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As part of the move, Herson Wagner plans to renovate the two buildings currently on the Elmira Road property, and redo the landscaping and parking areas. The Site Plan Review (SPR) materials can be found on the city’s website here.
Currently, the store and warehouse on site are home to the Ithaca branch of the J. C. Smith construction equipment store and rental company. The structures date from the late 1960s, when Southwest Ithaca was just starting to suburbanize. Prior to the current owners moving in 20 years ago, the building was used by a masonry supply company, a flooring retail outlet and an archery in the 1980s. J. C. Smith company representatives could not confirm what the future plans for the Ithaca branch are at this time.
According to the SPR, Herson Wagner is seeking the move to Elmira Road because “[t]he relocation will allow for additional space to better meet the needs of their clients and the community.” The front building on Elmira Road would be used for funeral services and receptions, and the rear building would be used for offices and customary preparations of the deceased.
Along with the building renovations, the number of parking spaces would be increased from 10 to 46. A new entrance drive, covered drop-off, and lushly vegetated “park-like atmosphere”, complete with park benches, are also included in the plans.
The project would cost an estimated $500,000, and be built from March to September 2016. Local firm Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects is designing the renovation.
The front half of the property is zoned for businesses (SW-2), but the rear building is grandfathered in a R-2a low-density residential zone. Since the property is changing hands, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals would need to issue a zoning variance if the funeral home’s location is to move forward.
Herson Wagner was formed by the merger of the Herson Funeral Home and the Wagner Funeral Home in 2013. Herson was founded on South Geneva Street in 1933, and Wagner traces their local history back to when it was established as the Baldwin Funeral Home in 1860.
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