ITHACA, N.Y. — There’s a lot going on in Downtown Ithaca right now. Let us help you know what’s going where, so you can be the resident smartypants at home or in the office.

Tompkins Financial Corporation HQ

You know how the 100 Block of East Seneca Street narrows like a pair of jeans you’re certain you used to fit into? This is why. Tompkins Financial Corporation, the parent company of Tompkins Trust, has launched construction their new seven-story headquarters, on what used to be a parking lot and drive-thru bank branch. A new drive-thru branch is being constructed across the street under TFC’s existing offices. The $26.5 million, 110,000 square-foot project keeps over 300 workers downtown, and is expected to add a few dozen more in the months and years following its early 2018 opening.

At the moment, the project is still in the early stages. General contractor LeChase Construction and its team are excavating for the building’s foundation. The steel H-beams and wood lagging on the outside of the trenches hold the soil back, so that it doesn’t fall into the site, and so the buildings next door are kept stable.

The Hotel Ithaca Modernization

There’s always the temptation to call this an addition, but when you finish with fewer hotel rooms than which you started with, it’s not really an addition. Hart Hotels’ new 30,000 SF, 5-story wing will contain 90 rooms, 2,900 SF of additional meeting space, breakout rooms, and a new fitness center. 100 hotel rooms are being taken offline and demolished, reducing the number available at the hotel from 180 to 170. But the primary goal of the project is to modernize the Hotel’s offerings, allowing it to stay competitive with newer hotels downtown, including the Marriott currently underway, and the Canopy Hilton due to start construction later this year.

The stairwells and elevator cores have been assembled and give a pretty good of the project’s height. Krog Corp is beginning buildout structural steel skeleton on the ground level. In the second photo, you can see how the steel frame is bolted into the concrete footings, allowing the weight of the structure to be channeled into the foundation. Some interior metal stud walls have also been erected on the first floor, which will have a gym, conference room, laundry and about a dozen hotel rooms. The $15 million project is shooting for a May 2017 completion.

The Ithaca Marriott Hotel

So, if all had worked out as planned, this hotel would have been opening this week. However, as it often happens with construction projects, the opening has been delayed until later in the fall, likely October according to In the meanwhile, it’s mad dash to the finish.

On the rear (west) side of the 160-room hotel, Nichiha fiber cement panels are being installed, while most of the brickwork has been finished. The lightest color panel, “Smoke Embers”, will be used on the top floor of the front side as well. Stone veneer will be installed at the ground level in a few weeks. But with the meat of the exterior work done, the focus is on the interior, with utilities installation, drywall hanging, and interior finishes as the project gets closer to completion.

Simeon’s and the Carey Building

Speaking of completions, we have two. Although a little exterior finishing work still needs to be done, Simeon’s will be re-opening in the restored Griffin Building on Friday, and the Carey Building has welcomed the first tenants into its new addition. The two projects combined account for an approximately $7 million investment – Simeon’s is back with a full fleet of excited staff, and several apartments will be put up for rent on the upper floors. The Carey Building brings an additional 4,200 SF to business incubator REV, and 20 apartment units to the downtown market.

What’s in the Pipeline?

Looking at the Ithaca Projects Map and writing strictly about what’s been approved and funded, earlier this month the developer of the 131-room Canopy Hilton hotel purchased the two parking lots upon which the hotel will be built, paying the city $1.8 million for their lot, and $2.05 million to local businessman Joe Daley for his parking lot. The seven-story hotel will begin construction later this year. Also, with the changes approved the city Planning Board Tuesday night, developer David Lubin has announced he has secured financing and intends to start construction on the 12-story Harold’s Square mixed-use project this fall.

Brian Crandall

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