Plans Shift into Gear for Maguire Dealership on Carpenter Circle

9 02 2016

This write-up is intended to be an exploration of the project itself. An exploration of the controversy will be heading to the Voice.

Let’s start with a little backstory. Carpenter Business Park was formally established in the early 1990s during the Nichols administration, when the city was hoping to pull industrial and commercial business from the burgeoning suburbs back into the city. Up to that point, the land had been mostly vacant space and earlier on, an informal garbage dump. The community gardens lease began in the late 1980s. Ithaca has had plans to develop an industrial park on the site since the 1970s, but the problem is that the site is relatively small and isolated with one only access road (Carpenter Circle). So no one touched it for over a decade.

In the early 2000s, a company under the name Ithaca Templar LLC bought several of the parcels for $2.2 million, but the land remained vacant and the properties eventually went into foreclosure. The foreclosing lender put the land back on the market last spring. Enter Carpenter Business Park LLC, and the $2.7 million August and September land/building sales that my colleague Nick Bogel-Burroughs covered for the Voice. Nick provides a great background on the land sales and initial city reaction to the then-rumor that the Maguires had purchased the land.

maguire_v2_1

Now a little background on the Maguires. The Maguire family of auto dealerships, started in Trumansburg in 1977, is the eleventh-largest employer in the county with over 420 staff. Phil Maguire and company previously approached the town of Ithaca with the idea of developing a headquarters and series of dealerships on Route 13 near Seven Mile Drive. However, the town board wanted to make the area a PDZ, while Maguire wanted an outright rezoning, which would have given the company more freedom with the way they used the site. The two parties couldn’t come to terms, and the proposal was tabled. Had it been a few years earlier, the plan probably would have been more acceptable, but as proposed it was counter to the small business and low-density residential the town was envisioning for the Inlet Corridor in its newly-passed Comprehensive Plan.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, the city’s been trying to figure out how to redevelop the Waterfront, and Carpenter by extension. Currently, it’s industrial land. Commercial buildings need only be 2 floors to be legally permitted, but residential is not. Waterfront mixed-use zoning had been floated in late 2013 and early 2014, but several city officials and at least one common council member shot the idea down. Then came last June’s Form Ithaca charrettes of what could be done under the ideas of the new 2015 Comprehensive Plan, and the passage of the plan itself. The dense, mixed-use, walkable allure grew stronger and has become the city’s official stance, but the zoning has yet to be updated as the plan recommends. The city does allow for Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) on industrial land that could allow residential use, but only at the Common Council’s discretion.

So in the current case with the waterfront, it’s another situation where the core of the issue is that the proposal conflicts with a newly-passed Comprehensive Plan. It’s hard not to feel a little sympathetic towards the Maguires, who seem to suffer once and again from awful timing.

maguire_carpenter_1

Timing and location issues noted, it’s an otherwise very attractive proposal as car dealerships go. Above is a copy of the site plan. The area to the upper right is the NYSDOT redevelopment with the preferred layout; essentially a placeholder, since development is years off, if it ever happens. The Maguires propose a $12 million, 50,000 SF LEED Gold building with rooftop gardens, solar panels, extensive landscaping, rainwater harvesting, and a solar-powered battery charging station for electric cars. This location would sell the Ford, Lincoln and Nissan brands. The site proposes employee, service and some car display parking where power line ROWs prevent construction of permanent structures.

maguire_carpenter_2

The project, with a proposed launch later in 2016, is intended as a Phase I – Phase II would renovate the current Ford/Lincoln/Nissan dealership at 504 South Meadow Street into the new Hyundai/Subaru location (at a cost of $5 million), and then Phase III would expand the Fiat/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram location into the old Hyundai/Subaru space (cost of $1 million). The three-year set of plans would result in about $18 million of investment.

Community benefits would be complimentary parking for the community gardens and farmer’s market, and sales and tax revenues. A report from TCAD suggests an increase of $340,000 annually in property tax revenue, and $436,000 annually in sales taxes ($776,000 total, of which the city’s share is about $294,000). TCAD projects the direct creation of 57 jobs when all phases are completed, with an average annual wage of $44,300. TCAD also predicts 13 spinoff jobs.

So, it looks like a great project. But it’s the location issue that will drive the controversy.

Along with the Maguires, local firms TWMLA, T.G. Miller P.C., and Schickel Architecture are working together on the proposal.

 


Actions

Information

2 responses

10 02 2016
Ex-Ithacan

This one is quite the pickle. Seems a compromise might be able to be reached, but a wiser man than I (perhaps Solomon) would be needed to figure it out. I can appreciate the arguments from both sides, but i do also feel for the Maguires.

10 02 2016
B. C.

Status: it’s complicated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: