lansing retail plaza plan

LANSING, N.Y. — Retailers have been taking a proverbial hit to the chin lately as internet-based retailers eat into their sales, but a local developer thinks there’s some untapped potential in the Ithaca market. Developer Eric Goetzmann of Triax Management Group is planning a small shopping center next to the Shoppes at Ithaca Mall.

The two-building plaza would create about 30,000 SF of retail space on two parcels facing North Triphammer Road. Currently the north parcel is a vacant lot, and the south lot is a one-story restaurant building that once housed the Imperial Kitchen Chinese buffet restaurant. The restaurant property was sold for $590,000 in June 2016 to “Watersprite LLC”, a limited-liability company registered to Goetzmann’s personal address in Skaneateles, and the northern parcel was sold for about $775,000 to the same company in December 2012. LLCs are used to protect their owner’s personal assets, and to add an additional privacy layer for real estate transactions.

However, Goetzmann, whose firm is in the process of selling the mall to Long Island-based Namdar Realty Group, has made no secret of his plans to redevelop the property. In 2015, he lobbied the village to change the zoning of the northern parcel from Commercial Low Traffic (CLT) to Commercial High Traffic (CHT, which allows a much greater variety of businesses), but was denied. The village recognized that the zoning, which dated from 1979, had not kept up with development patterns. However, the Village Board of Trustees wanted to maintain some form of buffer between the active-use commercial properties at and near the mall, and surrounding residential areas.

As a sort of compromise, the village created a new form of zoning, Commercial Medium Traffic, that allowed some additional uses such as buildings with drive-thrus, but still not as much as the CHT option. The existing CLT zone regulations were also downgraded to make room for the new middle-tier. The amended zoning was voted on, approved and enacted in 2016.

No plans are available at this time, as informal sketch plan reviews don’t require submission to municipal authorities. Previously, Goetzmann has said he envisions neighborhood-focused retail options with less than 10,000 SF per tenant, offering a Byrne Dairy and sit-down restaurants as examples.

According to the Lansing Star’s Dan Veaner, the property would be below-grade from Triphammer Road. Sidewalks were considered along Triphammer, but were dropped due to the grading (how level the site will be). The construction start would be Spring 2018 if all moves forward as planned.

Goetzmann has other irons in the development fire, as he’s on the hook for new senior housing along Lansing’s Oakcrest Road. The housing has to be built as a stipulation for tax breaks on the BJ’s Wholesale Club project that opened five years ago, but a much larger senior housing project than initially planned was greeted with a frosty reception back in August.

Brian Crandall

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