This column was written by Brian Crandall, who runs the blog “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”
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Inquiring minds would like to know if Bruno Schickel has any other expansions or colorful villages planned. Because the Boiceville Cottages, managed by the Schickel family and currently being built, are rather unusual as apartment complexes go.
For one thing, there are the bright paint jobs, a sort of hallmark of the cottage units since the first set of 24 houses was built in 1996/97. The bright paint and the ornate woodwork have led to a nickname, “The Storybook Cottages“, which holds some weight, according to an article in Life in the Finger Lakes:
“Schickel said he was inspired to build his colorful cottages by a children’s book he read to his daughters almost 20 years ago. The book, Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney, tells of a girl who, at her grandfather’s urging, travels to faraway lands seeking adventure. Later she moves to a cottage by the sea and works to make the world more beautiful by spreading seeds of blue and purple lupine. An illustration by the author shows the Lupine Lady’s house on a hill overlooking the sea. The small cottage is replete with finial and gingerbread. Seeing that illustration was the eureka! moment, Schickel recalled. “I said, ‘I’ve got to design something like this!’”
It’s been about 2.5 months since my last trip through the cottages, but given that it’s winter (and a particularly cold and severe winter since the jet stream reconfigured in January), there has only been slow if steady progress with its 75-unit expansion.
Since December, the timber homes with purple trim have been completed, four houses that were undergoing exterior build-out have now progressed to exterior detailing and interior finishing (the ones with green timber trim), and windows are being fitted into three homes that have sprouted from their slab foundations since the previous visit.
One of the things that stood out on this visit was that it’s now possible to walk all the way through the new phase thanks to the construction.
Looking around at the snow on the ground, edges of the blue waterproof covering (which might be the covering of cement board being used to protect the slab insulation) could be seen poking out among the drifts. Using the (gas utility?) loops coming out from the foundations as a guide, there are perhaps a dozen poured concrete foundations, ready for construction as time and weather provide.
There were approximately 25 units that were built in 2014, and with probably 10 complete by the end of March, 2015 looks to be on the same construction pace, maybe even greater.
It might even be possible that the expansion will be completed this year.
The initial 24 units were built in the late 1990s, a further phase of 36 units was undertaken pre-recession, and in the past couple of years the town of Caroline signed off on the next phase, a group of 75 that will more than double the size of the complex. The cottages have been built out at a steady pace, and upon completion of this current phase, 135 units will be present on the Boiceville property.
Most of the units are 1 and 2-bedroom cottages, built in clusters of three, although a few “gatehouse” rowhouses offer studios and 3-bedroom units. The Boiceville complex may be the largest population center in the 3,300 person town.