ITHACA, N.Y. — In a press release Friday, the Maguire family of dealerships announced its latest revisions to a plan to put a car dealership near Ithaca’s waterfront.

The revisions appear to be quite substantial, according to the release, which came without any images. Among the changes is a larger variety of uses – instead of a dealership with on-site cafe, this new proposal “hints at the inclusion of a new GreenStar Market location, market-rate housing units, and local craft distillery with farm-to-table eatery at the multi-acre site.”

Lacking at this point are the specifics, such as an approximate number of housing units, or if there are any potential business partners that have become involved in this revised proposal. The release states that automotive retail would occupy 25% of the property, although it’s not clear if that calculation includes the Ithaca Community Gardens parcel. If it does, 25% is about 2.73 of the 10.9 acres; if it doesn’t, then the dealership will occupy about 2.1 acres.

A spokeswoman stated that the Maguire team is holding off on releasing any images of the new plan for the time being. Without a site plan image, it’s unknown what exactly is planned for where – obstacles like high-voltage power transmission lines and poor soil quality still pose major hurdles for some forms of construction.

Asked for confirmation on GreenStar Co-Op’s involvement, marketer Scott Lawhead replied “{t}he info is correct, but it should be clarified that GreenStar cannot go through a significant expansion without majority approval from our Members through our voting process.”

If carried out as proposed, the revised Maguire project would solve two ongoing concerns for the city’s waterfront and neighboring business park – the Maguires are offering up a plan to buy the community gardens’ property and donate it back to the gardens, and would offer free parking to attendees of the Farmer’s Market, where convenient parking at peak times has been a major issue in recent years. The release seems to indicate that the gardens would mostly or completely stay at their present location.

These latest plans come forth at a time when the city is expected to hold meetings with the public to help determine the future mix of uses for waterfront and near-waterfront parcels, including the Maguire project site. The temporary mandatory planned unit development zoning, which gave the Common Council the oversight and authority to turn down the Maguire project last month, is set to expire next summer.

The Voice will report any updates as more details come forward and images become available. The text of the press release is included below.

Ithaca, NY –The Maguire Family of Dealerships recently presented a revised plan for their commercial
property at Carpenter Business Park to city leaders to better address interest in walkable, mixed use focused development at the site.
Incorporating feedback from both city officials and Ithaca residents, Maguire’s new plan hints at the
inclusion of a new GreenStar Market location, market-rate housing units, and local craft distillery with farm-to-table eatery at the multi-acre site.
The Common Council’s November 2nd vote against Maguire’s original proposal effectively halted a plan by locally-based Maguire to invest $18 million in the City of Ithaca over three years at three different locations, creating additional jobs and sending hundreds of thousands of new dollars into the area economy through added payroll and associated sales and property taxes. It also derailed Maguire’s enhanced plan for Carpenter Business Park which included a $12 million, 50,000 square foot LEED certified green auto retail store. Maguire’s new plan to redevelop the former landfill site near the city’s waterfront includes additional mixed use purposes.
Under the new plan, auto retail would now utilize approximately 25 percent of the site, consistent with
the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Further, the revision includes a commitment from Maguire to exercise a
separate purchase option and immediately donate the garden parcel back to Project Growing Hope for
its Community Gardens, ensuring the organization would never again have to worry about losing its
lease and being displaced. The property would remain forever green.
Maguire’s new proposal will still greatly enhance the Route 13 corridor by constructing new sidewalks
and landscaped pedestrian walkways around the campus, removing unsightly chain link fencing along
the highway, and opening up the parcel as a gateway for the adjacent neighborhood to the nearby
Cayuga Lake waterfront and Farmers Market. To help alleviate serious traffic and parking problems
along Route 13, Maguire will open parking facilities at the campus to Farmers’ Market attendees on
Saturdays and Sundays and allow access to solar power electric vehicle charging stations.
“My family and I thank Mayor Myrick, members of the Council and Planning Board, and city staff for the open dialogue we’ve had this past month on how we might best be able to meet our business needs as a local employer and economic generator while advancing the City’s vision for the site,” said Phil Maguire. “We look forward to continuing open conversations to finalize a plan that works for all. We are committed to being in Ithaca because it is the best location for our customers.”
Improving the long time vacant Carpenter Business Park property allows for continued growth for the
locally-based company – founded in 1977 and currently Tompkins County’s number one retailer and its 11th largest employer – and keeps the retailer in the city. For years, other Tompkins County
municipalities have solicited Maguire investment and relocation in their retail corridors. The in-city
move will allow for Maguire to add jobs at the new Route 13 location as well as make room for
expansion at Maguire’s other Ithaca retail locations.

Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD) estimates the project as originally planned would
contribute $106,343 in property and $419,338 in sales taxes alone to the City of Ithaca annually, as well as create over $1.9 million in new wages each year. When multipliers are included, the entire project would add 77+ jobs and close to $3.4 million in new wages to the community.
The Carpenter Business Park site has been vacant for decades despite repeated City attempts to entice
development at the location. Existing power lines, electrical substation, nearby water treatment plant,
propane, gasoline and fuel storage, and a railway spur greatly limit construction options. Millions of
dollars in infrastructure investment by the City failed to result in a single successful development
proposal until Maguire took interest last year.

Brian Crandall

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