LANSING, N.Y. — In the world of development, beyond the big factors like the local economy and the costs of materials and labor, different areas ebb and flow with interest. Interest in Lansing has been particularly strong lately, the suburban counterpart to all the activity in the city of Ithaca. For this month’s construction gallery, we’ll take a look at some of the projects underway in both the town and village.

Bomax Drive Apartments (Park Grove Realty)

Readers might remember this project from the lawsuit brought by a neighboring home developer, who attempted to argue that the rezoning from business to residential use was illegal. The village of Lansing had granted approval last fall, but was contingent on the state court’s ruling. The village won the proceeding and its appeal this past winter, which allowed the project to move forward with obtaining building permits.

The zoning change at the site reflects the pattern of demand. With issues such as the West Dryden Road natural gas pipeline debate, businesses have been hesitant to seek out sites in Lansing. However, residential units don’t have commercial-grade energy needs, and improvements in technology have allowed electric heat pumps to be used in place of natural gas in many new multi-family buildings, with only modest additional costs. That means Lansing is much more desirable for new housing than for new business. It also helps that Tompkins County still has a sizable housing deficit, building costs are lower here than in the city, and plans for sewer line extensions are moving forward, which will service additional areas of the town and allow multi-family units (otherwise, the maximum is about one home per acre).

The plan on Bomax Drive is to build 140 units of housing over the next few years – 14 strings with ten units apiece, with about 40 one-bedroom, 65 two-bedroom, and 15 three-bedroom, though those numbers might change a bit depending on what rents easiest early on. The first two townhome strings are scheduled to hit the market next spring. For now, the nearly 20-acre site is being cleared and graded (“site prepped”), with underground utilities installations and excavation work to follow.

Village Solars Apartments (Lifestyle Properties)

The latest phase of the Village Solars Apartments has wrapped, with 42 new apartments hitting the market this summer – 116 Village Circle (18 units) and 102 Village Place (24 units) replaced 10-unit buildings that were built in the 1970s. The next phase will do more of the same, replacing 2 Village Circle and 22 Village Circle with a pair of 18-unit buildings. Plans are also underway to build a brand new community center building with retail and ten apartments, and since the area has added hundreds of residents since starting construction over four years ago, a bus stop is in the works (with Cornell Engineering students designing some kind of prototype, according to town minutes). The bus stop is a little more complicated than it looks at first glance because TCAT has to make its suburban routes efficient to justify the cost of running buses through these more spread out communities, so it has to connect to other places people want to get on or off.

In contrast to the higher-end units that make up the bulk of new construction, the Village Solars are more toward the middle of the rental market – $895 for a studio, to $1605 for an unfurnished three-bedroom unit (+$15 for a parking space). Including the phase that will start construction this year, at least four more phases are approved to be built (one phase per year), and conceptual plans are in the works for more apartments on vacant land to the east – it may not be obvious at a glance, but it’s likely the single largest project in the town of Lansing, and one of the biggest in the county.

Heights of Lansing (Forest City Realty)

Most of what’s being built is rental housing, but not all. Forest City Realty (the Jonson family) has started work on the next six townhomes in their for-sale development on Nor Way in Lansing village (the late Ivar Jonson was born in Norway, and his life was the quintessential rags-to-riches story of a hard-working immigrant). These are the first new townhouses since 2012, and the first since they lost their lawsuit to stop the Bomax Drive development. No renders are available for the new units, but if they’re like the others, they’ll ve three-bedroom homes and be priced in the mid-to-upper $300s.

At this time, structural wood stud walls are being erected, and Huber ZIP panels (sealed plywood) are being attached for the sheathing. It looks like the units will have slab foundations and in-unit first-floor garages – expect these to be two floors, and like the other Nor Way townhouses, they’ll have luxury finishes (granite counters, marble tile), gas fireplaces and big windows.

Cayuga View Senior Living

The 58-unit Cayuga View senior apartment building (previously sixty) in the village of Lansing is nearly complete, with only landscaping, paving and a few remaining pieces of structural finish work left on the outside. Cornerstone Group is the property manager for the one and two-bedroom units, and they have already started advertising on Craigslist, $1,550 for a one-bedroom, and $2,250-$2,775 for a two-bedroom, wifi/cable, water, heat, and central air included.

Features being touted in the advertisements include “all-electric kitchen with stainless steel appliances, stacked washer/dryer units, secure intercom entry, rooftop garden, underground parking and storage, and two community rooms”, along with a pair of small retail space on the first floor (it’s not clear if they have commercial tenants lined up yet). The apartments are expected to be ready for move-in on July 1st. Click the link here for a glance at the just-finished interiors, and floor plans can be found here. The Thaler family is developing the project, and Taylor the Builders is the general contractor.

What’s to come?

Potentially, there is a lot in the pipeline, both in the village and the town. In the village there are the 12-unit Triphammer Row townhouses, the multi-phase Lansing Village senior cottages, and another 12 units of senior housing at Lansing Meadows off of Oakcrest Road. In the town, Cayuga Orchard will add 102 apartment units, while at the new town center site, Tiny Timbers will add 36 for-sale houses and Cornerstone Group will add 72 affordable apartments as part of its Milton Meadows project. On the non-residential side, the Cayuga power plant is expected to add a large solar array, the airport has its expansion plan heading to the boards, and Cargill has its sale mine expansion project next to the lake. These are just the projects that have been formally announced; several others, from more housing to retail to a new extended-stay hotel are in early concept stages.

Brian Crandall

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