Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 9/2016

29 09 2016

Novarr-Mackesey‘s curvilinear Collegetown Terrace is one of those projects that’s so big, we can seep multiple steps of the construction process at once. In general, the further west one goes, the further along the building is. On the east end, the stairwell and elevator shaft stand high above the framing underway. Steel exterior stud walls are being sheathed with plywood with rough openings for windows. Some of the interior steel stud wall framing can be seen as well. In the next section further west, the framing and sheathing are further along, but still a few floors short of the stairwell/shaft. Some structural steel, which separates groups of units, is present as well. The westernmost third is fully framed and mostly sheathed, enough that the maroon-colored waterproof barrier has been applied to the plywood in most places, and windows have been fitted into many of the rough openings.

Continuing west, we come across the “fish scales” – yes, for better or worse, they’re going on Building 7, likely topped by the aluminum metal walls previously seen in Phase II. The side facing thr gorge has the same linear earth-tone facade that is present on Building 5. The westernmost end of the building is not a little further behind, possibly for ease of materials transport, or because of different architectural details that they have yet to bring to the site (based on the rough openings and the sheathed steel, both are plausible). It looks like the southwest corner will host a glass curtain wall section setback from the primary walls, based off of the steel framing.  An early render suggests the common spaces will be clustered along the west end of Building 7. Note that parking will be on the lowermost two floors, with dorm style units on the third floor, and regular apartment units on the upper three floors. The wood forms next to the western stairwell/shaft look to be for a new concrete staircase that will run alongside the west wall.

Montour Falls-based Welliver is in charge of the build-out, and CTT7 should be complete and ready for occupancy by August 2017. Princeton’s ikon.5 Architects are the building designers, and Baltimore’s Floura Teeter the landscape architect. Big league commercial real estate financial lender Walter & Dunlop Inc. provided the $70 million bridge loan.

A quick google search turns up a surprising number of AirBnB hits.

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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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Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 5/2016

31 05 2016

Just like in March, there are really two sets of photos here. The first set contains photos that I’ve taken from outside the fence. The second set of photos are from inside the fence, and come courtesy of Nick Robertson and Jocelyn Garrison at Welliver, the general contractor in charge of the project, and a big thanks goes out to them for taking and sharing photos from inside the fence.

The erection of the steel frame has started on the westernmost portion of the building, and corrugated decking is being attached to each level. Work on the building is generally progressing from west to east, and  the sheer length of the building allows the western sections to be quite a bit further along than the eastern sections, where foundation walls are still being formed. The reinforced concrete sections visible in the last of the Welliver photos is where the parking garage will go; readers might remember that Novarr sought and received a zoning variance to remove a floor of parking space and turn it into less expensive dorm-style housing, citing the lack of utilization of existing parking, and a desire to appeal to a larger segment of the rental market.

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Set two:

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Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 3/2016

26 03 2016

So there are really two sets of photos here. The first set contains photos that I’ve taken from outside the fence. The second set of photos are from inside the fence, and come courtesy of Nick Robertson and Jocelyn Garrison at Welliver, the general contractor in charge of the project. Their photos are much more visually telling than mine, and a big thanks goes out to them both.

Currently, work is focusing on drilling piles, and forming and pouring the foundation walls. In some sections, foundation walls are being formed. Concrete pours as liquid and dries into a hard solid; forms are a solid barrier (typically wood or durable plastic) that simply forces the concrete to dry in the shape it’s supposed to. After the concrete has been poured and dries into the desired shape, the forms are removed and moved down to the next section. Work on the foundation walls appears to be progressing from west to east along the excavated and pile-driven footprint for building 7.

If you look closely at the Welliver photos, you can see the steel wire mesh that will be embedded in the concrete and provide stability for the walls. The additional steps on the forms may have to do with stepping the foundation up along the slope of the site.

