Ithaca, N.Y. — A trio of projects – commercial, residential and municipal – are slated to be reviewed on the town of Ithaca Planning board’s agenda Tuesday night.


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1 — Luxury tents

The first is a series of luxury tents proposed for the La Tourelle Hotel and Spa on Route 96B. La Tourelle has taken an interest in the luxury camping trend, also known as “glamping”, where tents come with king-sized beds, writing desks, and decks, while hot tubs and saunas are a short walk away.

This definitely isn’t your father’s camping. Prices on their website generally fall between $155 and $250 depending on tent size and date.

Courtesy of the hotel’s Facebook page
Courtesy of the hotel’s Facebook page

Citing the success of their luxury camping pilot program last September, La Tourelle and its partner Firelight Camps plan to add nine more luxury tents that were approved last year (for a total of 15), and is now proposing to install a larger 40’ x 60’ lobby tent (up from 30’ x 32’), a 20’ x 40’ dining/lounge tent, a mobile kitchen unit, storage and housekeeping sheds, composting outhouses and landscape improvements.

2 — New water tank

On the other side of town, the town government is applying to install a new water tank off of Christopher Lane in Northeast Ithaca, a site currently occupied by an older water tank. It might seem a bit redundant, but town projects are required to get planning board approval just like any other proposed development.

According to town engineer Creig Hebdon, the old water tank, which was built in 1958, has “significantly deteriorated” and needs to be replaced. The new tank, which will either be a glass-lined tank or all-steel, will store the water in a tank elevated 60 feet above the ground, helping to relieve the low water pressure issues of neighborhood residents. Seven feet wider and 26 feet taller than the current tank, the bulb-like tank will have a larger visual presence, which the town hopes to minimize by painting dark green so that it blends into the treeline. The old water tank would be demolished once the new one is operational.

3 — The Amabel project

Lastly, the town is set to review modifications to a residential housing development proposed for a piece of vacant land just south of the city-town line on Five Mile Drive. New Earth Living LLC’s Amabel project is seeking site plan amendments, reducing the number of single-family homes planned from 31 to 28 and reconfiguring the layout of the project – homes that once faced each each other will now be side-by-side, to “make sure every house has access to [the property site’s] awe and serenity”, says developer Sue Cosentini.

The Amabel project is being promoted as an “urban ecovillage”, without traditional driveways and with roof configurations that will allow enough solar panels to result in net zero energy use for each home. A summer marketing launch is planned.

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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at