This column was written by Brian Crandall, who runs “Ithacating in Cornell Heights.”

1 — Update on Texas Roadhouse

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A few updates on the Texas Roadhouse steakhouse proposed for Southwest Ithaca:

— Texas Roadhouse officials emailed The Voice to say that the restaurant will be hiring for 170 jobs — not 40 as originally submitted in documents to the city. The restaurant says that jobs number includes waiters, kitchen workers and other workers.

— According to a cover letter from the restaurant chain, plantings have been revised to break up the expanse of blank walls, handicap ramps are now present in the new elevations, and signage has been tweaked.

— The restaurant is scheduled to open March 2016.

“The hiring process starts about 8 to 10 weeks before the new store opening. We will place a banner on the hiring trailer and building when we are ready to hire,” a Texas Roadhouse official says in an email.

— All in all, not a big change from the previously-shown drawings. It doesn’t look like this one will have too many issues moving forward.

2 — Old Library site

If my inbox has been any clue over this past week, there are some folks who are pretty unhappy with the results of the county’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Old Library site. One more applicant has dropped out of the process – DPI chose not to respond to the RFP. DPI had proposed 76 condos and 8 apartments for the site, a move that was cheered by some residents who spoke passionately about the need for purchasable housing in the city. That leaves three contenders of the original six:

-The Syracuse-based Franklin Properties project, now called the West Court Lofts and Wellness Collective, would renovate the existing building and include 22 residential condominium units (down from 32 units in the RFEI), medical offices, a café, and community room.

-The Rochester-based Cornerstone Group project, known as the Dewitt Senior Apartments, would build 63 residential units of senior housing (down from 70-80 units in the RFEI), and include community space for nutrition education by Cooperative Extension.

-The Ithaca-based Travis-Hyde Properties project would build 60 residential senior-focused units (up from 48 units in the RFEI), and would include space for Lifelong, professional office space, and a community room.

There have been no renderings published as of yet, but there will be a stand-alone post when they show up on the county’s website. The three proposals will be judged against each other over the course of the next couple months. A quick glance at the judgement criteria can be found in the Old Library meeting notes here.

The next meeting of the Old Library committee is scheduled for Thursday, April 30th at 9 AM. 5 PM Meetings will be set up during May for developer presentations to the public. Comments on the proposal can be emailed to Ed Marx, the County Planning Commissioner, at emarx@tompkins-co.org with the subject title “Old Library Property”.

3 — CFCU eyes redeveloping site

Local credit union CFCU (Cornell-Fingerlakes Credit Union) is making some moves by buying a retail commercial strip with an eye towards redevelopment. The property, 501-507 S. Meadow Street, sold for $1,555,550 on March 30th, well above its assessed value of $950,000. According to a statement taken by the Ithaca Journal, “the current intention is to ultimately use the site for credit union-related purposes”.

The one-story, 9,203 sq ft strip buildings date from 1980 and 1990 and previously housed a Thai restaurant and offices for Lama Real Estate, the business of previous owner Robert Lama. The site is currently zoned the suburb-friendly SW-2, but like much of big box land, it has been targeted for urban mixed-use in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. CFCU is currently headquartered in about 30,000 sq ft of office space in two 1990s office buildings at 1030 and 1050 Craft Road in Lansing.

In short, nothing immediate going on here, but definitely a property worth keeping an eye on.

4 — Flatiron idea

According to the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA) notes from the April 2nd meeting agenda, the board was not impressed with the Flatiron proposal.

On page 6, it gives the project low pritority, with the description “not feasible as presented“. On the other hand, the INHS Hancock Street project was well received and given high priority.

5 — South Cayuga Street

Looking at the March Planning and Development Board meeting minutes, 402 S. Cayuga Street has been approved, pending BZA approval of the variance. The 4-unit, 9-bedroom project may be small, but it’s thoughtful infill and will help bring some affordable owner-occupied housing back into the city.

Approvals were also granted for the city project to replace the Lake Street this summer and fall, and refurbish the pocket park to its southeast. 210 Hancock was discussed without any voting, and sketch plans were presented for the TFC HQ downtown, and the 215 West Spencer Street apartment project, which have been written about previously. The board also discussed added additional questions to the CEQR (the city’s version of the SEQR used in project impact analysis), and the revised paperwork will be reviewed at a later meeting.


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Brian Crandall

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