News Tidbits 2/18/17: Credits and Loans

18 02 2017

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1. Over in Lansing village, it looks like the new Arleo medical office building is starting to moving forward. A sketch plan of the project was presented at the village planning board’s meeting earlier this week. Although Lansing doesn’t upload accessory docs like site plans and elevations, this one has been floating around for the past several months in marketing material as “Cayuga Ridge”. Quoting the May 7th 2016 news roundup:

“The new one-story building, which appears to be designed by Binghamton-based Keystone Associates, would be off of Warren Road, although it looks like the building would be accessed from a driveway coming off of Uptown Road. The 2.71 acre property north of 100 Uptown Road is zoned “Human Health Services District” by the village, and borders undeveloped land owned by Cornell, and several other suburban medical office buildings built over the past few decades. The resolution on the attached site plan is too low to determine the square footage, though it looks to be in the low tens of thousands.”

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2. For those who like their cottages tiny – it looks like Schickel Construction has begun work on the spiritual successor to their 140-unit Boiceville Cottages project in Caroline. The 40-house rental development is called “La Bourgade on Seneca”, and is located in the town of Hector, in Schuyler County just outside of Burdett village. For the record, Bourgade is a French term for an unfortified village or settlement. More details can be found on the website here. There will be two cottage types available -, “The Classic”, a 2-bedroom, 900 SF plan that will rent at $1,495/month, and “The Spacious”, a 2-bedroom with a dormer loft space totaling 1,000 SF and renting at $1,695 month. The house very much like their Boiceville cousins, but with angled eaves (dunno what the correct term is and google’s not helping – if there’s an architect reading, please chime in). All units will have lake views.

Personally, I see this as a stretch for the Ithaca market, since it’s 25 miles west of the city. But it might tap into a more plebeian contingent the wine country crowd, the wealthier of whom have taken to building grand vacation or permanent homes along the Finger Lakes in recent years. The first 9 units, three clusters of three, are currently under construction, as is a community center. Delivery is expected in May 2017.

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3. It looks like Ithaca College is putting some more thought into their housing needs. The college has been meeting with planning firm U3 Advisors to explore the possibility of new off-campus student housing.

U3 Advisors is already familiar with the area, as they are also under contract with Cornell to formulate their off-campus housing plan. Unlike Cornell, however, Ithaca College has no plans to grow enrollment – the master plan expects it to stay steady around 7,000. However, many of the dorms are reaching the end of their useful lives, meaning that the college can either sink a fair sum into renovation and replacement of utility systems, or tear down and build anew. An off-campus option could either be a private entity on private land, or a deal on IC-owned land like what Cornell and EdR are doing with Maplewood. A 200-300 bedroom off-campus option could mesh with the town of Ithaca’s visions for a walkable South Hill neighborhood on the intersection of Route 96 and King Road.

It’s still just studies and meetings at this point, but as the oldest dorms hit 50 years old on South Hill, there might be something fresh in the pipeline. We’ll see what happens.

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4. Ithaca’s West End will be welcoming a new tenant in the next couple months. Courtesy of Nick Reynolds over at the Times, the USDA is shifting its regional office out of Community Corners in Cayuga Heights, and into Fulton Meadows, a commercial office building at 225 South Fulton Street. the move is being undertaken in anticipation of the construction of Tim Ciaschi’s new Cayuga Medical Associates office building, which is set to get underway at Community Corners later this year.

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5. Looks like we have an idea of the price tag for Visum Development’s 201 College Avenue. According to a construction loan filed with the county on the 15th, S&T Bank loaned Todd Fox’s company $7,870,673 to help cover the costs of the project. The breakdown in the filing says $6,841,038 for hard construction costs (materials/equipment/labor), $507,000 in soft costs (permits/legal/marketing/financing fees), $300k in contigency and $226k in interest reserves. Add in the $2.64 million for the land purchase, and the total comes to $10,514,180.

That’s something of a premium because the project is on an accelerated schedule after the big hullabaloo with Neil Golder and the city Planning Board last fall. Note that the loan doesn’t cover all the costs and that there is money from other sources, like cash equity from Visum itself.

S&T Bank is a regional bank based out of Western Pennsylvania, but they’ve been making inroads into Ithaca’s commercial lending market. S&T Bank also financed the construction of the Holiday Inn Express that recently opened on Route 13, lending $5,973,750 to the hotel developers.

Quick aside, I think this is the first time I’m seeing the square footage calculated out – 201 College will be 33,398 SF.

