An Updated Exercise In Mapping, Part II

25 11 2012

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

1. The Big Red Marching Band – A 4,400 sq ft practice facility for the marching band is well underway, with completion set for mid-winter 2013.

2. Stocking Hall Renovation/Addition – Structural work is roughly complete on the 136,000 sq ft, 4-story addition, with renovation of the neighboring old Stocking Hall underway. The new portion will be mostly complete by next summer, with rehab work in the 1921 building due for completion the following year.

3. The Law School Addition – Phase I is underway, with a completion expected in winter 2013/2014. The project adds 16,500 sq ft (mostly underground) to the Law School complex.

4. Fernow/Rice Halls Renovation/Addition – Renovations, and the small partially underground addition with a green roof, are underway. Fernow will completion renovation next year, and Rice Hall in 2015.

5. Gates Hall – Probably the most obvious project on campus, the new William Gates computer science building has topped out, with interior and exterior framing underway. Completion of the 101,000 sq ft building should occur in late 2013.

APPROVED

1. The New Humanities Building – The 66,500 sq ft addition/boring glass box next to Goldwin Smith will go out for bidding in mid-2013, with construction likely to begin around winter 2013/2014, and a 2015 completion.

2. The CU ERL Project – Approved, but contingent on funding approvals from the feds. I believe this one isn’t expected to start until 2013, with a five-year time frame for completion (i.e. don’t hold your breath for this one’s ground-breaking). The synchrotron will be expanded, as will the Wilson Lab, for a gain of about 185,000 sq ft.

PROPOSED

1. Not Cornell, but pertinent – a four story, 36 unit (88 bed) project for the corner of Thurston Ave. and Highland Ave.

STALE PROPOSALS

1. The proposal to renovate and complete a $15 million addition to Helen Newman Hall on North Campus has stalled out for the short term, probably because lab space and academic space outcompetes leisure/activity space. It’s a university, after all.

2. Ithaca Gun, with about 45 units proposed. Remediation after remediation after remediation, and I think most people still believe the land is toxic. Construction is on hold until the land is considered clean enough for reuse.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

1. The Belle Sherman Cottages – 19 homes and 10 townhouse units, built as the market demands. In the past several months, two homes have been completed, and a third is well underway.

2. Collegetown Terrace – The massive project that ate half of State Street. Phase II is currently underway, with a completion set for next year. When all three phases are complete in 2014, the complex will have added over 650 beds to the Collegetown market (~1,250 gross), in 12 buildings ranging from 3-6 floors.

3. 107 Cook – The rebuild for the deadly fire that destroyed the previous 107 Cook in April 2011. 12 bedrooms, near completion.

PROPOSED

1. 67 townhomes proposed in an area just off 79. The housing will be geared towards Cornell employees. Not off the ground yet, but I would expect approvals sometime in 2013.

2. Collegetown Crossing – A six story, 103-bed project (with ten more beds in a house on Linden that will be renovated as part of the project). The ground floor will house a pedestrian walk, a bus stop and commercial space, including a branch of Greenstar Co-Op. The project has gained some notoriety for seeking a huge parking variance, which has aroused the ire of some of its neighbors; a highly-criticized parking study had been conducted.  It does appear the project is close to approval, and if that happens, I’d expect construction to start around late Spring 2013, with an 18 month time frame.





News Tidbits 9/30/2011: A Big Red Bandhouse

30 09 2011

At my time at Cornell, I was fortunate enough to have friends in the Big Red Band, and I could listen to all their stories/drunk antics when I was at work (I left with the impression that the Big Red Band was basically like an extra-large fraternity with talent). I never really cared to pay much attention to the Bandies because it was never where my interest lied; I didn’t follow CU Athletics, and a big school at Cornell could afford to let people diverge into their separate interests, and for me it lay elsewhere. But, I can imagine a few certain alumni that I know must be celebrating right now.

According to the monthly alumni newsletter, the Big Red Band is about to get a facility of their own. Thanks to some large finacial contributions from band alumni David and Sarah Fischell (Fischell Hall? I think so!), the initial funding/planning is underway for a multi-million dollar band facility that will be located behind the Schoellkopf Crescent.

If I had to venture a guess on the exact siting, I would say somewhere on the parking lot, or close to the substation.  The upcoming expansion of Wilson Lab will prevent any other new structure from being built west of that facility.

As for the architecture firm, the name is familiar to Cornell – Baird Sampson Neuert, out of Toronto. They previously designed the Nevin Welcome Center in the the Plantations, and I’m sure whatever they design for the Bandhouse will only further the firm’s commitment to modern/ultramodern, geometric structures. The structure, though still in the design stage, it expected to have 6,400 sq ft and be at least three stories tall. The height is necessary due to sound pressures created by hundreds of musical instruments created at once, so a large volume is needed to spread out the force. Groundbreaking is expected to occur next year, with completion in Spring 2013, and dedication at the 2013 Homecoming, where the Big Red Band alumni group hopes to gather 500 muscially-inclined alumni for the event.





An Exercise in Mapping

24 04 2011

So, I figured that since I write about Cornell, IC and Ithaca-area construction projects as much as I do, it might be nice to include some form of a map. Depending on time and motivation, I might get around to putting ones together for South Hill and Downtown.

So, Cornell Campus, used here primarily as a test bed (click the image to expand its size).

Under Construction:

1 – Milstein Hall 2- Johnson Art Museum addition 3- Human Ecology Building 4- Stocking Hall Addition

Approved:

1- Wilson Lab / Synchotron Expansion (CU ERL Project)

Proposed:

1- Gates Hall

Stale Proposals (i.e. been around a while, little notable progress in the past several months-plus)

1- Goldwin Smith Hall Addition 2- Gannett Health Center Addition 3- Holley Center (Soil Lab) Expansion (most likely dead, given federal budget cuts).

Heading south into Collegetown –

Under Construction

1- Coal Yard Apartments Phase II – A 4-story, 25-unit building off of Maple Avenue.