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Set two:

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News Tidbits 1/30/2016: A Doozy of a Week For All the Wrong Reasons

30 01 2016

I’m not going to lie – this was a rough week. For those who like old buildings, the city tore down 404 West Green and 327 West State this week. For those who are consider themselves eco-activists, Black Oak wind farm is on life support. State Street Triangle is likely cancelled, the Printing Press Lounge is off the table, Cornell continues to pour most of its attention on its new New York City campus, and a grocery store and a downtown shop are closing their doors and putting people out of work. There have been better weeks for news round-ups.

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1. State Street Triangle isn’t dead per se, but it’s indefinitely stalled. I think the best headline goes to the Ithaca Times since they’re the most accurate. From chatting with planning consultant Scott Whitham, who’s involved with the project, it sounds like the impasse is the result of Campus Advantage wanting to pay less for the site since they can’t build as large of a project, which would decrease their revenue. The contract for the land purchase from Greenstate Properties/Trebloc Development (Rob Colbert) was up for re-negotiation after the December expiration, but neither side wants to budge on what they feel the price should be. So nothing can move forward without a deal between the two parties. I reached out to Colbert Wednesday, but the secretary paused for a minute and then said “he’s, uh, busy in a meeting, care to leave a message?” So he’s probably not going to say anything further.

Could it move forward? Possibly, it could be revived if a deal is made. But as things are, it’s stalled and it’s outside the control of any community group or government authority. It’s definitely a shame from the standpoint of Ithaca’s worsening housing crisis because it’s less that will be entering a market flooded with students, people moving here for work, and wealthy retirees who have apparently decided this is the Asheville of the north. And given the battles of “structural racist gentrification” and “uncivilized crime-producing trouble-making affordable housing“, where everything is accused of being one or the other, I’m not especially hopeful at the moment.

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2. Now for something that is definitely dead in the water – The Printing Press Lounge. Developer Ben Rosenblum had wanted to put a jazz lounge in a 7700 SF industrial warehouse at 416 East State Street, but neighbor objections to noise and traffic proved a little too much for the Board of Zoning Appeals, whose members appeared unlikely to support necessary variances for the vacant facility. So the developer pulled the lounge proposal, but the office space and apartment are still under consideration.

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3. Also from the same phone conversation as State Street and Printing Press – the Canopy revisions were approved, so at least there’s a good chance that will be breaking ground this Spring. The Chain Works review schedule was also approved, although given the couple emails from the Voice article, the public review period is going to be groan-inducing. One of the letters commanded that nothing should be done there and it should be kept as is because it encourages traffic and “its density is ruining Ithaca”. They might have meant size, but density is a buzzword at the moment. Apparently, they also overlooked the fact that it’s already built and won’t be fully cleaned of toxic chemicals until a reuse plan is in place. The development team will have to respond to all of these comments, perceptive or not.

4. In real estate sales, an LLC in suburban Corning picked up the former Tim Horton’s and Cold Stone Creamery space on Elmira Road. 0.74 acre 407 Elmira sold for $640,000 on January 22nd. A little research into the rather exotically-named “Armiri LLC” shows that they were previously registered at an address home to an Econo Lodge, and that the owners have about 70 or so other LLCs related to hotels and the hospitality industry. A little more digging, and the owner turns out to be Corning-based Visions Hotels, a developer of suburban chain hotels with locations from Albany to Buffalo. So if I were to make a guess, the five-year old Tim Ho’s building won’t be long for this world, and a suburban hotel is likely to rise in its place in a couple years. But we’ll see what happens.

5. Meanwhile, just up the road, Maines will be shutting down their store at 100 Commercial Avenue. The 26,146 SF building was built for the Binghamton-based grocery chain in 2010. February 7th will be the last day. Although there don’t seem to be any figures online, the move will likely put at least a couple dozen people out of work. A phone call and email to Maine’s asking for employee totals and reasons for closure were not returned.

