Tompkins Financial Corporation Plans New Headquarters Downtown

25 03 2015

tfc_1

Downtown Ithaca will be getting another large addition in the next couple of years, if Tompkins Financial Corporation has their way.

The local financial services company has announced plans for a new headquarters in downtown Ithaca. The location of the proposal, 118 East Seneca Street, is between the DeWitt Mall and Seneca Place on the Commons. The site is currently home to a small drive-thru branch of Tompkins Trust Bank.

tfc_2

The sketch plan can be found here. Currently, there is no specific design, only a massing diagram (local firms Trowbridge Wolf Lansdcape Architects and HOLT Architects will be designing the new building). Potentially, the project could be seven floors, 100 feet tall, and about 110,000 GSF. Plans call for a small amount of enclosed parking on the first floor behind the building footprint, with floors 2-7 being built out and over the parking.

tfc_3

The bank branch would be moved across the street to 113-119 East Seneca, and though it’s a little hard to tell from the images provided, it looks like the buildings on site will remain in place, while major renovations are applied to the ground level. 113-119 East Seneca currently has a surface lot topped by three floors of offices.

The project has a fairly quick schedule, with formal plans expected at next month’s Planning Board meeting, and final approvals for the headquarters expected by June. According to the blurb on the Ithaca Times, completion is anticipated by January 2017.

Tracing its history back to 1836 and the establishment of Tompkins County Bank, the Ithaca-based company offers retail and corporate banking, insurance, and asset management services. Along with Tompkins Trust Bank, TFC operates several other subsidiary banks, including Tompkins Bank of Castile on Western New York, and Tompkins VIST Bank in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Collectively, the company holds about $5 billion in assets and employs 1,000, including 400 in its headquarters.

On a final note, it’s worth noting that TFC turned down participation in the U.S. Treasury’s TARP program, otherwise known as the “bank bailout”, and was did not offer subprime loans during the 2000s housing bubble.


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16 responses

25 03 2015
Ex-Ithacan

Bravo to TFC and downtown Ithaca. And thanks to you BC for the update.

29 03 2015
B. C.

Thanks for the heads up Ex, I didn’t know they had updated the agenda. I was expecting to write about the residential project at 215 West Spencer, but it seems the developer decided to hold off from presenting this month.

26 03 2015
drill deep

I believe (but haven’t confirmed) that the current bank drive through was once the location of the Cornell Library, back before there was a Cornell University. Pictures of the grand building are easily located online. It was torn down in 1960. Urban Renewal. The current asphalt lot is the dramatic improvement planners were hoping for? Perhaps this latest proposal will fix that mistake.

26 03 2015
B. C.

Close. The Bank of America ATM at the Tioga/Seneca intersection was where the Cornell Library once stood. The county assessor’s page says the drive-thru for TTC was built in 1990, and the previous site owner was an entity called “Cornell Theatres”.

26 03 2015
drill deep

Thanks BC.
Then they should be building something at the Tioga/Seneca intersection damn it!

29 03 2015
Cornell PhD

This should definitely be a priority. I’ve long fantastized about it being a nice, slim centerpiece of the Ithaca skyline, nestled as it is among neighbors with little reason to object. A mixed-use building taking advantage of the transit hub just across the street would do the trick: 10-15 stories with a little crown.

Unfortunately I imagine the fact that it’s a bank drive-in and includes access for a number of Commons and Aurora St. stores might make this a really complicated site…

29 03 2015
B. C.

I like that idea. But given the number of complaints on the Voice article about there not being enough parking in downtown, anything on that site would be a tougher sell to the general community (then again, the commenters might just be the squeakiest wheels – it’s hard to think of a local development proposal that hasn’t received a complaint of some kind).

I just did a quick check of county records – Jason Fane bought the lot (official address 203 East Seneca Street) in 1996 for $3.55 million. Given his reputation, he himself would be another liability.

27 03 2015
Ex-Ithacan

The location use to be occupied by the Temple Theater. I believe there was another bulding next door to the Temple which was associated with Ithaca College (a gym or small auditorium?). I use to walk by them on my way home from DeWitt Junior High.

29 03 2015
Cornell PhD

Are there any photos of this anywhere? All I could find was a description here. Sounds like it was actually quite successful right up until being torn down in the mid-70s, a direct casualty of the stupid mall:

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/10701

29 03 2015
Ex-Ithacan

The only picture I have is an old aerial of downtown. The buildings I mentioned are just to the right of DeWitt Mall building on the left side of the photo:

downtown aerial

btw, I was wondering how this TFC move will affect the old Seneca Building across the street. I’m assuming TFC occupies much of that building. Maybe the Seneca Building could be converted to apartments.

29 03 2015
B. C.

Hi Ex,

The aerial photo is marked as private. Is there a way to make a copy of it public?

14 08 2015
B. C.

Just came across this photo earlier. Temple Theater is on the left.

http://nyheritage.nnyln.net/cdm/singleitem/collection/p4020coll5/id/281/rec/313

29 03 2015
Cornell PhD

Hard to say it’s not a positive development overall, though in an ideal world it’d be dense downtown housing with maybe a couple spots for restaurants at the bottom (lacking vs. generic retail space downtown, apparently) while Tompkins consolidated into one, taller building. The street feels a bit like a Tompkins Trust ghetto in parts already as it is.

29 03 2015
B. C.

That touches on one of my concerns – is TFC vacating any of its old space? The market for office space is pretty weak, and putting more on the market would worsen the problem. The Harold’s Square project on the Commons is struggling to get a construction loan because of a lack of office tenants secured for its second floor. Although, as Ex-Ithacan mentions above, the ca. 1929 Seneca Building would make for a tempting residential conversion to larger/more experienced developers.

30 03 2015
Ex-Ithacan

BC, sorry for the mix-up with the photo. Should be fixed now.

16 05 2015
News Tidbits 5/16: Smart Developments, or Sprawl? | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] Rather than describe it in neutral generalities as I did with the Voice article, I’m going to afford the right to be a little subjective. The design is respectful of its neighbors through the use of brick and stone veneer. There’s no real surprises in the design, and corporate buildings tend to be pretty conservative anyway. At 104 feet (100 to the rooftop, and then 4 feet for the roof parapet), this will make a dent in the Ithaca skyline, but once again, it respects and balances out it neighbors by being a little taller than the DeWitt Mall, and a little shorter than 121′ Seneca Place. On a spectrum, the street front is on the nice side though not fantastic; a bank branch and some offices will engage with the street only modestly, but it’s much, much better than the drive-thru there now. The new building is built to the sidewalk, has an urban form, it’s a multi-million dollar private investment and a lot of other things that most upstate mayors would sell their mothers to get. The project is still shooting for a summer approval and construction starting not long thereafter. […]

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