ITHACA, N.Y.—As first reported back in June, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market is in the midst of a reconstruction and expansion plan for its waterfront site in the city of Ithaca. Now comes the next big step, with the filing of detailed plans for municipal Site Plan Review (SPR).

Previously, Ithaca Farmer’s Market Executive Director Anton Burkett said the major goals were winterized facilities to allow for a year-round market, a reconfigured and more accessible parking lot, and meeting rooms, prep space, storage and a community kitchen available to vendors. The reconstruction and expansion project for the 30+ year-old pavilion has been in the concept stages for several years.

The filing with the city of Ithaca Planning Department, submitted by landscape architect Kate Chesebrough of Whitham Planning and Design, calls for a $9 million development at Steamboat Landing (545 Third Street) with a reconstructed market building, ADA access, bus/shuttle services, redesigned and resurfaced (porous paving) parking areas, electric vehicle charging stations, shoreline improvements (views and accessibility), and improved fire truck access in order to become a “year-round waterfront destination” per the project team’s description.

“The project team recognizes the importance of the Ithaca Farmers Market as an important connection between local farmers and producers with their customers; a place where local flavors are explored and celebrated; a destination for everyday and special event gatherings; and a cultural touchstone for what it means to be from and visit our community,” wrote Chesebrough in the submission.

The project would be built in multiple phases starting in September 2022 and finishing up in October 2026. The parking lot would be reconfigured first, followed by waterfront improvements, followed by a new pavilion to be built in the third and last phase, roughly 2025-26. The exact timing will be dependent on the market’s success at being awarded state grants.

More specifically to phase one in 2022-23, the initial site improvements would include the site entrance way, perimeter driveway, parking lot, fire, pedestrian and vehicular accessways, drivable pedestrian promenade, site drainage, site utilities (water and electrical infrastructure), green infrastructure to control stormwater runoff (porous pavement and bioretention areas), and site and parking lot lighting.

The IFM site currently hosts about 341 parking spaces, and the reconfiguration would increase that number slightly, with the final number to be somewhere between 355 and 375 spaces depending on accommodations for buses and their turning radii needs. The site is being designed to accommodate a new bus stop on Third Street, in cooperation with Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT).

The new pavilion, still in the concept stages, calls for a 2-story modern design with a 15,000 climate-controlled space for winter use. The new building will have indoor dining areas, improved handicap/ADA accessibility, pedestrian access, improved fire protection and an increased number of restrooms. It will be a relatively lightweight structure, so a less invasive shallow foundation (spread footers) is planned. Although not stated in the filing, Burkett previously noted that the new space would allow for a slight increase in the number of vendor stalls, from 88 to about 95-100.

Joining Whitham on the project team are nARCHITECTS, who will design the new pavilion and market building, the Binghamton office of Shumaker Consulting as civil engineers for the site and parking area, and Sienna Environmental Technologies of Buffalo for project approval coordination.

The project will be rather complicated in part because of multiple utility easements, and in part because it sits on city-owned land, which will require additional approvals during the review process. The land has been leased from the city of Ithaca since 1988, and the lease was renewed for a 20-year term back in 2010. Adjacent property owned by New York State is expected to be transferred to the City of Ithaca, which intends to offer the additional land for lease to the IFM.

The project will be presented to the Ithaca Planning Board at their August meeting for initial comment. Even if the process is relatively smooth, the Site Plan Review will take several months to complete, with multiple opportunities for public comment during the review, timing to be determined.

Brian Crandall

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