ithaca town near the city line. Much of the zoning locally is designed to favor of large lots and large price tags. I wouldn’t call these affordable by any stretch, but they’re somewhat closer to the median value than most other single-family homes going up. Being this close to Cornell also adds a premium on their price tags; perhaps on a site in South Lansing or South Hill, they’d be somewhat less expensive. They’re a good (better?) alternative to the sprawling cul-de-sacs that seem to be the norm for housing developments in suburban Tompkins County. I think that, in the same vein of this project, though with more of a “green” sheen, the Amabel site in southwest Ithaca will be the next single-family development worth watching.

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Lofts @ Six Mile Creek Construction Update, 2/2015

13 02 2015

Even during these chilly days, work continues inside the Lofts @ Six Mile Creek apartment building in downtown Ithaca. Walking up to the building, the first thing that sticks out is that the building looks like it’s trapped in a bubble. The plastic sheeting is there for the simple reason of it’s winter in Ithaca, and its effing cold. The plastic keeps some of the sting of the wind away, and also seems to be convenient as a drawing surface. The plywood covers holes where doors will lead out to exterior balconies. Lower floors will have Juliet balconies, while upper floors and some lower-level side units will have full balconies.

A closer look shows that the first two floors do in fact have bands of Pella windows installed, separated with bands of sheathing that will eventually be covered by the exterior finishing material. According to the project’s facebook page, interior wall construction for the apartment units is currently underway. Plumbing, most electrical rough-in and fireproofing are complete, the metal frames of the apartment walls already erected; now comes hanging sheet-rock, flooring and ceiling finishes. Apartments will consist of studios, 1-bedroom units and 2-bedroom units, with some of the studios and 1 bedroom units having bonus rooms. Square footage per unit will range from 555 to 1202 sq ft. The facebook page notes that tentative rents will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

The 7-story, 49,244 square foot building will contain 45 rental apartment units. The building is being developed by Cincinnati-based Bloomfield/Schon + Partners, with construction by Turnbull-Wahlert Construction. Completion of the apartments is expected during the second quarter (April-June) of this year, wrapping up the last phase of a 15-year project.

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Village Solars Apartments Construction Update, 2/2015

11 02 2015

The first three apartment buildings of the Village Solars apartment project in Lansing are fully framed, sheathed (I’m assuming the red panels are sheathing material), roofed, and windows and doors have been installed in most locations. The light-colored material might be a breathable wrap for weather/moisture resistance. It will be a little while before exterior finishes are applied and balconies are installed. When I visited last Saturday, the site was buzzing with the sounds of construction workers busy with tasks inside (probably rough-ins for things like plumbing and electrical), and ’80s hair metal streaming from a radio somewhere from within. Nothing like installing pipes while rocking out to Twisted Sister.

The Village Solars get their name from what the craigslist sales pitch calls “their passive solar design and energy saving features”. As far as I’m aware, they won’t have solar panels. According to Thomas Bobnick, the rental agent for the apartments, the first phase shown here will consist of 36 units (the final buildout will be close to 300 units). The design of the complex calls for at least eight, maybe ten buildings to surround a new pond that will be dug out of the undeveloped middle of the property – the advertisements call it “waterfront”, which it is, technically.

From the craigslist advertisements, one-bedroom units will rent for $1050-$1145 and be ready for occupancy by June 1st, two-bedroom units will rent for $1235-$1369 and be ready for tenants on May 1st, and three-bedroom units will rent for $1565-$1600 and be available on June 1st. These dates are pushed back a little from initial plans, which called for March and April occupancy; no doubt the severe winter has complicated the schedule. Looking at the photos, the two buildings under construction on the west and east ends look to be one style (balconies in the middle), while the center building is a different layout and design (end balconies). The price range for the two bedrooms is a little above the average two-bedroom unit in Ithaca ($1,165), but after accounting for the premium on new construction, the developer seems to be pricing for the middle tier of the market.

The Village Solars are being developed by local company Lifestyle Properties. Lifestyle is run by Steve Lucente of the Lucente family, who have been major builder/developers in Ithaca since the 1950s. No one word on the architect. Upstate Contractors of Syracuse appears to be handling the construction work.

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Ithaca Marriott Construction Update, 2/2015

10 02 2015

The land for the new Ithaca Marriott exchanged hands on January 13th, the groundbreaking ceremony was January 22nd. With those events filed away, there appears to be some real site prep going on at the site, located at the intersection of E. State and S. Aurora Streets. The site has very clearly been disturbed, although last Saturday appeared to be a day off for the construction workers. The sidewalk on S. Aurora Street is closed, and excavators and dump trucks are ready and waiting. The first major step in this project will be to clear the asphalt and soil on site and dig deep enough to enable foundation work to take place. Expect that work to take place for the rest of the winter and into the spring.

