ITHACA, N.Y. — A couple of folks emailed in expressing concern when the owners of the Byrne Dairy store put the building up for sale at 215 North Meadow Street. While the Meadow Street site still has yet to reel in a buyer, there is one thing we can say for sure — Byrne Dairy is staying in Ithaca — in fact, it’s expanding.

The regional dairy foods maker and convenience store chain, which operates 63 stores across Upstate, has submitted plans to the City of Ithaca for a bigger convenience store on the south end of the Route 13 retail corridor at 323-325 Elmira Road. The 4,686 square-foot building on site has housed a restaurant since it was built by the Cutting family back in the late 1970s, most recently Friendly’s and Denny’s, which closed suddenly in January.

Byrne Dairy’s plans call for a “specialty grocery” and a gas station to be built on the property. The existing restaurant building would be extensively renovated to house the new grocery, salad/sandwich shop and convenience store, while a new six-pump gas station and fuel canopy would be built in part of the existing parking lot. Plans also call for the usual complement of new sidewalks, signage, landscaping, and LED dark-sky compliant lighting. The existing curb-cuts would be utilized for the new project.

Design-wise, the proposed cream-and-green vinyl-sided barn appearance, penned by the Donahoe Group of Marcellus, is similar to Byrne Dairy’s newly-built stores, if resized a bit to match the dimensions of the existing building. Byrne Dairy estimates that they would employ 25 staff at the site, sixteen of which would be full-time equivalent. The cost of the renovations is estimated at $312,500.

With the new pumps and substantial exterior changes, the project will need to go before the City of Ithaca Planning Board for approval and plans to begin the Site Plan Review process this month.

Should all go smoothly with the board, Byrne Dairy hopes to start construction around Labor Day, and finish up by the end of the year.

Brian Crandall

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