An INHS rendering of the proposed project

ITHACA, N.Y. — An affordable housing proposal for Ithaca’s Northside won a major approval Tuesday night at City Hall.

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The City of Ithaca Planning Board voted on Tuesday to approve final site plan review for an Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services project on Hancock Street.

The $14 million project would add 12 townhomes and a 4 story building to the city’s Northside; officials hope this will create more affordable housing in a city facing a severe shortage of it, but some have said the project doesn’t fit the character of the neighborhood.

An INHS rendering of the proposed project

“The planning board has been very supportive of the project and has recognized that it meets an urgent need for housing in the city. They pushed us hard to find a project that has a really good design,” said Paul Mazzarella, executive director of INHS. “I’m really pleased.”

See related: $14 Mil. housing proposal for Ithaca’s Northside marches forward

See related: Opinion: Why Ithaca should reject major building plan for Northside

Mazzarella said he’s optimistic construction can begin by next May. He noted that the project still needs other city decisions to go in its favor, but said he thought Tuesday night’s vote represented “the basic approval” — the most important hurdle faced by the project.

About two dozen people attended Tuesday night’s meeting — a somewhat muted turnout given some of the passionate responses the Hancock Street project had generated in previous weeks and months.

Click on the Ithaca Voice Story Database to learn more. Stories on this topic are filed under “Hancock Street affordable housing proposal.”
Click on the Ithaca Voice Story Database to learn more. Stories on this topic are filed under “Hancock Street affordable housing proposal.”

As reported previously by Brian Crandall of the Ithaca Voice: Five rental townhomes, all 3-bedroom units, will be built along the new Lake Avenue pedestrian path on the side closest to Adams Street and Alice Miller Way. The for sale units would be built along the pedestrian path closer to Hancock Street.

The rental townhomes would be built under the same grant funding as the apartment building, and therefore be under construction at the same time – May 2016 to July 2017, according to documents recently filed with the city.

The plan calls for 53 1 and 2-bedroom apartments and about 65,000 square feet of space, of which 7,500 square feet will be covered parking.

The included commercial space has been expanded from 8,200 sq ft in the initial proposal, to about 10,000 sq ft now. More renders of the newest iteration can be found here.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.