News Tidbits 11/22/14: The Quiet of An Early Winter

22 11 2014

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1. Here’s the first revision for the Maguire proposal in Ithaca town. With different building sizes and parking layouts, about the only thing that remains the same is the general site configuration. The planning committee packet has its retinue of numbers to help sell the town on the project; 50 new jobs and 100 transferred to the site (average wage $44,300), with an extra $2,000,000 in taxes for the town. The town is being cautious about the project because it relocates a proposed park (Saponi Meadows), and the project doesn’t fit with the just-completed Comprehensive Plan. Zoning would need to be amended, and the trail to Tutelo Park would hinge on a land donation to the town that also seems to involve them taking responsibility for the roads on Ithaca Beer’s property. Observant readers will recall Ithaca Beer is undergoing an expansion of its own.

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From SW to NE, you have the Subaru/Hyundai dealership, the Fiat/Alfa Romeo/Maserati dealership (those wealthier Cornellians need to get their GranTurismos and Ghiblis serviced somewhere), the corporate HQ and the Nissan dealership. The dealerships themselves will follow carmaker-approved design language, as the examples included in the packet suggest. Two lots on either side of the corporate office are tagged for future development, and an Audi/Porsche/Jaguar dealership is included in the dealership renderings, but not in the site plan. The project would be LEED certified, have electric car stations, walking trails, a loop road, and a coffee bar/cafe. Unique to the project would be apple and cherry orchards and vineyards – I suppose this is where the “artisanal” moniker comes in. We’ll see how warm the town is to the project after the presentation.

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2. In other presentations, this one for the county, the Old Library Committee is recommending that all four of the remaining Old Library proposals be asked to submit formal proposals. Last Friday, the county also opened up a 10-day comment period on the RFP draft document. Personally, I don’t see much to add to it, and most of it consists of things that would be great if one project had it all – but none will. It’s what HR recruiters call a “purple squirrel“, a perfect candidate that has a vanishingly small chance of applying. It requests green building, affordable housing, purchasable units, mixed uses, and a special meeting with the stringent ILPC (Ithaca Landmarks & Preservation Council; I recall notes from a recent meeting where they had an argument on whether solar panels were appropriate for historic buildings and districts). I don’t believe any project on that site can meet all those and still hope for a construction loan from a private entity. Condos (which is what purchasable units means in this case) are hard to get financing for, and affordable housing torpedoes the DPI and Franklin/O’Shae projects because they won’t break even at a lower price point, therefore no loan, no build.  I suspect Travis Hyde would also have the same problem, and the Cornerstone Group, while affordable, doesn’t have mixed use or green building measures. I understand it’ll be a “whatever comes closest” situation, but I feel like the county is setting itself and local residents up for a disappointment in one way or another.

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3. Looks like the Times has had a busy week writing about local projects. A piece on 114 Catherine, a piece on 323 Taughannock, an article about the Troy Road project, and a piece on the Chain Works District. Gee, I wonder where they got the idea that local developments make for interesting articles? A fifth entry notes 85 people attended the brainstorming session for the Neighborhood Pride site, which is simply fantastic.

If I’m to recommend any of the four, it would be the piece on the Chain Works/Emerson project, which is in-depth and broad in its review of the site and its environmental issues. The writeup on 323 Taughannock notes that developer Steve Flash originally wanted a taller building on site, but soil conditions combined with the costs for a more substantial foundation made it cost-prohibitive (and unlike the Purity project, this was discovered well before any plans were approved).


4. Compared to much of this year, this month’s Ithaca city planning board meeting looks to be rather quiet. Agenda with all the attachments here. INHS will be giving a description of their “visioning process” for the Neighborhood Pride site, which probably means a rundown of how they’re going to come up with the design (the goal is to present a sketch plan of the project in March or April). The 114 Catherine and 128 West Falls Street infill projects are in the last stages of review, some discussion of the environmental assessment form is scheduled for the Canopy Hotel, and Purity is still trying to amend its previously approved plan. Also in the itinerary, formal review will begin of the 3,400 sq ft DiBella’s planned for big box land. In terms of sketch plans, there’s a review for a new children’s garden at Cass Park, and a pair of duplexes (4 units total) for what is currently a parking lot at 112 Blair Street, behind the houses on the embedded map. 112 Blair is zoned CR-2, meaning parking, vegetative buffers, and hipped roofs are required. It needs to be 2-3 stories and permits a max of 35% lot coverage (it’s a 6,390 sq ft lot, so about 2235-3353 sq ft per duplex, 1117-1676 sq ft per unit). Infill is always welcome, though hopefully they aren’t as plain as their State Street neighbors built a few years ago. News next week will likely be lacking due to the holiday, so the next development roundup will probably be in December.

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On a final note, we’re averaging the third coldest year since records started in 1893. Damn it, I want my global warming.

Oh wait, here it is. Virtually everywhere else except Ithaca. Sigh.


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28 02 2015
News Tidbits 2/28/15: The Big Chill | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] rather than purchasable units, and every proposal submitted in the RFEI misses the county’s (overly high) expectations in some […]

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News Tidbits 4/25/15: Long Week, Long Reads | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] readers might remember that Maguires proposed a delaership/headquarters compound in Ithaca town late last year; but due to irreconcilable differences regarding standard zoning vs. Planned Development zone, the […]

13 06 2015
News Tidbits 6/13/15: Things that make you go Hmm | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] truth is, the RFP was designed to be unattainable, and I called it out for that last fall. There was no way a project was going to incorporate all the things it requested. Franklin […]

22 08 2015
News Tidbits 8/22/15: Throwing Fuel on the Fire | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] might recall that Maguire dealership chain proposed a HQ and expanded facilities along Elmira Road and Seven Mile Drive, but the plan was dropped last December due to differences in opinion on appropriate zoning for the […]

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