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6. Hopefully this runs after by INHS refinancing explainer, so it makes more sense. Quick rehash, low income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) are sold to banks and similar financial institutions so that they get the tax credit, and the affordable housing developer gets the money they need to move forward with a project. With that in mind, here’s an interesting though unfortunate tidbit from INHS’s Paul Mazzarella:

“This following may be more than you want to include in this article, but it is relevant.  The pricing of tax credits exists in a marketplace where they rise and fall in value.  In past projects completed by INHS, we’ve received from $0.91 to $1.02 of equity investment for each dollar of tax credit.  The pricing of tax credits has recently plummeted because of the recent election and the uncertainty in DC.  This is mostly due to discussions about changing the corporate tax rate.  A lower corporate tax rate will mean that companies have less profits to shield from taxes and therefore the demand for tax credits will be reduced.  Even though no changes have yet been made to the corporate tax rate, just the discussion about this has reduced the pricing of tax credits to around $0.80.  What does this mean for INHS? It means that the project that we’ve been working on for several years suddenly has a funding gap that didn’t exist a few months ago, due entirely to investor’s fear of risk due to an uncertain future..  This is true for every tax credit project in the country and has all of us struggling to make the pro formas work.”

Sigh. Politics.

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7. The Times has the first render for Habitat for Humanity’s two-family townhouse project at 208/210 Third Street on the city’s Northside. It looks to be the same architect as the 4-unit project for 402 South Cayuga – I can’t seem to find the architect offhand as a few designers have donated time and energy, but local planner George Frantz shepherded the project through the approvals process. Each unit is about 1500 SF. The plan for the $305,000 project is to break ground in April and have the move-in ceremony in Spring 2018. As with all local Habitat projects, a portion of the construction will come from volunteer labor, including 500 hours of “sweat equity”, and homeownership classes that the two recipient lower-income families (making 60% AMI or less, $32,000/year) will need to complete as part of the deal.

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8. Wrapping this up with the local agendas for next week – the town of Ithaca will be looking at a home B&B permit on Bostwick Road, a retaining wall for Ithaca College’s track, and finishes touches on the Maplewood approvals. The city’s project review meeting indicates the city plans to look at the subdivision at 109 Dearborn Place, Declaration of Lead Agency and Environmental Review for the 11-unit 107 South Albany Street plan,  and “Approval of Conditions” for City Centre, which is just making sure they’ve completed everything asked for in the final approval. In sum, nothing too exciting at the moment, but we’ll see if the city has any new projects coming up when the actual PB agenda comes out next week.

9. Quick note to wrap up – the woman behind the Rogues Harbor Inn in Lansing has purchased a prominent and historic building on Freeville’s main drag. Eileen Stout purchased 2 Main Street, a mixed-use building with restaurant space, a tile shop and three apartments, on Thursday for $132,000. The seller was Tompkins Trust and it’s well below assessment – doesn’t look like a foreclosure though. The bank bought the property for almost double the price in May 2016.





Upson Hall Construction Update, 1/2017

18 01 2017

It’s become a little more difficult to shoot photos from certain angles, now that one of the previously-open sidewalks has been closed off. But, it’s not a surprise, they’ve been working on Upson’s new face. The exterior stud framing has been underway on the lowest floors of the west face. Sheathing is being attached, and the rough openings indicate future windows. The lowest floors of the east side, a little further along, have already been coated in turquoise waterproofing material, and are being fitted with windows. On the upper floors, there’s been considerable progress with the terra-cotta and the aluminum surrounds. It doesn’t look like there’s been much progress with attaching new mineral wool and clips, the current work is either finishing up what was well-underway (the upper floors), or getting started with the new exterior (the lower floors), not a whole lot of work going for the in-between stages at the moment.

Inside, you can see the new interior framing being built inside the fully-gutted and renovated interior. According to Cornell’s last update in December, interior demolitions are complete, mechanical rough-ins are ongoing in the basement, and electrical and plumbing are underway on the first and second floors.

Like Gannett, The Pike Company is the general contractor in charge. LTL Architects and Perkins+Will are in charge of design.

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Cornell Law School Renovation Update, 1/2017

17 01 2017

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much is happening. But, given all the steel beams on site, the safe bet is that the former dorms inside are still being gutted to nothing but the load-bearing walls, and those beams will become a part of the new interior partitions, new stud walls for the enhanced faculty office and professional space. This is by and large an interior renovation, but perhaps after the deepest cold of the season passes, we’ll see more progress towards enclosing the loggia and the new stairwell on the west face. The wire mesh over the exposed west wall is for safety reasons.

