ITHACA, N.Y. — If you offer it, they will come. After putting out a request for proposals (RFP) for the Lansing Town Center lands at the intersection of Triphammer Road and Peruville Road, the town has received strong interest from several developers, and the first purchase agreements are underway.

Cornerstone Group, an affordable housing developer based out of Rochester, has entered into a purchase agreement for 13 acres of Parcel “C”, located towards the middle of the 156-acre property. The remaining 8.9 acres of Parcel “C” would also be optioned by Cornerstone for a potential second phase of residential development.

“At this point, they’re looking at different types of {housing} programs that would be applicable, they’re looking at at least 70 dwelling units in the initial phase. Most of the programs they are interested in are rental types of housing, but it’s really about picking the types of funding that are available. It could be senior housing, it could be something {for those} with disabilities, or a percentage of those with disabilities. They’re waiting to see what they can do, they’re looking at what funding there is available,” said town of Lansing planning consultant Michael Long.

According to Long, the reason why Cornerstone’s first out of the gate has to do with the funding schedule for affordable housing; to be eligible for the next round of grants, the developer needs to have a plan submitted into the town’s project review process by the end of June.

The Cornerstone proposal for the Old Library site.

Cornerstone does not have a presence in Tompkins County, but it’s not for lack of trying. They submitted one of the six proposals for the Old Library site, and were one of three developers who submitted detailed plans, which in their case involved four stories of affordable senior housing. However, the project ended up being the least favored of the three, losing out to the Franklin Properties condominium proposal and the Travis Hyde plan that was selected as the favored entry.

Long said that overall, the town was pleased with the response to the RFP for the town center lands. “Primarily we’re looking at housing, we’ve also had interest in agricultural use, and we’ve also had some interest in a long-term commercial aspect. We’re looking at the projects that most furthest developed and bringing them to the town board as they’ve solidified. The proposals we’ve received have been in the entire area of the 156 acres, just about every site. We’re trying to finalize some agreements for the next project, we may have the second ready to become public at the next meeting. I’m under the impression it’s market-rate housing, to be owner-occupied.”

The purchase agreement with Cornerstone is $337,500 for the 13.5 acres in phase one, and $212,500 for the option on the remaining 8.9 acres, if executed. Lansing purchased the entire 156 acres from the state for $109.500 in 1992, and paid a further $294,800 to the state in 2012 to lift restrictions on the property and permitting private development of the acreage. The next project alluded to by Long is expected to be located on Parcel “E”, a 10.8 acre parcel southwest of the Cornerstone lot.

Long said that the trails on the land would be preserved as part of the RFP stipulations, and that the submitted plans fit with the town’s Comprehensive Plan for development. It’s going to take some time, however, before any shovels go into the ground.

“What we have is a purchase contract to acquire the land, they need this for their grant application, and they’re working on {building and site plan} layouts this month. What we’re hoping in the next 2-3 months, they’ll do their specific applications for grant programs, and we anticipate in 6-8 months we’ll find about the funding for those. It’s at least a year, maybe two before any physical construction happens, they have a 2-year window. We’re going to be supportive of getting them funded, it will be a win-win for everyone.”

Brian Crandall

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