Ithaca, N.Y. — The planning board seems cautiously enthusiastic about the State Street Triangle development.


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The proposed 11 story building for 301 East State Street

Per the draft minutes from the April meeting, the planning board generally wants the building to be as iconic as possible; board member John Schroeder went as fall as to suggest inspiration from the Carson Pirie Scott Building in Chicago:

Another member suggested a decorative crown.

If my notes are right, a crown could exceed zoning as long as it’s not habitable space. Some other suggestions include a setback on the upper floors, and looking into incorporating other forms of housing.

What is the proposal?

Here’s from our previous reporting: Texas-based developer Campus Advantage  is planning an 11-story addition to downtown on the Trebloc Building property at 301 East State Street.

The building would reach the maximum of the 120-foot zoning allows on the property, and fill up nearly the whole plot of land bounded by East State, South Aurora and East Green Streets.

In the initial sketch plan presented Tuesday night, local architect Scott Whitham, a consultant for the project, showed floor plans for retail on the first floor of the proposed tower, with apartments on the floors above.

The retail section includes five general retail spaces and one restaurant space, with sizes ranging from 1,800-2,300 sq ft each. Space for a fitness center and apartment amenities were also included on the first floor.

For perspective’s sake, that would make it one of the most populated buildings in the city.

Some other released renderings:

Ithaca officials respond

The following are the reactions of Ithaca’s planning board to the proposal, lifted directly from the draft minutes prepared by the city:

— (Mark) Darling strongly urged the applicants to ensure the building appears as iconic as possible, given its strategic location.

— (John) Schroeder agreed, noting that every façade on the building will function as a front façade.

While he likes the design, including the articulation on the sides, the curving end of the building is an opportunity for designing something genuinely fantastic. It currently looks too monolithic. There needs to be more delicate detailing, with additional colors, etc.

— (McKenzie) Jones-Rounds suggested having the building mimic the other buildings in the CBD Zone (i.e., a mixture of taller and shorter buildings).

— (Garrick) Blalock recommended adding some decorative crownings at the top of the building.

— Schroeder indicated that Louis Sullivan’s Carson Pirie Scott Building in Chicago would be a good source of inspiration, with its prominent curved entryway.

— (Jack) Elliott observed the building presents a stark contrast to the north side of the street: it is essentially double the height. He is not sure that is the most architecturally sensitive approach.

Once the building design is viewed within the context of the neighboring buildings, it becomes clear it will be a massive wall that will cast a huge shadow over the street.

Schroeder suggested that setting one or more of the floors back would make a big difference.

— Elliott observed that the large pillars at the front of the building denote a single grand entry space, which is not really the case. He would love to see a major entry place.

— Blalock suggested the applicants preserve some flexibility for the project to serve more than just a student demographic (e.g., senior housing).

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Brian Crandall

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