In terms of Ithaca-area development, I consider myself an optimist. But Cayuga Green’s second phase was one of those projects I had written off as left for dead. For a quick background, Cayuga Green is the formal name for the mixed-use project that has been underway on Green Street in downtown Ithaca for about ten years. The project, proposed for a piece of land that was then-used for a large parking ramp/lot, was aimed to revitalize that section of downtown, but was not without controversy due to its use of property tax abatements by developers Bloomfield & Schon. The first phase includes the new Cinemapolis (one of the results of the controversy was to switch from a new multiplex to a new space for Cinemapolis), the redone parking garage, a creekwalk, and the Cayuga Place Apartments, where the new TCAT stop is. The first phase was completed a couple years ago.
By a fair account, the project has had mixed success. What has been built is doing quite well. Gimme! Coffee, Palmer Pharmacy and Urban Outfitters filled the new commercial space (all of which were new, not companies that moved space), and the apartments had a low vacancy rate. Cinemapolis has adjusted to its new space and the street is rejuvenated. The project spurred nearby development, including Gateway Commons and the Hotel Ithaca project. The caveat comes from the second phase, which was supposed to start in mid 2007. The financial market started to tank, and this phase had never gained financing, government or private. The space it was intended for, behind the city’s new parking garage, was left empty.
It would seem that is about to change. Thanks to a tip from from frequent visitor and favorite old fart “Ex-Ithacan”, the project is going in front of the Planning and Economic Development Board. The revision is for a six-month extension on the site (construction was supposed to start by 12/31/2011, even after a previous delay), The amendment notes the project seeks no tax abatements, but must go to the Common Council at the end of the month for final approval.
Also notably, the project is revised. The original proposal looked like this (image from developer’s website):
Which was revised to this:
and now looks like…this (from the agenda):
The newest incarnation is 6 stories, 35 units of condos, and 8,500 square feet of office space, of which about 5,000 feet is reserved for the Park Foundation, a local non-profit. No new environmental review is required, which should save time in the approvals process, and that will be handy since final approval and building permit will have to be issued by June 30, 2012.