LANSING, N.Y. — Concept plans first revealed to the village of Lansing planning board on Monday night show what may be the the newest addition to Tompkins County’s senior housing offerings – a community of cottages for those who want to age in place.

The multi-phase, multi-year project, proposed by local developer and landlord Beer Properties in conjunction with Hunt Engineers, Architects and Surveyors, would be built on about 40 acres of vacant land east of the village hall off of Craft Road and Millcroft Lane. Originally, this land was slated to be later phases of the Millcroft home subdivision first laid out in the mid 2000s, but Millcroft never moved beyond its first phase of lots, which are mostly built out with high-end homes.

“These guys are big in Collegetown, but want to move in a different form of development,”  said village of Lansing Code Enforcement Officer Adam Robbs. “They want to serve 55 and older. There’s a need for it here, people are only getting older, and they see downtown as less accessible. They hope these will be super-accessible and affordable, for empty-nesters.”

The units would be “patio homes“, a form of clustered housing where the grounds and roads are maintained through a homeowner’s association or similar collective management. Units would be one floor and 800 to 1200 square-feet, designed to allow aging-in-place, a more manageable price point, and some interior space but no so much that it becomes a burden for small senior households.

“What they’re looking at in the phase one, 24 units, those would be rentals, and then from there, dependent on the market, everything may remain similar or it may change. Because it’s a new concept, they’re kinda uncertain. As they put homes on the market, if they get picked up really quickly, and there’s a lot of positivity, they may continue throughout the site, or make changes. They are working on legal contracts to make later phases that may also have units for sale, but phase one will be just rentals.”

As designed, the development would have an access road to individual homes/garages, while homes would face away from the street and towards landscaped walks and gardens in the middle of each home cluster. A community clubhouse with amenities such as an indoor pool would potentially be included in a later phase.

“They want to keep them small, maybe front porches, one-car garages, it’s really focused towards a ‘face forward’ community – the front of the living space is the rear of the house. These won’t be typical apartments, this is more of a community concept,” said Robbs. He said these types of developments were more common on the West Coast, and compared them to smaller pocket neighborhoods in Ithaca city, and the Boiceville Cottages development in Caroline.

As for the legal process of approvals, that’s a bit of a question. Robb says it may be a Planned Development Area, or it may be reviewed under the laws of the site’s current Medium-Density Residential (MDR) zoning. The MDR zoning would need to be amended, since it’s designed for individual homes on individual lots, not cluster housing with shared open space. The decision will be made by the village’s Board of Trustees at a later date.

Brian Crandall

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