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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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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Texas Roadhouse Construction Update, 5/2016

23 05 2016

Just a few other photos from this past Sunday. As of 4 PM today, Texas Roadhouse is open. The landscaping is complete, the parking lot is paved and striped. If you love the food, fantastic. If you don’t, well, at least it’s bringing tax money into municipal coffers.

For me personally, it’s been kinda cool to watch this from start to finish – I broke the story on the Voice in March of 2015, and have been keeping tabs on it since. I didn’t realize it was due to open today until taking photos this past weekend, so once again, it became a popular article for the Voice’s website.

The $1.35 million project at 719 South Meadow Street was formerly home to Cellular One, a 1990s one-story masonry building that was demolished in 2013. The restaurant was originally slated to open in Q1 2016, but construction started a little later than anticipated last fall.

Texas Roadhouse corporate developed the site, leasing the land from plaza owner DDR Corp. of Ohio. GreenbergFarrow of suburban Chicago is serving as an architectural consultant for the project. Edger Enterprises of Elmira served as general contractor.

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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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Hotel Ithaca Construction Update, 4/2016

27 04 2016

Demolition and site preparation are the task du jour at the Hotel Ithaca at 222 South Cayuga Street. The north wing of hotel rooms is being demolished now, and the west wing of hotel rooms will be demolished once the new building is complete.

The new 30,000 SF, 5-story wing will contain 90 rooms, 2,900 SF of additional meeting space, breakout rooms, and a new fitness center. 100 hotel rooms are being taken offline and demolished, reducing the number available at the hotel from 180 to 170. But, the primary goal of the project is to modernize the Hotel’s offerings, and stay competitive with newer hotels downtown, including the Marriott currently underway, and the Canopy Hilton due to start later this year.  The project applied for, an received a 7-year tax abatement under the CIITAP program, making it the only project that has pursued the 7-year option over the more common 10-year enhanced option. CIITAP may not be popular from a P.R. standpoint, but as shown on Ithaca Builds, the high property tax rate downtown plays a large role in the program’s necessity.

 

Photo from C. Hadley Smith Collection

Photo from C. Hadley Smith Collection

The Hotel Ithaca originally opened in 1972 as part of the city’s urban renewal plans, initially operating as a Ramada. At the time, it only consisted of the two-story wings, as seen in the 1973 photo above; the 10-story “Executive Tower” was added in 1984/85. The hotel was rebranded as a Holiday Inn until the start of 2014, when it switched to an independent operation as the “Hotel Ithaca”. The Hotel Ithaca was also the working name of the Marriott project early on, so the two projects are easy to mix up. As part of the change, the hotel carried out $2.4 million in renovations (phase one) to the tower rooms and utlities.

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Early plans called for a $17.8 million, 140,000 SF addition with a 9-story, 115-room hotel, restaurant and conference center designed by Buffalo-based Roberts, Shackleton and Boy Architects. The conference center was very well received by local officials and business leaders, and is seen as really crucial to Ithaca’s business interests – the city lacks the ability to host mid-size conferences and conventions (midsize meaning about 500 attendees), which sends conventioneers elsewhere. Currently, the lack of meeting space limits conferences to about 250 guests. The addition of a convention facility is seen as a major benefit to downtown retail, as well as other hotels that would handle overflow guest traffic. Convention traffic typically happens during weekdays, when regular tourist traffic is lowest. The plan was later revised to 8 stories and 97 hotel rooms, and then that didn’t move forward due to financial difficulties.

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The current project was proposed last September, and as the project had evolved, the tax abatement had to be re-voted (and passed 6-1). A potential third phase calls for a 3-story addition to the 5-story wing, and the coveted conference center, on the corner of W. Clinton and S. Cayuga Streets.

The $15 million second phase is aiming for a completion in May 2017. About 21 new jobs are expected to be created, most of those service positions near or a little above minimum wage.

Hart Hotels of Buffalo, founded by David Hart in 1985 and operating locally under the name Lenroc L.P., is the project developer. Krog Corporation, also of Buffalo and a favorite of Hart Hotels, is the general contractor. NH Architecture of Rochester, another frequent partner of Hart Hotels, is the project architect.

 

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409 College Avenue (Student Agencies eHub) Construction Update, 4/2016

26 04 2016

Not a new construction, but a major renovation. scaffolding is up as the Student Agencies Building at 409 College Avenue undergoes major interior and exterior renovations to its second and third floors. As previously reported on the Voice, 9.660 SF is being renovated to make way for eHub, a co-working and business incubator space for startups founded by Cornell affiliates – students, faculty and staff. The project is part of a collaboration with the Entrepreneurship at Cornell program (eShip), and for its part, Cornell renovated about 5,000 SF of space in the Ag Quad’s Kennedy Hall to complement Student Agencies’ plans.

As part of the renovations, 409, which was built in 1985, gets a major facadectomy – out with the brick and its punch-out windows, in with the glass curtain walls of fixed-frame window units with metal and granite detailing. The renovations will also add a rooftop patio space to the second floor. The project had to go through Design Review since it’s a major exterior change to an MU-2 building in Collegetown, and it ended up being one of the rare cases where the planning board encouraged a more bold design. The original design can be found here. The posters on the netting are the only copies of seen of the approved final design.

The Bike Rack, 7-Eleven, and Student Agencies will remain option while the renovations are underway.

STREAM Collaborative and Taitem Engineering designed the renovations (project design and energy efficiency improvements), and Morse Construction Management is the general contractor. All three firms are based out of Ithaca. The total cost for 409’s renovation is about $2.8 million.

Plans call for a May opening.

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