ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happening. Harold’s Square will be starting construction tomorrow.

Unfortunately, construction does not come without its nuisances and drawbacks – the Commons playground will be closed off during demolition (more like deconstruction since materials will be salvaged) and construction as part of OSHA’s safety regulations. The site will also host the usual construction noise, dust and traffic during regular business hours, and eleven surface parking spaces in the Green Street Garage will be off-limits. For the sake of comparison, the ongoing Bank Tower renovation into CFCU’s new headquarters doesn’t require the playground to be closed off because the major construction work is internal. Neighboring businesses plan to remain open during construction.

According to project engineer Jamie Gensel of Fagan Engineers and Land Surveyors, asbestos abatement has been moving along well, and demolition will take several weeks. The project will take about 18 months to complete, but that could vary a little depending on weather conditions, logistics, and other factors. For example, a warmer, drier winter would make it easier to schedule and pour fresh concrete for the 12-story building’s foundation. Given the timeline noted in the release, the steel structure should begin rising towards the end of the winter, and head skyward during spring and summer 2018.

Taylor the Builders will be the general contractor, with CJS Architects in charge of design, and Fagan Engineers tasked with civil engineering and utilities layout. McGuire Development of Buffalo is co-developer with Elmira businessman Dave Lubin, who’s also trying to make the Chain Works District a reality on South Hill.

The Harold’s Square project has seen multiple iterations presented to the city since first proposed nearly five years ago. The project will bring 12,780 SF (square-feet) of retail space, about 16,000 SF of office space, and 108 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedroom units. Marketing for the commercial space and apartments will begin a little before the project’s Spring 2019 opening.

A copy of the release is included below:

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“Harold’s Square is set to begin demolition in preparation for the construction of the new mixed-use building. So, what can you expect to see this week at Harold’s Square?

The playground is now closed due to OSHA regulations and will be encapsulated to protect it during construction. Unfortunately, due to its proximity to the site, the playground will remain closed until deemed safe by OSHA. Nobody wants to see anyone hurt during this process, so please keep an eye out for changed conditions. You can look for new play elements that will be brought to the Commons in the Spring of 2018.

A fence has been erected in the surface parking lot of the Green Street garage. This has limited the parking there to 11 spaces including 2 handicap spots. Visitors to downtown can find ample parking in the Green Street garage just 200 feet beyond this surface lot and can take the elevator down to ground level. Parking in the Green Street garage is $1 an hour (compared to $1.50 in the surface lot).

During the next week there will be several modifications made to curbs and entrances to lots that will allow for trucks, cars, and pedestrians to have better access to amenities. The median will be removed from the entrance to the surface lot, and the peninsula on the north side of the City Hall lot will be reduced and paved so that cars can pass through. The week of October 23, barricades and scaffolding will be added.

In the coming weeks, a 15-minute loading zone will be installed in the City Hall parking lot, which will also serve as the delivery and pedestrian access. We ask for your help in adhering to the 15-minute limit so that businesses can receive deliveries. If you are dropping items off to Autumn Leaves Used Books or Trader K’s, this will be a good place to park. It should be noted that both of these stores are easy ways to pass through to the Commons during their open business hours. Access to all businesses will be maintained throughout the construction period.

The fence on the Commons side will be erected 30 feet from the building fronts and brought in at the end of the work day 10 feet to allow for the fire lane. After demolition, the fence will be at 16 feet.

You can expect demolition to last from 7:30am to 6pm in order to get it completed in a timely fashion. Demolition is expected to take 35 business days. Following demolition, excavation and foundations work will take between 8 and 10 weeks, dependent upon temperatures and ability to pour concrete (a hazard of construction in Ithaca’s winter).

We thank you for your patience during this time. If you have any questions, please feel free to send us a message, or subscribe to updates on this site.”

Brian Crandall

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