ITHACA, N.Y.—The Green Street Garage officially reopened on Tuesday, Sept. 6, marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring city officials.

The reopening means 268 parking spaces will be online immediately, while another several dozen will be available at some point in the future, making 334 in total.

The ribbon cutting was attended by several officials from the City of Ithaca and otherwise, including Jennifer Tavares of the Tompkins Chamber, Ithaca Planning Director Lisa Nicholas, Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson and more.

Acting Mayor Laura Lewis was among the attendees as well, and commented afterward that the opening was a reason for optimism about downtown, in a variety of ways.

“Opening [Tuesday] is a real infusion of optimism in our downtown, in downtown development and shopping and all of our restaurants,” Lewis said. “The DIA has a clear sense of enthusiasm, and it’s a win-win—people have been waiting for this and now we have a state-of-the-art parking facility.”

Lewis complimented the sustainable aspects of the reopened garage, which includes electric vehicle accommodations and motion-sensored lighting to save energy.

The opening provides some relief for adjacent businesses like Cinemapolis and those along the Commons, but the ongoing construction of Asteri Ithaca and adjacent projects remains and continues to inhibit operations for those in the direct area. The Green Street Garage redevelopment project includes the rehabilitation of the previously deteriorating garage, along with a conference center component and nearly 200 units of affordable housing, which isn’t expected to be finished until 2023.

Impacted business owners have frequently complained about the construction obstruction, but proponents have touted the projected contributions of Asteri once its finished: a large batch of sorely needed affordable housing, as well as the conference center, which has attracted $2 million in federal funding towards its completion and could attract around $148 million in additional area revenue from tourists and more over 20 years, at least according to a 2017 estimate.

As for how the new influx of parking spaces will impact other Ithaca garages, such as the Seneca Street Garage where monthly permits had been stopped because of capacity issues, time will have to tell.

“The City’s Chamberlain Office is going to start issuing monthly permits to the Green Street Garage on Tuesday, September 13, so the city should have a better sense of all those who are switching their permit over by the end of this month or in October,” according to the city through the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. “The city is going to hold off on selling Seneca Street Garage permits again until it has a clearer picture of the number of people who are moving over to the Green Street Garage.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com