ITHACA, N.Y. — Beer lovers rejoice – plans to rebuild the Chapter House building have been revived.

According to Rachel Cera of 14850.com, plans were refiled last month to rebuild the Chapter House Building at 400 Stewart Avenue, and its apartment building neighbor at 406 Stewart Avenue. Both buildings were destroyed in an overnight inferno back in April 2015, leaving dozens homeless and the bar nothing more than a memory.

The updated plans are said to be very similar to those approved by the city late last winter, with only minor changes. The architect has not changed, both versions are the work of Jason K. Demarest of Ithaca.

Any exterior changes or interior changes visible to passerby have to be approved by the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission, since the location lies in the East Hill Historic District. Depending on the extent of the changes, the revised project may also need to return to the Ithaca city Planning Board, and the city Board of Zoning Appeals. So there may still be a fair amount of bureaucratic red tape to go through before any shovels strike the ground. In the article by 14850’s Cera, building manager Jerry Dietz of CSP Management says the goal is to start construction this month, implying that whatever project changes must be very minor.

Readers may recall that plans for a reconstructed Chapter House were uncertain after the building lot was sold off for $850,000 in May. Sebastian Mascaro of Florida sold the lot and the building plans to James Goldman of suburban Philadelphia. Goldman owns the 406 Stewart Avenue, and the two were initially collaborating on their re-building projects until the ILPC expressed discomfort with the original proposal, which had called for interconnected buildings in the deconstruction of 408 Stewart Avenue.

Behind the scenes, there has been some indication of progress in the past few months. The city Board Of Public Works voted for the sale of a public right-of-way (ROW) encroachment in June that would allow the first-floor awning to overhang the city’s sidewalk.  Although several board members declined to discuss the vote, one member, speaking on anonymity, said the vote was “just in case” the new owner wished to move forward. A filing with the county on August 30th shows that Goldman paid the city $18,666.77 to install foundation footers under city property (below the sidewalk), and for perpetual use of public airspace for the awning.

Note that reconstruction does not necessarily mean the iconic Chapter House bar will reopen. Like with Simeon’s and the Griffin Building, the Chapter House bar and 400-404 Stewart Avenue are two separate projects. Pyramid Brokerage has the 3,000 SF (square-foot) first-floor space intended for the Chapter House listed for lease on its website, at $35/SF. In the renders provided with the listing, the Chapter House sign is missing.

Regardless of whether the Chapter House bar is a part of the plans, the buildings are targeting an opening date in July 2017.

Brian Crandall

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