ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s been a bit tough to get projects finished on time in Collegetown. The city has had their delays with utility and road work, and delays have also plagued two of the three large apartment buildings set to open this month.

Tenants at two of the new apartment buildings, Dryden South (205 Dryden Road) and 327 Eddy (The Dryden Eddy Apartments), are reporting unfinished common spaces and having to live temporarily in hotels, according to Rachel Cera at 14850.com.

“Since August 1st, I had to put people in hotel rooms in the Ramada and in an apartment on Eddy Street, everybody’s been provided with housing, we had personal belongings stored. People have been pretty understanding, and they’ve been able to move in now,” said Pat Kraft, owner-developer of Dryden South. Kraft was able to secure a temporary certificate of occupancy to move tenants into the building while work is finishing up.

“There’s a lot of chaos in the street. The 200 block will be completely closed this week, we’re setting up scaffolding today to finish the masonry. The suites are all done, the safety systems are operational, that’s all good. There’s minor items like window blinds and sills that had to be custom ordered after everything else was installed, so it’s down to just minor cosmetic stuff. The front of the building, Labor Day hopefully [the construction crew] should be done and out of there.”

Steve Fontana, the owner-developer of the Dryden Eddy Apartments, reported a similar experience.

“Our leases didn’t require to put the people up, but we did anyhow. We offered a discount per day, and hotel rooms. I’m beyond upset that it’s not ready, but I’m hoping this Friday. We have all our inspections and hopefully we can move them in on Friday. I coughed up some extra money to give people extra credit if they crash with friends, or stay at a hotel. I want them to be in a place where they’re comfortable.”

Asked what caused the delay in opening, Fontana said it had to do with elevator inspections. “The delay was primarily because of the elevator. It has to be 100% complete, including how it ties into the fire alarm. The elevator had to be completely integrated, which it wasn’t just yet. The code is pretty clear, I respect the city’s position, they gotta go by the codes.”

On the bright side, Fontana did mention he secured a couple of tenants for the first-floor retail space of his new building. “We have a liquor store, ‘Ithaca Wine and Spirits’, and a coffee shop, ‘Chatty Cathy’, signed up for the first floor. They’ll be run by the Papachryssanthou family, the same family that runs the Souvlaki House.”

A couple of blocks away, Collegetown Crossing (307 College) seems to have been the lucky one out – during a visit Sunday, the building was finished and furnished, and tenants were busy moving in before the afternoon’s rain.

“We were able to pull it off, we were able to move in all of our tenants as planned,” said Collegetown Crossing landlord Josh Lower. “We’ve been working 60, 90 hours a week for a long time, there’s been a lot of people putting in a lot of hours. We were able to persuade guys to do extended hours, holidays, we compensated triple time (triple hourly rate) at times. I had a good contractor, that’s the important part.  We had challenges that came up. The contractor did a spectacular job of delivering it on time, but also, additional money really helped,” he says with a laugh.

Still, the opening of Lower’s building was not without a few glitches. The long-anticipated opening of Greenstar was delayed from Wednesday the 17th to Monday the 22nd due to product delivery hang-ups created by the road construction and traffic issues, according to Greenstar marketing director Joe Romano.

With all the construction and delays, it’s easy for residents to get frustrated. Dryden South’s Kraft was sympathetic, but thought it would all pay off. “We’ll finish soon. And the city, the utility work is very important to Collegetown, it’s created some headaches but it’s important. It’ll make for a nicer place when it’s done.”

Brian Crandall

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