More Student Housing for South Hill?

31 12 2014

Polite observation – South Hill has two types of housing being built these days: luxury single-family housing (Westview, Southwoods), and student housing. Most of the student housing tends to be concentrated close to Ithaca College, in the vicinity of Pennsylvania and Kendall Avenues. There have been a number of new, small apartment buildings built in recent years, many of them by local company Heritage Builders. I’d estimate offhand that in the past three years, Heritage has added about 60 bedrooms to the neighborhood, and while they aren’t explicitly student housing, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that’s their purpose.

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I initially photographed these buildings as part of another post planned for some construction updated for South Hill. But then I noticed something earlier this week that changed my mind.

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According to the county records for the 29th, someone bought an unusually high number of building lots. All but 2 of the 9 tax parcels (totaling 14 lots) are undeveloped, the remainder being a house and swimming pool. All of the sales were registered to an entity called “Kendall Avenue Corporation”. Kendall Avenue Corporation was created in November, according to the Ithaca Journal, with a registered address at 680 Ridge Road in Lansing – an address used by Heritage Builders. The undeveloped lots sold for $5,000-$9,000 each because they’re small and lack road access. But lots can be consolidated per zoning board approval, and new roads can be built by a developer and deeded to the town, which the town board typically accepts so long as they meet certain requirements.

I’m going to take a stab at this and say that Heritage is planning a lot more student housing over the next few years, at least enough to fill several small apartment buildings. Given previous complaints, I don’t think the permanent residents of South Hill will be pleased about the new neighbors.





News Tidbits 12/20/2014: Many Homes, One Community

20 12 2014

5-8-2012 347

1. Starting things off, here’s an update on Ithaca College’s Master Plan-in-progress, courtesy of the Ithacan. According to a presentation given by representatives of lead planning firm Perkins Eastman, the master plan will include a climate-controlled walkway connecting several buildings from the Gannett Library through the Center for Health Sciences, the removal of the upper and lower dorm quads and replacing them with academic lab/research space, an amphitheater just below the Dillingham Center fountain and a new entrance on Danby Road closer to Ithaca’s downtown.

Now, before residents in South Hill begin to panic that their neighborhood is about to be invaded by students displaced by IC’s decreased housing, I’d like to point out that master plans are rarely built out as designed, but are great for identifying academic needs. I don’t imagine that IC will start tearing down 11 buildings and 1,235 beds unless they really feel like getting into a fight with the town, or throwing up temp housing, neither of which ranks high on the to-do list. At least I get something to write about for a week or two when the new plan comes out this Spring.

2. What is known about Manos Diner’s future occupant: They’re leasing the space from Bill Manos, not buying. It’s a restaurant with owners who already own several restaurants, all outside NYS. It’s not necessarily a chain. It’s apparently a family operation and the food will be Mexican. And whoever it is must have really, really wanted to pry their way into the Ithaca market. I don’t see why they wouldn’t have chosen any number of other sites they could renovate…it seems really strange that an offer so fortuitous would come up that Manos would close his diner with hardly a notice to his employees (which is completely tasteless, for the record). New restaurants in Ithaca aren’t usually big news-makers by themselves, but the entry of this Manos replacement draws more questions than answers.

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3. Looks like New Earth Living LLC has released some updated site plans and sketches of their approved Amabel project just southwest of the Ithaca city-town line. The houses on the northern two-thirds have been rearranged from the previous site plan, and if it’s still 31 units, then the center buildings must be two-family houses. I’ve been told that there will be six different house designs available, so don’t expect all the houses to look the same as in the concept sketch. One thing that the all designs will share are roof configurations that will allow enough solar panels to result in net zero energy use for each home. The city has approved the sale of its surplus land to the developer, and this project is due to start marketing in summer 2015.

