News Tidbits 1/3/2015: Ringing In the New Year

3 01 2015

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1. Leading off this week, here’s an article from the Lansing Star discussing a transportation study for Lansing. While I can’t say transportation studies are my cup of tea, the map of proposed developments certainly caught my eye.

Most of the large-scale developments are associated with the quagmire known as Lansing Town Center, and most of the smaller circles are single-family housing tracts. I dunno how much I trust this map though, because I thought the ~30 lots of Lake View/Whispering Pines/Cayuga Way were all the same project, and Cottonwood’s 20 lots only exist on maps. The 400+ units down towards the airport will make the intersection of Warren and Rte. 13 even more heart-racing. My back of the envelope math says the total number of units that I’m aware of is about 600 outside the town center projects, with more in the pipeline according to the town planning board’s latest minutes. That’s pretty impressive for a town that averages 25-30 units per year. This all makes for exciting math, but I have serious concerns that Lansing doesn’t know how to manage its growth.

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2. Normally I don’t write about just one house. Unless it’s the one lot in Ithaca town where adjusting the property line made it buildable, and drove the neighbors crazy. Then I write about it. Looks like that parcel on Tudor Road sold and an unassuming ranch-style home is under construction. I wonder if the six vacant lots on nearby Circle Lane will ever be developed.

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3. In typical Cornell fashion, reams of documentation have been provided for their upcoming Upson Hall renovation, which is due to go up for site plan review by the Planning Board in late January. I’ll boil it down to a few salient details. From the application, here are the numbers: the estimated cost is $40 million. The additions at the entrances will result in a net increase of 4,000 sq ft (Upson Hall is about 160,000 sq ft). The construction time frame is June 2015 to September 2017. There will be no additional jobs after completion, but about 150 construction jobs will be supported by the project (with at least 40-60 on-site on any given day). Here are elevations and renders, existing conditions, utility and demolition plans, floor and roof plans, phase 3 landscape drawings, the planning board presentation for January, construction stage diagrams, more staging and landscape plans, and a profile of the terracotta to be used in the new facade. It’s Cornell – where most applicants don’t provide enough info, Cornell overwhelms (not unlike a “shock and awe” military doctrine).

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4. For those of you looking for your greasy drive-in food fix – The corporate parent of Sonic Drive-Ins is actively looking for an Ithaca franchisee. As part of its upstate NY roll-out, they’ve developed a new corporate design (pictured) that is more appropriate for the local climate, with large interior seating areas. Start-up costs are typically pegged around $500,000, with a total investment closer to $1.5 million. So if you know someone with restaurant experience and a cool million just lying around, Sonic would like to talk with them.

5. The Ithaca Times has come out in opposition of the IDA’s vote to not grant tax abatements to Jason Fane’s 130 E. Clinton project. This must be one of those rare times we agree. I do appreciate that they called out the steep slope argument, which is bull crap. They also point out that the door is open to an Article 78 lawsuit from Fane, if he’s feeling vindictive and that the IDA decision was made unjustly. Is there a chance he’ll do that? Yes. Is there a chance he’ll win? Also yes, if his lawyers can prove the decision was based on character judgement rather than the project itself. The project may be cancelled, but I don’t think Fane is done quite yet.


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