Cayuga Medical Associates Construction Update, 6/2018

21 06 2018

McPherson Builders is continuing work on the $7.8 million Cayuga Medical Associates Building at 903-09 Hanshaw Road in Community Corners. The concrete masonry block stairwells have been assembled, steel framing is complete on the first floor (with interior framing and some early utilities rough-ins underway), and exterior wall assembly is ongoing for the second floor and the roof – structural steel beams will be bolted together, and the stud walls will follow. Interestingly, it looks like HOLT Architects incorporated large diagonal structural beams into the building frame, perhaps for extra stability.

Most of the steel gable trusses are stacked neatly off to the side, and they’ll be craned into place as the second floor is built out. Note that most of the roof is flat, but the gables are to go up along the exterior edge. This adds a traditional design to an otherwise modern building, and better complements the existing structures at Community Corners. Early in the permit process, the target was a late summer (August/September) delivery, but it seems more likely to be early fall (October?) at this point.

Background info and specs for the project can be found here.





Amici House Construction Update, 6/2018

19 06 2018

There has been significant progress at the Amici House construction site at 661-701 Spencer Road. The 7,010 SF Harriet Giannelis Childcare Center (which will host headstart classrooms and daycare facilities) is fully framed, roofed, fitted with windows, and most of the exterior siding (unsure at a glance if it’s CertainTeed vinyl or fiber cement lap siding, though the top color looks like CertainTeed “Autumn Red”) has been attached. Even some of the trimboards have already been attached along the front entry/porch. It would seem likely that, if logistics provide for it, the building could be open for its first students in the fall.

To be honest, the design is a bit of a surprise – the original building design by Schickel Architecture was the same size but looked quite different, and the revisions were never uploaded (maybe the planning and building department had something on file, but there was nothing online). Note that most of that front-facing concrete slab is going to backfilled (partial refilling of the excavated area).

As for the five-story mixed-use structure, that is just getting underway with structural framing. The first floor, which will have offices and meeting space, has its steel skeleton and some of its exterior stud walls have been attached. The second floor is just getting underway, and the masonry blocks for the elevator core have been assembled. It appears the existing TCAction building will be getting a new roof as part of the construction work – note that they are not able to work here while construction is ongoing, and have temporarily relocated to 609 West Clinton Street. The 20,712 SF building, with its offices and 23 efficiency units for homeless and/or vulnerable young adults, will be completed early next year.

The background information and planning for the project can be found in the March introductory post and photo set here. Prolific regional contractor Welliver is the construction manager for the $8.25 million project.





Ten Years Later

19 06 2018

It’s hard to believe that this blog has been around for ten years.

Most years, I’ve done a modest update highlighting some statistics and some things that have happened over the past year. Except last year, where it just totally fell off the radar and I didn’t even remember the anniversary day until the end of the month. Even the best time management fails to keep track of everything.

Since I’m not 100% sure how many views I had at about 6 PM on June 18th of last year, it’s a little hard to gauge precisely how many views a day I’ve been averaging. If we assume it was consistent for the month of June, then there were about 103,652 views from 2017-18 (just about one visit for every person in Tompkins County), which comes out to about 284 views per day. Over the years, the annual averages have looked something like this:

2008-09: 82

2009-10 166

2010-11 199

2011-12 216

2012-13 182

2013-14 155

2014-15 219

2015-16 266

2017-18 284

Or, going by the WordPress calendar year stat, 2016-17 was down a little bit, but 2017-18 has seen a tick upward. Nothing has yet surpassed the infamous spring of 2010, when a series of high-profile suicides at Cornell dominated the news both locally and nationally.

The function of this blog has definitely changed over the years. The primary focus in its earlier years was history, mostly Cornell-focused. A look at how the physical imprint of the university evolved into a greater interest into the way the greater urban network of buildings and streets evolved, and from there, an increasing interest in business and real estate and economic news. As a result, reading through blog posts from 2009 is a very different experience than reading through posts from 2014.

To be honest, I had planned to shut the blog down in June 2014. It had seemed to run it course, and Ithaca Builds was in full swing. But on April 28th, a day I only remember because it was the evening before my mother’s birthday, Jeff Stein had reached out asking if I would be willing to help him out with his attempt at local news. I was incredulous in our first conversation, but the Journal was slipping pretty quickly by that point, and that’s how I became a part of the Ithaca Voice.