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4. Here’s a map, courtesy of real estate website Zillow, that prices out how much it would take to afford the median rent in a given metropolitan area, if paying no more than 30% of monthly income to rent (the federal affordable housing standard). Ithaca/Tompkins County comes in at $32.74 an hour, assuming a 40-hour week and 50-weeks working in a year. In other words, $65,480 ($1,637/month average rent). The number is skewed high from the number of expensive multi-bedroom units in Collegetown, but it’s still high when compared to Elmira ($28.08) or Syracuse ($27.74). For comparison’s sake to Ithaca-type communities, Boulder ($41.72) and Ann Arbor ($34.28) are higher, Charlottesville ($29.24), Madison ($27.54) and Asheville ($22.98) are lower.

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5. Would you believe this is actually the first render I’ve ever seen for the Village Solars project in Lansing? This comes courtesy of their Craigslist ads. The Village Solars take their name from being designed with passive solar design with large amounts of natural light; I don’t know if they will have solar panels. For being a large project, this one has sailed under just about everyone’s radar, partially because it was approved 18 months before construction started. Since there has been so little news about this project, info comes in the form of government and business memos. Depending on the source, final build-out is between 292 and 320 units, which is enormous for the Ithaca area.

Rent’s not cheap with these new units – the minimum is $1235 for a first-floor 2-bedroom, going up to $1369 for a “penthouse” third floor 2-bedroom unit. The Craigslist ad says the first units (36 of them) will be ready for occupancy by March 1st 2015.

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6. Updated doc and drawings for INHS’s 402 South Cayuga Street have been filed with the city. Application, FEAF and project description here, drawings here. According to the docs, the cost of construction will be $740,000 for the four units, and go from Spring 2015 to Spring 2016 (March 2016 in the FEAF). Some slight metal pollution from Emerson/Morse Chain has been noted in soil tests from below the foundation area, due to the Morse Chain subterranean pollution plume (metals, VOCs) that affects much of South Hill. Although the DEC requires no further action at this time, there will be an active sub-slab depressurization system in place as a safeguard. In other words, a fan blows air into the basement, and it gets vented back out.

The design of the townhomes has been revised by architect Claudia Brenner to include more architectural detail – bay windows on the north and south ends, and larger/full porches vs. the stoops of the previous design. The siding has also been changed to all earth-tones. It’s an improvement, but I’d rather see two separate windows above the porches. This project will be presented at the January Planning Board meeting.

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7. Here are some drawings for 707 E. Seneca. Readers might remember this is the 6-unit building proposed by Todd Fox for a derelict playground recently sold off by the city. The 18-bedroom design by local firm Schickel Architecture has already been critiqued thoroughly by the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Council, since the site is within a historic district and needs to look the part. I’d say that they’ve done well, it’s a bit bulky but otherwise a tasteful addition. An area variance will be required from the Board of Zoning Appeals. Construction is expected to cost $220,000 and run from April to July 2015. For more info, the application is here, drawings here.

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8. Since we’re talking about East Hill housing, here‘s the project application and here are the drawings for the duplexes proposed for the parking lot at 112 Blair Street. The Blair Street site will be combined with 804 East State Street, and the duplexes will have State Street addresses. The spartan design of these buildings is also by Schickel Architecture, and will add 12 bedrooms in 4 units. Cost is estimated at $213,000 and construction will start in April for a summer completion. The developer is Matthew Nestopoulos.

 





When Things Don’t Work Out

17 01 2013

Frequent readers of this blog are aware that I cover two things – Cornell (its history and physical plant) and new projects and real estate development in the Ithaca area. Now, I’m not going to say I’m beating a dead horse with the former, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it hasn’t been easy coming up with new topics to write about, that aren’t widely available already (ex. the Willard Straight Takeover of 1969), or previous written in this blog.

Fortunately, Ithaca has been undergoing a veritable boom in construction. Just today, I checked the town of Ithaca planning board notes to find yet another multi-unit housing project proposed – “Hawk’s Nest at Springwood”, a 3-story, 50-unit building to be built at the Springwood Townhomes area just east of the intersection of 96B and King Road. The project will be marketed to the 55+ crowd.

