ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins Financial Corporation (TFC) is seeking tax breaks as part of the plans to build a new headquarters in downtown Ithaca.


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The Ithaca-based banking and wealth management company has filed an application with the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (TCIDA) for a 10-year tax abatement. The application for the $35 million project (of which $28 million is for construction of the new building) states that the requested abatement would save the project $4.06 million in property taxes, and $2.112 million in sales taxes. New taxes generated and paid over the same time period would equal $3.782 million.

In the application to the IDA, TFC states that it would be millions of dollars cheaper to build at “a generic rural site” because of cheaper land values, lower taxes and lower parking costs. In order to make downtown headquarters more financially comparable, the company decided to apply for tax breaks.

The application only suggests 6 new jobs over the next three years, paying $37k-$84k annually. Given previous estimates of 77 new jobs over 10 years, this lack of major job growth early on forces the later years to pick up the slack.

Related renderings

On a related note, here are the latest renders of the Tompkins Financial HQ. With suggestions from the city’s Design Review meeting, there have been substantial revisions, giving the proposed building a little more character by varying the use of materials.

More drawings are available for viewing here, and a cover letter from the architects is available here. This project’s is moving through the approvals process at a fairly rapid pace, the applicants hope to have preliminary site approval granted at the June 23rd Planning and Development Board meeting. Construction is now expected to start in August and wrap up in February 2017.

A traffic study conducted by SRF Associates of Rochester determined that with only 20 employees moving from the suburbs into downtown, that the impact to the vehicular traffic on East Seneca (thousands of cars per day) will be negligible. A long-term increase in traffic is likely if other entities move into the rented space TFC vacates, but that’s well outside the scope of a traffic study.

The county’s planning department has issued the opinion that the traffic increase from TFC is likely to be minimal. However, in its letter to the city, Commissioner of Planning Edward Marx notes that, as a general observation, with all the potential development in downtown Ithaca, a traffic study analyzing the potential long-term build-out may be a good idea.

The initial work calls for site clearing, demo of the existing drive-thru branch on site, then excavation down to the first sub-floor, thenceforth pile driving shall commence.

It’s anticipated the sandy soils will make the pile-driving move along faster, but the other buildings nearby will necessitate temporary support installations during the excavation process. A new drive-thru will be across the street underneath the current TFC headquarters (shown above).

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Brian Crandall

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