DiBella’s Construction Update, 7/2016

20 07 2016

I get a lot of questions about this one, probably because it’s in such a highly visible location. DiBella’s has made pretty good progress on their new 3,400 SF shop just north of the Ithaca Shopping Plaza on Route 13. The new building has been framed out and sheathed; the dark yellow coating is a spray foam used under brick to provide insulation, and create a protective barrier between the water-absorbing brick, and the layers underneath. The spray foam was also used for the Griffin Building (Simeon’s) reconstruction. Door and window fittings, brick-laying and exterior details will follow.

The inside still needs to be roughed out, it’s just the exposed frame at this point. But A&E Construction has made pretty quick work of it so far, and the dry spring and early summer have been useful from a construction standpoint. Things look to be on schedule for a late fall opening.
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Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 7/2016

19 07 2016

Things are moving along steadily at the Collegetown Terrace site off East State Street. Building 7  snakes it way through the site, with work progressing from west to east. Furthest east, the concrete for the parking area is still being poured and cured.

A little further west towards the middle, the enclosed and finished parking area gives way to steel interior stud walls and unsheathed plywood, with only the lower floors in the middle section, but the steel stud walls and plywood have been built to the full height of the building (fully framed up) in the westernmost part.

The frame of a new skybridge has been installed between buildings 5 and 7, connecting near the elevator shaft/stairwell. Some Paradigm windows have already been fitted into the exterior. Eventually, the exterior will be sheathed, and then the exterior facade materials can be applied. It would honestly not be a surprise if the whole building is fully framed before the first snow flies.

Welliver‘s the general contractor for Novarr-Mackesey’s 247-unit project.
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Cayuga Meadows Construction Update, 7/2016

18 07 2016

Safe to say this is under construction. Work has commenced on Conifer LLC’s Cayuga Meadows affordable senior housing project on West Hill.

Cayuga Meadows is a 3-story, 58,500 SF apartment building with 68 units, 59 1-bedroom and 9 2-bedroom. The units will be available to individuals aged 55 and older, with incomes 60% or less or the Area Median Income (AMI). AMI in Tompkins County is about $53,000 per household, so a qualifying senior household would have an annual income of $31,800 or less. 7 units will be accessible to mobility-impaired individuals, and 3 units will be designed to accommodate hearing or visually-impaired occupants. Included in the plans are two covered patios, a community garden, and stormwater, lighting and landscaping improvements. 67 parking spaces will be paved behind the building.

The history of Cayuga Meadows goes back a few years, and has its share of twists. Originally, the project had been conceived as “Conifer West Hill” in 2009 as a component to a Cornell-led mixed-use development on about 36 acres of land across from Cayuga Medical Center. Rochester-based Conifer’s part in the plan has always been the same – affordable housing for seniors. But Cornell had other plans for the rest of the acreage.

In Spring 2010, there were three different site plans being floated – the consistent components were Conifer’s project, a 68-bed assisted living facility called “Terrace at Ithaca”, medical office space, small-scale retail, 106 park-and-ride spaces, and 4,000 SF for a farmer’s market. Depending on the plan, there were townhomes, a hotel school conference center, or other institutional space for Cornell. Mixed-use, definitely, but the plans weren’t that walkable, traditional neighborhood feel that the town is looking for these days – in fact, they were fairly conventional suburban sprawl. Cornell’s approach to planning was different in the late 2000s. By good fortune, Ithaca Builds locally hosted a copy of those site plans here.

For a combination of reasons (financial feasibility, changing priorities), Cornell ended up shelving its plans. However, it would be incorrect to say the university isn’t still interested in the site – they recently bought the house at 1250 Trumansburg Road, whose property had been awkwardly carved out of the rest of the site in a subdivision long ago. In the 2010 plans, Cornell had to plan around the house, not to mention worry about the occupants complaining about Cornell’s plans. So when it came on the market and sat for a couple months, the Big Red decided to pick it up in June for $157,000, probably on the belief that it could pay off through easier site planning and development down the line.

