ITHACA, N.Y. — Another high-value property sale in Collegetown may portend another large building in the neighborhood’s future.

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215 College Avenue was sold by Christopher and Victoria Anagnost to “215 CA Associates LLC” for $5,300,000 on July 30. A check of the LLC’s address locates it at a property owned by prominent Collegetown landlord John Novarr.

Currently, 215 College Avenue houses a 5,500 square-foot apartment house originally built in the late 1800s. The property has frontage on both College Avenue and Linden Avenue, and most of the unbuilt land is occupied by a large surface parking lot. The Anagnosts had owned the building since 1988.

Novarr, a native Ithacan, has been busy in Collegetown lately. Currently, he’s engaged in site plan review for a proposed $12 million education and office building to be leased by Cornell’s MBA program. That project, just one and a half blocks away at 209-215 Dryden Road, is expected to start construction in the fall.

The assessed value of the property is much less than what the LLC paid for it. According to county records, 215 College Avenue was assessed for $775,000 in 2015. Apart from the very strong rental market associated with its prime inner Collegetown location, why the property would sell for such a high price isn’t immediately clear.

“In my opinion the biggest reason for the large price was the change in Collegetown zoning and that resulted in interest from several developers,” replied seller Christopher Anagnost in an email. “That is what catapulted the price to that level.”

215 College Avenue falls under MU-1 zoning, which is Collegetown’s second-densest type of zone. MU-1 allows new buildings to be 5 stories and 70 feet tall (with a minimum of 3 stories and 30 feet), and no parking is required on site.

There’s no guarantee this will be housing; with Novarr’s Dryden Road building plans calling for an academic building for Cornell, it’s really anyone’s guess as to what might be planned here. 

With the revision of the Collegetown zoning code in spring 2014, and with plans in motion for many of the less developed properties in inner Collegetown, developers have started turning their attention to less obvious properties, either those that have significant obstacles or those that are a little further from the College Avenue/Dryden Road intersection.

A developer has approached the city with an offer to buy Fire Station No.9, and the city has hired a consultant to look into the proposal.

Surprisingly, even with all of the interest in the neighborhood, it has not been enough to meet Cornell’s student population growth. It appears unlikely that interest in Collegetown will abate anytime soon.

 

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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.