DRYDEN, N.Y.—Local developer G. Lincoln “Linc” Morse is a busy man. He purchased 1920 Slaterville Road and renovated it into the new home of manufacturer Incodema, and has plans approved for turning the former Incodema at 407 Cliff Street into a mixed-use complex focused on leisure and hospitality uses. Now, he’s adding a third plan to his roster of projects.

A sketch plan filed with the town of Dryden last month details Morse’s plan for another rather quirky mixed-use development, this time at 1274 Dryden Road near the intersection of Routes 13 and 366 (a.k.a. by the NYSEG Building). The site was formerly the home of the Ithaca Orchid Center/Ithaca Orchid Place.

As Morse has done with previous projects, this isn’t a teardown, but a reuse and expansion. With business partners (collectively called “Garden Place LLC”), Morse, the owner of Strategic Elements Real Estate Development, is proposing “Garden Place,” with a combination of commercial agribusiness and residential uses.

More specifically, concept plans, drafted for Morse by engineer Adam Fishel at Marathon Engineering and architect Noah Demarest at STREAM Collaborative, calls for the re-establishment of greenhouse and floral sales business in the existing building. On undeveloped portions of the 2.6 acres, Morse is proposing to add 14 two-bedroom townhomes.

In the application, it’s noted that most of the flower beds and floral arrangement work will be done outside, but a 1,250 square-foot retail space would operate on the property in one of the existing buildings after some light renovations, as well as the growing of some flowers in the existing exotic and flowering plants greenhouse. A 4,200 square-foot “secure grow” facility would also utilize the existing facilities. Some selective demolition of rear-yard accessory buildings appear to be in the plans, given the site plan vs. google maps imagery. Meanwhile, a new farm stand would be built outside the floral shop.

Initial plans for the townhouses show three strings of four units, and one duplex towards the rear. Each townhouse would come with its own garden space, and the proposal comes with the usual complement of landscaping (one presumes it will be bedecked with flowers, given the project), sidewalks, and stormwater facilities. The project is proposed to have two access driveways onto Dryden Road/Route 366.

Town zoning code requests 27 parking spaces for the project—seven for the retail space, six for greenhouse staff, and one for each townhome. Fishel, writing on behalf of Morse in the application, is requesting a variance to build 25 parking spaces, though the developer says they are willing to add the other two parking spaces if the town insists.

The project is only at the concept/sketch plan stage for initial feedback from the Town of Dryden Planning Board. It’s sizable enough that it will need to go through the full, formal Site Plan Review process, which will take at least a few months even if the reception is positive and the review is fairly smooth.

Re-use of existing buildings is generally an easier sell to Planning and Town Boards, and this project provides housing in an existing development cluster that includes NYSEG, the former Vanguard/new Knickbocker facility, and easy access to Cornell and city employers. But there are always curveballs; it’s up to the town of Dryden to decide if Morse’s garden will germinate.

Brian Crandall

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