Carey Building Construction Update, 7/2015

28 07 2015

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At the Carey Building in downtown Ithaca, work continues on the structural steel beam assembly of the new 5-story vertical addition. It looks like the lowest two floors of the addition have steel decking, and cross beams are being installed on the third floor. The top two floors, which are smaller, have yet to be built, but one can get an impression of their height by looking at the joining plates attached to the vertical steel columns. Note the “kink” in the structural steel above the front entrance, and how it relates to the design of the apartment floors.

The previous estimates of a late summer/early fall completion have been too aggressive, especially since the addition had to sort out fire code issues, as well as anything else that comes up when working on a 90 year-old building. It would seem that late winter or early spring is more likely, but the steel work should be completed by the end of this summer. No word on if the Canopy Hotel developers still plan on sharing the telescoping boom construction crane.

The Carey Building addition will add a third floor and 4,200 SF to the Rev business incubator (nearly doubling it to 8,700 SF), 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. LeChase Construction is handling the build-out process.

206 Taughannock Boulevard Construction Update, 6/2015

30 06 2015

These photos date from the 13th, but they’re still worth sharing (and technically, it’s still June, so calling it a June update is valid). The fiber-cement siding has been attached to most of 206 Taughannock Boulevard, where a 2-story furniture store and warehouse built in the 1970s is being converted into a mixed-use building with 7 apartments (4 1-bedroom, 3 2-bedroom). A few sections still have insulation and (what I think are) wall studs showing.

A drawing of the new plans posted in a ground floor window gives more information about the project. “The Apartments at 206″, as the new building will be called, bears only a moderate resemblance to the render provided in the window. The rendering posted, which dates from September 2014, indicates that the residential conversion was designed by local architect Claudia Brenner. Brenner designed the renovation of the Lehigh Valley House next door into a mixed-use building with ground-floor commercial spaces, other active-use (a branch police station), and six condominiums last year. It looks like the work on the Lehigh Valley House’s ground floor is still wrapping up.

Some of the trim boards are missing, the roof-line doesn’t match, and the materials don’t look quite right, especially the seemingly random gray cementboard next to the garage. Dunno what exactly is going on here, but since this didn’t need planning board review (there was no change in square footage, only a re-pruposing of the structure), the regulations aren’t there to make the structure to look like its render. Facade details and the sunscreens will be installed at some point, presumably. The renovation, estimated to cost $350,000, is the work of the Zaharis family, who owned and managed the furniture store before it closed in Spring 2014.

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Kendal at Ithaca Construction Update, 6/2015

22 06 2015

There’s a bit of a story behind this one. Originally, there was photo update planned for April, but it was going to be an article for the Voice. The plan was to do an interview with the operators of Kendal. Photos were taken and the bare bones were drafted, but then after the initial phone call, there was no response. Finally shrugging my shoulder (and the Voice having moved on to other article ideas), the photos were going to be posted here.

That was when the marketing director responded. She gave a bunch of dates that worked for her, I tried to select a date, but she never responded back. But I did take a second round of photos in prep for the second interview. And now all the photos are finally going up.

The neat thing about these photos is that, since the construction schedule for the new wings is staggered, multiple stages of construction can be seen at once.

First, there’s the initial wood framing, followed by the installation of the roof trusses. This is followed by what appear to be two separate types of sheathing. One is Georgia-Pacific DensGlass sheathing, the yellow boards seen below. These are gypsum panels coated with fiberglass mats, designed to limit heat loss and keep moisture out. The dark red panels are plywood ZIP system roof and wall sheathing, which uses seams and tape to save time vs. traditional sheathing such as Tyvek housewrap.  The difference between the two appears to be that gypsum is fire-rated. The Kendal expansion has both apartments for independent seniors, and a skilled nursing facility (comparable to a nursing home in its level of care; the three degrees of independence are independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing). It seems likely that regulations mandate fire-rated construction for skilled nursing facilities, but not so in the case of senior apartments for independent living. Hence the two different sheathing types.

A sample wall on-site shows how the window installation and siding will look – the new addition will be designed to blend in with the original 20 year-old building. The newer photos are about a month old now, and since then many more windows have likely been installed in the rough openings of the apartment wing, and interior rough-in will kick in as the walls are framed out.

In the earlier photos from April, cinder block stairwells poke out from the first floor of framed and sheathed walls. The skilled nursing wing had yet to rise from ground-level.

Kendal at Ithaca is currently in the midst of a $29.3 million expansion. Three new wings will be built on the northeast side of the property as part of a new 48-bed skilled nursing center, an increase from the 35 beds currently available. On the southeast side of the complex, a new 2-story, 24-unit apartment complex is being built for independent seniors. A new entrance, cafe, fitness center, and health center are also included in the additions, as well as major interior renovations. Landscaping additions and a 26-car parking lot are also planned.The construction project is aiming to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Construction began this past January, and is supposed to wrap up in January 2016. An estimated 20 to 25 new jobs will be created by the expansion, most of those in service positions that pay $24-$45k.

Kendal was granted the privilege to issue tax-exempt municipal bonds by the county legislature to finance the construction of their new wings, but is not seeking any property tax abatement.

Local architecture firm Chiang O’Brien has partnered with the NYC office of Perkins Eastman to design the Kendal expansion. National contractor Lecesse Construction, with an office out of suburban Rochester, is in charge of general construction.

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Photos from April 5th:

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Village Solars Apartments Construction Update, 6/2015

19 06 2015

Out in Lansing, the first phase of the Village Solars Apartments is starting to allow tenants to move in. Building “A” looks to be substantially complete, with tenant vehicles parked in the gravel lot, and a guy preparing a grill session out back. The unvarnished wood siding was a bit of a surprise, but it goes well with the natural color tones of the siding. Building “B” in the middle is due to receive its first tenants around July 1st, and building “C” on the east end might be planning an August 1st move-in date, based off the dates in the rental advertisements. These dates have been pushed back from the May and June dates that were noted back in the February post, and those had already been a push back from original dates in March and April. Further pushbacks are unlikely, if only because the developers risk losing out on the large and lucrative student market, which revolves around the start of the fall semester in late August.

Building “B” still has some sheathing showing, but is quickly attaching the remaining exterior trim, and building “C”, which is the same configuration as “A”, is still bare sheathing and waterproof wrap, but all of the windows and doors have been fitted. Without looking inside, I’d imagine “B” is polishing up the last interior finishes, while “C” is still installing appliances, flooring and the like. Interior rough-in probably wrapped up during the spring.

Judging from the revised Craigslist postings, Lifestyle Properties has had some success with filling the units, with some of the floor plans sold out. The one-bedroom units will rent for $1050-$1145, two-bedroom unis rent for $1235-$1369, and three-bedroom units will rent for $1565-$1650. Prices vary a little depending on what floor the unit is on, the higher up the more it costs.

Currently, some of the land has been cleared for the next phase (2 and possibly 21, which have 41 units and 10 units respectively). I checked with someone familiar with the project to ask when phase two would begin construction, and they said that there’s been talk of starting the second phase, but he wasn’t sure when it would start.

The Village Solars apartments are a large apartment complex located in the town of Lansing off of Warren Road near the county airport. The complex takes its name from what the Craigslist sales pitch calls “their passive solar design and energy saving features”. The four-phase project calls for an initial build-out of 174 apartment units, with a second addition yet to be approved that would bring the total number of units over 300. With the third phase of Collegetown Terrace yet to start, this is currently the largest residential project under construction in Tompkins County.

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 word on the architect. Upstate Contractors of Syracuse appears to be handling the construction work.

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Stone Quarry Apartments Construction Update, 6/2015

17 06 2015

Here’s another project that’s in the home stretch – INHS’s 35-unit Stone Quarry Apartments project on Spencer Road. On the outside, the buildings themselves are pretty much done. A small playground has been installed and the asphalt for the parking area has been laid. A few sidewalk slabs still need to be poured, light poles still need to be erected and the landscaping still needs to be finished out, but otherwise, this is very close to the final product.

A look at the interior of one of the townhome units (not included because the image also included my reflection in the glass) showed that the drywall has been hung, but carpeting and interior finishes are still on the to-do list. Tenants can expect to move in during September 2015.

