ITHACA, N.Y. — One certainly doesn’t see a property sale of this magnitude every day in Tompkins County. An LLC associated with businessmen and developers John Novarr and Philip Proujansky purchased a large set of Collegetown properties on Tuesday for a cool $15,593,000.
The massive sale was one of the largest non-commercial sales in Tompkins County on record. The seller was “PGA Family Realty LLC”, a Florida-based LLC associated with the Avramis family of Collegetown landlords.
Seven parcels were included in the sale: 120 Catherine Street, 122 Catherine Street, 124 Catherine Street, 128 Catherine Street, 302 College Avenue, 304 College Avenue and 306 College Avenue. The properties together make up one contiguous swath of land. The properties were acquired by the Avramises over a number of years, with the earliest being 304 College Avenue in 1976, but the majority were purchased from local businessman Christopher Anagnost in 2009. All of the buildings contain apartments marketed to Cornell students attending the university a short walk away (with a total occupancy of 68 beds), as well as a few commercial operations on College Avenue, such as Collegetown Liquor on the ground level of 306 College Avenue.
While the properties are on the edge of what could be considered Collegetown’s inner core, where land values are some of the highest per acre in Upstate New York, the sale far exceeds the assessed values of the properties – collectively, their value is $4.07 million, a little more than one-quarter of the sale price.
Typically, when such a large disparity is present between the assessed value and the sale price, a redevelopment of the purchased property is planned. What the plans might be for this property are uncertain, as there is no public information apart from this deed. Zoning at the sites is split between MU-2 along College Avenue (six floors, 100% lot coverage excluding setbacks, no on-site parking required), and CR-4 along Catherine Street (four floors, 50% lot coverage, no on-site parking required).
One possibility is that it may be related to the plans by Novarr and Proujansky to redevelop the 325 College Avenue property further up the block at the intersection with Dryden Road. As previously reported, a demolition permit is sought for the property, with plans to redevelop the corner lot. Those are expected to be presented to the city for review sometime next year.
The Avramises previously proposed a two-building, 202-bed student housing project on these seven properties in October 2014. Designed by local architect Jagat Sharma, the building proposals never moved beyond the sketch plan stage of review, and so no plan was ever approved for redevelopment of the lots.
Novarr and Proujansky have carried out a number of projects in and near the Collegetown neighborhood over the past few years. Those include the 1,200+ bed Collegetown Terrace on East State Street, the Breazzano Center for Cornell University at 209-215 Dryden Road, and apartments for visiting Cornell faculty and staff currently under construction at 119-125 College Avenue. The renewed interest in Collegetown stands in contrast with concerns from other neighborhood landlords about slack in the Collegetown market as Cornell’s Maplewood has opened for occupancy, and a 2,000-bed expansion on North Campus has been in the works.