ITHACA, N.Y. — At the city of Ithaca Planning and Development Board meeting last Tuesday night, plans were reviewed for what might end up becoming the next event space in Ithaca’s performing arts scene.

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Committee members reviewed plans for the The Cherry Artspace, a non-profit performing arts facility to be located at 102 Cherry Street south of Inlet Island, a 0.12 acre piece of land that’s part of the Cherry Street Industrial Park. An area zoned for industrial warehouses and factories might seem like an unusual place to build a theatre building, but from a zoning standpoint, the city of Ithaca’s industrial zone allows for a wide range of industrial and commercial functions.

Plans for the “The Cherry“, as it’s been nicknamed by the owner, call for a new building south of the existing building on the property, and designed by architect Claudia Brenner to look similar. The two buildings will stand beside each other once construction is complete.

“When my husband and I started imagining this project, we were thinking we would find an old warehouse, some old industrial building, and renovate it,” said theatre company director Samuel Buggeln. “A lot of art spaces get made this way. But Ithaca doesn’t really have a lot of buildings like that, we have a different kind of industrial history. Also we found out that questions of zoning and code are super complicated and expensive when dealing with existing old buildings. So when we found the site on Cherry St, our architect Claudia Brenner said, you know, it would be easier and cheaper just to build new so everything can be the way it needs to be from the get-go.”

The one-story, 1,154 SF building currently on site was built around 1980 and was previously used by Renovus Energy before the firm moved out to a bigger facility in Ulysses last year. Performance Premises LLC, the limited liability company for The Cherry Artspace proprietor and theatre director Samuel Buggeln (pronunced “Bug-Ellen”) purchased the property last August for $240,000.


According to the website for the Artspace, the building will house The Cherry Arts theatre company, but also provide a work and performance space for other arts organizations based out of or visiting the Ithaca area.

Buggeln is excited about the work that may unfold in the new Artspace. “The inside will be very simple too, to give our artists the greatest number of possibilities. Flexible seating— we will probably max out around 75-80 seats, but we can also put the chairs away and have a dance party! The idea is to make a really beautiful simple space for all kinds of different artists to show their stuff.”

“The Cherry Arts is the theatre company who will manage and program the space, and we will definitely make and show our own work there—but we are equally excited about bringing different kinds of art under the same roof: dance, visual art, music, puppetry, you name it— and have all those different audiences and artists mix and mingle.”

The website for The Cherry states the non-profit theatre company intends to start construction on the new facility this year. The organization is hosting a fund drive to help pay for the building’s construction, and is halfway to their $30,000 goal.

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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.