Gannett Health Center Construction Update, 5/2016

29 05 2016

Work on the exterior of the new wing of the Gannett Health Center is in the final stretch. The bluestone veneer is being attached, and the rails (also called “continuous anchors“) are on for the limestone veneer. It looks like insulation panels are still being installed on the upper levels of the west stairwell. When the insulation is attached, the rails are screwed on, the limestone panels are slid into place, and then they’re mortared or caulked into place with silicone.

Most of the work has shifted towards the completion of rough-ins and interior finishing, and the new wing should open for occupancy sometime later this summer (July/August). All operations will shift over into the new wing so that the next phase, renovation of the existing wings, can begin in earnest. The whole $55 million project will wrap up by October 2017.
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Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 5/2016

25 05 2016

From Tower Road, it doesn’t appear a whole lot has changed since the last construction update in March. Work has shifted away from new construction somewhat, and towards the demolition of underused academic space to make way for the rest of the Vet School reconfiguration and expansion. The reinforced concrete frame of the new library and dean’s wing has advanced a bit, and new curtain wall glazing appears to be going in on the Vert Research Tower. The project is a bit disjointed because of the needs of academic space and surging at various times of the year.

Thanks to the kindness of a woman in blue scrubs, I was able to enter the building. While trying to find a good angle of the new demolition (couldn’t, but there’s a photo on the Vet School website here), I stumbled upon a model and timeline of the project, pictures below. According to the timeline here, the project completion is January 2018, not June 2017 as reported on the website. Dunno which one is more accurate. The model does a great job illustrating the full breadth of the project in relation to the rest of the vet school complex.

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Looking east from Tower Avenue. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking east from Tower Avenue. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking west from new courtyard. Rendering property of Cornell.

Looking west from new courtyard. Rendering property of Cornell.





Holiday Inn Express Construction Update, 5/2016

25 05 2016

The new Holiday Inn Express at 371 Elmira Road seems to be coming along fairly quickly. Framing was completed a few weeks ago, and at this point most of the windows have been fitted. For those concerned that this is going to be a battleship grey eyesore, fear not. The plywood will be covered with varying colors of an Exterior Insulated Finishing System (EIFS, a synthetic stucco) and stone veneer. The grey is most likely a moisture barrier. Drainage cavities are then built over the barrier to allow water that has penetrated the surface to exit the wall without wrecking it (a big problem with early EIFS systems).

When finished, the hotel should look a lot like this one, with some minor design differences and an updated color scheme:

The project is being financed with a $5.98 million loan from S&T Bank, a regional bank in Western Pennsylvania, and Eastern Hospitality Advisors, a Buffalo contractor specializing in hotel construction, is managing the build-out.

The 4-story, 79-room hotel is expected to open late this summer.

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Boiceville Cottages Construction Update, 5/2016

24 05 2016

The Boiceville Cottages are nearly complete. All of the cottages have been framed and sheathed. A set of teal-trimmed cottages are being stucco’d and are having their roofs shingled, but most of the other cottages, including a set of canary yellow-trimmed homes that had only just been sheathed in March, are nearly done (with interior finishing being the only major work left) or are already occupied.

Check out the “easter eggs” – drawings in between some of the decorative half-timbers, and builder Bruno Schickel’s personalized sidewalk slab.

The 140-unit project will finish up this summer, and after that Schickel will be turning his attentions to building out the late Jack Jensen’s Farm Pond Circle project in Lansing. For those who want to visit, the cottages are on Boiceville Road just west of Slaterville Springs.

Searching “Boiceville” in the search box on the right will give you about three years of construction updates (April 2013 looks like the first). It has been a long build-out, but there’s no other project quite like it.

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DiBella’s Construction Update, 5/2016

24 05 2016

One restaurant opens, another is just getting underway. NYC-based Marx Realty, operating as Ithaca Joint Ventures LLC, is finally starting work on the DiBella’s pad building long-planned for the Ithaca Shopping Plaza off Old Elmira Road.

DiBella’s first started planning for an Ithaca location back in November 2014. After a few design iterations, the project was approved by the Planning Board and BZA late last summer. The restaurant replaces what was previously part of the shopping center’s parking lot.

The exterior will be similar to DiBella’s other recent stand-alone restaurant locations – CMU faced with brick and stone veneer, decorative sconces (light fixtures), and a “patina green” patio roof. The size of the building will be about 3,400 square feet, which is typical for the Rochester-based sandwich chain. The interior will be designed with a 1930s/1940s era theme, also standard for the DiBella’s chain. Along with the building comes a revised parking arrangement for 35 cars, bike racks, signage, landscaping and a modest patio area. Early Site Plan Review documents estimate the project cost at $600,000.

As for the construction images, it looks like the foundation’s sub-base is being prepared for the foundation slab. This is going to be concrete slab-on-grade, no basement. The sub-base will give a uniform base from which to build upon, and helps to compact the soil, making it less likely to undergo excessive settling. The soils down in the flats are notoriously difficult to build on, because they are very soft and compressible – the shopping plaza, which was originally built in the 1950s, has had some mild settling issues. I don’t see anything to confirm it, and someone knowledgeable feel free to chime in, but it would seem removal and replacement of existing fill is likely to approach used here, similar to the Texas Roadhouse project. The drum roller in the last photo supports that idea. The turquoise pipes are water-sewer pipes.

The FEAF estimates a seven month construction period, so a late fall opening isn’t out of the question. DiBella’s expect to employ about 25.

A&E Construction of suburban Philadelphia is the project contractor, and the building was designed by Ithaca architect Jason K. Demarest.

