210 Hancock Construction Update, 4/2016

21 04 2016

So far, not so good. When it first came out that INHS was dropping its contractor, Hayner-Hoyt of Syracuse, due to Hayner-Hoyt’s settlement in a government fraud of disabled veterans’ funds, my assumption was that alternatives had already been arranged and it would be just a token piece to fill out my writing quota.

Then came the interview with INHS’ Paul Mazzarella. And the words “in limbo”. That set a grim mood for the rest of our conversation.

At that point, there was some mental debate about passing the piece to someone else on the Voice staff, but given the complexity of the situation, there was a good chance it wouldn’t be done properly, or another news outlet would pick it up and miss some of the nuances. INHS didn’t know what was going on, since the investigation and negotiation were under seal. A check with the North New York District Court verified it. A bad situation that was in many ways beyond INHS’s control.

Dropping Hayner-Hoyt saved face, but also put the non-profit developer in a bind, since they were not just the general contractor, they were the construction manager, meaning that this was a design-build and everything had been priced out with Hayner-Hoyt’s help. Another contractor could have different, higher prices, which would put the project in jeopardy.

On the bright side, it looks like the project will move forward. Speaking face-to-face with Scott Reynolds last week, he described it as “more of a hiccup” at this point. Hayner Hoyt helped them locate new potential contractors, and there is likely a new firm who will take on construction manager duties. Hopefully, the Voice will have an article on that when INHS is ready to make the formal announcement.

Turning to the project itself, the ca. 1957 grocery store, and one-story 1970s office building, are gone. Demolition is complete, and there’s a pause in work “while the contractors get organized”. Further site work is expected to commence no later than late May, with pile installation occurring over a one-month period at a rate of about six per day, between the hours of 8 AM and 4 PM. The before photo was taken in late February, the weekend before they started tearing down Neighborhood Pride, and the latest photos are from this past weekend.

The store was previously a P&C Foods, before P&C went bankrupt and the Ithaca stores were bought by Tops in 2010. The original builder of the grocery store, Tony Petito, launched a new independent grocery store called “Neighborhood Pride” in February 2013, which came with a $100,000 loan from the IURA. However, the store was unable to compete with other nearby grocers (Aldi’s, Wegman’s), and shut down at the end of the year. INHS acquired the property for $1.7 million in June 2014. Community meetings to develop a housing plan were held during the fall and winter of 2014/15, and the 210 Hancock proposal received planning board approval last year, after an unexpectedly heated debate. Originally, build-out was expected to start in September of this year, but the project was one of the very rare few that managed to get affordable housing funding from the state on the very first funding try (meaning that Ithaca has a well-documented need, and that it was a very good application).

If built on schedule, 210 Hancock will bring 54 apartments and 12 moderate-income townhouses to market in July 2017. 7 of the townhouses will be for-sale units. Total construction cost is anticipated to be about $13.8 million.

The 54 apartment units (42 1-bedroom, 12 2-bedroom) are targeted towards renters making 48-80% of annual median income (AMI), defined by the HUD as $54,000 for a one-bedroom and $61,750 for a two-bedroom. The one-bedroom units will rent for $700-1,000/month to those making $25,950-$43,250, and the two-bedroom units will rent for $835-$1300/month to individuals making $29,640-$49,400. Three of the units will be fully handicap adapted. The project also includes two commercial spaces, one of which will host a daycare program run by TCAction for lower income families. The building would seek LEED Certification.

The two-story wood frame townhouses would also be LEED Certified. Of the seven for-sale units, five two bedroom units (1,147 SF) would be sold for about $114,000, and the two three-bedroom units (1,364 SF) for $136,000, available to those making 60-80% of local AMI, or $37,050-$49,400/year per the March 2016 IURA document. The townhouses would be a part of the Community Housing Trust (CHT), keeping them affordable even as they are sold to others in later years. The anticipated construction period is November 2016 – June 2017. The five rental units (4 2-bedroom, 1 3-bedroom) would be built at the same time as the apartment building.

To get on the waitlist for the affordable units, contact INHS here.

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