While Cornell filed away their plans, Conifer continued with theirs since the university was still willing to give them land as long as they built affordable housing. Originally, it was conceived as 72 units when it first received preliminary approval in April 2012, but was trimmed to 68 when final approval was granted in November 2013, in order to make the project a little less expensive, and provide a little more space to the community garden. Between preliminary and final approval, Conifer also had to apply for rezoning (Medium-Density Residential to Multiple Residence in May 2012), zoning variances (June 2012, for height and building setbacks), and public works approval for utilities services to be installed.

Then came another few years’ wait while financing was being secured. As covered on the Voice, affordable housing grants are very competitive, so it often takes multiple rounds of applications before a project is finally given grant money. In Conifer’s case, the last piece of the puzzle, tax-exempt bonds, didn’t come through until late January 2016. Cayuga Meadows is a $14.9 million project – about $8.3 million comes from NYS Housing Finance Agency bonds, and another $6.3 million from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. First Niagara Bank provided the Letter of Credit for the bonds. The project will pay taxes.

With the funding in hand, Cornell and Conifer formally agreed to a subdivision of Cornell’s land – 4.9 acres for the senior housing, and another acre for the Right-Of-Way for the new road. Cornell and Conifer had to agree on a few choices for new road names, which they submitted to Ithaca’s Codes Enforcement Director (Bruce Bates), who checks with the county to make sure there are no issues with the choices, and then the three parties agree on a final selection. Cayuga Meadows’ address will be “108 Aster Lane”.

There’s yet to be a color render hosted online, but the exterior will use fiber cement siding – Certainteed “Savannah Wicker” Dutch Lap Siding and “Cypress Spruce” cedar-like shingle siding. For the sake of examples, the Belle Sherman Cottages and Stone Quarry Apartments have also used Savannah Wicker fiber cement. The roof will be Timberline “Weathered Wood” shingles.

At the project site right now, work is underway on the foundation. The building’s footprint has been cleared, the foundation is excavated, and footers are poured for where the concrete will transfer the weight into the ground. Wooden forms are built along the perimeter for the stem walls, rebar is laid for reinforcement of the concrete, and the concrete is poured and left to harden (cured). Once the concrete has had a chance to harden, the forms are lifted off and work moves onto the next section. The building will be a slab-on-grade foundation, so no worries about excavating a basement here.

As a side note, it seems fitting that the residents with east-facing windows will have some pretty fantastic views of Cornell.

Through a joint venture with Conifer, LeChase Construction of Rochester will be serving as general contractor. The excavating has been subcontracted out to Neally-DeJong Excavating of Corning, and concrete work to Architectural Concrete Plus of Dundee (Yates County, northwest of Watkins Glen). Thanks to “Drill Deep” for the clarification.

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St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center Construction Update, 7/2016

6 07 2016

This one’s a little tough to swing since it’s a jaunt from most of the other construction projects underway, but the drive over was worth the effort. St. Catherine of Siena Church in Northeast Ithaca is progressing with work on its new Parish Center.

The 8,878 SF, one-story building, vaguely in the shape of a cross, is being built to replace the existing one-story, 10,273 SF parish center, which was built in 1963 and designed by local architect Victor Bagnardi. Bagnardi also did Trinity Lutheran on Honness Lane, and the old county library a couple of years later. At over fifty years of age, with alterations, outdated interior layouts and with many of its mechanical and utility systems worn out and in need of replacement, the church opted to build a new structure rather than renovate the existing building. The centerpiece of the site, the 1961 church, was renovated in the late 2000s.

Plans originally approved in summer 2015 called for a 10,811 SF building with roughly the same overall shape and appearance as the building underway. However, that plan was trimmed down as a result of rising construction costs. An earlier plan by Ithaca architect Pamela Kingsbury was also shelved for similar reasons.

The project is expected to cost in the range of $3-$3.5 million, all of which must come from church funds and philanthropy. The Diocese of Rochester does allow bridge loans, but it does not allow any parish in its jurisdiction to carry long-term debt. A similar debt-free approach is also in place for the Al-Huda mosque planned on Graham Road in Lansing. Along with donations, St. Catherine of Siena used funds from a late pastor’s bequest, sale of land near its entrance, and leftover funds from previous budgets and campaigns to bring the construction project to fruition.