Approved:

1 – 309 Eddy Street (5 stories, 41 units) 2- Vine Street Cottages (19 house, 10 townhomes) 3- Collegetown Terrace (several buildings, 2-6 stories, 589 units)

Proposed:

1- 307 College Avenue (5 stories, 60 units), Snaith House addition (12 bedrooms)

Mall, Airport and Vicinity –

Under Construction:

1- BJ’s wholesale Club (82,000 sq ft) and 12 senior living units 2- Heights of Lansing (~17/80 units complete).

Approved:

1- Millcroft Housing Development (~19 lots in phase II).

Proposed:

1- Lansing Reserve Project (65 units) 2-  NRP Group Project (80 units)

Stale Proposal

1- Behind the mall, a mix of additional shops and 40 apartments, in a lifestyle-center setup, were proposed about three years ago. The recession may have killed the project; at the very least, it’s been shelved.

***

This isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of other projects in the area, I just wanted to experiment with presenting local projects in a different, more visual format.





Whatever Happened to the CU ERL Project? (UPDATED)

14 07 2010

Renderings have been released through the Ithaca Journal’s website:


For reference, Riley-Robb Hall is in the upper level. This rendering is looking to the northeast. The cryogenic facility is to the upper right. More renderings can be found in the document attached to the main article.

***

About two years ago, I wrote an entry discussing the proposal of the Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) X-Ray machine and how it was sechduled to start operation in 2011. Well, things kinda stalled when the Great Recession reared its ugly head far above Cayuga. In between compiling at my work computer, I decided to look at the the town of Ithaca’s latest planning board agenda. Lo and behold, it appears the project is back on. From the agenda:

Consideration of a revised sketch plan for the proposed Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) project located north of the Pine Tree Road and Dryden Road (NYS Route 366) intersection, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 63-1-8.2, 63-1-2.2, 63-1-12, 63-1-3.1 and 63-1-3.3, Low Density Residential Zone. The proposal involves construction of an underground accelerator tunnel (14-foot diameter and +/- 1 km long), a cryogenic facility, and an extension to the existing Wilson Laboratory (+/- 185,000 gross square feet of building space). The project will also involve new stormwater facilities, parking, outdoor lighting, and landscaping. The Planning Board may also discuss the draft scoping document for the Environmental Impact Statement.

Now, long story short, the project consists of a massive extension to the Wilson Synchrotron and a large addition to the Wilson Lab, illustrated in the diagram (which I am virtually certain sure was designed by Munier Salem, as it shares similarities to his previous works and it’s part of an article he wrote for the Daily Sun back in the fall of 2008):

The article also goes into much greater detail about how it’s supposed to work; much more detail than I am going to go into here. Economically speaking, the project has considerable potential for the region: the University and project affiliates estimate over 200 jobs would be created and the facility would bring nearly a billion dollars in economic contribution in the five years of construction and ten years of operation. It’s certainly much better than the alternative, which would be the Synchrotron unit shutting down and taking away 200 jobs.

So, it’s good to see things are moving forward once again. Let’s hope that things can stay on track from here on out.





News Tidbits 8/15- CU ERL Project

15 08 2008

So, I’m writing this as I’m sitting at a desk within the hotel; granted, I’m on the job, but it would help if I had more than one customer every forty-five minutes. It’s a bit of a running joke among Cornell Store employees that the Statler requires a dress shirt, tie and a really long book. Luckily, one of the few benefits to working the Statler Hotel gift shop over the main store is that we actually are permitted to browse the internet (with discretion).

So, doing as I often love to, I was perusing the planning board notes for the August 19, 2008 meeting of the Town of Ithaca planning board. And lo and behold, look what pops up:

8:00 P.M.        

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) project located north of the Pine Tree Road and Dryden Road (NYS Route 366) intersection, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 63-1-8.2, 63-1-2.2, 63-1-12, 63-1-3.1 and 63-1-3.3, Low Density Residential Zone.  The proposal involves construction of an underground accelerator tunnel (14-foot diameter and 2 km long), a cryogenic facility and associated electric substation (+/- 15,000 square foot footprint), and an extension to the existing Wilson Laboratory (+/- 185,000 gross square feet of building space).  The project will also involve new stormwater facilities, parking, outdoor lighting, and landscaping.  Cornell University, Owner; Steve Beyers, P.E., Engineering Services Leader, Agent.

The other agenda items aren’t notable (a radio tower, continued discussion about the IC Athletic Complex, and the continued use of an equestrian facility).

So, the construction of 200,000 sq. ft of physical plant, a cryogenic facility and an accelerator tunnel require a bit of investigation.

The first thing I came across is this week-old Cornell Chronicle item. The particle accelerator has a planned timeframe of construction that would allow for the beginning of operations in 2011 [2].

Rather than try and explain the operations of the particle accelerator itself, I’m just going to quote the article (I’m excusing myself on the grounds that I study thermodynamics, not quantum physics).

The ERL would accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light in a linear accelerator (linac) made of two straight tubes, each about 330 meters (0.2 miles) long, then feed them into the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, Hoffstaetter said. After a single rotation around the ring, the electrons would return to the linac, where their energy would be recovered and used to accelerate the next batch of electrons.

Meanwhile, at various points around the ring, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source would use the electrons to produce ultra-bright, ultra-fast pulsing X-ray beams capable of imaging structures just a few atoms wide, and whose oscillations would be resolved with sub-picosecond resolution (less than a millionth of one millionth of a second). [2]”

On another note, the building is visible in the master plan diagrams, as the large expansion that exists to the east of the current Wilson Lab structure:

So, our physical plant will continue to expand for some time yet.

[1]http://www.town.ithaca.ny.us/

[2]http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Aug08/ovp.forum.erl.html





The Cornell Master Plan, Part 3 of 5

27 07 2008

So, picking up where we left off, we’ll be covering some of the more eye-opening parts of the Core Campus master plan.

So, this is one of the brand new ideas being churned out by the brains designing the master plan. Precinct 7 is known as the Alumni Quad (my brown-nosing sensors are going off). As most may be aware, the alumni quad is currently the site of the atheltic fields (Robison). A new road (Rice Drive) is built where the western edge of the track currently sits, and so Friedman Wrestling Center ends up sitting at an intersection. The proposed mid-campus walk runs through the alumni quad, and renovation of Schoellkopf’s facilities are suggested to accomodate some of the athletic uses lost due to the elimination of the track. Additional facilities would be built at Kite Hill (which even I have barely heard of).

