ITHACA, N.Y. — It might be the summer of cranes Downtown, but the rest of the area has its share of construction projects underway. Here’s a look at some of the projects going on around Ithaca and Tompkins County.

105 Dearborn Place

Being a historic district, one doesn’t typically see much in the way of new construction in Cornell Heights. However, thanks to the subdivision of an unusually large plot of land, senior care provider Bridges Cornell Heights was able to move forward with a new home to complement its existing offerings.

Bridges hired Bero Architecture to create a building that fits the historic district, and the result is an imposing two-story, 10,930 square-foot cultured stone and cedar-shingle Craftsman-style home with 12 bedrooms (four of the bedrooms will be designed for double occupancy for couples). The landscaping will be similarly fitting and designed by Cornell landscape architecture professor Paula Horrigan. Exterior features include a porte cochere, porous driveway and courtyard parking for nine vehicles, as well as three patios, walkways and lush plantings (500+ perennials, 127-140 shrubs, and 35 trees).

Unlike the skilled care homes across the street, Bridges has plans this residence to be an independent living facility, a lower level of care for seniors who can manage their daily activities fairly well, but may need assistance in cooking or housekeeping. Schickel Construction has started putting together the concrete walls for what will be a finished basement, and residents will move in sometime next summer.

East Pointe Apartments

In the village of Lansing, the first three townhouse strings are underway for Park Grove Realty’s “East Pointe Apartments” townhouse project off of Bomax Drive. Each string of apartments will host ten units, with a garage and a patio or deck. When complete, the site will host 140 rentals in one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom configurations, which can be viewed on their newly-launched website here.

In terms of sheer size and cost, this is one of the largest projects the village of Lansing has seen in many years – the construction loan filed earlier this week with the county shows that M&T Bank is lending Park Grove $22.6 million to build the townhomes. It could be argued that it’s a lot of housing to build at once, but Park Grove is hoping to capitalize on being an alternative to the density and noise of mixed-use downtown housing. It also helps that though these will be brand new buildings, they’ll be more affordable than many downtown apartments  – $1,400/month for a one-bedroom, $1,700/month for a two-bedroom, and $1,900/month for a three-bedroom. The first units will be hitting the market next year, and the project should be complete by summer 2020. DGA Builders is the general contractor.

In the photos above, a few crewmen look on as a  material placement truck, also known as a stone slinger, launched small rocks into the footprint encased by the foundation walls. This may be a crushed stone base (hardfill) for a concrete foundation slab. Unlike much of Ithaca, a shallow foundation works fine up here because two-story buildings aren’t especially heavy as structures go, and the ground is more stable and better drained.

Amici House

From the outside, the new Harriet Giannelis Childcare Center is practically complete. The trim boards are up, the lights are on inside and with the exception of landscaping and parking/driveways, the new facility looks ready to open its doors. A glance at TCAction’s website shows that the non-profit is in the process of filling positions to run the early childhood Head Start programs, which will serve 48 children from lower-income households, as well as create 24 new jobs.

Though not as far along, the new residential building for vulnerable or formerly homeless youth is topped out. The steel stud walls have been sheathed in gypsum panels and a reflective insulation (Dow Thermax), and it looks on track for an opening early next year, which will also allow TCAction to move back from a rental space on West Clinton Street and into their old offices. With the housing and educational opportunities this provides, the Amici House project stands to have an outsized positive impact on the community that it is growing into. Montour Falls-based Welliver is the construction manager for the $8.25 million project.

The new 28,200 sqaure-foot Cayuga Medical Associates medical office building has taken shape at Community Corners. Given that this structure will host medical practices with lots of vulnerable patients, the material choices revolve around fire safety. Steel stud walls are being sheathed in Saint-Gobain CertainTeed GlasRoc, one of the major suppliers of fiberglass mat gypsum board. True to name, the boards consist of a sheet of woven fiberglass sandwiched between gypsum panels; brands like GlasRoc and Georgia-Pacific DensGlass are fairly common for projects where fire-rated walls are a necessity, like medical spaces, offices and hotels, and it does show up in some apartment buildings. The exterior will be finished with an off-white brick veneer, a nod to neighboring structures.

McPherson Builders of Ithaca is the general contractor for this project, and Chemung Canal is financing it to the tune of $7.8 million – a better use of funds than the million bucks they had to pay out to Jason Fane when they lost the Bank Tower lawsuit last year. Workers on site explained that the goal is to have the new building complete by late autumn.

Single-family housing

Most of the keys tapped here are dedicated to commercial and multi-family housing construction – typically because it has a bigger local impact per project, and has a higher-profile since they tend to be in the denser and more frequently traveled parts of the county. That’s not to say there aren’t some single-family homes being built – communities in Tompkins County approved 115 new single-family homes and 26 two-family homes last year, with the town of Lansing and the town of Ithaca approving the most (31 and 18 respectively).

As what tends to happen in an area with high construction costs, a conservative market sentiment and large building lots, the homes that do get built tend to be higher end and custom-designed for buyers. The examples above are from the town of Lansing and village of Cayuga Heights. The first one is a traditional stick-built, though no information on the builder; the second is a customized modular home courtesy of Carina Construction, and the third is an expansion of an old cottage into a grand Craftsman-style house by local firm Eco-Built Custom Homes. While builders like Tiny Timbers have been making inroads into affordable for-sale homes, it’s a work in progress, though one that the county hopes to cultivate.

Brian Crandall

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