ITHACA, N.Y.—Not every project has to be big and bold. Some seek to revitalize vacant and worn-out places with new and modestly-sized spaces.
It’s an approach that has served the Stavropoulos family quite well over the past several years. The West Hill clan of landlord-developers, whom some might know as the owners of the State Street Diner, have built themselves a growing portfolio of rental units under the name “Renting Ithaca.”
Some developers are deep-pocketed and dream of gleaming towers and showpiece trophy buildings. The Stavropoulos family does not, shying away from large, ostentatious designs. Along with renovations of existing homes, their preference is for smaller urban infill, from two-family homes to lowrise apartment buildings. Most are designed by their preferred local architect, Daniel Hirtler, to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood. Recent projects include 815-817 North Aurora Street (4 units), 202-204 Queen Street (4 units), 107 South Albany Street (11 units), and two-family homes at 205 Prospect Street and 514 Linn Street.
Now comes the latest project – Stavros Stavropoulos’ plans for a pocket neighborhood in Ithaca’s West End neighborhood.
As proposed, the $1.276 million project would replace three dilapidated houses at 615 Cascadilla Street, 617 Cascadilla Street, and 513 North Meadow Street with four new two-family houses, for a total of eight rental units on 0.403 acres. As before, the 2.5-story buildings would be the work of Hirtler’s Flatfield Designs studio, finished in a stucco-patterned fiber cement trim, with colors yet to be determined.
On the inside, each unit would be three bedrooms and either 2 or 2.5 bathrooms, ranging in size from 1,014 square feet to 1,436 square feet, with open floor plans, eating bars/islands, and walk-in closets. The replacement unit at 617 Cascadilla Street has a finished and partially exposed basement level, while the trio at 615 Cascadilla (615 A/B/C) have crawlspaces instead. The units would all be market-rate rentals.
Meanwhile, on the outside, plans call for new sidewalks, bike storage, lighting, landscaping and an off-street parking lot for eight cars accessed from North Meadow Street. Curb cuts on Cascadilla Street would be removed, and the housing is grouped closer to the northeast corner and adjacent residences so as to maintain a quieter and more residential atmosphere. The rear yard at the south end of the property would be a shared outdoor space for the residents. The project, a mix of R-2b and WEDZ-1b zoning, appears to fully comply with the code.
The project will have to go before the Planning Board, and if it’s like most zoning-appropriate infill proposals, it’s unlikely to draw much controversy and the review will be a fairly straightforward process. The only real wildcard is the replacement curbcut on North Meadow Street, which requires NYS Dept. of Transportation approval. If all is approved in time, Stavropoulos plans to begin construction this September, by first removing anything remaining of 615 Cascadilla Street as well as 513 North Meadow Street (some demolition work has already taken place on fire-damaged 615 Cascadilla), then building three of the new duplexes, and then bringing down 617 Cascadilla Street for the last duplex next year, with completion of the whole project planned for August 2022.