Apparently, the master plan thought it would be pretty cool to put Schoellkopf’s parking lot underground and build athletic facilities (not to mention their would be a huge parking lot below the alumni quad). I wish them the best of luck, because with all of their planned subterranean parking, I’m sure hell will be raised at some point (ex. safety concerns).

Like with the building planned for Day Hall’s site, they gave one of the two new buildings defining the quad an odd footprint to minimize its usage of space. their goal in the design of this quad was to break up the density between the ILR-Biology Quad area and the proposed East Campus. Also, it would appaear that whatever that is planned next to Wilson Lab is currently in currently underway at some level, and another building, the 16,000 sq. ft addition to the heating plant, is also shown to be underway at the edge of the slide. The other building appears to be an addition to Friedman, which is quite curious considering Friedman is less than six years old [1]. Neither building would be more than a couple of floors, with a sq. footage between 37,000 and 93,000 sq. ft. total.

here’s my one minor critique; the backside of Bartels, which would be facing this quad, is neither interesting nor visually appealing. unless some renovation of the backside is planned, I’m not sure I would want that fronting the new campus green space. You might just as well but up a stone fence on the entire southern edge.

I look at precinct 8 and I don’t even know where to start. The proposed east center is a very large, massive set of new facilities that by any guess would run into the billions.

Footprint-wise, the area East Campus would cover is the area from the track field to Judd Falls Road, which is the next intersection just beyond the Dairy Bar. That’s a fairly large chunk of real estate. Withthe exception of the historical front portions of Stocking Hall and Wing Hall, all other current structures in that area would be demolished to make way for the new complex.

Most of the ten buildings in the complex have large footprints, and four of them feature tall, slender towers of slightly varying heights. Even before checking the parcel listings, you can look at the elevations and determine that they are slightly taller than Bradfield. With four to five story buildings on its perimeter, the place would be built up like a fortress, yet they try to maintain spaces between the buildings “to maintain porosity”.

Now, I remember hearing on one occasion that after the monstrosity of Bradfield Hall, Tompkins County would never allow any more tall buildings to be built on Cornell Campus. But, I’ve yet to see anything distinctly say as much, and I doubt that Tompkins County could reasonably exclude tall structures as long as they are not in the way of takeoff or landing patterns over at the airport. If you never noticed, look up at Bradfield during the night, and you’ll see the red warning lights on the roof to warn planes of its presence.

This isn’t the first time a building taller than Bradfield has been proposed either.  Fomr Blake Gumprecht’s Fraternity Row and Collegetown study (he studied Cornell for his research):

“Collegetown has undergone profound changes over the last quarter century.City officials began to press for the redevelopment of the neighborhood in 1968. The following year, a city-sponsored urban renewal plan called for theheart of Collegetown to be demolished and replaced with a massive, multipurpose development. It recommended construction of a large building on College Avenue that would include 375 apartments, 600 parking spaces, retail on the first and second floors, two movie theaters, a restaurant, and nine floorsof office space. It also called for the construction of six to eight high-rise apartment towers, the tallest eighteen to twenty-one stories. The plan went nowhere [2].”

The master plan states that the buildings would consist of classrooms and academic space on lower floors and residential/dorm space in the residential towers. Although I applaud the concept of “mixed-use”, I’m not exactly sure how well the idea would go over with the potential residents. However, it would seem the residential towers are meant for grad students, post-docs and professors. I’m not sure if this sounds more like an educational area or a self-enclosed research facility (I would sit back and watch as the city starts demanding taxes on it because they come to the same conclusion). The ground floors of the  building would have restaurants and cafes, and lounge spaces; the intention is for this area to be a vibrant 24-hour space. I would hope that all of the eating areas wouldn’t all be run my Cornell dining- the same set of baked goods and drinks gets real old, real fast.

There would be 85 to 120 units per resident building. Take that through eight to ten floors, and you have ten to fifteen units per floor. A major question that would have to be answered in the deisgn phases would be how much residentil space will be provided per unit; I can imagine that grads, post-docs and professors would want more living space than the 200 sq. ft rooms in some of the dorms. The max height of a single building entity would be about 210 feet, the same as a typical 20-story apartment tower, or a fifteen-story office building, to put it into perspective. The final square footage would be 1.5-2.2 million sqaure feet, at least six times the amount of space in Weill Hall (which is 262,000 sq. ft.).

At least 850 parking spaces will be located underneath the East Campus. The primary purpose for them is to provide parking fore the residents of the complex, but the plan also suggests that when they empty out in the evenings, they can be used by others in the Cornell community to maintain the vibrancy of the area. I just can’t get through the impression I’m getting that this isn’t so much academic as it is research, and while we are a research institution, I wonder if how much we’re trying to blur the line between Cornell the school and Cornell the research organization.

To be continued…part 4 will cover the last of the Core Campus.

[1]http://www.cornellbigred.com/Sports/general/2007/FriedmanWrestlingCenter.asp

[2]http://www.adphicornell.org/adphicor/files/FraternityRow.pdf





News Tidbits 11/25/17: Not Going to Plan

27 11 2017

1. It looks like the Lambrous have started work on the new duplex they’ve long planned at 123 Eddy Street in Collegetown. Foundation work is underway for the two-unit, six-bedroom home, which utilized Superior Foundation Walls and modular units. The building sits on the edge of the East Hill Historic District, so to make the building compliant with the ILPC’s wishes, it features Hardie Board siding, simulated shakes, scuplted brackets and an attic vent, and detailed railings and porches. The design went through a couple iterations, with the first being historically appropriate but expensive stick-built design, and the second a modular scheme that was non-compliant with the ILPC. The Lambrous plan to have the new three-bedroom units available for rent by August.

2. Lansing’s Milton Meadows affordable housing project is up for final approval next Monday, and it looks like the first 72-unit phase will be the only phase. According to documentation filed with the town, the presence of poorer soils and more wetlands than anticipated means that Cornerstone will not be undertaking a second phase. It does raise further questions regarding adjacent parcels and the amount of money the town of Lansing can reasonable gain since this sounds like a recent discovery. The final site plans here show no indication of Cornerstone Development Group buying the remaining 8.9 acres that were intended for phase two.

