News Tidbits 1/17/15: Capturing “The Essence of Local Surroundings”

17 01 2015

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1. Token PSA: The third meeting for INHS’s Hancock Street/Neighborhood Pride redevelopment is next Wednesday, the 21st, 4:40-7:30. Attendees are not required to be there for the entire time. The goal of meeting three is to discuss design concepts for the proposed buildings that comprise the two remaining/competing site plans. I look forward to writing a follow-up after the meeting.

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2. Finally, some drawings for the 102-unit Cayuga Farms townhouse project in Lansing, courtesy of the Lansing Star. They look like stereotypical “McMansions” that happen to have shared walls, and the rental price for the 2 and 3-bedroom units has the mansion part covered – $1800-$2200/month. If you use the 30% rule of affordable housing, that means the a household in the cheapest unit is expected to pull in $72,000/year. To quote the project engineer, Timothy Buhl:

“The idea is to capture the transient market of people coming from urban areas to work at the colleges,” Buhl said.  “They would ultimately buy a house, but don’t know where to locate.  We’re looking for young, two-worker families.  It’s an in-between type of rental of higher-end people that we’re looking for.”

In other words, “affordability” is not a word you’ll see in this conversation. The Cayuga Farms project was initially proposed several years ago as 144 townhouse condos (I miscounted and said 138 at the time), but the market for suburban high-end townhouse condos is pretty limited – there is Ivar Jonson’s Heights of Lansing which since 2006 has sold ~17 of the 70+ proposed townhouse units, and Woodland Park, which in three years has built ~6 of 48 planned. The market is virtually non-existent, hence rentals.

On the town’s website, there’s all sorts of other data uploaded: trail recommendations, on-site sewage system details, traffic generation estimates, erosion and sediment control plans, environmental review forms and so forth. Cayuga Farms is multi-phased, with 3-4 phases from 2015-2021; phase 1 will have 44 units. Since Lansing is at capacity on its natural gas pipeline, residents will be using propane appliances until the new natural gas pipeline from NYSEG is routed in. This project already gets dinged in my book for having 354 parking spaces when zoning requires only 153 (1.5 spaces per unit). Every unit gets 3.5 parking spaces. That seems like overkill. Anyway, the planning board reviewed the SEQR on the 12th, which is a big step towards approval of the townhouse development. My gut feeling is, while there’s no doubt Ithaca needs housing in most market segments, a high-end rental unit where you have to drive to everywhere bundles just about every criticism about local development into one convenient package.

Let’s be honest, I’m generally pro-development. But I do have a short list of projects I don’t support. This is one of them. With the sprawl, gobs of parking, and mediocre design, I question its value to the Lansing community.

 

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3. The Lofts @ Six Mile Creek project has posted preliminary unit sizes and floor plans on their facebook page. The “Studio +” and “1 Bed +” indicate bonus rooms inside the unit (suitable for another bedroom, home office, etc.). No word on rents just yet, but being new and downtown, expect an upmarket price for the 45 apartments due to enter the market late this spring. Their webpage notes they’ll be accepting reservations sometime prior to that.

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4. I think we’re up to version 7 now, but the differences in the proposed “canopy Hotel” are now so subtle that you’d have to be looking hard to spot the changes. The entrance facade is virtually the same, but the mechanical penthouse has been updated to better blend in the rest of the structure, and a couple of stylized wall inserts have been planted into the northwest wall to give the 7-story, 123-room hotel a little visual interest. More renders here, a geotechnical report here, a new cover letter here, and traffic study materials here and here. Thank goodness a lot of this work has gone paperless.

According to the documents, the new “canopy Hotel” brand by Hilton

“…is marketed towards the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and the mid-2000s), however, is relevant for the older generation of hotel guests. Each canopy Hotel is designed to incorporate the essence of its local surroundings and neighborhood feel; such as offering a local welcome gift and evening tastings of local food, beers, wines, and spirits to providing local fitness and recreation options in terms of jogging and bicycle routes (bicycles will be available for rent).”
Yes, ‘canopy’ is meant to be lower-case and ‘Hotel’ is capitalized. I’m sure the brand creators thought that was hip and edgy. Yet another reason why I would never be a good marketer. The 74,500 sq ft hotel includes a small restaurant space of 2,000 sq ft on the first floor, as well as standard hotel amenities like a small meeting room and a gym. The $19 million project hopes to start construction this spring.
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5. Looking ahead, here’s what the city Planning and Development Board seeks to do at its meeting later this month. For the canopy Hotel mentioned above, declaration of environmental significance and possible preliminary approval. INHS’s 402 S. Cayuga Street townhomes and the 6-unit 707 E. Seneca apartment project will be up for environmental review and recommendation to the zoning board for variances. The Planning Board will also declare itself lead agency for reviewing Cornell’s Upson Hall renovations, the 3 duplexes at 804 E. State Street (112 Blair). Board members will also consider approving a telecommuncations (cellphone) tower on top of a gas station at 214 N. Meadow Street, and weigh in on parking-related variances for 128 West Falls Street and 108-110 Eddy Street. It’s an interesting mix this month.

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31 10 2017
Hilton Canopy Hotel Construction Update, 10/2017 | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] By January 2015, the designed had been tweaked some more (V7 in the link, but the changes were pretty minor from V5-V7, facade materials and window treatments), the cost had risen to $19 million, and LeChase Construction was signed on to be the general contractor. In fact, Patel and Frost Travis has even worked out a clever plan to share construction equipment as both their buildings were underway. However, Patel and Baywood’s schedule fell behind Travis’s, so the plan never panned out. […]

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