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This area has seen a cluster of (mostly suburban-style) development in the past few years, with the Holly Creek Townhomes, College Crossings, the Namgyal Monestery, The Country Inn and Suites, The College Circle Apartments (IC) expansion, and a number of private homes. Which, counting that all of the top of my head, gives 184 more beds at IC, and 74+ other housing units. Quite the little burst of activity south of IC.

So, considering the question in a previous entry about historical construction trends, this latest development pushes the private residential units number from 2011-2016 over the 1,000 mark, nothing to sneeze at when the total number of units in the entire metro is just under 42,000. In considering the planned developments north of Ithaca, and single-family homes, the number of units planned in those five years could very well be in the 2000+ range, a proportion highly unusual for upstate New York, and probably only comparable to the Albany metro, where a massive computer chip factory has been underway.

Now, time for the Debbie Downer – I have no expectation all these projects will come to fruition.

In the past, several projects have been downsized, modified, or cancelled. Take Ithaca Gun, a project constantly being re-evaluated due to rapidly increasing costs associated with the site cleanup. The project started off with 160 units, but neighbors complained. It was decreased to 80, then 33, than upped to 45. The final result seems to be a shot in the dark. Because of the uncertainty, I did not include it in the unit count.

Other projects, both current and old, were modified in the planning. The Trebloc Building downtown was originally supposed to be two floors (and I will personally donate a very nice bottle of Finger Lake wine to any developer who proposes to knock that abomination down and replace it with something more fitting). Cayuga Green, covered previously, has been redesigned four times. Collegetown Terrace has undergone at least one major revision and a couple minor ones.

Some projects never see the light of day. The McGraw House, an assisted living facility downtown, considered an expansion in 2009/2010. Then they shelved it. A 400-unit development was planned for West Hill (Carrowmoor), but this also appears to have gone stale.  Cornell’s West Campus was slated to be bedecked in Collegiate Gothic – killed by the Great Depression (among other Cornell proposals and plans that can be found using the search bar). Wal-Mart was once slated for Lansing. The most outlandish serious proposal goes toward a city-sponsored urban renewal plan proposed for Collegetown in 1968. The project would have tore down the heart of Collegetown, and in its place put up an eleven story office building, and 6 to 8 high-rise apartment towers (total 375 units), the tallest being 18 to 21 stories. It also would have included a 600-space parking garage and retail venues.

It’s sort of like “survival of the fittest”. The projects with the most stable funding, and the strongest proposals, tend to win out. Some projects are clearly underway, some go through revisions, some will remain pie-in-the-sky. I do, however, look forward to as many of these projects coming to fruition as possible.





The Keyword Bar XVII

26 07 2012

…because the planning board discussed projects I’ve covered ad nauseum and Cornell hasn’t caught my attention in the past week.

1. “how many students from cornell have jump to there deaths” (7-25-2012)

Death of grammar aside, this would not be an easy number to calculate, since a number of cases over the years have been questionable as to whether the fall was accidental or intentional, and whether an individual would be considered a student (ex. a case of a former student). That being said, it seemed from casual queries back during the 2010 suicides that for CU students who were believed to have committed suicides via gorge jumping, it is likely in the mid double-digits. This number does not reflect the number of suicides in the gorges (which is much higher, as they tend to be a magnet for those who want to go out in dramatic fashion), the number of gorge deaths (including accidental falls, the number is almost certainly in the few hundreds since Cornell opened) nor suicides that occur by other methods. From 2006 to 2010, there were three student gorge deaths by suicide, but a variety of other events (note – the hyperlink has one inaccuracy – William Jacobson was an IC student who drowned in a retention pond).