There are no huge obstacles to prevent approval, although some town officials are unhappy that they didn’t apply a stronger hand to the town center development plan (i.e. laying the roads and infrastructure as they wanted, and charging a higher price for the parcels). While most of the darts have been levied towards Cornerstone (some perhaps unfairly due to it being affordable housing), the town planning chair has also targeted Tiny Timbers for using Conlon Road as its primary ingress/egress in their sketch plan. But with sales already negotiated and approved, the town’s legal options are limited, and since they already dropped the ball on the town center once, the optics aren’t pretty. Any work Cornerstone does is dependent on state and federal grants that are highly competitive and awarded only a few times per year, so don’t expect much for at least a year or two after approval.

3. It looks like the land for the proposed extension of South Meadow Square has been fenced off. A query to the folks in PetSmart next door didn’t turn up much, although they said there had been some water and sewer work to prep for the new 7,315 SF addition approved earlier this year. I did not see what the current conditions are for the approved 14,744 SF addition on the south end.

4. The county and the city have competing views of the NYS DOT’s future in Tompkins County. The county has reiterated its hope that the DOT relocates to a location next to the county airport. The city would prefer a location in Southwest Park behind Wal-Mart and the proposed Maguire dealership campus. The request for state grant dollars depends on the airport proposal, and the DOT has stated preference for a site near the airport.

However, if grants are not awarded, the airport is still considering a plan to build a $1-2 million customs facility that would allow to become an international airport, servicing passenger jets from Canadian hubs (Toronto, Montreal). In the short-term, work is underway to add service to Chicago, which has an on-time percentage comparable to Detroit (80%), and better than Newark (60%) and Philadelphia (70%). Cornell is actively assisting, trying to persuade airlines as part of its “Global Cornell” initiative.

5. So here’s the city of Ithaca’s parks master plan. There’s a few interesting things of note in terms of acquisitions and de-classifications (sale).

First, a quick note – the city is legally required to replace any park land it sells off with newly acquired park land. So with that in mind, the city looked at its parks and found five that are “vastly underutilized” – Columbia Street Park (0.25 acres), Dryden Road Park (0.08 acres), Hillview Park (0.74 acres), Maple Grove Park (0.47 acres), and Strawberry Fields (9.16 acres).

The city would like to sell off the first four on that list, and replace them with a new acquisition somewhere in the city that has at least 1.54 acres, but the city is looking for up to 12 acres. Proximity to population centers, arterial roads, pedestrian access and minimal site prep are some of the big deciding factors in that acquisition process. Meanwhile, Strawberry Fields would be held for either designation as a “school park” to be managed in conjunction with the ICSD, or as a “teaching preserve” for practice field research and instruction.

If the city did opt to sell those four parks, well, there’s some development potential, though they wouldn’t be prime. Maple Grove is a Belle Sherman cul-de-sac surrounded by single-family homes. Dryden Road Park is a small triangle next to the parking garage, and while technically an MU-2 zone for six floors, it’s just as likely Cornell would pick it up amd add it to its tax-exempt rolls since it’s next to Cascadilla Hall. Hillview and Columbia Street on South Hill (R-2a zone) could potentially become a few home lots or a small apartment complex, but the land’s sale would be a political challenge.The city procedure would be an advertised sale offering through the IURA, followed by a grading system of applicants that meet the city’s specified price, as they did with foreclosed lots that became the Ithaka Terraces and 203 Third Street.

Not too keen to get in the weeds on this, since this would be controversial with neighborhood groups, but it’s really just a thought exercise at this point – any potential land sale would be on a long-term, 5 year+ time scale, and the city would need to have new land ready to be acquired for recreational uses. Even thatcould cause problems when neighbors complain that an untouched property becomes a public park that attracts people (this has been an issue with proposed extensions of the South Hill Rec Trail). There is plenty of time to debate the merits and drawbacks of long-term property assets. Right now, the focus is repair and renovating existing facilities in city parks.

6. Looking at the city’s planning board agenda for next week, it’s a short one. The duplex at 601 South Aurora and the Brindley Street Bridge are up for final approval, and a pair of new sketch plans will be reviewed – one is likely to be small, and the other a revision, potentially a downsizing. I’ve heard through the grapevine that several rental developers are holding off or even cancelling plans because they’re concerned about the impacts of Cornell’s 2,000 new beds for their North Campus – although right now there’s nothing formal apart from a statement of intent. Ideally, Cornell puts some concept forth soon, with plans not long thereafter; otherwise, there’s the risk that the local housing situation gets worse. Perhaps the reasonable worst case scenario is that, with recent federal attacks on higher education, Cornell is forced to trim its budget and cancels the housing plans, while still adding students to compensate for financial losses – basically, a sudden large growth in demand without growth in supply.

First, 209 Hudson. This was previously mentioned in a Voice article, it’s potentially a small-scale infill project by frequent infill developer Stavros Stavropoulos. The early plan for two of three rental buildings was shelved due to the South Hill overlay, and its possible that, given the relatively large lot, Stavropoulos may be planning a subdivision to build an additional two-family rental unit. Dunno if he can legally pull off more than that, however. R-2a with overlay allows a 1-2 family structure as a primary, with an accessory apartment in a secondary structure.

The second is 119-123 College Avenue. This is unusual in that this was the site for John Novarr’s College Townhouses project, a 67-unit, multi-building plan for rentals geared towards visiting Cornell faculty and staff. However, the recent NYSEG power line issue has proven problematic, and the last I checked, the project team was supposed to go before a state building codes board in Syracuse this month to get a variance to allow construction, on the basis that the power lines will soon be buried. The minutes are not online, so it’s not clear what the ruling was. While CR-4 zoning allows 45 feet as the plan is currently designed, a variance denial by the state would limit structural height to 30 feet, and would substantially impact the project’s feasibility in pricey Collegetown, as well as alter the design. For the record, 119-123 does not imply a smaller project; 123 College Avenue never existed, the three homes removed for this project were 119, 121 and 125. We’ll see what the revised plans look like next week.

1. Agenda Review 6:00
2. Privilege of the floor (3-minute maximum per person) 6:05
3. Site Plan Review

A. Project: Duplex 6:15
Location: 601 S Aurora Street
Applicant: David Putnam
Actions: Public Hearing, Consideration of Preliminary and Final Site Plan Approval
Project Description:
The applicant is proposing to construct a duplex on the .186 acre (8,114 SF) vacant lot. Site development includes parking for two cars, walkways, landscaping, a continuous sidewalk along the property frontage, drainage improvements and a trash enclosure. The applicant has designed curbing and on-street parking on Hillview Place in cooperation with the City Engineering Division. The project is in the R-2a Zoning district. This is a Type II Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-5. (C.)(8) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) § 617.5 (c)(9) and is not subject to environmental review.

B. Project: Brindley Street Bridge Rebuild and Relocation 6:35
Location: Intersection of W State Street and Taughannock Blvd
Applicant: Addisu Gebre for the City of Ithaca
Actions: Consideration of Preliminary & Final Approval
Project Description:
The project will relocate current Brindley Street Bridge to align with W. State St./Taughannock
Blvd. intersection through the construction of a new single span extending Taughannock Blvd. over
the Cayuga Inlet to Taber Street. The project will retain existing Brindley Street Bridge and south approach road for pedestrian and bike use. This is a Type I Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-4 B.(1)(k) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) § 617.4 (b)(11) for which the Board of Public Works, acting as Lead Agency made a Negative Determination of Environmental Significance in 2016.

C. 209 Hudson Street – Subdivision & Site Plan Review – Sketch Plan 7:05

D. 119-123 College Avenue – Sketch Plan 7:35

4. Old/New Business 8:00
A. Collegetown Design Guidelines – Megan Wilson
B. Parks Master Plan – Megan Wilson

5. Reports 8:40
A. Planning Board Chair (verbal)
B. Director of Planning & Development (verbal)
C. Board of Public Works Liaison (verbal)





News Tidbits 9/23/17: It’s All In The Hips

23 09 2017

1. Points for being open and blunt, one supposes. The chairman of the town of Lansing Planning Board, typically one of the easiest boards to get approval from in the whole county, voted against the customary declaration of lead agency on the Lansing Trails affordable apartment complex planned for the town center. The reasoning was a fear that its lower-income occupants would create more crime. Rather surprising that it wasn’t veiled behind the usual guise of “concerns about neighborhood character”.

Other PB members did raise more appropriate concerns that the 581-a tax abatement to be pursued by the project may end up offsetting the property tax increase enough to cost the town, mostly through the enrollment of new students in the Lansing school district. A third-party study explained that there would likely be 43 students in the roughly 200-bedroom complex, of whom 14 would be relocations from other parts of town, and 29 who would be new to the district. Reflecting national demographic trends, local school enrollments have been in decline as Millennials are replaced with their less numerous Gen Z peers, so it’s not really a question of capacity since the schools were designed for larger class sizes, but a concern about the tax obligations and avoiding the burdening of other taxpayers. Town supervisor Ed LaVigne has spoken in favor of the project as workforce housing by a responsible developer and property manager.

The Star’s Dan Veaner takes the middle road in his editorial, noting the project fills a need, but worried about the tax impact. I’d argue that’s while it’s a fair question, it’s probably a bit premature. There have been discussions for the other parcels in the town center that just have yet to come forward. Tiny Timbers is potentially 60 units of mid-priced owner-occupied housing (at $200k per home, that would be $12 million without counting site-wide improvements like sidewalks and community greenspace), and there are possibilities for the other parcels that are being drafted up and fleshed out before being made public. We the public don’t know what those are – there could be market-rate senior housing, patio homes and mixed-uses like the projects submitted in 2014. If three or four are affordable housing, sure, be concerned. But the town knows all the proposals, and hopefully its committee selected its choices for each lot with sound logic in mind.

2. Speaking of Lansing Trails, according to the new planning board comments, its name has been changed to “Milton Meadows”. Milton was actually the original name for Lansing, indirectly – Milton was changed to Genoa in 1808, and Lansing was split off from Genoa in 1817, the same year Tompkins County was established. It’s worth noting that “Lansing Meadows” is already taken. This would be name number three, since they had previously changed Lansing Commons to Lansing Trails.

The updated documents note that the second phase and its 56 units aren’t likely to start construction for 3-5 years, depending on external factors such as the availability of affordable housing grants, and how well the local market absorbs phase one.

3. Staying on the topic of affordable housing and taxes, the town of Ithaca will be reviewing a PILOT proposal from NRP Group to offset some of the property taxes with the Ithaca Townhouses project approved for West Hill near the hospital. Readers may recall the Ithaca Townhouses are a 106-unit, two-phase project that will be rented to households making 50-130% of area median income, with an option for renters to purchase units after a 15-year period.NRP Group is asking for the PILOT to offset the higher initial cost of using electric heat pumps in place of conventional gas heating, the difference of which they estimate to be about $300,000 upfront.

The town utilizes a few PILOT agreements, either with some of its 55+ affordable housing (Ellis Hollow Apartments, Conifer Village), the College Circle Apartments that Ithaca College purchased a few years ago, and Ithaca Beer. The combination of a lower assessed value and a PILOT generally seems to take about 25-30% off the total property tax bill.

4. Here’s a little more info on the the proposed Brown Road Pocket Neighborhood in Danby. The above image appears to be the preferred cluster housing that the development team (led by Newfield businessman Mike McLaughlin), but conventional zoning only allows for the layout shown here. Small-scale cluster zoning has found a market in the Ithaca area over the past few years with projects like New Earth Living’s Aurora Street Pocket Neighborhood and the long-planned Amabel project, and Danby’s take on the concept would benefit from lower land costs, which would help keep the overall costs down and make the for-sale homes available to a wider swath of the county’s potential homeowners. The homes, which are modest 1,000 SF one and two-story plans that share a communal parking lot, are designed for residents who wish to age in place.

5. Some revisions have been made to the design of Modern Living Rentals’ 42-unit townhouse project at 802 Dryden. To create a little more visual interest, the townhouse strings have been diversified a bit – the rooflines were modified on two of the six strings to create a hipped roof, while the other four remain gable roofs. The fenestration was also updated, and sections of the building faces were bumped-out modestly, distinguishing individual units within the strings. The overall effect gives them a distinct appearance from their counterparts up the road at 902 Dryden, and allows the team at John Snyder Architects to give the recycled design their personal touch. Other documents, like the cover letter, utilities plan, and landscaping plan can be found here.

