Apartments Planned for 215-221 W. Spencer Street

6 04 2015

I owe a big thanks to Charles Pyott with the city of Ithaca for getting a copy of the sketch plans for 215 West Spencer. I had initially thought nothing was presented at the March Planning Board meeting, but the March PDB meeting minutes said otherwise. I made an inquiry, and he was able to obtain a copy of the sketch plan from the applicant. So a big kudos to you Charles.

A copy has been uploaded to the City of Ithaca website here.



At its March meeting, the city planning board reviewed a sketch plan for a proposed apartment building at 215-221 West Spencer Street, just south of Six Mile Creek and a few blocks from downtown Ithaca.

The steeply-sloped 0.47 acre parcel has been vacant for several years, and currently sees use as an informal 12-space parking lot. The lot is in a R-3a residential zone that allows for a 40′ structure with 35% lot coverage.

Previously, a dilapidated apartment building stood on the site. The building and land were purchased by the city for $530,000 in 2003, and sometime after the building was demolished, the land was turned over to the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency in 2013.

The property was originally marketed for affordable housing projects only, but received no purchase bids. Once the affordable stipulation was removed, the parcel was marketed once again, and found a buyer – local developer Edward Cope, the owner of local rental agency PPM Homes, bought the parcel for $110,000 on March 6th.


In the sketch plan presented by local architect Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative, four apartment buildings are presented in a terraced hillside layout, all connecting to a staircase that bisects the north and south buildings. The upper buildings have three floors of windows on the west side, and one floor on the east side. The lower buildings have three floors of windows on the west side, and two floors on the east side.


According to the Planning Board minutes, each building consists of a ground floor unit and “two side-by-side townhomes above it” – it’s not clear if that means two units per floor, or two units total on the upper floors. It could be 20 units or 12 units, pending clarification. The 12 parking spaces on the Cayuga Street side of the property would be maintained and paved.



In the sketch plan document, two versions are presented – the aerial renderings show a different design than the site elevations. It’s not clear which is the current iteration, though the site sections show much greater detail (I suspect they are the more accurate of the two).



Expect some revisions moving forward – planning board members expressed a desire for a more prominent connection between Spencer and Cayuga Streets (a “grand formal stairway”) and reworking the Spencer Street facade to make it more visually interesting.




7 responses

7 04 2015
Noah Demarest

To clarify there will be 12 units total. You are correct that the 3d views are not as up to date as the renderings. This is very early in the design process. We will share updates as this project continues to take form. Thanks for the post.

7 04 2015
B. C.

Thanks for the clarification Noah.

I think this is the first time that I’ve ever received a comment from a project’s architect.

23 05 2015
News Tidbits 5/23: Cast A Discerning Eye | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] that C & D are the same design, but mirrored. The general forms are pretty much the same as the original sketch plan, but the porch and windows have been altered and the rooflines have been tweaked on A and B to give […]

10 10 2015
News Tidbits 10/10/15: Meeting With the Stakeholders | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] It was a run-down multi-story apartment building (shown above in the photo from county records), demolished 12 years ago by the city and turned into an informal parking lot that was never meant to …. The land was sold by the city to Ed Cope for $110,000 last […]

21 11 2015
News Tidbits 11/21/15: Building and Rebuilding | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] of Prelim/Final Site Plan Approval  – this one was first presented as sketch plan in March, to give an idea of how long this has been in front of the boards C. 416-418 East State Street […]

4 10 2016
Ithaka Terraces (215-221 West Spencer Street) Construction Update, 9/2016 | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] 215-221 West Spencer Street is a steeply sloped 0.47 acre site that was previously home to a multistory apartment building. The building had fallen into disrepair by the early 2000s, and the city bought the property for $530,000 in 2003 with plans to turn it into affordable housing. However, that plan was thrown off track after the building burned down not long afterward. The site was then used as an informal parking lot by nearby residents for a number of years while the city figured out what they wanted to do with it. The city deeded the property to the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency in 2013, who attempted to sell it as affordable housing, but found no takers at the $100,000 starting bid. Cope picked up the property when it was offered for sale to general housing, paying $110,000 in March 2015. Sketch plans were presented a few weeks later at the March Planning Board meeting. […]

26 01 2018
Ithaka Terraces Construction Update, 1/2018 | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] There’s a lot to like here. As condominiums, they provide an opportunity for home ownership in a city increasing occupied by rentals. With any hope, they’ll be a sales success and encourage other projects to follow suit with their own plans. It’s infill on an fire-destroyed vacant lot, it’s an attractive design, the net-zero energy arrangement is highly appealing from a sustainability perspective, and it’s a few million dollars of property back on the tax rolls (the destroyed property was repossessed by the county, transferred to the city and sold in a competit…). […]

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