ITHACA, N.Y. — The pile driving work continues at the Marriott project site downtown.

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Quoting an anonymous source familiar with the project, about 10 more caissons are left to be piled, and grade beams are being built.  Per wikipedia, a grade beam is a reinforced concrete beam that transmits the load from a bearing wall into spaced foundations such as pile caps or caissons; a grade beam spans the the space between the caissons, distributing the weight among the caissons and ensuring the hotel’s structural stability.

In the image below, you can see the pile driver at work drilling a caisson, using a rotary bore so that it can more easily penetrate deep into the soil.

The expectation is that the project will begin to rise starting in just a couple weeks, and build its way skyward over the course of the summer and fall.

The $32 million, 10-story, 159-room hotel is slated for an opening in Q3 of 2016 (July-September). The hotel will include a fitness center, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and 3,000 sq ft of meeting space.

The hotel has been designed by Atlanta-based Cooper Carry Architecture and development is a joint venture of Urgo Hotels of Bethesda and Ensemble Hotel Partners, a division of Ensemble Investments.

Urgo’s portfolio includes at least 32 other hotels totaling 4,500 hotel rooms. Interior design will be handled by Design Continuum, W.H. Lane of Binghamton is the general contractor, and Rimland Development contributed the land to the joint venture and is a partner. Long Island-based Rimland was the original firm that pitched the project in 2008 as the “Hotel Ithaca”, before the old Holiday Inn downtown went independent.

Some background on the project previously reported in the Ithaca Voice: This project really has had quite the drawn-out process, originally proposed as the Hotel Ithaca back in 2008.

At that point, it was a 9-story, 102-room hotel with a cost of $17 million, to be developed by Rimland Development and operated by boutique firm Gemstone Hotels. Well, a lot happened along the way.

The project was approved, the recession hit, the project stalled due to an inability to get financing, the cost kept going up from $17 million to $25 million to $27 million, and the number of rooms went from 102 to 125 to 140.

Then the Marriott version came into play in 2012 with a $19 million price tag, it was approved, it too failed to get financing, and went back to the board with a value-engineered design for the now $32 million project. With money from Ensemble Investments, the project has been able to launch. There have been three separate designs with ballooning price tags.

To actually have something underway is a welcome denouement to this saga.

Brian Crandall

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