ITHACA, N.Y. – The building at 108-110 W. Green St. housed a service garage in the 1920s, car dealerships through the mid-century, and a photo processing shop until the 2000s, so “environmentally friendly” might not be the first thing that comes to mind for passersby. As construction on the Press Bay Court project reaches an end, though, the building has a new image as a mixed-use space with energy efficient features and green design elements.
The Press Bay Court project is a sister project to the adjacent Press Bay Alley, completed by developers John Guttridge and David Kuckuk of Urban Core, LLC. Occupying the lot from 108-114 W. Green St., the project includes several “micro-retail” spaces on the ground level and four one-bedroom apartments above.
Throughout the project’s residential and commercial spaces, the team made use of green technology with an eye to minimizing emissions, energy use and utility costs for tenants.
Guttridge said the project was designed in compliance with Ithaca’s Green Building Policy, even though the policy memo has not yet been codified into local law. Common Council approved the Green Building Policy last spring, but incorporating it into the city’s building codes is on Mayor Svante Myrick’s list of 2019 priorities.
The Green Building Policy outlines a system for assigning points for building features that contribute to energy efficiency and affordability or use renewable energy sources. To meet the proposed green building standards, projects will need to earn at least six points.
By Guttridge’s tally, Press Bay Court scores at least seven points.
The project uses air source heat pumps and its heating systems are housed in an indoor, heated space to improve energy efficiency and minimize heat loss. Using heat pumps for a residential space earns the project three points, and it gets one point for placing heating systems in a heated space.
The project’s density, at about 16 units per acre, adds another point to the count, as do its walkability and adaptive reuse of an existing building.
Finally, the project meets water efficiency requirements by using water sense fixtures.
Guttridge said the team did not score every building element that could count toward points on the green building rubric, because some categories required measurements that were not readily available. Even so, the project clears the Green Building Policy’s minimum standards.
During a tour of the property for interested community members, Guttridge said the team voluntarily embraced the Green Building Policy because it aligned with their approach to development.
“Green building is something that we care a lot about,” Guttridge said.
The comprehensive renovation cut off the building’s natural gas connection, making utilities fully electric. LED lighting has been installed throughout, and airtight spray foam insulation and rigid foam insulation are used to prevent heat loss and minimize noise between units.
While updating the building with modern materials and technologies Guttridge said the team was careful to maintain its historic character.
“We wanted to embrace where there were imperfections, just clean them up so they don’t feel clunky,” he said.
Gazing upward in an apartment, a modern sprinkler system runs subtly parallel to a newly exposed original rafter, bearing an inscription from a contractor: “Bert A. Davis, Sep. 24, 1914.” Looking down, the outlines of former walls interrupt the pattern of the newly laid wood flooring.
With its street-facing facade and several original elements intact, the Green Street site’s long history lingers, but new tenants are already transforming the space.
Retailers began moving in this fall, with Gee June Bridal and Hair • Color • Art open for business. Halal Meat and Grocery, Body Gear and Bramble are expected to open within the next month or so, and DP Dough is due to move into a new space fronting Green Street in about a month too. Once DP Dough moves, One Ring Donuts and Ithaca Generator Makerspace will begin interior work on their units.
Residents are getting settled as well, with two apartments currently occupied and two set for Jan. 15 move-ins. All four are rented below market rate to target renters making about 75 percent area median income, with rents in the $1,000 to $1,300 range according to Guttridge.
Featured image: The hawk mural at 108-110 W. Green St. was preserved during renovation work. (Devon Magliozzi/The Ithaca Voice)