This column was written by Brian Crandall, who runs “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”
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The land for the new Ithaca Marriott exchanged hands on January 13, the groundbreaking ceremony was January 22. With those events filed away, there appears to be some real site prep going on at the site, located at the intersection of E. State and S. Aurora Streets. The site has very clearly been disturbed, although last Saturday appeared to be a day off for the construction workers. The sidewalk on S. Aurora Street is closed, and excavators and dump trucks are ready and waiting. The first major step in this project will be to clear the asphalt and soil on site and dig deep enough to enable foundation work to take place. Expect that work to take place for the rest of the winter and into the spring.
The $32 million, 10-story, 159-room hotel is slated for an opening in Q3 of 2016 (July-September). This is pushed back from the previously given date of Spring 2016. While this new date misses the lucrative graduation season, it will still be able to take advantage of the summer crowds and back-to-school visitors, if all goes to plan (and we’ll see if it does). The new date also places the opening of the Marriott a couple of months behind the opening of the new 123-room Canopy Hilton a couple blocks away. With 282 more hotel rooms downtown, businesses that cater to tourists and other travelers will welcome the boost in business.
According to a press release from developer Urgo Hotels (or the Ithaca Journal paraphrase), the hotel will include a fitness center, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and 3,000 sq ft of meeting space. While the hotel is underway, some details are still being ironed out – the hotel signage (which requires a zoning variance) was derided as too generic and bright, and Urgo Hotels withdrew the proposed design. Urgo has a year or so to figure out what kind of signage they and Marriott would like to install, and don’t expect any delays just because of signage.
The hotel has been designed by Atlanta-based Cooper Carry Architecture and development is a joint venture of Urgo Hotels of Bethesda and Ensemble Hotel Partners, a division of Ensemble Investments. Urgo’s portfolio includes at least 32 other hotels totaling 4,500 hotel rooms. Interior design will be handled by Design Continuum, W.H. Lane of Binghamton is the general contractor, and Rimland Development contributed the land to the joint venture and is a partner. Long Island-based Rimland was the original firm that pitched the project in 2008 as the “Hotel Ithaca”, before the old Holiday Inn downtown went independent.
Off the record, have we settled that it’s 159 rooms and not 160? Because this is confusing me to no end.