News Tidbits 5/31/2012: New Apartments Squeezed Onto Thurston Avenue

1 06 2012

So, I’ve been waiting for this piece of news for a while, but it took a little bit of sleuthing to come up with details about a proposed project for Thurston Avenue. First, the location:

The location is a parcel next to the Rabco (Highland House) Apartments on the corner of Highland Road and Thurston Avenue. To give you a better sense of locale, its the woody, slightly hilly piece of land across Thurston from Seal & Serpent, and across Highland from Alpha Zeta. A highly trafficked area, the property was once home to the Wyckoff Mansion, which became the home of Phi Kappa Psi from 1915-1964. The Wyckoff property was torn down to make way for the Rabco Apartments, which were finished in 1966. This portion of the parcel has never been developed. I actually used to walk by here almost every day, but never felt the urge to get photos of a stand of trees and rocks.

The proposal is as follows: three buildings, clustered, four stories in height (est. height ~40 feet, within zoning regulation). 36 units and 88 beds, making it one of the densest properties north of campus. 40 parking spaces are proposed, but the planning board has expressed the desire to share space with the excess western parking lot on the Rabco property, and that will probably be a stipulation for approval. Time-wise, since this is the sketch plan, and given the size and location, don’t expect construction for several months (although they want city approval by late July – which is highly unlikely), and expect a year more before it is complete. The project lies within a contextually-sensitive area, the Cornell Heights Historic District, and its design will probably be much more scrutinized as a result. It may also be rather historicist, because I can’t anyone is going to approve a “modernist” or “contemporary” design in the heart of a historic district, even in a city that likes svelte modern boxes.

On another piece of news, the Johnson Boatyard project has realigned its entrance to be on Willow Avenue rather than Pier Road (not a big changed, it just means its moved from the north end to the east end of the property), and the number of duplexes has been decreased from eleven to six. The project still has townhomes [warning: Ithaca Journal link], which now vary from 1-2 stories in height. A small retail portion might be included in the first phase. After all the news about the original proposal, this first phase is a bit…underwhelming.



4 responses

14 06 2012
David Kolar

This will be a great addition to the Ithaca community. I hope the proposed development can be approved in time for the completion of construction for fall enrollment of 2013. Further, I hope the final design will provide for 2 parking spaces for each unit i.e. 72 spaces if it is 36 new units.

14 06 2012
B. C.

I hope that it will be a great addition as well. However, I think 72 spaces are highly unlikely. The project’s location in the historic district sets itself up for more stringent requirements – I think city zoning mandates 1 space per unit, and the planning board and ILPC will try and keep the number of spaces as low as possible. The planning board has already expressed displeasure with the 40 spaces proposed, saying it’s too many and that parking could be shared with the Rabco Apts. next door (a parking req variance would be needed in that case, to which the board has expressed support). Fingers crossed on a fall 2013 opening, but for a project of this size, approvals definitely need to be in hand by the end of the summer to make that time frame.

24 07 2012

Thanks for the post. What a great blog! As a Cornell Heights single family home owner, this further enforces to me that the city has ‘given up’ on Cornell Heights. The Historic preservation status is warranted, but barely enforced nor the zoning laws and certainly not noise ordinances. It’s too bad because personally I think Cornell Heights should be considered as part of Cornell’s strategic plan to reduce commuter car traffic and it has the potential to be even more special than it is today. But, no one seems to share such a vision and I’m sure despite the many efforts by neighbors and concerned preservationists, eventually developers will pack them in and collect their $700/mo.. College 2.0 here we come.

12 05 2013
Ithaca Builds « Thurston Ave Apartments Site Plan «

[…] Ithacating in Cornell Heights picked up on this new development about a year ago, and the site plans have just been submitted for review (see below). It looks as if the developer has scaled down this project, as the plan now calls for four buildings holding 20 units (mostly three bedrooms) on the corner of Highland Ave and Thurston Ave (across from Seal and Serpent). Page 23 shows a nice render of what the project would look like without any vegetation, and page four shows a nice breakdown of the properties surrounding the site. […]

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