ITHACA, N.Y. — An apartment complex in the Town of Ithaca will be saying goodbye to its last tenants this summer. The Ithaca East Apartments will shut down at the end of August.

Formerly known as the Maple Hill Apartments, the complex opened in 1972 as low-income housing at 301 Maple Ave. in East Ithaca, on land provided by Cornell University. A 40-year mortgage subsidy was granted to maintain the affordability of the 82-unit apartment complex, and the mortgage was paid off and the subsidy expired without renewal in 2012.

Once the subsidy expired, the complex was rebranded as Ithaca East Apartments and opened its doors to Cornell students, mostly graduate students from abroad. In a 2015 interview with The Ithaca Voice, owner and manager Bruce Abbott described the resident population as being about 70% Cornell graduate students.

With the mortgage subsidy expired, Cornell had the legal right to take back the land, provided that they give Abbott a two-year notice. However, the decision to shut down the Ithaca East Apartments was Abbott’s. The 72-year-old Abbott cited his desire to retire and long-term financial considerations as reasons for closing Ithaca East.

Notice of the impending closure was delivered to Cornell in early February, and shortly thereafter an offer to assist student residents with relocation was made by the Office of Student and Campus Life.

In a written statement, Jeremy Thomas, director of Cornell Real Estate, stated that the university would explore its options for the property over the coming months.

“Cornell University is working in partnership with longtime local developer Bruce Abbott as he prepares to close the Ithaca East Apartments in September of this year. We applaud Abbott for notifying students of the closure early in the calendar year, and for his flexibility in working with all affected tenants to help them transition into new housing.

“Our Off-Campus Living office has been working with affected students in their search for housing for the fall 2019 semester. Cornell University is also working with the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services and other local agencies to ensure that the handful of non-student residents of the Ithaca East Apartments also can find appropriate housing within the Ithaca community.

“Future development plans for the site, which will return to Cornell’s ownership after the aging apartment complex closes, are still under consideration. Cornell remains committed to working with outside partners to expand and improve the available stock of quality, affordable housing available to our students, staff and faculty.”

The closure of the Ithaca East Apartments comes as a setback to community efforts to grow the local housing stock and particularly the local affordable housing stock. The apartment complex housed over 200 residents and was one of the few places with four-bedroom low-income apartment units in the county. These residents will now be looking for another place to call home over the coming months.

Featured image: Ithaca East Apartments (Ithaca Voice file photo)

Brian Crandall

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