The $32 million, 10-story, 159-room hotel is slated for an opening in Q3 of 2016 (July-September). This is pushed back from the previously given date of Spring 2016. While this new date misses the lucrative graduation season, it will still be able to take advantage of the summer crowds and back-to-school visitors, if all goes to plan (and we’ll see if it does). The new date also places the opening of the Marriott a couple of months behind the opening of the new 123-room Canopy Hilton a couple blocks away. With 282 more hotel rooms downtown, businesses that cater to tourists and other travelers will welcome the boost in business. Who knows, perhaps the Commons will finally be done with reconstruction by then.

According to a press release from developer Urgo Hotels (or the Ithaca Journal paraphrase), the hotel will include a fitness center, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and 3,000 sq ft of meeting space. While the hotel is underway, some details are still being ironed out – the hotel signage (which requires a zoning variance) was derided as too generic and bright, and Urgo Hotels withdrew the proposed design. Urgo has a year or so to figure out what kind of signage they and Marriott would like to install, and don’t expect any delays just because of signage.

The hotel has been designed by Atlanta-based Cooper Carry Architecture and development is a joint venture of Urgo Hotels of Bethesda and Ensemble Hotel Partners, a division of Ensemble Investments. Urgo’s portfolio includes at least 32 other hotels totaling 4,500 hotel rooms. Interior design will be handled by Design Continuum, W.H. Lane of Binghamton is the general contractor, and Rimland Development contributed the land to the joint venture and is a partner. Long Island-based Rimland was the original firm that pitched the project in 2008 as the “Hotel Ithaca”, before the old Holiday Inn downtown went independent.

Off the record, have we settled that it’s 159 rooms and not 160? Because this is confusing me to no end.

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Carey Building Construction Update, 2/2015

9 02 2015

I was originally going to schedule this for later in the week, but I figure I’ll run it now, since the recent twitter chatter is observant but mistaken. The Canopy Hotel is not under construction. At least, not yet. The hotel is expected to start in early Spring. But the work on the Carey Building addition is just beginning.

According to Jason Henderson at Ithaca Builds, building contractor LeChase Construction is currently conducting underpinning work on the Carey Building. Underpinning is the name of the process by which a foundation is strengthened – certainly necessary when one is about to add five floors onto a 2-story building. The second to last photo here shows some of the underpinning work on the eastern foundation wall, and the tarp is on the roof indicates prep-work for the upcoming expansion. LeChase will also be handling the construction of the Canopy Hotel next door.

It’s quite unusual in a place like Ithaca to have two separate large projects right next to each other under construction at the same time. This will be logistically complicated. In a letter to the Canopy developers, LeChase’s large trucks will have their brakes inspected before entering State Street, and will be escorted down the hill to a designated area on Seneca Street, and will leave the city via Seneca Street. According to construction phase diagrams, The steel for the Carey Building will be erected first; then, using the same crane, LeChase will begin installing steel for the new hotel. Sharing the crane will result in a cost savings to both owners.

When most of the western side of the hotel has had its steel structure craned into place, LeChase will transition to a smaller crane and switch the material unloading and staging area to East State Street. This is because the hotel occupies most of the site, so the crane is reduced and East State street will be closer to the location of the new crane. Cladding and interior materials will continue to be fed in via E. State Street through the project’s completion in Spring 2016. The Carey Building will have been completed by then, finishing by the end of summer 2015.

The Carey Building addition will add a third floor and 4,200 sq ft to the Rev business incubator (nearly doubling it to 8,700 sq ft), and on floors 4-7, there will be 20 apartments. Floors 4 and 5 will have 16 studio apartment units that average only 400-500 sq ft, their small size enabling them to be rented at a lower price. The 4 units on floors 6 and 7 will be larger 2-bedroom units. The $4.1 million project is being developed by local firm Travis Hyde Companies.

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Cornell Construction Updates, 12/2014

6 01 2015

Funny How the November photos are snow-covered, and the December photos were taken when the temperature was in the low 50s F. Work continues on the future Klarman Hall, pushing onward to its intended opening in December 2015. Construction firm Welliver is plodding making slow if steady progress, with steel work and metal decking underway above ground, and utility installation and door framing in the basement. Some interior and exterior wall framing has begun on the basement, ground and first floors. The 33,250 sq ft building was designed by Koetter | Kim & Associates.

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On the other side of campus, renovation work continues on Stocking Hall, the home of the food science department. The porous concrete in front of the new wing didn’t fare as well as hoped, and is being replaced. In the old building, installation of new, energy-efficient windows is underway, and should be completed in the near-term. Interior work continues as labs and academic spaces are fitted out, and the old building and new building connectors have been sealed from the element, making them water-tight. The work will wrap up this summer, weather and schedule permitting; the two-phase renovation was launched in September 2010, and the new wing (phase one) opened in July 2013. The 136,000 sq ft rebuild and renovation is nearly a year behind schedule. Contracting is being taken care of by the Syracuse office of The Pike Company, and the design of the new building is a product of a SUNY Construction Fund favorite, Mitchell Giurgola Architects of New York City.

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