ITHACA, N.Y. — Here at the Voice, we pride ourselves on keeping tabs on what building projects are approved, and what’s actually being built. The two might come across as one and the same, but given things like financing, market changes or unexpected expenses, some projects start construction later than expected, and some never start at all. To borrow an old proverb, it’s a bit like counting your chickens before they’ve hatched.

However, several projects have gotten off the ground – figuratively, if not literally just yet – in the past month or so. Maybe you’ve noticed them on your commute, and maybe you were wondering what they were building. We’re here to help answer that.

The Cherry Artspace

Local performing arts non-profit The Cherry Arts Inc. has commenced with foundation work for their new performing arts venue at 102 Cherry Street in the city’s West End neighborhood. The Cherry Artspace was approved by the Common Council earlier this year – their authority superseded the planning board because of the city’s TM-PUD zoning currently in place (the same thing that allowed the Common Council to halt the Maguire car dealership project).  The one-story, 1,944 SF (square-foot) building was originally planned for a May-October construction period, but due to contractor delays, the project was postponed by several months. According to their website, the groundbreaking was November 7th, and the new space will open in early 2017. Local architect Claudia Brenner is responsible for the design.

Elmira Savings Bank

Also on the West End, Elmira Savings Bank has started work on their new bank branch on the 600 Block of West State Street. Elmira Savings Bank is relocating from their rented downtown location in anticipation of plans to build an 8-story building on that site. The construction is taking place quite a bit earlier than initially planned – Site Plan Review docs suggested a July-December 2017 construction/renovation. Plans call for renovating the 5,000 SF building that once housed the Pancho Villa restaurant, a 1,600 SF addition on the north side of the building, and a new drive-thru for bank customers. Edger Enterprises of Elmira will be the general contractor for the $1.7 million project, which is expected to be completed in March 2017. HOLT Architects, headquartered just across the street, is the design firm on record.

Therm Inc.

Something rather unusual by either Ithaca or upstate New York standards – an expanding manufacturer. South Hill-based Therm Inc. is moving ahead with its addition of a one-story, 20,000 SF industrial building. The $2.5 million project was awarded $205,000 in tax breaks from the Tompkins County IDA and is expected to create 10 new and permanent jobs. Expect this project to wrap up in summer 2017. The previous structure on-site, an obsolete ceramics building, has been removed and the foundation has been poured for the new building. Don’t expect too many updates from us though – this project is tucked away at the rear of the Therm property, and hard to photograph without wandering onto Therm’s property or into neighboring backyards.

312-314 West Spencer Street

Local developer Charlie O’Connor is building a pair of two-family homes on the edge of Ithaca’s Southside neighborhood. This $500,000 project, being built on vacant land subdivided from the backyards of two neighboring houses, is aiming for a late February 2017 finish. Each unit will have three bedrooms. Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative designed the houses to blend into the older homes in the surrounding neighborhood. The big difference between the two buildings is that the western house has a bay window indentation (which can be seen in the foundation in the foreground), and the eastern house will have a flat face.

Quick side note – these houses are on the 200 Block of Old Elmira Road, but until we have the updated addresses, we’re using the address from the subdivision filing.

1001 North Aurora Street

Like the Old Elmira Road houses, 1001 North Aurora Street is another project consisting of two two-family houses with three bedrooms each, but this time around the project is in Fall Creek and replaces a single-family house. The project team for this site is another pair of locals, developer Stavros Stavropoulos and architect Daniel Hirtler. Expect a May 2017 completion. For the record, the houses, which face Fall Creek Elementary, will adopt Queen Street addresses.

Correction: The Cherry Artspace was postponed due to contractor delays, not fundraising. The Voice apologizes for the error.

Brian Crandall

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