307 College Avenue (Collegetown Crossing) Construction Update, 8/2016

24 08 2016

Although Greenstar had yet to open this weekend when these photos were taken (it opened Tuesday), it’s safe to say that this project is complete. The plantings and outdoor benches for the pedestrian walkway are seeking the planning board’s approval for tweaks (straight benches vs. curvy benches, large shrubs in place of trees), and assuming they’re granted, those will be installed and rooted in a few weeks.

We could look at this project as a lot of numbers. Four years of planning. Six floors. $10.5 million construction loan. 46 units. 96 bedrooms. $1,000/month rent. 3,200 SF grocery store. 14 living-wage jobs created by said store. Two bus pull-off spaces. One parking space for delivery. Zero parking spaces for residents.

We could also get qualitative with it. Collegetown Crossing really was the pioneer of the new urban movement that has become more popular in recent years, both from livability and walkability standpoints as well as the financial perspective. Students have trended away from vehicle ownership in the past 15 or so years, from 50% in 2000 to 27% in 2012. Concurrently, there’s been a bigger emphasis on denser, mixed-use neighborhoods – malls and suburban apartment complexes are less popular than they were, and street-front shops with apartments above are making a resurgence, as the Commons and downtown Ithaca are demonstrating. Collegetown Crossing really helped to catalyze the conversation already underway, and no doubt had an influence on Collegetown’s hybrid form-based zoning code that did away with parking in the valuable core of the neighborhood. So the other new apartment buildings with active-use ground floors, Cornell’s Breazzano Center, and whatever else comes forth, they owe a hat tip to Collegetown Crossing and its developer, Josh Lower.

And speaking of hat tips, for all of the problems Hayner Hoyt has had this year, they deserve a big round of applause for finishing this project within its tight deadline, even with the other construction and logistical issues currently plaguing Collegetown. Jagat Sharma also deserves recognition for a project that looks pretty nice. When I was writing about the Collegetown delays in the Voice and speaking with Lower on the phone, he asked what I thought, and I said it came out better than I expected. Cue the awkward phone pause. What I meant was that the flat-looking perspective drawing doesn’t do the building justice, the built product is much more interesting to look at.

It looks good, the grocery and pedestrian alley enhance the quality of life for neighborhood residents, it replaces an unappealing two-story building, and it helps build the tax base. This project is a big positive.

Before:
12-29-2011 077

After:

20160821_104102 20160821_104245 20160821_104314 20160821_104339 20160821_104354 20160821_104602 20160821_104653 20160821_104721 20160821_104728 20160821_104854 20160821_105050

ctown_crossing_rev2_1


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3 responses

24 08 2016
Cornell PhD

I do like the street-facing facade, but the sooner the fire station can be developed to cover up the weird yellow switchblade north facade and the cinder blocky bits (blegh – why does this building material continue to plague Collegetown more than seemingly anywhere else on earth?) the better.

24 08 2016
B. C.

Funny note about the switchblade – that design feature was a compromise between the developer and the planning board. Originally, it was to be a blank wall.

And I agree on the CMU. It wouldn’t be so overwhelming if Sharma’s use of it wasn’t amplified by having a dozen of his designs are within a few blocks of each other. It’s a cost-saving measure, one that everyone goes for unfortunately. Novarr’s glass-and-metal fins should help break up the monotony, and STREAM’s 201 design will use fiber cement panels, if it gets approved.

24 08 2016
CS PhD

“Unappealing” is a bit of an understatement for that two-story cinder-block bunker. It was a brutal eyesore straight out of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I’m very happy it’s no longer blighting Collegetown with its presence, and I think the replacement is better by leaps and bounds.

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