2. “eastman hall at ithaca named after” (7-25-2012)

Eastman Hall, an IC dorm, was built in 1962-1963. From what I can tell, many of these early buildings, built during IC’s rapid expansion on South Hill from 1959-1968, are named for older administrators or large donors (for instance,  Talcott Hall is likely tied to a student life administrator named “Mrs. Talcott” in news articles from the 1930s). Although there is no concrete evidence, Eastman Hall is likely named for George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak in Rochester, and a well-known philanthropist, especially of music schools. Although he passed away in the 1930s, it’s possible his company, or some foundation attached to his estate, made a donation; or it could be the manifestation of a donation from when Eastman was alive.

3. “chi gamma at cornell university sorority” (7-22-2012)

Their history seems rather unusual. Chi Gamma formed in 1956, after dissociating from its national (Sigma Kappa) because it did not wish to abide by the national’s racist membership policies. They lived at 150 Triphammer, and the sorority was active until at least 1963, when it merged with Chi Omega (both were small houses, so they decided to join forces as an attempt to hold their own in the increasingly meager sorority rushes of the ’60s). The house itself became home to the new and all-female Triphammer Co-op the following year, which became co-ed in the 1990s.

4. what is the address of the llenroc mansion (7-22-2012)

100 Cornell Avenue, Ithaca NY. There are only two houses on the street, the other I believe is a private residence.

5. ithaca “collegetown” fire 1998 (7-23-2012)

It might seem odd that in a stretch of century-old buildings, 407 College Avenue (the Apollo Chinese Restaurant building) was built in 2000 (as seen on its cornerstone). Well, the simple reason is that the old building, a wood-frame structure built in 1887, burnt down in October 1998, leaving 51 students homeless. The fire was believed to have started in the kitchen of a first-floor restaurant. Emergency housing and aid was provided by the Red Cross and Cornell. Since the site is prime Collegetown real estate, it was redeveloped into a six-story building and opened in August 2000.





An Exercise in Mapping, Part II

15 05 2011

Under Construction: The once-vacant Plantations Building on Ithaca Commons is being renovated into 8 apartments, a small amount of office space, and a large restaurant on the first floor of the 5-story building. The project is funded partially by community grant money and will be complete in about a month.

Approved: The 6-story, 52-unit apartment building proposed by INHS (1), the 7-story, 45-unit Cayuga Place condos (2), and the 10-story, 140-room Hotel Ithaca (3) are attempting to find financing in what is still a tight market for construction loans. The INHS building is dependent on state grant money that was not granted last year, and they are hoping to obtain financing in the next round of grants. The Cayuga Place condos has been looking for more unit sales and securing bank financing for almost four years at this point, and it might be time to move that to a stale proposal.

Proposed: The 6-story Challenge Industries redevelopment proposal, which has some office space and 32 units of housing. The project is currently trying to win over the neighbors and councils for zoning variances and approval down the line.

Stale/Dead: McGraw House, a senior living facility, was looking into a 25-50 unit expansion, and held several meetings to discuss proposals on the table, but this has all been tabled until a future time.

Examining the Ithaca College Area:

Note that I don’t use Bing Maps because I like them more, but because they are more up-to-date. For example, IC’s virtually complete Athletics Center is clearly visible on this aerial image.

Under Construction are Ithaca’s College’s Circle Apartments expansion (in the site prep stage; four current buildings (132 units) will be demo’d and nine more (280 units) will be added to the complex) and a 22-unit addition of senior housing (patio homes) to Longview.

Approved are the College Crossings retail center and INHS’s Holly Creek townhomes (11 units in first phase, I think 22 total). Off the map to the south and southwest are a couple of housing developments, Southwoods and Cleveland Estates, which are being developed lot-by-lot.

The proposed facility is the long-term expansion plans for the South Hill Business Campus, which would add 197,000 sq ft in three new buildings 3-4 stories in height. The campus currently has about 288,000 sq ft, of which about 84% is leased.

