ITHACA, N.Y. – During a neighborhood gathering on Thursday evening, residents of Ithaca’s South Hill voiced concerns for a newly proposed duplex, the second meeting in the past week which held discussions in regards to the proposed housing.
In a meeting last week, tension surfaced among the neighborhood residents when the duplex proposal arose for 217 Columbia Street. Now, locals are calling for a building moratorium on the proposed area until a neighborhood plan has been fully worked out.
Several duplexes have been constructed in recent years on South Hill, attempting to accommodate the rise in students seeking off-campus housing. According to JoAnn Cornish, director of planning and development, the proposed duplex is permitted within city zoning and are in accordance with building code.
Charley O’Connor, the property manager for Modern Living Rentals, said in the past year he has experienced financial deficits due to concern for the neighborhood. Last year, O’Connor said his leasing assistant brought a potential lease to him regarding one property on South Hill. The lease included six Ithaca College students, all of whom would be bringing vehicles with them.
Related: Concerned with more student housing, South Hill residents call for pause on building in neighborhood
“I said ‘don’t care what the difference is in the rent – we ended up signing four students with two cars,” O’Connor said. “This equated to $19,800 loss for me this year, but honestly, I did it because it felt it was the best thing for the neighbors and the best thing to do in the situation.”
One Hudson Street resident, Heather Lambert, said in last week’s meeting that she believed the character of the neighborhood was being destroyed by the presence of domestic violence, screaming, and aggression among college students who live nearby. In Thursday’s meeting, Lambert voiced her hope that the proposed duplex would be signed by non-students.
“There are adults that want to live in these places and spend money,” Lambert said. “If you could find adult tenants live in these places, its a great community for kids.”
However, Common Council member Cynthia Brock said due to the design of the house, she was concerned for the viability of the duplex as a family home.
“You said you want to market to families and professionals to gain more stability and adult behavior,” she said. “There is no basement, and the lack of additional storage space beyond a bedroom closet makes it really difficult for a long term resident to consider it a comfortable place to live.”
Kenn Young, Columbia Street resident and owner of the Inn on Columbia almost directly across from the proposed site. Young said he thought the space of the home was inadequate for a long-term renter, adding that the property has nearly filled up the available zoning space.
“This can only be a short term rental,” Young said. “It’s not going to bring this neighborhood back and that’s what we’re trying to prevent – we’re trying to stop the degradation of this neighborhood by bringing in more students in the short term.”