1. Let’s start this week off with some maps. The two below come courtesy of the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA) agenda, submitted by INHS Director of Real Estate Development Scott Reynolds.
Each marker is the approximate location of current of an individual on Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services’ (INHS’s) apartment wait-list. Dozens and dozens. As breakdowns go, 48% of waitlisted applicants live in the city of Ithaca, 38% outside of Ithaca but somewhere within Tompkins County, 8% live in other counties of New York State, and 6% come from outside the state. Counting the markers, my back-of-the-envelope calculation comes out to about 160 households.
The map implicitly describes the wealth of Ithaca’s neighborhoods – an increased number of applicants for affordable apartments come from South Side, the West Village area, and Northside, and further out, Dryden village and the apartment complexes in Lansing village. Wealthier areas like Fall Creek, East Hill, South Hill and Belle Sherman have very few or no individuals on the wait list.
The next time someone says affordability isn’t an issue, think of each dot on this map, and remember that’s someone, maybe even a while family, struggling but hoping to find decent, affordable housing.
2. The Farm Pond Circle development in Lansing has finally sold on the 23rd for $164,840, well above both asking prices from last year. The purchaser was Dryden-based Schickel Construction, the same company responsible for the Boiceville Cottages. The restrictions on the ten for-sale lots carry over with the deeds. All things considered, Bruno Schickel knows this area well and his company could be one of the very few in the region interested but also capable in fulfilling Jack Jensen’s vision.
The development first went up for sale for $155,000 last March after the owner/developer, Jack Jensen, passed away suddenly in October 2014. In October, the price was knocked down to $125,000. Along with the lots Schickel picked up in the primary sale, a second purchase of $39,160 gave him three more undeveloped lots owned by other members of the Jensen family.
3. On the other end of the sale scale, Ithaca real estate developer Modern Living Rentals has put their multi-family property at 1015 Dryden Road up for sale. The asking price for the 5-unit property is $650,000. 1015 Dryden is home to a single-family home built in 1938, and a 4-unit apartment building from about 1980. The apartment building was badly damaged in a fire in 2011, renovated, and the site was sold to MLR for $425,000 in March 2014. The tax assessment is also $425,000.
Plans on MLR’s website shared a to-be-built 2,790 SF triplex designed by STREAM Collaborative, but the real estate listing notes plans filed for two side-by-side duplexes (4 units). All units when built would equal 24 bedrooms, but the bungalow house is just one bedroom, and although I can’t find total number of beds for the 4-unit, at 4,032 SF it’s probably 2 beds per unit, so…that’s 9 exisiting, plus six from the triplex, plus 9 bedrooms from the two side-by-sides? Not 100% sure. Potential landlords can contact the listing agent here.
4. As noted by the Ithaca Journal this week, Elmira Savings Bank now has regulatory approval to move its bank branch from 301 East State Street to the old Pancho Villa Building at 602 West State Street. The project would still need site plan review for the renovation of 602 alone, even if the rest of the site isn’t altered. However, if less than 10,000 SF, a non-residential structure may only need limited SPR, staff-level like a single-family house (I was a bit uncertain, but I have confirmed with a member of the planning board). So although the move is okayed, the bank may still have to go through the board before renovations can begin. In theory, they could move into the un-renovated building without board approval, since it would only be when substantial exterior alterations are planned that it would then fall under the board’s purview.
The bank still has no plans for the other properties acquired in their December purchase.
5. Now for some weekly eye candy. Additional images from Monday’s Ithaca Voice on the Chain Works District redevelopment, PDF here. These were left out because although these images are strictly conceptual and years away from reality, they show many new buildings, up to 5 floors in places, which could have had people freaking out that Chain Works was a Manhattan-izing of Ithaca and that a derelict brownfield was a suitable alternative. What gets written is tailored for its audience, and I didn’t think the Voice’s more general and broader reader base would handle these images well. Case in point, the ICSD shutting off drinking water in all of the schools as a precaution sent people into the Voice’s comment section panicking that every household on the municipal water system was contaminated with toxic levels of lead a la Flint. So, here are some visual extras to the much more rational readers of this blog.
The conceptual renderings are by Rochester-based Chaintreuil Jensen Stark Architects, the same group behind the design of Harold’s Square.
6. House of the week. Or rather, duplex of the week. From the outside, William and Angie Chen’s 2-unit, 6-bedroom duplex at 424 Dryden Road is nearly complete. Trim details like the porches have yet to be attached, and the foundation still needs to be backfilled, but most of the exterior looks good to go.
However, the parking lot has been a source of some BZA debate. The lot would require five off-street parking spaces, which the Chens can do with the construction of a three-car garage that tears down mature trees, but they would prefer to create uncovered five spaces that include two in the rear yard. CR-2 Zoning doesn’t allow for rear yard parking, so an area variance is required. The application also comes with a letter of opposition from a neighbor who seems to have mixed up the choices, asking for the variance to be denied for tearing down trees, when it’s the non-variance option that tears down trees.
Local architect Daniel Hirtler of Flatfield Designs is handling the duplex and the zoning variance.
7. Status: It’s complicated. In Ithaca town, the Iacovelli family, longtime local landlords/builders, want to tear down a ca. 1845 house at 341 Coddington Road to put up two duplexes, which from the schematic appear to be the Iacovelli student special. To do so, they need to subdivide the property, one for each duplex.
On the one hand, the Iacovellis, who have been on South Hill since the 1920s (they’re the namesakes of Iacovelli Park at the end of Juniper Drive) and bought the property last year, have a right within existing law to do what they want with the property, which is next door to Orlando Iacovelli’s house. They want to subdivide the land into two parcels, and the only way to create two legal lots is to go right through the existing house.
On the other hand, it would be a shame to lose a 170-year house that’s in fair shape and has many of its original features intact, just so two fairly spartan duplexes can be built.
The town’s planning board seems to be cognizant of both sides in this dilemma. They asked at the last meeting to examine an alternative to allow subdivision and keep the 1845 house intact. The engineer for the project, Larry Fabbroni, did so, but the applicant is uncomfortable with trying to get zoning variances for the non-conforming setup, area, setback and a third claim about use for unrelated occupants (which the town planning department disputes).
This all comes at a time where the town is weighing a moratorium on 2-unit properties, and if this house comes down, there’s a good chance the town will vote the moratorium. Then Iacovelli won’t be able to build any duplexes, and no one else in the town of Ithaca would be able to either. But even if Mr. Iacovelli couldn’t build, he could still demolish the house and wait, should disagreements came to a boil.
Ideally, there would be a compromise where the 1845 house is preserved (by planning board/BZA stipulation or otherwise), and Iacovelli gets to subdivide so he can build a duplex on the other parcel. That way, he gets some economic return, and the town gets to keep an undesignated but arguably historic house. Few town board members want to come off as being anti-business to local families, and few developers want to come off as greedy or exploitative. A concession on both sides and some good will could go a long way in a time where tensions about student-focused housing are rising.
Comments can be sent to the board via the town clerk (Paulette Terwilliger) at firstname.lastname@example.org . The board is expected to take a vote on the subdivision on Tuesday the 1st at 7 PM in the town hall.