The following is a republished press release from a community organization or member and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at

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ITHACA, NY – 2015 was a year of tremendous development and growth in downtown Ithaca—and not just because of the completion of the 871-day, $15 million renovation of the Ithaca Commons pedestrian mall in July. A number of other major projects were completed or saw substantial advancement as well.

All told, these new and in-progress projects, totaling over $140 million of private investment, will add 144 hotel rooms, eight new retail and restaurant spaces, 145 apartments, and eleven stories of office space to our walkable urban core. Since the end of the recession, over $200 million of downtown development has been constructed or planned.

Regarding the progress made in 2015, Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson says, “Downtown is returning to a state of normalcy after the Commons construction. But to us, normalcy means a steady diet of new private development that grows and strengthens our core city center. These projects do not interfere with people getting around downtown and act to provide a growing source of foot traffic and sales for our businesses.”

Canopy by Hilton: This boutique 123-room hotel on the former Strand Theatre site on East State Street has undergone site plan review and has received tax abatement assistance. It is currently back before site plan review for revisions and is scheduled for groundbreaking in spring 2016.

Carey Building: Five new stories atop the existing two-story structure on the 300 block of East State Street have been framed out and interior work is underway. Plans call for a spring 2016 completion. The entire third floor will be occupied by the Rev downtown incubator program and the remainder of the space will be housing.

Harold’s Square: While this project has received both site plan approval and tax abatement support, it has yet to establish a firm start date. The developer is continuing to work on addressing financial gaps in the project and as these are resolved the project will proceed. A late 2016 start date is still expected. When complete, Harold’s Square will include new street-level retail storefronts, office space, and about 80 housing units.

Hotel Ithaca: Phase Two of the Hotel Ithaca project is nearing construction. This phase will build a new five-story building to be located between the existing hotel tower on South Cayuga Street and the Sunoco gas station. This new mid-rise building will replace the original two-floor structure. The project is seeking CIITAP tax incentives and has begun the review process for this program. Construction of phase two will begin in spring 2016.

Lofts @ Six Mile Creek: This 45-unit market-rate housing project behind the Tompkins County Public Library, is now fully built and a majority of the units have been leased and occupied.

Marriott Hotel: This 159-room full-service hotel project anchoring the east end of the Commons is now up to floor number five of eleven. The property has appointed a General Manager and is scheduled to open for business in summer 2016.

Masonic Temple: The Downtown Ithaca Alliance received a $500,000 grant from the New York Main Street program to assist with the rehabilitation of this historic building on North Cayuga Street. Among the improvements to be undertaken in 2016 will be the installation of an elevator and the upgrading of basic building systems.

Rothschild’s Building: This long-vacant second floor office space on the Commons has been leased to Miller Mayer and the Finger Lakes School of Massage and a new elevator and front entrance are being constructed.

Simeon’s: The renovation of this historic building and landmark restaurant on the Commons is moving forward nicely and an early 2016 completion date is expected. The exterior will be restored to its original look, the restaurant will be rebuilt and will expand into the second floor, and new apartment units will be created on levels three and four. A 2016 completion date is expected.

Tompkins Financial: The new seven-story, 110,000 square foot office building and service center for the parent company of Tompkins Trust Company received tax abatement this summer. This project will centralize 300 employees onto the site currently occupied by the Tompkins Trust drive-thru on Seneca Street. Construction is set to begin in early 2016.

Looking ahead to 2016, Ferguson says, “The two drivers of downtown development are housing and lodging. We look forward to a resolution of the under-utilized Trebloc site, the start of the old library site project, and continued interest in the West State/MLK corridor.”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.