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News Tidbits 4/30/16: Sticking to the Plan

30 04 2016

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1. So, let’s start off with the bad news. Chapter House might not be happening. Josh Brokaw at the Ithaca Times had the scoop, though not for a lack of trying on the Voice’s part – rumors had arrived in the inbox well before the Collegetown construction roundup article. I’ve reached out to Jerry Dietz, the building manager for the Chapter House project, four times over the past couple of weeks, without response. One of those was an in-person visit that went un-received. My Voice editor and colleague Jolene Almendarez has also been trying to do her share of contacting relevant parties, to no avail.

Anyway, personal discontent aside, The co-proprietor of the Chapter House (and the only one willing to say anything on record) says that he believes a sale of the 400-404 Stewart Avenue property is imminent, with the potential buyer being the next door neighbor of the also-destroyed 406 Stewart Avenue. The claim is that a more cost-efficient plan would be put forth, which could eliminate the Chapter House from its plans.

One thing to keep in mind is that the property is on the edge of the East Hill historic district – the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission can control just about every aspect of the exterior, but they don’t have say over use any more than zoning permits. They can stipulate the extra expense of appropriate material and image, but they can’t stipulate a bar (and a lot of commission members would be uncomfortable with that anyway). Dunno how much the insurance money was, but the finances just may not work. It would be unfortunate, but as they do in golf, they’ll play the ball where it lies.

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2. Noting, briefly. Evan Monkemeyer, the developer behind the cancelled College Crossing project, might be partnering with another developer to create and put forward a plan for the corner of Route 96 and East King Road. This is according to the town of Ithaca’s planning staff. Monkemeyer has not hidden his discontent after his suburban-style mixed-use project became the subject of heavy debate because the site plan, originally approved in 2007, no longer meshed with the town’s interests, which had evolved to more New Urbanist formats put forth by the 2014 Comprehensive Plan and the Form Ithaca charrettes. Monkemeyer owns about 64 acres on the northeast side of the intersection, and more than 15 acres as part of Springwood on the southeast side of the corner. In other words, virtually all the divvied up land and conceptual buildings on the lower right side of the charrette image. This could be something to keep in eye on over the coming months.

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3. Here’s the latest iteration of the Maplewood Park site plan. A lot of changes from the previous version. To sum up the changes, the apartment buildings, 3-4 stories, have been pulled back from existing homes, the townhouses and stacked flats have are more centralized and closely clustered, and mixed-use retail/apartment planned for the city is now in the town, all the city has in its portion is green space and perhaps a small service area/ bus shelter.

Also note the secondary road that terminates right at the edge of the Maple Hill property. Chances are very good that would feed into a phase II that redevelops the Maple Hill property.

The large parking lot in the southeast corner doesn’t seem to jive with the rest of the plan, previous versions had the parking more dispersed. Since Cornell has an idea of the number of residents it wants for the project to be feasible to build and affordable on grad student stipends (850-975, centering around 925 beds in 500 units), if housing is decreased in one part of the parcel, they’re going to have their development team make up for it somewhere else. One of the bigger points of contention seems to be Cornell trying to avoid drawing traffic in by keeping larger buildings further out, while neighbors from various angles try and push the units as far away from them as possible.

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Maplewood has a website up sharing meeting notes and presentation materials here. Future meeting information will also be posted to the Maplewood website. The project will be filling out an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) not unlike Chain Works, because of the project size and potential for adverse impacts (and therefore the need for proper mitigation before plans can be approved). The scoping document for the EIS, which is an outline that says what will be written about where, is on the town’s website here.

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Just for the record, the print version of a recent Maplewood write-up on the Times claimed to have a quote from me. It was not. The online version of the piece has the corrections. The quote wasn’t even something I would say, because I don’t think Cornell attempting to house a greater number of its graduate and professional students is an “unsustainable development goal”. Quite the opposite, it’s crucial they do that to relieve some of the pressure on the rest of the local housing market.

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4. Looks like some of the IURA’s recommended funding Action Plan is out. Habitat for Humanity gets the full $75,000 request, as does INHS with the $100,000 requested for their new single-family build at 304 Hector Street. Most of the 202 Hancock project, the seven for-sale townhouses, was recommended for funding – $530,000 of $567,000, ~93.5% of the request.

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5. At the Common Council meeting next Wednesday, the city is set to vote on reducing the fall-zone radius for cell phone towers, from double the tower’s height (200% of tower height), to 120% of the tower’s height. The move will potentially allow an iteration of Modern Living Rentals’s 815 South Aurora project to move forward with further planning and review. The 87-unit project was planned on the assumption of 100% tower height plus ten feet, so in the case of the 170-foot South Hill cell tower in question, the law would call for a 204 ft. radius, not 180 ft. as the developer hoped. But still, it’s a lot less than the 340 ft. it currently is. The developer may seek a smaller project, build taller, a greatly-revised footprint, or other options. We’ll see how it plays out.

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5. House of the week. Back in March, it wasn’t certain whether 201 West Clinton’s “sawn-and-batten wood” would be left unpainted, or painted yellow. Looks like the former is correct, based on the east face of the 1-bedroom carriage house. The ZIP panels were still exposed on the other faces when I shot these photos, but based off what could be seen through the windows, interior work is progressing nicely, and the garage door has been attached. Local architect Zac Boggs and partner Isabel Fernรกndez are building the 520 SF addition atop an existing 1960s garage.

 





Ithaca Marriott Construction Update, 4/2016

29 04 2016

Just clearing out the photo stash. An interview with Marriott contractor Mark Lane of W. H. Lane Inc. can be found on the Voice here.

Also, in the first photo, that’s probably the third-ugliest BMW in the world.

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