ITHACA, N.Y. — The hotel construction boom continues. But this time, plans call for a hotel outside the city of Ithaca’s confines.

The town of Ithaca planning board will review a sketch plan next Tuesday for a 3-story, 36,000 SF hotel to be located at 635 Elmira Road, in the town’s “Inlet Valley” corridor southwest of the city, past the big box stores and less than a mile past the Buttermilk Falls State Park entrance off Route 13.

Currently, the site is home to a small office building (once a garden center, and more recently the Kasonic Builders contracting office), and two apartments. These would be torn down to make way for the new hotel.

The hotel plans call for a 67-room hotel with an indoor swimming pool, gazebo, and 70 parking spaces, as well as outdoor signage, lighting and landscaping.

Hotels are allowed under the current zoning for the property with special permit approval of the planning board. The town’s 2014 Comprehensive Plan envisions hotels as an acceptable form of business in “Inlet Valley Gateway” character district, provided they are designed and landscaped with natural materials such as stone, wood, and are designed with architectural features respectful to the state parks nearby, such as gabled roofs and windows.

However, according to the town’s current zoning, the proposal will need to take a trip to the Zoning Board of Approvals for a few reasons. One is a use variance to build the gazebo, and then there is a height variance and a few area and setback variances – the site zoning allows a 10,000 square-foot building up to 36 feet tall, and the proposed building is 36,000 square feet and 54 feet tall. For comparison’s sake, the Holiday Inn Express currently underway at 371 Elmira Road in Ithaca city is also 54 feet, but 79 rooms and 11,769 square feet.

Marathon Engineering of Rochester is in charge of the hotel blueprints. No hotel chain has been named in the plans, but the developer, local businessman Pratik Ahir of Ahir Hotels, was the general manager of the Rodeway Inn just down the road. The Rodeway Inn is undergoing renovations of its own, adding two rooms and revised amenity space.

The project is one of several hotels that have been proposed or built along Route 13/Elmira Road in the past several years, and the first in the town. Along with the Holiday Inn Express currently underway, the Fairfield Inn at 359 Elmira Road opened in 2013. A 37-room hotel was recently proposed at 339 Elmira Road, but later cancelled.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at