The De-Evolution of the Purity Project

29 10 2014

4-8-2013 252

I figured that so much has happened with this one, that it merited its own post.

When the Purity Project was first proposed in November 2012, it was something of a surprise, and a welcome one. Developers Bruce and Heather Lane were proposing a five-story apartment building on the site, with purity on the ground-level. A mid-rise mixed-use building for the historically overlooked West End of the city. It seemed like win-win, and another sign of Ithaca’s burgeoning residential growth.


Then came the first downgrade. The apartment tower was gone, and the reasons weren’t explicitly stated at the time. In its place was a small second-story office addition of 2,600 sq ft. A disappointment, certainly. With some reservations (discussed in a great write-up by Jason at Ithaca Builds), the project was approved last December. The first phase, which was a renovation Purity’s customer service area, opened in May.


No we have the third version, which is another scaling back of the proposal (they use the term “value engineered”, which are curse words in my book). There are no additions; the letter from the project engineers say it would be better characterized as “a gut renovation”. According to their study, the soil on site, which is lake sediment, compresses very easily, and is so difficult to build on that just about any addition would be cost-prohibitive. The extent and severity of the soil issue only became apparent when detailed analysis was being conducted for the next phases. The soils/foundation issue was also a major factor in dooming the apartment tower.

The latest iteration renovates the vacated western portion of the building for about 3,834 sq ft of office space (called “Cascadilla Corner”), which they anticipate being held by a tenant with 18-23 employees, according to the parking study. As someone that once worked in a 4,000 sq ft office with 20 others, that sounds about right to me. I do have concerns given Ithaca’s generally-lackluster office market, but the space is small enough that it’ll probably be easier to fill than the large floorplates once proposed by Harold’s Square.



Here are the latest renders. At least the renovated space will be nicer than the industrial warehouse’s present form.



2 responses

8 11 2014

BC, just wondering if you saw the write up in the Ithaca times about the planning dept meeting and the remarks about the Purity project?

10 11 2014
B. C.

I did. It’s not often you see a mea culpa from applicants.

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