The public hearing is scheduled for next week, but to be honest, these haven’t generated much attention, let alone controversy. The biggest issue right now is water supply, which relies on the Bolton Point system shared by both Ithaca and parts of Dryden. 802 Dryden can get its water issue remedied by tapping a segment in the town of Ithaca’s jurisdiction, and Ithaca is interested in transfer control and maintenance of the control valve that allows that to Dryden. Given Charlie O’Connor’s South Hill debate currently underway, the relative shrug this project has received from the public might be a welcome relief.

6. Nothing new on the Ithaca City Planning Board agenda next week. That’s not to say there aren’t several projects in the works, they just aren’t ready to submit formal proposals at this time. Lakeview’s special needs and affordable housing is up for approval, as is Charlie O’Connor’s duplex at 217 Columbia (even if the South Hill overlay goes into effect, this project would be grandfathered in because it started review under existing zoning). It looks like Lakeview will use the same kind of vibratory pile-driving used at INHS’s 210 Hancock, subcontracted to Ferraro Pile and Shoring by general contractor Hayner Hoyt.

Speaking of INHS, they will be taking part in the public hearing for their 13-unit Elm Street reconstruction on West Hill, and public hearings are planned for the Nines replacement at 311 College, and Elizabaeth Classen’s ILPC-approved 16-bedroom senior mansion in Cornell Heights. The Nines inspired several letters of protest, and first ward aldermen George McGonigal chimed in his hopes that the affordable housing would be reduced for Lakeview and INHS (the planning board disagrees).

Here’s what the board has to look forward to on Tuesday:

AGENDA ITEM Approx. Start Time

  1. Agenda Review 6:00
  2. Special Order of Business- Draft Design Guidelines for Collegetown and Downtown– Megan Wilson 6:01
  3. Privilege of the Floor 6:30
  4. Site Plan Review

A. Project: 709 West Court Street 6:40

Location: 326 & 328 N Meadow St. and 709 – 713 West Court St.

Applicant: Trowbridge Wolf Michaels for Lakeview Health Services Inc.

Actions: Consideration of Preliminary and Final Approval

Project Description:
The applicant proposes to construct a five-story L-shaped building with footprint of 10,860 SF and GFA of 62,700 SF on the .81 acre project site comprising four tax parcels (to be consolidated). The building will contain sixty (60) one-bedroom apartments plus associated shared common space (community room, laundry facilities, lounges, and exterior courtyard), support staff offices, program spaces, conference room, utility rooms, and storage. The siting of the building allows for a small landscaped front yard, a south-facing exterior courtyard, and a 16 space surface parking lot in the rear of the site. Site development will require the removal of five structures and associated site elements. The project is in the WEDZ-1 Zoning District. This is a Type I Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-4 (1) (k) and (n), and the State
Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) § 617.4 (11) and is subject to environmental review.

B. Project: Elm St Apartments 7:10

Location: 203-211 Elm St

Applicant:Lynn Truame for Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. (INHS)

Actions: Public Hearing, Determination of Environmental Significance

Project Description:
The proposed project consists of the demolition of a two single family homes and one duplex and the construction of a single 12,585 SF apartment building with 13 dwelling units, parking for six vehicles, and other associated site improvements. Due to the slope of the site, the building will have 2 stories facing Elm Street and three stories in the rear. The project requires the consolidation of three tax parcels. The project is in the R-3a Zoning district and is seeking two area variances for relief from rear yard setback and parking requirements. This is a Type I Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-4 (1)(h)[3], and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) §617.4 (11) and is subject to environmental review.

C. Project: Duplex 7:30

Location: 217 Columbia Street

Applicant: Charlie O’Connor for 985 Danby Rd LLC

Actions: Declaration of Lead Agency, Determination of Environmental Significance, Potential Consideration of Preliminary & Final Approval

Project Description:
The applicant is proposing to install a duplex with one 3- bedroom apartment on each floor. The
new structure is proposed to be sited directly behind the existing duplex on the property. As the project will increase the off-street parking required from two to four spaces, the applicant is proposing to shift the existing curb cut to the east and install an expanded parking area and drive aisle along the eastern property line. The project also includes removing a 30”dbh oak and one street tree, closing the existing curb cut, installing a fence, landscaping and walkways. The project is in the R-2a Zoning District. This is an Unlisted Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) and is subject to environmental review.

Project: Apartments 7:50

Location: 311 College Ave (The Nines)

Applicant: Jagat P Sharma for Todd Fox

Actions: Declaration of Lead Agency, Public Hearing, Review of FEAF Parts 2 & 3

Project Description: The applicant is proposing to construct a six story, 80’ high building plus basement. The first floor will have an approximately 825 SF commercial space and five studio apartments, upper floors will have a combination of 21 studio and 24 loft apartments for a total of 45 dwelling units. The applicant’s intended market is students. Project development will require the removal/ demolition of the existing structure and all associated site features. The existing building incorporates the original Number Nine Fire Station and was identified as a structure worthy of further research in a 2009 study titled Collegetown Historic Resources Worthy or Detailed Research; Icons of Collegetown, Individual Buildings, Architectural Ensembles and Landscape Features. The project is in the MU-2 Collegetown Area Form District (CAFD) and requires Design Review. This is a Type I Action under the City of Ithaca
Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-4 B.(1)(k) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) § 617.4 (b)(11) and is subject to environmental review.

Project: Bridges Cornell Heights Residence (Senior Housing) 8:10

Location: 105 Dearborn Place

Applicant: Elizabeth Classen Ambrose

Actions: Declaration of Lead Agency, Public Hearing, Review of FEAF Parts 2 & 3

Project Description:
The applicant is proposing to construct a two story single family residence with 12 bedrooms
to house up to 16 people on the .446 acre lot. The building will have a footprint of approximately 4,150 SF, including porches. Site improvements include a porte couchere, a driveway and parking area for nine cars, three patios, walkways and landscaping plantings. The site is currently vacant. Site development will require the removal of approximately 25 trees of various sizes. The applicant is proposing to use the Landscape Compliance method, which requires Planning Board approval for placement of the parking area. The project is in the R-2a Zoning District and the Cornell Heights Local Historic District and has received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission (ILPC). This is a Type I Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-4 (1)(h)(4) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) § 617.4 (b)(11) and is subject to environmental review.

