With additional reporting from Jeff Stein:
Learn how Ithaca Hummus makes its magic
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Ithaca, N.Y. — As with virtually every other sizable project in downtown Ithaca, the canopy Hotel by Hilton is filing an application requesting a tax abatement through the CIITAP program for its project at 320-324 East State Street, making it the sixth applicant since the revised program was put into effect in 2013. A refresher/review of CIITAP can be found here.
About a dozen people attended a public meeting last night, according to Jeff Furman, former member of the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency.
Furman said the community members had concerns about ensuring the development hired workers for a living wage and about the project’s sustainability.
“We feel these aren’t on the table,” Furman says. “We’re getting them on the table and that’s what our presence is really about – what kind of leverage we have, we’ll see. But we’re beginning to be more visible, more active.”
The applicant, “Ithaca Downtown Associates LLC”, a.k.a. the Patel Family of the Baywood Hotels Inc., notes that the 7-story, 123-room hotel project has an estimated cost of $20.15 million. Although the value of the tax abatement is not recorded in the city’s application (it will be written out, when reviewed by the county IDA), it looks like they’re seeking the standard 7-year abatement, which will save them something in the ballpark of a couple million dollars over those 7 years.
As with the previous Marriott and Hotel Ithaca applications, the applicant will only pay one-third to one-half of its projected employees a living wage, which is probably going to earn them the scorn and opposition of the Tompkins County Worker’s Center.
But the city and Downtown Ithaca Alliance have been supporters of the project. Neighboring businesses seem to be have mixed opinions about the project, with some seeing a potential business source, and others mourning the loss of a convenient parking lot.
The 74,475 sq ft project is expecting to start construction during the spring, with completion in Spring 2016. Local firm Whitham Planning and Design is the architect.