At this point, the foundation has been formed, poured and back-filled. Subsurface (under-slab) utilities, such as plumbing and electrical, have been laid for the new building. Framing should commence shortly.

Plans call for a late 2016 opening. Once the new parish center is occupied, the old parish center will be taken down and its footprint converted into new parking spaces to replace those lost to the construction of the new facility. The new center will be physically connected to the church, directly to the church’s west by about 40 feet.

Richard McElhiney Architects of New York City is the project architect. Local firms T.G. Miller PC (surveying/engineering work), Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects (landscaping), and TAITEM Engineering PC (rooftop solar panels) are also playing a role in the buildout.

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Village Solars Construction Update, 6/2016

22 06 2016

For being such a large project, the Village Solars apartments in the town of Lansing tend to slip by unnoticed. Work on Phase 2 is wrapping up, and work has already begun on Phase 3, with what looks like excavation work for the foundation of Building “I”. A rolling stone gathers no moss, I guess. “I” will be an 18-unit apartment building similar in design to Building “G/H”, the building in the fourth photo, and currently the largest individual apartment building in the complex.

Building “D” is essentially complete and has been available for occupancy since May. Building “G/H”, which is just finishing up any remaining interior finishes and exterior trim, will be ready for occupancy this month. Building “E”, which is still attaching exterior trim and finishes, as well as interior work, will be ready for its tenants by about July 15th. If past work is any indicator, “I” will be ready for occupancy sometime next spring. No word on Phase 2A and Building “F”, but it’s a good bet 18-unit Building “J”, the other half of Phase 3, will commence excavation once “G/H” and/or “E” are complete.

With the completion of Phase 2 this summer, The Village Solars additions will have resulted in 77 new housing units since they began construction in 2014. Rents on the units are ranging from $850+/month for a one-bedroom, $1235+/month for a 2-bedroom and $1600-$1650/month for a 3-bedroom unit.

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205 Dryden Road (Dryden South) Construction Update, 6/2016

21 06 2016

With occupancy expected by August, the trio of Collegetown midrises are moving at a pretty fast clip. 205 Dryden (Dryden South) has topped out, and construction crews are installing exterior steel stud walls and building out the structural frames for the projecting bay windows. Some light-colored brick can be seen on the pillars at the front entrance, and eventually it’ll expand to cover the front elevation, with limestone accents providing some visual interest. The interior light well seen from College and Dryden and the roof cap will be faced with colored metal panels in a shade similar to the limestone and brick. These photos are a week and a half old at this point, and since they were taken, the exterior stud walls have been sheathed with gypsum panels and Tyvek.

The building will have 10 4-bedroom suites, and according to the website, only one suite is left (5th floor, $1350/person), with rooms “for singles and small groups also available”.

A quick side note here – although the address when proposed was 205 Dryden, the address being used in the marketing materials is 207 Dryden. Either one is permitted, as the new Breazzano Center going up next door is 209-215 Dryden.

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307 College Avenue (Collegetown Crossing) Construction Update, 6/2016

20 06 2016

307 College isn’t too far from completion at this point. The angles where with CMU dominates the exterior look nearly finished from the outside. Some of the windows are in on the front side – the projecting section, currently covered in Tyvek housewrap, will be mostly faced with dark brick, similar to the brick used on the rear CR-4 portion. The bare expanses will be a glass curtain wall, and a lighter brick will be used on the sides and for the cornice. Traditional scaffolding needs a certain amount of space and time to be set up and taken down, so given the dense environment and summer deadline of the Collegetown Crossing project, mast climbing work platforms are used being for the bricklaying and other exterior facade work.

Greenstar’s new grocery location on the first floor should be opening August 17th, right around when the first tenants start moving into the apartments. It sounds like it will be a soft opening, with an actual Grand Opening celebration planned for some date in September. A render of the interior of the new Greenstar location, designed by architect Pam Wooster, is included below. Greenstar plans to employ 14 at the new location, and include a cafe/to-go space to complement its full-service grocery (some of the items, like those in the deli, won’t be prepared on site due to space constraints; they will be prepared at their central kitchen and brought in daily). There hasn’t been any news on tenants for the smaller two commercial spaces facing the pocket park.

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