Route 13 Is Becoming Suburban Hotel Row

26 02 2014


The best part about this project is, I was totally confused when I first saw it, and thought that someone had changed up the Holiday Inn Express proposed for 371 Elmira Road. But I think I can be forgiven for the error – both projects are 4-story, 54′ tall hotels prepared by Optima Design and Engineering out of Buffalo. However, the two projects diverge from there. Project description here, elevations and lot layout here, project application here. The hotel as proposed for 339 Elmira Road is a small one, 37 rooms, current being described as “independent” (no chain affiliation), which given its size is no big surprise. The 6,468 sq ft building is situated for an empty 0.59 acre lot, what was once home to the Salvation Army store before they moved down the road a few years ago and the building was demolished. Jason over at Ithaca Builds reported that the land sold for $143k last summer.


The project’s application predicts a time frame of construction from June to December of 2014, and a project construction cost of $1.7 million. What Ithaca gets for that $1.7 million is a typical suburban-style box hotel, a smaller version of what you typically find at highway exits. In a way, that’s what this stretch of Elmira Road/Route 13 is becoming – previously, it was just the Comfort Inn, then the Hampton Inn in 2003, the Fairfield Inn last year, and now this and the Holiday Inn Express are in the proposal stages. That would mean 219 more hotel rooms in this area then there was in 2012.

On a completely unrelated note, the infill project by Heritage Builders at 128 West Falls Street continues their fine tradition of developing underused city/town parcels, even if the designs are a bit ungainly.




9 responses

26 02 2014

Getting it’s own little skyline along there, eh? lol

I was wondering if there’s a height limit along the Elmira Rd?

27 02 2014
B. C.

Yup. 60 feet.

27 02 2014

Thanks for the info BC.

5 03 2014
Cornell PhD

Why aren’t more of these hoteliers being directed to build downtown? Or why aren’t there sufficient incentives to do so? I would guess the land out here may be cheaper and the sites less confining, but there are some big vacant lots and underutilized spaces in central Ithaca, and I can’t imagine many guests would prefer to stay in this area, especially given restrictive/expensive parking at attractions they’d have to drive to…

5 03 2014
B. C.

There are some hotel proposals underway in downtown. The Marriott ( ) will add 160 rooms, and the Holiday Inn Expansion adds a convention center, along with a new 115-room tower ( ; since they’re tearing down the low-rise portion of that hotel, the net gain is only 15 rooms). The Hilton Garden Inn added 104 rooms and Argos Inn has added 10 rooms. There was a Hampton Inn proposed, but the proposal divebombed for a few reasons ( ). I would say that on the hotel front, downtown Ithaca has kept pace with these suburban developments.

The city does offer incentives through IURA or other groups, but from a developer’s perspective, it’s a mixed bag. The land on 13 is cheaper and less confining; there’s few historic buildings to worry about, and little local opposition. Plus, the developer can save money by using one of the standard building plans available to the franchisee, since they don’t have to worry so much about fitting into context. Heck, some of it’s just timing. This parcel has been vacant for a few years, the building was demolished and the lot was sold at auction last year; the office building where the HI Express is going has been vacant for a while, and the Fairfield lot was sold off by the Manos family. Those parcels were on the market at the right time. That especially goes for this property, which came to auction right around the time the Hampton Inn proposal was shelved (that project, this and the Holiday Inn Express have the same developer, Jayesh Patel). I’m not aware of many downtown parcels for sale, underutilized or not.

Without having the numbers in front of me, I’d guess hotel rooms here are cheaper than in downtown, one of the trade-offs being the need to drive everywhere.

6 03 2014
Cornell PhD

Yeah, I guess you’re right — there’s plenty of hotels proposed for downtown…they just take forever to be realized, largely as a consequence of the factors you mention (the Marriott was supposed to get started a year ago, wasn’t it!?)

I wonder if the city’s considered eminent domain for some of the parcels that owners have determinedly left vacant in the face of pressure for housing and hotel space in the city center? NYS has a pretty wide definition of “blight” that they could take advantage of…and even the threat could maybe scare owners into action.

6 03 2014
B. C.

Eminent domain is an option, but it’s a community/developer’s drastic last resort, given the severe consequences. Developers and politicians fear another Kelo vs. City of New London, both the courtroom battles and the results – the seized properties were demolished but never developed as intended, and tensions still run high in New London today. If one wants to destroy goodwill in a community, eminent domain is an effective way of doing it. I think that even in a progressive city like Ithaca, the mere suggestion of eminent domain would be extremely contentious and anger many locals.

10 03 2014
Cornell PhD

Even if it were eminent domain against EVIL capitalist landlords in order to build “more affordable housing”? 🙂 You might be right that the Ithaca city government would shy away from doing anything so “divisive,” though. They’d be more scared by the nature of the process than the arguments against.

After all, as far as legal precedent goes recent (post-Kelo) precedent in NY State has really favored eminent domain. The NYS Court of Appeals in Albany has given the green light to really controversial state seizures and handovers of property to the developer of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and to Columbia University.

The difference is that Mayor Bloomberg had way more political will to effectuate such moves.

18 06 2014
Six Years Later | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] least one has started and one is about to start). Many projects were announced, including hotels at 339 Elmira and 371 Elmira, a new apartment building for Collegetown, 323 Taughannock, the Chain Works […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: