Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 3/2016

30 03 2016

A generalized summary can be found on the Voice here. The concrete frame for the Veterinary School expansion is up to the third and final floor of what will be the new Flower-Sprecher library. As build-out continues, the existing building behind (east) of the new construction will come down and be replaced with new program space; the second floor will sit above an entry court and pedestrian walkway that leads to an indoor gallery space and central courtyard. The open space on the right (south) side of the structure will be a two-story atrium space. The addition will have a glass curtain wall, and the academic spaces that face the gallery will be faced with wood panels.

Cornell and general contractor Welliver will be looking to bring the project to completion by June 2017. Weiss/Manfredi is the project architect.

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Upson Hall Construction Update, 3/2016

28 03 2016

This one’s short and sweet for the moment due to time constraints. A generalized description of the latest progress can be found on the Voice here, and Cornell’s bi-weekly progress report is here. A more thorough rundown was given in January’s update here.

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Gannett Health Center Construction Update, 3/2016

27 03 2016

Most of the curtain walls are complete, only the stud walls on the northwest face are still exposed. Sunshades have been installed on the outside of each floor. The bluestone and limestone veneers will be apply to the base columns and walls at some point later this year. From the outside looking in, it looks like good progress is being made on finishing-out the interior of the new wing. A write-up can be found as a part of last week’s Voice article here.

Chiang O’Brien of Ithaca is the architect for the two-phase, $55 million project, and the general contractor is The Pike Company of Syracuse. The new wing will open late this summer, and the second phase, which is primarily renovations of the existing wings, will run from this summer to late summer 2017.
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Collegetown Terrace Construction Update, 3/2016

26 03 2016

So there are really two sets of photos here. The first set contains photos that I’ve taken from outside the fence. The second set of photos are from inside the fence, and come courtesy of Nick Robertson and Jocelyn Garrison at Welliver, the general contractor in charge of the project. Their photos are much more visually telling than mine, and a big thanks goes out to them both.

Currently, work is focusing on drilling piles, and forming and pouring the foundation walls. In some sections, foundation walls are being formed. Concrete pours as liquid and dries into a hard solid; forms are a solid barrier (typically wood or durable plastic) that simply forces the concrete to dry in the shape it’s supposed to. After the concrete has been poured and dries into the desired shape, the forms are removed and moved down to the next section. Work on the foundation walls appears to be progressing from west to east along the excavated and pile-driven footprint for building 7.

If you look closely at the Welliver photos, you can see the steel wire mesh that will be embedded in the concrete and provide stability for the walls. The additional steps on the forms may have to do with stepping the foundation up along the slope of the site.

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Set two:





News Tidbits 3/26/16: Big Plans and Small Town Intrigue

26 03 2016



1. Starting with with the new project of the week. In case it was missed, the write-up for the new 5-story apartment building proposed for 201 College Avenue can be found here. 201 College is being proposed by Todd Fox under his new development entity, Visum Development Group; Modern Living Rentals will continue to exist as a rental property management company. Excluding perhaps a small question with where the average grade is to determine the 70′ max height, is looks like the proposal fits the MU-1 zoning; and apart from a couple of the usual grumblings against students and/or density, there isn’t likely to be too much of an issue with the proposal. Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative is responsible for the design, which will make be faced with colored metal panels.

On a related note, the Journal broke this before the Voice, and it appears they may have used to the city’s Site Plan Review pre-application as a source. That’s not online for public viewing; someone would have had to give it to them. Which seems a bit dodgy, given one of the goals of the now-mandatory pre-application is to offer initial thoughts to make sure a project is palatable, and to avoid another public controversy like State Street Triangle.


2. Meanwhile, the other partner in Modern Living Rentals, Charlie O’Connor, is pursuing a small project of his own on the other side of the city. O’Connor has submitted subdivision plans to merge two lots at 312 and 314 Spencer Road, and subdivide two legally-buildable lots from the merged property for a total of three, one of which will contain the existing houses. The new lots would be on vacant land behind the existing houses, which are currently owned by the Lucatellis (the same folks who ran Lucatelli’s next door). O’Connor would be purchasing the home and land pending approval of the subdivision. Each of the two new lots would then be developed into a 2-family home. Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative is handling the application. Drawings can be found here.


3. The Biggs Parcel will be put up for sale. As the county notes in its press release, the county administrator has been given permission to procure a realtor and market the property on the condition that any offers from the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association and/or the town of Ithaca be entertained (though not necessarily selected). The ICNA had offered some unknown amount for the property, which they have sought to keep undeveloped, but the offer was rejected. Previously, the site was the location of a proposed 58-unit affordable housing development, but the project was discontinued when more extensive wetlands were discovered on the property.

One of the big sticking points has been whether or not the 25.5 acres would be taxable – the county wants to sell to a private owner that will pay taxes, but proposals to preserve the land often dovetailed with plans to donate it to an organization like Finger Lakes Land Trust, which would render the property tax-exempt. The land had been valued at $340,000 before the discovery of the additional wetlands, and the reassessment value will become available on May 1st.

Realtors will apply to the county to list the parcel, and a realtor is expected to be chosen by the county by May 4th.

4. A large property in Trumansburg village noted for development potential has sold after being on the market for two and a half years. Local architect Claudia Brenner picked up the 19.27 acres in two adjacent parcels for $240,000 on the 22nd, about 25% off its original $300k asking price. 18.77 acres is registered to 46 South Street, the other 0.5 acres is a small L-shaped lot between 209 and 213 Pennsylvania Avenue. The previous owners used the property as cropland, and it had been in the same family since the 1940s.

In an email, Brenner said it’s too early to comment, but that future plans are being considered. The site has the village’s R-1 zoning, which allows home lots as small as 15,000 SF (~0.35 acres), and small scale multi-family residential and commercial services.

5. Talk about big delays. Tompkins Financial will be pushing their $26.5 million project back a whole year, according to an interview a Cornell Sun staffer conducted with JoAnn Cornish, the city’s planning director. The project was supposed to start this quarter and be completed in Q1 2017. Now it will be completed in Q1 2018.


6. A few months ago, the Summit Enterprise Center proposal in Danby was described in one of the weekly news roundups. Docs filed by STREAM Collaborative’s Noah Demarest on behalf of owner David Hall call for modifications of a Planned Development Zone for the property at 297-303 Gunderman Road. Danby’s PDZ is not unlike the city’s PUD and town of Ithaca’s PDZ, where the form and layout is regulated rather than the use. The original PDZ for the property dates from the mid-1990s.

Well, after months of vociferous debate, the project has officially gone into bureaucratic Hell, complete with political turmoil and accusations a-flyin’. My colleague Mike Smith has the full story on the Voice. Rather than rehash Mike’s detailed explanation, let’s just leave it at this – Summit probably isn’t moving forward anytime soon.

1325 Taughannock Boulevard Construction Update, 3/2016

25 03 2016

It occurred to me, while taking photos of the “Lake House project”, a mansion underway at 1325 Taughannock last weekend, that there’s a babbling brook just north of the garage, with a small waterfall.

It’s okay to be jealous. I am.

Since January, most of the wood shingle siding has been attached, although some of the Green Guard Housewrap is still visible. Some sections of the foundation and concrete column bases have been covered with stone veneer, but the large, partially chiseled rock on-site suggests some genuine stone is also being used (when one can afford to take out a $2.25 million construction loan for a single-family home, why not splurge). The front door is still a plywood sheet, but windows have been fully fitted from what could be seen from the road. A small section of the roof remains exposed felt paper, but will be finished with what are likely to be metal sheets, based off of New Energy Works‘ render.

Quoting a press release from New Energy Works:

“Settled on a cliff above Cayuga Lake, the Lake House project is a full timber frame home which will use over 500 timbers to create 4,880 square feet of living space for a growing family. The interior frame will be crafted of kiln-dried Douglas Fir, while the exterior will use fresh sawn Douglas Fir with kiln-dried curves. Two distinct bowstring trusses with steel bottom chords are featured in the kitchen to support the second floor above.”

Photos from the timber frame raising last summer can be found here. If anything, the side that faces the lake is even more impressive. Here’s a render of the “back side”, the view from the lake:


This will probably be the last visit. The house should be completed by the end of May, and it’ll be a little unsettling to take photos when it’s occupied. I’m not sure a feature in the Voice, even if permitted by the owner, would have the allure of “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous“, or just piss readers off. At least two comparably grand lakeside homes are planned along Taughannock Boulevard and Maplewood Road.

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Texas Roadhouse Construction Update, 3/2016

24 03 2016

Some readers love it, others hate it, but Texas Roadhouse is well on its way to a May opening. The steakhouse chain has made pretty good progress on their 7,193 SF restaurant on Elmira Road across from Ollie’s and the Vitamin Shoppe. In fact, a small temporary space next to the Vitamin Shoppe is where Texas Roadhouse is conducting interviews for the 170 staff it plans to have at opening.

The lap cedar siding is coming along, covering up the Tyvek housewrap from most angles (brick and metal flashing will cover what’s left). USG Securock glass-mat sheathing has been applied to the exterior walls facing and near the kitchen/food prep area for fire safety – the sheets are noncombustible and serve as a form of passive fire protection. The roof has been covered with felt paper, but no shingles have been attached yet. Closer to the ground, brick veneer has been applied to the base of the eastern and northern walls. I’m not sure what’s going on next to the street-facing foundation wall; but that is where the entrance ramp will be going.

Texas Roadhouse corporate is developing the site, leasing the land from plaza owner DDR Corp. of Ohio. GreenbergFarrow of suburban Chicago is serving as an architectural consultant for the project, and Edger Enterprises of Elmira is the general contractor.

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619 West State Street Construction Update, 3/2016

23 03 2016

Not much left to go here. 619 West State Street, the future home of HOLT Architects, is near the finish line. The wood siding has been attached, although it’s hard to tell if the (dormer? periscope window?) will be sided with wood or the off-white metal paneling like most of the plaza. It doesn’t look like the rooftop solar panels have been installed yet, but they’re on the to-do list. Exterior and interior work is a little further behind on the rental portions of the building, where two smaller commercial spaces will be available to tenants. Someone from HOLT feel free to comment, but I think one of the spaces is already spoken for.

I can vouch from being that that HOLT’s interior space is nearly complete, and looks great. The lime green paint in the entrance area stands out and gives it a certain liveliness. I was tempted to take photos, but there were multiple people working inside finishing up HOLT’s space last Saturday, and I felt uneasy with the idea of interrupting for an impromptu tour. So I was that guy, staring inside, awkwardly holding his camera phone, before giving in to preconceived social mores and leaving them be. I guess I’m a lot more comfortable bothering people when they’re outdoors.

Tompkins Trust Company is providing the financing, and local company McPherson Builders is in charge of general construction. The project cost for the net-zero energy structure comes in at about $482,500, based off the construction loan on file with the county. More discussion about the net-zero features can be found here, and HOLT’s move to the West End here.

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Holiday Inn Express Construction Update, 3/2016

22 03 2016

Work on the new Holiday Inn Express at 371 Elmira Road is progressing. the foundation work is currently underway. It looks like they’re going with a shallow, slab-on-grade foundation that spreads the weight of a building all around the concrete slab. The formwork’s been done, and rebar criss-crosses the yet-to-be-poured concrete. The rebar mesh is a reinforcement for the concrete when it gets poured, helping to prevent cracks that may form in the concrete from spreading throughout the foundation and causing major damage. The blue tubes are a part of the under-slab utilities. Elsewhere on the site, it looks like stacks of Tembec and Millar Western Canadian lumber are being used to assemble wood trusses that will be used in the hotel’s wooden frame.

The 4-story, 79-room hotel is expected to open late this summer. Rudra Management and Rosewood Hotels (Jayesh Patel) of suburban Buffalo is the developer.

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Boiceville Cottages Construction Update, 3/2016

21 03 2016

Some good progress has been made with the new cottages over at the Boiceville Cottages site. the cottages with the red-orange trim appear to be fully finished and occupied, while those with the blue trim have some interior finish work left before they can be rented out to tenants.

Newly risen since the last visit in January are a set of fuchsia-trimmed cottages that have been framed, sheathed, and partially stucco’d, and a fourth set of cottages that are still at the sheathing stage. Peering inside, you can see the interior stud walls and windows yet to be fitted into their openings.

That leaves a fifth and final batch of cottages that remain foundation slabs for the time being, but will likely start construction as we head through spring. Rents for the houses range from $1,095-$1,725/month, depending on the unit.

Bruno Schickel hosted congressman Tom Reed on a visit to the construction site a couple of weeks ago (more about that here and here). The $2.2 million last phase, which consists of 17 cottages, is expected to be completed this summer, bringing the total number of units on the site to 140. The cottages have been built in phases – 36 in 1996/97, 24 in 2006/07, and about 80 in multiple sub-phases since 2012.

Once the project wraps up, Schickel Construction plans to turn their attention to finishing their newly-acquired Farm Pond Circle project in Lansing.

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