The Neighborhood Pride Site (210 Hancock Street)

15 02 2015


Avid readers will note that I’ve been writing about the Neighborhood Pride site on the Voice, keeping only brief notes here on Ithacating until a final design was unveiled. Now with that taken care of, here’s a description of what we’re working with, based on documents filed with the city on February 13th. There’s a brief application summary and cover letter here, or the 764-page FEAF (Full Environmental Assessment Form) here. I swear, no one reads those giant PDFs in their entirety, users only look for specific sections based on their prerogative. The rest is just there for gluteus maximus coverage.inhs_pride_design_2

Perhaps a little bit to my dismay, the project is not going to be complete until September 2020, tentatively. This isn’t a huge surprise though, INHS is a non-profit and dependent on grant disbursements. The buildout will begin in September 2016 and consist of three phases – my guess of the breakdown is the townhouses are one phase, the 2 southern apartment buildings are a second phase, and the northern two apartment buildings are the third phase, though not necessarily in that order. At some point, INHS anticipated subdividing the parcel into apartment and for-sale portions, which might be useful when applying for affordable housing grants.

The apartments call for ~50 1 and 2-bedroom units, and 13 for-sale townhouses, although it still looks like 12 in the renders (who knows, maybe one is a small duplex). So about 63 units total, and about 8,200 sq feet or rentable commercial space in three spaces (proposed at 1,800, 2,500 and 3,900 sq ft, for a total of 8,200 sq ft). The apartment buildings will be 65,000 sq ft, 4 stories and 48′ tall (zoning max 4 stories/50′). The demolition of a one-story office building (built 1975) and a vacant grocery store (built 1957) will be required. Total construction cost is anticipated to be about $13.8 million.



Interestingly, what looks like the community favorite (the street scheme) doesn’t read as the county’s favorite (which reads as the alley scheme). But the county only advises, the city decides. Lake Avenue will be what they call a one-way “living street” – a low-speed, low-capacity street shared by bikers and vehicles. With those features, it’s designed in a way that you’d only drive on the road if you live in one of the townhouses. Conley Park’s southern boundary will be opened up to flow freely into the property (it was blocked off with vegetation to begin with because of its proximity to the old P&C loading dock, which made for a loud, smelly experience).

As an honest personal opinion, the design – inspired by local 1900s industrial and manufacturing buildings, according to the application – is pretty nice. It’s contextual, it’s appropriate, it fits in without being a total historical throwback. The townhouses are well-designed as well. I think INHS’s willingness to have heavy community input, and the community’s willingness to help shape the project, really came together to create a nice product.inhs_pride_design_5

A parking variance will be required from the city – the site will have about 70 parking spaces, but zoning requires 86. Will a new TCAT bus shelter and on-street parking nearby, INHS anticipates that they will be able to obtain the parking variance without too much hassle. INHS also needs to be be mindful of the flood zone, which they seem to have accounted for in the site plan. The only portion of the site especially vulnerable to a 1-in 100 year flood event has covered parking on the first floor. The townhouses, which are in the 500-year zone, will be built two feet above the ground, and the commercial space, also in the 500-year zone, will be one foot above the ground.

In sum, we have a project that removes a vacant supermarket, fits well in the urban fabric and provides affordable housing. It might take forever and a day to build, but it’s a welcome resource in the city of Ithaca.






9 responses

16 02 2015

I think your summation says it all. I hope Ithaca is able to get more developments like this one. Dense + Urban + Affordable = Healthy City.

18 02 2015
Cornell PhD

I’m not sure there’s enough detail in these renderings for me to share your optimism about the design of the apartment buildings, but given INHS’ previous work, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I would’ve hoped for a little more density, if anything. Ithaca’s in too much of a housing crisis to let neighbors dictate so much contextualism. But even that situation could’ve been worse, for sure.

19 02 2015

I’m also skeptical of the beige box design of the apartment buildings; if they were going for turn-of-the-century industry, they should have used red brick and inset arch detailing around the windows and doors. But maybe the renderings aren’t detailed enough yet.

I do like the townhouse designs, though. I don’t think a really high-density development would be appropriate for this location, since it’s so far away from downtown, and the townhouses help the new construction blend better with the nearby 19th-century homes.

21 02 2015
News Tidbits 2/21: Can’t We All Just Get Along? | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] – G. Sketch Plan presentation of INHS’s 210 Hancock/Neighborhood Pride Redevelopment […]

21 03 2015
News Tidbits 3/21/15: Imagine If It Was Trader Joe’s… | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] Discussion (no actions expected) on INHS’s 210 Hancock development – some minor tweaks have been worked into the plan, such as moving the new Lake Avenue north […]

27 03 2015
Dj spencer

The four story building is out of scale for this area. Imagine the new hotel by Manos in this space! That is a four story building. How many properties on the “Commons” are four stories? The only negative that I could find about high density housing in a small neighborhood and surrounding property values was when the development was to highly concentrated in one area and out of scale with the surrounding neighborhoods. Property values decreased within three years of project completion. If four stories isn’t out of scale here, someone is really looking through greenback colored glasses while busily patting each other on the back!

28 03 2015
B. C.

The majority of buildings on the Commons (21) are 4 stories or higher. Your comparison to the Fairfield is strange – in that case, you have one continuous building mass with no strong connections to street-level activity.

At the INHS meeting, there was a pretty broad range of heights that neighbors deemed acceptable.

11 07 2015

Why only three, relatively large commercial spaces? I’d prefer to see the commercial square footage divided amongst a few more spaces. You would think the neighborhood demands more than 3 additional businesses.

12 07 2015
B. C.

Without knowing the specifics, I’d guess that the proposed sizes have something to do with offering the greatest range of possibilities for the space. I’m not sure which one TCAction secured for its Head Start preschool program.

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