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6. Let’s talk about money. The construction loan docs for Collegetown Terrace Phase III were filed with the county this week. The price? A cool $39.25 million, from PNC Bank. That’s just for 247-unit, 344-bed Building 7. Previously Valentine Vision Associates LLC (John Novarr/Philip Proujansky) received $50 million on 8/22/13, $50 million on 7/1/2014, and $50 million on 11/20/14. Do the math out, and $189.25 million in loans is a lot of money. Then again, this is also a 1,200+ bed project.

The latest loan docs require an opening by fall 2018, but expect it to be about a year sooner than that, August 2017.

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7. The Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Council has approved the Chapter House plans. All that’s needed at this point are the Building Department permits, which are technical and just require that everything will be built up to code. Things are looking good for that February construction start.

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8. Something to look forward to at next month’s Planning Board meeting – further discussion of Cornell’s renovations to Hughes Hall. Planning Board Presentation here, drawings here, Site Plan Review application here. KSS Architects, with offices in Philadelphia and Princeton, will be in charge of design. KSS has been to Cornell’s campus before, having designed some of the Hotel School additions and part of the previous phase of law school renovations. Local firm TG Miller is handling the engineering work. The project is expected to cost $10.2 million and construction would go from June 2016 to July 2017.

Quick refresher, the plan is to renovate 4 floors of what were previously student dorms into academic office, admin and student organization space. Cornell anticipates about 200 construction jobs will be created, but nor more than 80 at any one time, and 20-40 on-site most days. No new permanent jobs, limited visibility, and minimal transportation/ground impacts will limit much of the customary Planning Board debate.

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9. Meanwhile, New York City outlets are reporting on the progress of Cornell’s massive new tech campus in New York City. The Real Deal is reporting Snøhetta, an Oslo/NYC architectural firm, will design the Verizon Executive Education Building. The other three buildings underway are the Bloomberg Center, The Bridge, and CornellTECH Residential, which are the work of Morphosis Architecture, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture, and Handel Architects respectively.  300 students and 200 faculty/staff  will move into the new 26-story dorm by August 2017. Verizon paid $50 million for their naming rights, and billionaire former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg paid $100 million, making up a sizable portion of the $590.6 million donated to Cornell over the past year. Once the initial wave of construction is complete, it’ll be worth seeing how donations break down – years ago, MetaEzra noted that Weill Medical received an outsized proportion of charitable giving.

Not to go all conspiracy theorist, but there are times when Living in Dryden blogger Simon St. Laurent’s thought piece seems uncomfortably relevant.

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10. At the county’s PEDEEQ Committee meeting Friday (PEDEEQ being the acronym for the unnecessarily long Planning, Economic Development, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee; agenda here), the county did two things worth mentioning here. One, they awarded the $35,000 airport industrial park feasibility study to the team of Clark Patterson Lee of suburban Albany, and Saratoga Springs-based Camoin Associates. Two, they passed a resolution calling for “the Timely Development of the Black Oak Wind Farm” project in Enfield.

The Black Oak opposition really seems to have picked up momentum after one the major landowners involved with the project pulled out. Neighbors in the area are actively attacking the project by calling it a danger to human health and a destructive environmental menace financed by wealthy out-of-towners (a shot at Ithaca), and the wind farm’s executive board is struggling to address these accusations in the revised environmental review due to be completed in April. For the local eco-activist crowd, this is an unwelcome and unusual position to be in because more often than not, they’re the ones opposed to development. The county legislature, which has several green activists, is doing what they can by giving verbal support, and a subtle sort of wrist-slap to the opposition. Dunno if it will work, but we’ll see what happens this spring.

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11. Here’s the sketch drawing for Elmira Savings Bank’s new West End Branch at 602 West State Street. It would appear the plans call for a modern addition to the north side of the building, and renovation of the rest of the two-story restaurant into office/service space. Local companies TWMLA and HOLT Architects are handling the design.