The stale proposal is an apartment building off of Bella Vista Drive that has been trying to market its units for the better part of five years. I am doubtful it will ever launch construction at this point.





News Tidbits 8/5/10: Structural Coincidence?

5 08 2010

So, the Ithaca Journal is filled today with articles concerning Cornell’s South Hill neighbor, Ithaca College. Which is great, since they are a good school in their own right and they tend to be overshadowed by its ivy-cloaked neighbor. So, the one article was about how their enrollment is back on target this year after having too many incoming last year (by most regards, a fortunate problem to have). The other article, much more in line with the general themes of this blog, was a review of the $65.5 million, 130,000 sq ft Ithaca College Events Center that is under construction, and currently around halfway towards completion.

One of the big architectural features of the building is a a large, structually-incorporated cooling tower designed to be a focal point of the structure and to be visible from most of campus.

Image Property of Ithaca College

The height of the tower? 174 feet.

The height of McGraw Tower on Cornell’s campus? 173 feet.

So, McGraw Tower is no longer the tallest structure in the county (not including radio masts). After 119 years, it is losing its title to Ithaca College’s new activities center.

Although I never saw anything that indicated as much, I’m willing to wager that this was intentional, to draw more attention to the new “tallest building” in the county. Even though the tower is uninhabitable, the lower floor(s) of the building are, so it qualifies as a true building. McGraw doesn’t qualify since it’s only a clock tower. Bradfield, the tallest true building in the county, is only 167 feet.

In conclusion, I guess size does matter when it comes to bragging rights.





News Tidbits 4/14/10: South Hill Expands

15 04 2010

Two things, one dealing with IC and the other with the neighboring South Hill business campus. IC is looking to expand student housing (partially due to the record number of students they enrolled) by adding 280 units of apartment housing to its South Hill campus. Meanwhile, the South Hill Business Campus is seeking approval to construct three buildings totalling 190,000 square feet, which would be built as needed. The business campus was once the regional headquarters of the National Cash Register company (NCR) and was completed in 1957 with an addition in 1975. While it once housed over 1,000 employees, the building was sold to a French company (Axiohm) in 1991, and in a fine showing that they never really cared for local interests, outsourced most of the manufacturing work. By 2004, the factory was only 25% occupied, so a group of investors made an offer to buy the place and operate it as a sort of business incubator for company needing a varying amount of office and maufacturing space. Today, the facility is 84% occupied, so it looks like they did a good job marketing and updating the building. One building would be up by 96B, the second attached to the west end of the current building, and the last just south of the current building.

***

From the Ithaca Town Planning Board agenda:

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed South Hill Business Campus Master Plan located at 950 Danby Road (NYS Route 96B), Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 39-1-1.2 and 39-1-1.1, Planned Development Zone No. 12 and Office Park Commercial Zone. The Master Plan includes the development of three new buildings (totaling +/- 197,000 GSF), a new loop road, additional storm water facilities, and new landscaping. The new buildings would contain a mix of office, manufacturing, and research and development uses, and would be phased in one at a time as needed. South Hill Business Campus LLC, Owner/Applicant; Miles G. Cigolle, A.I.A., HOLT Architects, P.C., Agent.

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed Circle Apartments Expansion located at 1033 Danby Road (NYS Route 96B), Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 43-1-2.2, 43-1-2.3 and 41-1-30.2, Multiple Residence and Medium Density Residential Zones. The project includes the demolition of four existing apartment buildings (32 bedrooms) along with the removal of multiple existing parking spaces on the property to allow for the construction of 78 four bedroom apartment units in nine new buildings (net increase of 280 bedrooms), construction of an approximately 2,500 square foot expansion to the Community Building, and a net addition of 106 parking spaces on the property. The project will also include new storm water facilities, walkways, drives and landscaping. College Circle Associates, LLC and Ithaca College. Owners/Applicants; Herman Sieverding, Integrated Acquisition & Development Corp., Agent.








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