“Collegetown Dryden” Project Proposed

28 07 2014


The Manhattanization of Collegetown continues. I’ve been waiting to post this one because the city was taking its time with uploading the supporting documentation; given that they had about eleven different projects at the six-hour marathon Planning Board meeting last Tuesday, I’m not going to fault them for taking a breather.

Anyway, this project, called “Collegetown Dryden”, is yet another addition to the Collegetown Boom. Located primarily in an MU-2 zone (i.e. the densest Collegetown zone, where no parking spaces are required), this project seeks to redevelop the Palms Block, a collection of four run-down structures that includes the brick building on the corner, the old Palms building, and the old Collegetown Candy and Nuts building on the corner of Dryden and Linden (the Kraftee’s Building is not included in this count; it is being redeveloped separately). The Palms building was recommended for historic preservation several years ago, but never gained significant traction. In January 2012, the recently-closed Palms and its two eastern neighbors (213 and 215 Dryden) sold for $3.75 million to local real estate development firm Novarr-Mackesey, the company responsible for Collegetown Terrace on East State Street. The old Tompkins Trust Bank on the corner was sold to Novarr-Mackesey in July 2011 for $1.65 million. Lastly, an adjacent house on Linden (240) that was bought for $475k in 2010 will be torn down and replaced. In sum, the firm has been collecting properties on this block for years and has been biding its time, waiting for the Collegetown zoning issue to sort itself out.

6-29-2014 153

Onto the proposal itself. Speaking professionally, I’d say it’s something different and visually distinct from Jagat Sharma’s ubiquitous Collegetown designs. Speaking informally, someone referred to it as the “Tron Building“, and I’m inclined to agree. If they changed up the odd window setup, I might like it. The design is by the same firm that did Collegetown Terrace, ikon.5 out of Princeton.


The design as proposed has three unique structures, referred to as buildings “A”, “B”, and “C”, totaling 107,302 sq ft. Building “A” is the six-story structure at the corner of College Avenue and Dryden Road, and will have 2,000 sq ft of retail on the first floor. “B” is the six-story building fronting Dryden with a 9,000 sq ft “cellar” and 7,800 sq ft of retail space, and “C” is a three story residential building built over a one-story, 11-space parking garage fronting Linden Avenue. Together, they provide 141 units, all studios. This is unusual, but it has merit. Studios are going to be less expensive than units with bedrooms, and will be more accessible to students with less affluent income levels. I’m not saying it’s going to be cheap, definitely not with the high land values here. But it will be cheaper to rent than some of the other properties in inner Collegetown.


Compared to Jason Fane’s 330 College juggernaut, this one is right at the very edge of legal zoning. It totals six floors and 80′ in the MU zoning sections (Buildings “A” and “B”) and four floors in the CR-4 (Building “C”). It’s all legal, no ZBA required. I’d also say that in comparison to some other developers, John Novarr seems a little more neighborly, which certainly helps in the approvals process. This was the type of development envisioned when the form guidelines were passed, so it should be feasible, unlike the non-starter proposed across the street. Look for this one to go through revisions and discussion, with possible approval by the end of the year. A multi-phased 2015-2017 construction time frame is likely.







8 responses

28 07 2014

Not a big fan of the windows, but id do like a variety of buildings. That said i would like to see something different on the corner (College & Dryden). How about an Art Deco-ish rascal. And maybe seek 7 or 8 floors but keep it at 80 to 90 feet.
As Jason Fane argued, it is THE intersection in Collegetown, and with some sweet talk I bet Novarr could get his zoning request through before Jason Fane would. Hey, it’s worth a shot isn’t it?

29 07 2014
B. C.

It would be great to see something different on the corner. I know ikon.5 is Novarr’s go-to firm and they don’t like to do postmodern, but they did design the small apartment buildings facing State Street (after being strongly persuaded by the city), which aren’t half bad from most angles. At the very least, I’d like to see something a little more harmonious with the Kraftee’s redevelopment.

On height, it will be tricky. Novarr may be game, but there’s a number of folks who still nurse ill will towards him because of Collegetown Terrace (Neil Golder comes to mind). Given the huge mess that ensued when a 90 feet limit was suggested for the corner of College and Dryden several years ago, it will be a very tough battle for any developer, Fane, Novarr or otherwise.

29 07 2014
Jason Henderson

Wow, 141 studios. I have no doubt they’ll rent, and the rental demand in most places has been moving that direction for quite some time, but I’m surprised.

29 07 2014
B. C.

I’ll be honest, when I first glanced at the floor plans, I was kinda surprised. What do you suppose the “cellar” will be? Additional retail, or utilities and tenant storage?

I’m curious what Building “C” looks like, but there were no renders yet released of that perspective.

29 07 2014
Jason Henderson

It has its own lobby area too- if I had to bet I’d say tenant storage, maybe some devoted to storage for the retail tenant as well.

20 08 2014
Back To The Future: Collegetown in the 1980s | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] of this photo set, a Mike Harris photo from 1968 shows a gas station used to be on that site. The building is not long for this world, if John Novarr has his way. It’ll be interesting to see how Collegetown will look in another 28 […]

18 06 2015
Seven Years Later | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] few more projects were proposed – more Collegetown housing (some more likely than others), the Tompkins Financial Corporation HQ, 210 […]

20 06 2015
News Tidbits 6/20/15: Big and Far, Small and Near | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] of Dryden and Linden he just deconstructed. Readers might remember this site was part of his Collegetown Dryden project proposed last July, but there’s no indication if it’s a revision of that, or a totally different approach. […]

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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: