This column was written by Brian Crandall, who runs “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”
As always, dissenting viewpoints can be submitted to Jeff Stein at email@example.com.
Why I shop downtown — Marty
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1 — Time to decide on tax abatements for Carey Building, Jason Fane
On Thursday, the county IDA votes on whether to approve tax abatements for two downtown projects: Travis Hyde’s Carey Building addition and Ithaca Renting/Fane Org’s 130 East Clinton. The $4.1 million Carey Building addition adds 9,000 sq ft of incubator office space and 16 units, 14 of which are 300-450 sq ft studios. 130 East Clinton would add 36 units in three interconnected buildings on a steeply sloped parcel adjacent to the city police HQ, at a cost of $4.4 million. The multi-year tax abatements are in the range of $850k each.
I’m not going to defend Fane’s character. Heck, the man’s been combative through this whole process. But I will side with the trustworthy opinions of city staff members like JoAnne Cornish, Philly DeSarno and others that it contributes something to the very tight housing supply and it is a welcome resource.
Denying the project by virtue of it being Fane is legally perilous and sets a bad precedent, and saying it’s a bad spot…well, it’s downtown Ithaca, where high-density lot use is expected. If Fane didn’t think he could get the environmental assessment approved he wouldn’t have proposed it. We’ll see what the board decides.
2 — South Hill master plan
Up on South Hill, Ithaca College is holding meetings to flesh out its new master plan. Similar to the plan Cornell published in 2008, the purpose of the master plan (websitehere) is to determine what the space needs are for different assets and programs of the college, and figuring out where to put them.
The master plan is being spearheaded by Perkins Eastman out of NYC. The previous plan by Sasaki Associates was published in 2002 with a refresher in 2010, so to get something out in 2015 would be appropriate. I did a writeup on the old IC plan way back in August 2008. Don’t expect any new plan to be followed to a tee — the athletic center ended up on the complete opposite of IC’s campus than originally planned.
But it will provide insight as to what IC wants to build through the rest of the decade and beyond. Key things to looks for – dorm sites in case the college decides to expand its student population, and new program space, which tends to get built sooner or later (for instance, the Business School addition, Athletic Center, and Peggy Williams Center from the 2002 plan).
3 — Wegmans expansion moves forward
The 15,700 sq ft retail pad proposed by Wegmans is up for final review at the December planning board meeting, accordingly to the city projects memo.
Compared tothe initial design, the building has been rotated on site so that its long axis is now north-south, and the design itself received a number of tweaks, though the overall design theme is still the same as before.
There have been some concerns raised by local wine and liquor store owners that it could be home to liquor/wine store, similar to what Wegmans has done at other sites in Johnson City and Buffalo. However, that is one of only a few ideas being floated, and the planning board doesn’t vote on what type of store can be allowed to open in a building, that’s a debate for the Common Council.
4 — What’s going on with Maguire plan?
Looks like the Maguire plan has hit a dead end. According to the Times, the Maguires want the site rezoned rather than a specialized PDZ for the property. Looking at the PDZ regulations, the town’s idea would give more freedom in regards to property use, but it also gives the town the right to regulate the form and layout of the structures on site. I guess the Maguires aren’t fond of that.
The town just completed its comprehensive plan and is trying to get its new form-based zoning together, so the Maguires are essentially usurping something the town spent years working on.
In conclusion: no dice. The Maguires are still interested in doing something, but it may not be in Ithaca town. Though with as packed as the city is and as questionable as Lansing can be, I’m not sure they have many options.
5 — Development at 707 East Seneca
For what it’s worth, the proposal at 707 East Seneca appears to be student housing. Applicant Todd Fox (a local developer who’s done a few other small projects in Ithaca andDryden) wants to build six units with sixteen bedrooms, five 3-bedrooms and a basement 1-bedroom, situated next to four parking spaces tucked into the hillside (four more spaces would be out in the open).
I’m not sure how so many units are possible, since I thought the maximum allowed on site was four units.
I’d love to see how it looks, but there’s nothing on the city website (which, sidenote, has been “updated” and now has information of three separate websites, the new one, E-govlink and “TSSERR”; the notification emails don’t work and it’s driving me nuts). If something comes up, you’ll find it here sooner or later.