ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) has named Lecesse Construction of suburban Rochester as the new construction manager for the $20 million 210 Hancock affordable housing project.

The deal is expected to be officially signed early next week, said INHS Executive Director Paul Mazzarella. Lecesse (pronounced leh-CEH-see) replaces Syracuse-based Hayner Hoyt Construction, whose involvement with the project was ended after Hayner Hoyt paid $5 million to settle claims of defrauding the federal government of contract awards intended for disabled veterans.

Lecesse is quite familiar with the Ithaca area. The firm was in charge of the build-out of the Kendal at Ithaca project in Cayuga Heights, and also served as construction manager for INHS’s 35-unit Stone Quarry Apartments project, which opened last year.

“They did a great job [on Stone Quarry], it was completed on time and on project, we got a lot of compliments. It was a really close decision in the Hancock project when considering a contractor early on, and we’re glad to have them on board,” said Mazzarella.

“The hard construction cost rose a little bit, but we cut back in cost a little bit in other areas. We’re cutting back on some of the fees and doing some value engineering of the project, things like structural systems. Nobody will really notice those differences, we had the project approved and we’re sticking to the site plan review [stipulations].”

One of the concerns expressed by neighbors of the 210 Hancock site has to do with the  noise of pile-driving, and possible impacts on the structural integrity of buildings on nearby blocks. Traditional pile driving involves a big compressor driving a weight into the ground. The pile driving originally planned by Hayner Hoyt was to use a less-intrusive vibratory method, but the method planned through Lecesse will make use of a third method, a hydraulic approach where the machine sits directly on top of the pile. The hydraulic system is suitable for environmentally sensitive areas and produces a similar amount of sound to the vibratory method, but provides the benefit of being quicker than vibratory driving, reducing the time required to insert the foundation piles by half.

The hours of construction have not changed. Work on the foundation piles will occur from 8 AM to 4 PM, and general construction noise is permitted from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM.

The contract to be signed next week only covers the 54-unit apartment building and the five rental townhouses. However, INHS plans to ink a second, separate contract with Lecesse later this year to build the seven for-sale townhouses.

Construction on the rentals will begin in the first week of July, which is a little later than originally anticipated. However, plans still call for a May 2017 opening for occupancy. “We lost three months, but Lecesse is going to work the project in at about the same completion date that we had projected,” said Mazzarella. “We’re pretty confident that things are on track.”

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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.