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ITHACA, N.Y. — Today the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) released results from the survey of downtown residents it conducted last fall in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Way2Go program.
The survey was intended to help both organizations better understand urban dwellers’ demographics, behaviors, and opinions on a wide range of topics from shopping to public transit.
The DIA and Way2Go held evening receptions at several residential buildings including Breckenridge Place, Cayuga Place, and Center Ithaca in order to meet residents of all walks of life and distribute the survey, which was also made available online.
The following is information provided from the survey:
- Over 100 residents took the survey—approximately 10 percent of the population within the Ithaca Downtown Business Improvement District.
- In terms of demographics, the survey showed that a preponderance of downtown residents (43 percent) are between the ages of 22 and 29.
- Older adults were also well represented: 15 percent of residents are over 65.
- Unsurprisingly, the top two occupations listed are Cornell graduate student (27 percent) and retired (19 percent)—although a greater number (33 percent) are employees unaffiliated with either campus.
- Female residents slightly outnumber males.
- Downtown residents are more racially diverse than the regional population, with 35% indicating a race other than white.
- Downtown Ithaca supports many different income levels: 17 percent of respondents report household income of under $15,000 while 10 percent said they make over $100,000.
- Many respondents were new to downtown, with 41 percent saying they moved within the last year—mostly from elsewhere in the region but some from as far away as Russia.
- Residents’ top three reasons for moving downtown are easy access to services and shopping; the ability to walk, bike and take public transit; and proximity to work or school.
- Residents overwhelmingly agree or mostly agree that downtown is safe (91 percent) and clean (96 percent) but are divided on whether the shopping area meets their needs (54 percent).
- About half of residents say they shop and dine downtown daily or weekly.
Some of the most interesting data collected relates to downtown tenants’ transportation habits.
- Over 42 percent of respondents reported that their household has no car and only 6 percent have more than one car.
- Only 28 percent use a car daily, whereas 47 percent take a bus daily.
- Residents are most likely to use a car for groceries (50 percent) and least likely to use it for dining (9 percent).
- When asked what would encourage more bus use, the top three responses were longer service hours; buses that come more frequently; and access to real-time information on routes and schedules.
In informal conversation with residents, DIA and Way2Go staff found that residents were generally enthusiastic about downtown living and its easy access to their workplaces and favorite hangouts.
Said Elliot Wells, a New Paltz native who moved to downtown Ithaca three years ago, “One of the biggest game changers for me was the sense of proximity. Within a few blocks, I have access to creative work space, social connection, and commercial outlets for my art. I work and volunteer at Ithaca Generator, a non-profit makerspace in Press Bay Alley, and show my work at great stores like Amuse, Sunny Days, and Thrive, all of which are within a few blocks. The quality of life made possible by that kind of density is wonderful. And if I want to escape, I can jog up Six Mile Creek or hike Cascadilla Gorge.”
Said Béline Falzon, another reception attendee, “I recently moved from Paris, France to Ithaca, and living downtown was very important to me. I’m used to cities with lively downtowns, where culture and amenities are easily accessible by walking or biking. I’m also very lucky to work on the Commons, which makes my commute a whopping two minutes by foot. Also, I live in a newer building, and not having to worry about frozen pipes, shoveling, and drafts in the winter is a real plus.”
For anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to live downtown themselves, the DIA’s Downtown Living Tour on Saturday, April 23 from 12:00 to 4:00 PM will offer a singular opportunity to get a sneak peek into a wide range of housing options.
Apartments on the tour include a flat with exposed nineteenth-century brickwork at Homegrown Apartments; a charming home in the William Henry Miller-designed Dewitt Mall; an affordable and sustainable unit at Breckenridge Place; and a loft with spectacular window walls at Lofts @ Six Mile Creek. Passes are only $5 and are available during the event at the Downtown Visitor Center (171 The Commons).
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