ITHACA, N.Y. — Things are about go get a little more lively on Inlet Island, with another residential conversion opening its doors to its first tenants.

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Mark and Adrienne Zaharis are putting the final touches on the seven apartments at 206 Taughannock Boulevard, as well as storage and office space for themselves. The husband-and-wife couple previously owned and operated the Unfinished Furniture Store and warehouse, taken over from Mark’s parents when they semi-retired in 2002.

“Mark has done retail pretty much all his life, and just decided it was time for a change. We had an interest in renovating the space for apartments, we’ve been talking about it for a few years. It seemed like a good project,” said Adrienne Zaharis.

The couple closed the furniture store last year and began the conversion project in December 2014. As with any gut renovation, a number of obstacles arose during the construction process.

“Some of the most challenging things from my perspective were that it’s an old buildings, we ran into things we didn’t expect. 75 percent of the ground-level floors had to be gutted to the dirt, floor joints and everything. We rented a jackhammer to hammer out the concrete so we could bring in new water service. Second [most challenging] would be working in an uninsulated building. It was so cold in February,” Adrienne Zaharis says with a laugh. “We were lucky to have a good crew — everyone worked well together.”

Local architect Claudia Brenner penned the design of the renovated building, and the Zaharises did their own contracting work, assembling a local crew for the project.

Although the apartments are only just hitting the market, three of the seven units are already spoken for. One-bedroom units range from $1150-$1350 per month, and the three two-bedroom units range from $2350-$2500 per month.

The project is the second residential conversion on Inlet Island in two years.

Last year, local businessman Tim Ciaschi renovated the Lehigh Valley House next door into six condominiums and retail space, as well as a satellite office for the Ithaca Police Department. Plans for a third project, developer Steve Flash’s 21-unit apartment building at 323 Taughannock Boulevard, are approved but have yet to begin construction.

Inlet Island and the Waterfront have continued to evolve in recent years, from industrial warehouses to a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood. The process has been a combination of local owners redeveloping their properties, and initiatives like the Waterfront Trail to bring people into what was an often-overlooked part of Ithaca.

With their work nearly complete, and more projects from other local businessmen in the pipeline, the Zaharises are optimistic about the future of the neighborhood.

“Mark and his family have been in this neighborhood since the 1950s. This side of town has a lot of great contributions to Ithaca – restaurants, the fitness center, the waterfront trail…it’s still ripe for more residential development, hopefully more will continue to happen.”

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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.