As this project wraps up, INHS will still be carrying a full schedule for the near future – their townhouse project in East Ithaca, Greenways, will be starting construction shortly. And while Greenways builds out its three phases over the next few years, work will begin on 210 Hancock‘s 53 apartments at some time well into 2016 (assuming no big hangups occur).


The Stone Quarry project consists of 16 two-story townhouses (2 rows, 8 each), and a 19-unit, 3-story apartment building on the northern third of the property. Specifically, the breakdown of unit sizes is follows:

16 three-bedroom Townhouses
2 three-bedroom Apartments
11 two-bedroom Apartments
6 one-bedroom Apartments

As with all projects by INHS, the units are targeted towards individuals with modest incomes, with rents of $375-$1250/month depending on unit size and resident income. While affordable housing is generally welcome and sorely needed, Stone Quarry had a number of complaints due to size, location and lingering environmental concerns.

The build-out is being handled by LeCesse Construction, a nationwide contractor with an office in suburban Rochester. The design is by local firms HOLT Architects and Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects.

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Belle Sherman Cottages Construction Update, 6/2015

16 06 2015

At the Belle Sherman Cottages project site, the first five townhouses (lots 25-29) have had their modular units delivered and craned into place. Waterproofing sheathing can be seen on some of the dormers where the “Autumn Red” and “Savannah Wicker” Certainteed clapboard siding has yet to be installed. and some of the front-facing garages still have unsheathed plywood showing, with rough garage openings. taking a guess, it looks like the work crews are working from north to south (29 to 25) on the two-bedroom townhomes.

The units have a slightly staggered elevation, with the units decreasing a few inches as the row progresses southward. The change in profile makes each unit a little more visually distinct.

A couple walking by as I was taking photos pointed out how curious it was that only the center unit, lot 27, has a rear deck. But, optional features are optional features; que sera sera.

Next to lots 25-29 are the lots for the second set of townhouses, 20-24. The foundation for those homes has been excavated, and at some point soon, the water will be pumped out, footers poured, and the CMU block foundations will be laid for the new units.

On the other side of the property, the last of the marketed homes is under construction. Lot 11 is a “Classic Farmhouse” with Autumn yellow siding and the usual white trim. The four Simplex modular units have been delivered and hoisted onto the foundation (Jason at Ithaca Builds offers a great rundown of the modular units here). Over the next few weeks, the house will be sided, the interiors will be finished out, and the porch and remaining trim will be attached.

The first set of townhomes should be ready for occupancy this summer, and the second set might be ready by August but that seems like a stretch; I’d wager that early fall is more likely. One more single-family house, lot 9, is due to be marketed and built at some point in the near future; the project will then be fully built out, about 3.5 years after the model house was built.

The Belle Sherman Cottages project on East Hill consists of 19 single-family detached homes and 10 townhouses, developed by Skaneateles-based Agora Development and built by local company Carina Construction.

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Carey Building Construction Update, 6/2015

15 06 2015

At a quick stop at the Carey Building Friday before last, workers at the Carey Building site were busy preparing a utility duct line for the new Hilton Canopy Hotel next door, according to one gentleman I spoke with at the site. Building contractor LeChase Construction has completed the underpinning work on the Carey Building, strengthening the foundation to support the five-floor vertical addition. LeChase will also be handling the construction of the Canopy Hotel next door.

The Carey Building itself has sidewalk scaffolding up, and a section of the rear facade has been removed. I think that would be for the construction hoist, and the swing cab telescoping boom construction crane in the second photo is the one that’s being used for assembly of the structural steel. Quick disclaimer, if I’m wrong, please call me out. My day job of studying pollutants and puffy clouds isn’t helpful here.

I also had the good fortune to run into developer Frost Travis while having lunch, and he happily stated that steelwork would begin the week of June 8th (which is about two weeks behind schedule, but let’s not begrudge him given that whole issue with the building design that arose a couple months back).

So of course, swinging by to take updated photos was a must. One week later, there’s steel columns five stories high (the height of the addition), with steel crossbars for stability, and joining plates to secure the steel framing for the floors. My marginally-educated guess is that this is the frame for the elevator shaft, based off the floor plans.

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.

Expect this project to finish sometime in the very late summer-early fall timeframe.

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