According to the Twitter feed of the IJ’s Nick Reynolds, the building plan was received well enough at the Planning Board meeting, but the rest of the plans call for demo of the other buildings, including the affordable housing that had some folks up in arms, for a parking lot. That didn’t go over very well. Demolition of low-cost housing for parking is going to be about as welcome as a Hitler costume at a bar mitzvah. Expect another trip to the board with some revised plans.

12. The Dewitt Park Inn is for sale for $950,000. Owners Tom Seaney and Nancy Medsker are selling the property they purchased for $320k in January 2012 and renovated into a high-end bed and breakfast. The two were vocal advocates for the popular though foregone Franklin/STREAM condo proposal for the Old Library site, although Medsker didn’t do the debate any favors when she decided to trash her rear neighbor, senior services non-profit and Travis Hyde project partner Lifelong in a letter to the Ithaca Journal. The county has the Dewitt Park Inn assessed at $575,000.

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13. Nothing too exciting for the town of Ithaca planning board agenda next week. The town’s planning board will choose whether or not to sign off on the review schedule for Chain Works, and they have to re-approved plans for a smaller parish center at St. Catherine of Siena in Northeast Ithaca. According to the provided docs, the parish center has been reduced from 10,811 SF to 8,878 SF due to rapidly rising construction costs (seems to be a common refrain these days).

 

 





Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 1/2016

17 01 2016

Being a 247-unit, 344-bed project means a lot of earth has to be moved before anything starts to rise from the ground. As a result, the project is undergoing the necessary if not exactly glamorous step of excavation for Building 7. All three phases combines have an estimated construction cost in the range of $70 million. The impression I’m getting from here is that when the time comes, foundation forming and pouring will begin from the west side and slowly make its way east, and so the west side of the curvaceous apartment building will be further along the east side at a given time during construction (similar to how it played out with Buildings 5 and 6 during the previous phase). Local development company Novarr-Mackesey plans to have the apartment building ready for tenants by August 2017.

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From December 2015:

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Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 11/2015

10 11 2015

Well, this one can finally be counted as “underway”. Site prep has begun for the last building at the Collegetown Terrace site, on the 900 Block of East State Street south of Collegetown. Being just a few weeks underway (work commenced in late October), the primary tasks in the short-term are clearing the site and building shoring walls (the steel H-beams with wood lagging). The H-beams are drilled or driven in at regular intervals, and hold the soil back while the foundation is excavated. This building is going to have a deep foundation and a large footprint, so foundation work is likely to take a while, we’ll be well into 2016 before steel starts to rise from the ground.

The last phase of Collegetown Terrace (Phase III) is expected to be completed by August 2017. Phase III will focus on the construction on the last building, #7 (formally known as 120 Valentine Place), a long, curving building very similar to  the completed Building #5. Funding for the new building comes from part of a $50 million loan extended to developer Novarr-Mackesey in 2013 by Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, and revised in December 2014. As this project demonstrates, even though a proposal might be approved, it can take years for something to actually get off the ground — if ever. Initial approvals were granted all the way back in 2011.

Building 7 is expected to have 247 units, and 344 bedrooms once it’s completed. About 80 of the units will be set up “dormitory-style”, where all tenants get their own bedroom and bathroom, but share kitchens and community lounge spaces. Novarr-Mackesey had found after the previous phases were completed that parking was only being utilized by 50% of tenants, so rather than build a floor of parking that would more than likely go unused, the firm applied to the city Board of Zoning Appeals for a parking variance (652 spaces for the whole complex, which is 51 less than required by zoning) to change one floor of parking planned for Building 7 into the “dorm-style” living space. The variance was granted by the BZA in Spring 2014. The dorm-style units are expected to rent at half to two-thirds of the cost of a studio unit, and to appeal to graduate and professional students on a budget. The current layout calls for parking on the first floor, then the dorm floor, then regular studio-3 bedroom units on floors 3-6.

With this project underway, it’s the single-largest residential building under construction in Tompkins County. Hopefully, one that will make a dent in the city and county’s housing crunch.

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