4. Zoning Appeals 8:30

5. Old/New Business 8:40
A. Planning Board Report Regarding the Proposed Local Historic Landmark Designation of 411-415
College Avenue- The Chacona Block
B. Upcoming Planning Board Recommendation to Approve Draft Design Guidelines for Collegetown &
Downtown – discussion





News Tidbits 5/6/17: Starting Small and Dreaming Big

6 05 2017

1. The Evergreen Townhouses in Varna was hotly debated at the last town board meeting, per the Times’ Cassie Negley. Linda Lavine, one of the town board members, was particularly fierce in her criticism, calling the solar panels “useless”, and others in attendance expressed concern about appropriate room for amenities.

However, it also seems one of the phrases bandied about was that it wasn’t “family-friendly”. If you’re reading this and one of those folks, do yourself a favor and stop using that term. It’s an enormously baited phrase, historically used to fight affordable housing as a racist/classist euphemism, because people of a certain class or color were apparently less appropriate for families to be around. For an unfortunate example, it was a phrase used with the INHS 210 Hancock affordable housing plan in Ithaca. Think of it as the equivalent of a religious group claiming a TV show isn’t “family-friendly” because it has a same-sex couple, or feminists.

Although this project is market-rate, deciding whether or not something is “family-friendly” is subjective and potentially baited. It gives others the wrong idea on how to discuss the pros and cons of a project, which should be about features, or lack thereof. TL;DR, find a different phrase.

Oh, and on another note – Planning Board member Don Scutt. For someone claiming Dryden is getting an anti-business reputation, your work fighting the solar panels isn’t doing the town any favors. I don’t always (often?) agree with your mirror opposite and board colleague Joe Wilson, but at least I can say he’s consistent in his views.

Anyway, off soapbox. It looks like the public hearing was left open as the project may potentially pursue a modified plan of some form, so we’ll just have to see what happens.

2. The Trebloc property, future home of City Centre, has exchanged hands. 301 East State Street sold for $6,800,000 on April 28th. The seller was “Trebloc Development Company”, the company of developer Rob Colbert. The buyer was “City Centre Associates LLC”, a limited-liability entity created Newman Development. This brings the 8-story, 218,211 SF mixed-use project one step closer to getting underway.

3. A couple of news notes from the Tompkins County PEDEEQ (planning/dev catch-all) Committee meeting:

I. OAR’s transitional housing at 626 West Buffalo Street will be called “Endeavor House”.

II. The county is set to start work on its draft housing strategy. The annual goal figures through 2025 include:

–580 “workforce units” per year, of which 280 are rentals going for 50-100% area median income, and 300 would be for-sale, with 80 of those condos.

–student beds, either dorms or student housing developers, commensurate with enrollment growth

–special needs beds to those making 50% or less of AMI. No quantitative descriptor is given.

–350 units in the urban core, 50-100 in “emerging and established nodes”, 30 in rural centers and 100-150 in “other areas”, which includes suburban Lansing.

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4. 607 South Aurora Street is officially underway. Modern Living Rentals posted an update to their facebook page showing site prep for their infill residential project in the city of Ithaca’s South Hill neighborhood. The four new buildings will be two-family units with three-beds each (24 total), similar to those recently completed at 125 and 139 Old Elmira Road. If the statistics are correct, the existing house will be renovated into a two family house – the banner suggests a 4-bed unit and a 2-bed unit to bring the total to 30 beds. This project will get a full write-up later this month, and its progress will be tracked as it heads for an August completion.

5. Looking at the city of Ithaca’s projects memo, it doesn’t look like anything brand new will be coming up. The formal review process is set to begin on Visum Development’s 232-236 Dryden Road project. I’m kinda confused on STREAM’s project description because it references both 191 bedrooms and 206 bedrooms, and some of the numbers don’t match the parenthetical figures -for example, thirty-seven (42) bike spaces. Going off the FEAF, it looks like the number of beds has in fact been increased to 206. The construction timeframe is August 2017 – August 2018, and it looks like both buildings will comprise one phase. Deep foundation, so apologies in advance to the neighbors who may be hearing a a pile driver this fall. The developer is exploring net-zero energy options.

Also of note, 323 Taughannock received some visual tweaks. Gone are the cute sprial staircases leading to the waterfront, and in their place are more standard treatments. The group of five will now have their balconies on the third floor instead of the second floor. The changes on the front are more subtle, with the window fenestration now centered on each unit, and the front doors rearranged (old version here). Overall, the design is still roughly the same, it’s just a revision of a lot of details. Worth noting, given the crap soils on Inlet Island these will be on a timber pile foundation designed by Taitem Engineering. 238 Linden Avenue, 118 College Avenue and Benderson’s 7,313 SF retail addition are up for final approval this month.

6. Meanwhile, from the ILPC, it looks like there are a couple of density-expanding projects planned in the city’s historic districts. The first will renovate a garage at 339 South Geneva Street in the Henry St. John Historic District (part of Southside) into a one-bedroom carriage house. It’s infill, the garage is non-contributing and the design is an improvement, and it looks like a good if small project.

The other is a renovation of a classic Cornell Heights Mansion at 111 The Knoll into group housing for “Sophia House”, a Cornell Christian organization for women. The men’s equivalent, “Chesterton House”, is next door. The plan calls for renovating the five-bedroom, legal for eight-persons house into a 15-bed home. Part of that would entail demolishing the 1950s garage, which is connected by a breezeway to the ca. 1910 house, and replacing the garage with a four-bed addition, still connected through the breezeway.

Both designs are by STREAM Collaborative, as are 232-236 Dryden and 323 Taughannock. Can’t fault STREAM for being good at what they do – if a developer wants modern like 201 College, they get modern. If one wants traditional like the above examples, Noah Demarest and his team can do that too. They know the market and what works in terms of design. Unlike many local architecture firms, STREAM’s business is almost completely in Tompkins County – they did some concept design work in Rome and Utica, and some of the Tiny Timbers kits have been sold outside the county, but otherwise everything else is in or close to Ithaca. Business is good.

