UPDATED: A sketch rendering of the new design has been released. Small, house-like apartments have designed along East State Street in place of buildings 2 and 4. Building 3 is still one continuous building, but the exterior breaks into subsections to minimize bulk and give the impression of multiple strcutures. The Delano House is still under consideration for preservation, but is more of a suggestion at this point (unless the preservation committee and the Common Council give it historic designation). I actually like it more than I did the original design.
Also, Ithaca is getting a BJ’s Wholesale Club next to the Shops at Ithaca Mall, and a Tim Horton’s/Cold Stone Creamery is planned to be built near Buttermilk Falls. Which makes me wonder how mainstream Ithaca is going to become over the next few years.
So, for those who might’ve been following the news over the past few months, it’s been no big secret that Novarr-Mackesey Group’s Collegetown Terrace project has been rather contentious, drawing crowds of angry neighbors to planning board meetings who were upset with the sheer size and scale of the project. In response, the planning board voted to promote rezoning (which is done by the city council) the part of the property along East State Street, which would heavily alter the project. Plus, it was recommended that historic designation be sought for the Delano House, a former nurses’ dorm. Of course, if these actions were taken, then Novarr’s lawyers would be having a field day filing a lawsuit against the city.
Well, it seems as if that potential issue has been averted. Talks between the board and John Novarr have resulted in something of a compromise. In exchange for not rezoning the area, Novarr will submit a redesign that will allow thirteen separate structures on East State Street. This has been one of the most contentious aspects on the original design, that the three structures that were originally proposed made State Street feel like “a wall”, “prison” or “fortress”. The original design schematics and proposal can be found here, in a 645-page PDF.
Therefore, buildings 2 and 4 will be completely redesigned as designated by the agreement. Building 3 will also be redesigned, but only the north half is affected. To what extent the plans will change regarding the landscape of the development and the other buildings is uncertain. Also, some of the Ithaca preservationists might still be trying to push for special designation for Delano House, which is at 113-115 Valentine Place. That space would be occupied by buildings 6 and 7, so I don’t see the issue being completely settled just yet. But at least the two sides are willing to compromise. Personally, while I like some of the aspects of the project, I’ve kinda felt indifferent due to the sheer size, and the design hasn’t exactly won over my heart (for the record, I still don’t dislike it as much as I dislike anything by Thom Mayne, so I feel no urge to go on a rant like I did with Gates Hall). But trying to make it a smooth transition and trying to at least appease the neighbors while increasing density – I consider that a step in the right direction.