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Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 1/2017

17 01 2017

Starting to see more progress on the structural frame of the $74.1 million Vet School additions. The reinforced concrete frame of the new library and administrative offices now extends all the way back to the rest of the Vet School complex; the new section is draped over with plastic sheets. Also, as the new wing gets fleshed out, the rough openings of the windows are taking shape. It doesn’t look like there’s been too much exterior progress on the new atrium.

According to the project webpage (last updated two weeks ago), interior framing (metal stud walls probably) is underway, rough-ins are underway, and the new cafeteria is under construction. Welliver will have the new atrium and lecture hall fully closed up by the end of January. Most of the Vet Research Tower work has been completed, but new office layouts are still in the works for the sixth and seventh floors, and that work won’t get underway until this Spring.

The new $7 million ($4.9 million hard cost) Community Practice Service Building is out for bid, with a march demo planned for the Poultry Virus Building currently on site, and a March 2018 opening, about seven months after the bulk of the new Vet School structures. It is a wood-frame 12,000 SF building designed by HOLT Architects, and I still have yet to find an image of the design.

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Gannett Health Center Construction Update, 1/2017

15 01 2017

Okay, for as much as I miss the old banded concrete and glass, the large window panes, clear glazing and thin aluminum frames designed by Ithaca’s Chiang O’Brien Architects do have a certain modern chic going. However, this armchair critic still has yet to decide if he likes the offset between the outer and interior frames of the curtain wall. The windows have made their way north along the old east wing. Peering through, you can make out some of the new metal stud walls, so utilities rough-ins for the gutted 1950s structure are underway.

The new entry canopy has yet to be built out. Pike, the contractor, could soon insert the northernmost panes where the old east wing’s interior is exposed, but the curtain wall glazing won’t be finished until the canopy has been constructed.

The new three-story 18,000 SF northeast wing, which replaces the former Ho Plaza entry, rose pretty quick – like the Breazzano Center, it’s wrapped up in plastic to limit workers’ exposure to the cold. The outside of the new wing will be faced in a couple types of limestone, with a bluestone transition panel and bluestone veneer at its base – the 1979 west wing is being updated so that the two will look similar, although the 1979 wing will retain its concrete exterior, giving the two wings some visual contrast.

According to Cornell’s revamped project website, the Gannett project is 70% complete. Whether that included the new addition that opened last year is not clear. The entire project should be finished by this fall.

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209-215 Dryden Road Construction Update, 12/2016

14 12 2016

Cornell’s Breazzano Family Center at 209-215 Dryden Road is closed up for the winter. Literally, with white plastic sheeting, as a protective measure against the elements while interior work moves along. The plywood holes on the front and back sides are removable so that a lift can deliver materials to different floors of the 6-story building. One can make out the dramatic entry foyer above the steel stretching out the sheeting above the ground floor. Note that the height of the building, 80 feet, is the maximum permitted under Collegetown’s form zoning (MU-2, up to 6 floors or up to 80 feet).

The plan is to have the new 76,300 SF building open by Summer 2017. Hayner Hoyt Corporation of Syracuse is the general contractor.

After the last Breazzano update a couple months ago, I had contacted Cornell to do a piece about the expanding Executive MBA program, what’s driving the growth, why Collegetown, and so on…but after being led around or misled by several emails over a few weeks, I gave up on the piece. For what it’s worth, Poets and Quants did a thoughtful article and interview here with the Johnson School Dean, Soumitra Dutta, talking about the future of the MBA program and the business school merger with the Dyson/AEM program and the Hotel School. Maybe I’d have had better luck if I just sidestepped Cornell’s PR unit.

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Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 11/2016

23 11 2016

Definitely seeing a lot of progress on the Vet School Expansion. The new glass curtain wall on the Vet Research Tower is nearly complete, and the final finishes are due to wrap up by the end of the month. The new library/dean’s wing by the front entrance is undergoing interior framing and utilities installation. The new atrium and lecture hall are now visible from the street, now that some of the structural steel has been erected. Floor slabs and roof decking are also being laid.

The new atrium and lecture hall are expected to be closed up by January, and the whole $74 million project is aiming for an August 2017 opening. The Community Practice Service Building, a separate $7 million project on the Vet School campus, is expected to start construction in early next year with a completion in late fall 2017.

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