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7. Admittedly, this is beating a dead horse, but Harold’s Square will eventually get underway. It appears the problem right now is that the tax abatement approved by the county is insufficient because of the increase in project costs (up 12% to $42.9 million), so the project team is heading back to the IDA to get the abatement revised (the Hilton Canopy did the same thing a few months ago). The project was previously approved for a 7-year abatement, but this time around they are seeking the 10-year abatement. Combined property, sales and mortgage tax abatement would come out to $5.089 million. New property taxes generated over the 10-year period would be $3.4 million (note that is on top of what’s already paid; IDA abatements use the current taxes as the baseline).

The office space and retail space look higher than previously stated (33k vs 25k, and 16k vs 12k), but it looks like that’s because the Sage Building renovations are included in the IDA numbers. The apartment count remains the same (108), although it looks like one 1-bedroom unit has been replaced with a 2-bedroom unit.

Two reasons are cited for the delay- issues with getting the office and retail space occupied, and a premium price on construction workers as a result of the increased local activity. The pre-development costs are clocking in around $800,000, so if it fails to get approval from the IDA’s board, that will be a pretty big cost to swallow.

Should it be approved, the construction timeline is stated as June 2017 through Q1 2019.

8. Just throwing this in for the sake of throwing this in – mark your calendars for May 17th, when Cornell hosts a forum about the new East Hill Village neighborhood from 5:30-7:30 PM at the East Hill Office Building at 395 Pine Tree Rd. The project website notes that it will start with a 30-minute presentation, followed by breakout groups to brainstorm what people do and don’t want included in the building plans – certain retail uses, housing components, general visions for the site. There will be more meetings over the next several months – the goal is an Autumn 2017 exhibition for the preliminary plans.





Cornell and Carl Sagan

26 01 2013

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When I came up for the idea of this topic, I was originally a little hesitant to write an entry. Unlike A.D. White or Dear Uncle Ezra, there are probably a number of readers who can remember when Sagan was alive and active on campus (Sagan passed away in December 1996). If the number of hits I receive for his old house at 900 Stewart Avenue are any clue (~600 hits since this blog’s inception), the late astronomer and Cornell professor remains a relatively popular figure. As someone who was just a kid when Carl Sagan passed away, it’s a little harder for me to identify, and in Sagan’s place, figures such as Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson fill different niches not-too-distant from Sagan’s public role.

With all that in mind, I decided to take an approach similar to what I did with my “Founding Fathers” entries, and provide a smorgasbord of tidbits. I have no intention of delving into his interests of extraterrestrial life, agnosticism/humanism, or marijuana use, but the wikipedia entry would be a fine substitute for those interested in those topics.

-First off, the basic facts. Carl Sagan arrived at Cornell in 1968. We should only be so lucky that the high minds of Harvard decided to deny him tenure the previous year, because they were unhappy with his “pandering to the public”. Sagan became a full professor of the astronomy department in 1971, and remained so (the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences) until his untimely death from pneumonia while recovering from cancer a quarter-century later.

-Carl Sagan might have been an excellent publicist for science, but few would call him a focused academic. The filming of his Cosmos  television series in Los Angeles in the late 1970s forced the university to cancel several of his courses, and several grad students under his advisory had to move into the research groups of other department faculty. His astronomy colleagues were unimpressed with this shirking of duties and attempted to have his lab kicked out of the Space Science building.

-Things were not a whole lot better upon return to campus, the blessing and curse of the success of his television series and associated NYT bestseller. While Sagan garnered much favorable publicity and considerable wealth, he was also subject to death threats from those in vehement disagreement to his views. Police regularly patrolled his home, and his name was removed from the Space Science directory and from his front door, out of safety concerns (this policy must have relaxed late in his career). Some of his colleagues remained unenthused about him, accusing Dr. Sagan of being an egotist, blurring the lines between fact and fiction, and failing to give other scientists due credit.

-While at Cornell, Sagan began a critical thinking course (ASTRO 490). This course was under his guidance until he was hospitalized in 1996, when other faculty filled in. The course was discontinued after his death, but was brought back under the tutelage of other faculty a few years later. Under Sagan’s time, the course could only be enrolled into after completing a rigorous interview process for one of the 20 available slots.

-On the note of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sagan tried to recruit him to do his undergrad at Cornell. Unfortunately, the future Dr. Tyson chose to go to Harvard instead. Bill Nye had Sagan as a professor, so perhaps Sagan has had more of a hand in the science communication to Generation Y than we realize.

-One of the more whimsical tales of Sagan is that during the height of his popularity, he had a secret tunnel from his home to campus, where he could drive his Porsche away from prying eyes. In reality, he would walk some of the back-trails along the gorge.

-Another reason to seek anonymity – Sagan used a vanity plate inscribed with “PHOBOS”, a Martian moon. These vanity plates became a hot souvenir for anyone with a screwdriver and ten minutes, since 900 Stewart has no driveway or garage (rather, it has a deep curb). Sagan eventually caved and asked the DMV for a more anonymous plate.

-I’ve already covered Sagan’s home a couple of times previous, but a quick rehash – built in 1890 as the meeting place for the Sphinx Head secret society, who sold it their neighbor, Dr. Robert Wilson, in 1969. The building went relatively unused, and was once again, this time to Dr. Stephen Mensch, in 1979. Mensch renovated the property into a home, and actually allowed Sphinx Head to make occasional use of the property. Sagan acquired the property in the 1980s, and the house is still a part of his estate, though it is vacant. According to a 1993 DUE, Sagan likely did not live in the property towards the ends of his life.

Although vacant, it would be ill-advised to try to trespass – the property is covered with security cameras, one of which is right above the entrance-way (the not-visible corner in the below photo).

On a personal note, when I had taken the photos of the former Sagan residence, I had not known this was his home. I just thought it was a highly unusual building in an area of mostly early 20th-century homes. It was not until I typed the address into my search bar when I came home that I discovered the building’s significance.

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