Hotel Ithaca Plans New 5-Story Wing in First Phase

10 09 2015

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The Hotel Ithaca is once again seeking to expand its offerings.

In what’s being billed as a “modernization”, owner David Hart of Buffalo-based Hart Hotels is proposing a $9.5 million project that includes a new 5-story addition to the hotel, located at 222 S. Cayuga Street in downtown Ithaca. The 2-story north and west wings of the Hotel Ithaca would be demolished. Site Plan Review documents filed with the city (link here) call for a November 2015 construction start, with the new wing opening in April 2017. NH Architecture of Rochester will be designing the new hotel wing (additional drawings of the new wings can be found here).

The construction would be the first phase of a multi-year project. Once the new wing is opened, the south wing of the hotel would be decommissioned and eventually demolished. Sketch plans presented presented at a Planning Board meeting earlier this summer indicated a second, later phase that adds three more floors on the hotel wing (bringing the new wing to eight stories), with a two-story convention center sitting on the corner of South Cayuga and West Clinton Streets.

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Because of the demolitions and decommission of the south wing in favor of later construction plans, the net increase of hotel rooms is actually a decrease – from 180 down to 170 rooms.

Like several other Hart Hotels properties throughout the Northeast, the hotel has no chain affiliation, although the property was a Holiday Inn until the end of 2013. The 180-room hotel initially opened as a Ramada Inn in 1972, and the 10-story “Executive Tower” was completed in 1984.

Zoning at the site is CBD-100 (Central Business District), meaning that a proposed structure can be up to 100 feet (two floors at the least) with minimal required setbacks and no required on-site parking.

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Under plans previously presented three years ago, the Hotel Ithaca sought to demolish the two-story wings of the hotel, and in their place the hotel would would build a new 9-story, 115-room tower, a kitchen addition, and a 15,000 SF conference center.

The then-$18 million project had significant local support from business owners, because Ithaca lacks the ability to host mid-size conferences and conventions (midsize meaning about 500 attendees), which sends conventioneers elsewhere. Currently, the lack of meeting space limits conferences to about 250 guests. The addition of a convention facility is seen as a major benefit to downtown retail, as well as other hotels that would handle overflow guest traffic. Convention traffic typically happens during weekdays, when regular tourist traffic is lowest.

However, the project, which was initially slated to start in November 2012, has failed to obtain financing for construction. The project applied for and received a property tax abatement for the new construction, and the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA) even offered the possibility of a $250,000 loan if it would create a financial package that would allow the convention center to be built. But until this summer, there had been no indication of any plans moving forward.

Due to the modifications of the original plan, the county IDA will need to re-approve the tax abatement incentive package previously offered to the hotel.


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6 responses

11 09 2015
Ex-Ithacan

I’m glad there is still hope for the convention center. I’m sure the other new hotels would be appreciative also. At least there is finally movement (as long as the new proposal gets the city’s OK).

On a different note, the new drawings for the State St Triangle project are much more attractive. I can’t say I’m crazy about some of the color choices, but the break up of the State St roof line is what is needed. It’s a minor item, but a bit more diversity in the window treatments would be nice. I can’t decide it the Green St side looks better with two distinct looking facades like the parts of the building that adjoin the separate “towers”, or keeping them identical to each other as a look of twins along Green Street.

11 09 2015
Cornell PhD

I agree that the roofline needs to be broken up. The architects seem to have increasingly emphasized a neotraditional design for the building as a means to fit it into context rather than fixing the massing. I stand by my earlier suggestion that a variance to make the building even taller, but allowing for more setbacks, would result in a more attractive structure – but in all urban development battles, the excessive concentration on height usually winds up winning out and producing squat structures that are used as arguments against the next project (grr…)

11 09 2015
Cornell PhD

I really hope that diagonal cross-hatching is just an artifact of the drafting process and not something we’re actually going to see on the facade.

BTW, it would be interesting to know if the “10 story Executive Tower” garnered significant opposition when it was built in 1984. From the reaction to the State St. Triangle project, you would think no building in Ithaca even approaches this height and that the very idea of one would be offensive.

11 09 2015
B. C.

I feel the same way. I don’t imagine the planning board will take kindly to that design detail.

As far as I know about the Executive Tower, I’ve never heard or read about a complaint. But keep in mind, most of the growth in the region during that time was in the suburban areas. Ithaca was just glad to get something in its downtown.

On a side note, there was enough blowback against Collegetown’s Eddygate in 1986 that the ward’s councilman (Jim Dennis, now a county legislator for Ulysses), who supported the project, was voted out of office.

24 09 2015
Ex-Ithacan

Looks like the Planning Board shot this rascal down (ref: article in the IJ)
Bad design,

26 09 2015
News Tidbits 9/26/15: Trying to Keep Tabs | Ithacating in Cornell Heights

[…] rest assured, “Cornell PhD”, those cross-hatches aren’t making it off the drawing board anytime […]

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