Since I’ve started writing for the Voice, I’ve chosen to divvy up what ends up in the blog, and what ends up in the Voice. Smaller news details or things that are too vague or lacking in information to make into a full article usually make into the Friday night/Saturday roundup, “News Tidbits”. Same goes with most of the photo galleries, although I will often select a set to share on the Voice first, while sharing other sites first on the blog. For example, most of my Lansing construction photos will be used in a gallery piece this week, and after that they will show up with only a brief description here (because the longer description will be in the article, and it’s in the interest of time management).

The blog has taken on a utility that I never expected it to. Every day, I’m surprised when visitors email me and say this is their go-to for real estate and development news in Ithaca and Tompkins County. It’s flattering, but it’s also a bit worrying. When this blog launched, there were still over 20 writing staff at the Ithaca Journal. Today, it’s two, and Gannett advises them to not live in Ithaca and commute in, because Ithaca is too expensive.

Unfortunately, we’ve been watching a major decline in local journalism. A few bigger organizations can sustain themselves on reader subscriptions, but many smaller news outlets have had to cut to the bone or make major layoffs. The Voice is no-frills. No full-timer makes a living wage there, and the same goes for the Times (except the editor position IIRC, but it isn’t by much). They all have side gigs to survive. I’m always considered myself really lucky to be the opposite, where I have a “high-pay, low-stress, boring job” to counteract my “low-pay, high-stress, exciting job”.

Both of these organizations face an uncertain future. In lieu of any support of the blog, which is purely a labor of love, please consider donating or even becoming a member or sponsor of the Voice. Not only are you supporting a worthy cause of an informed community, it makes getting screamed at on the phone for being “fake news” (twice already) more tolerable.

Anyway, with nearly three-quarters of a million views, I’d like to take a moment out and say thank you for taking the time out to visit. Thank you for your emails, your comments, your thoughts and tweets. I would have never imagined where this blog would have gone over ten years, when I was 19 and writing from a dimly-lit Cornell Heights apartment, the skies still dark from bouts of thunderstorms that day, and deciding that evening to share my interests and cultivate my “weird little hobby”. I hope this blog has been and continues to be a valuable resource, with some entertainment along the way.

 





South Meadow Square Construction Update, 6/2018

18 06 2018

The new endcap spaces on the former KMart (now Hobby Lobby) Plaza at 742-744 South Meadow Street. The first set of photos are the northern endcap with 7,315 SF of retail space, next to PetSmart. The southern endcap is a 14,744 SF space being built where K-Mart’s garden center used to be, which I think explains the huge chunks of concrete slab piled out in front.

With no tenants formally announced, these spaces will not be completely finished on the inside – all utilities will be in as well as structural supports and insulation, but the space will be fitted out to the needs of the tenants, so things like flooring, fixtures and interior finishes will wait until someone has signed a lease with Benderson Development. I did not see anything on file for a fit-out in the city of Ithaca’s building permits paperwork (however, I did see last week that Elmira Savings Bank landed an unnamed tenant for its second floor office space at 602 West State Street).

Oftentimes you’ll see retail real estate managers try to find tenants that complement each other, say a salon and a cafe, or a sporting goods store with a women’s clothing store (the somewhat sexist argument there is that the ladies go to one while their male partners go to the other). Increasingly, entertainment and recreation options are becoming tenants – take for instance the announcement that a live theatre company will be taking 12,000 SF of space in the Shops at Ithaca Mall. That can help existing tenants by drawing in unique customer traffic that may choose to browse, shop and dine at other mall venues.

Back to the site at hand, the decorative facade appears to be initially shaped with plywood over steel stud walls, with a layer of fireproof gypsum laid over the top of that (except toe cornices, which appear to have no plywood layer, only gypsum). The bases are concrete masonry walls. The textured stone veneers and fiber cement panels will come later.





Village Solars Construction Update, 6/2018

16 06 2018

It looks like there’s a lull in the construction at the moment. Both 102 Village Place and 116 Village Circle appear to be complete, though a quick guess would be that 102 Village Place is already occupied, and 116 Village Circle will be ready for its first tenants at the end of the month. The two have a total of 42 units, 24 in the former and 18 in the latter. TCAT is in discussions to add or modify a bus route to service the growing apartment complex, which has already added a couple hundred residents to the area since 2013, with plans for hundreds more over the next several years.

According to the phasing plan, the next phase is to replace 2 Village Circle and 22 Village Circle with a pair of 18-unit buildings. Those would be twelve studios and six two-bedrooms each, replacing two ten one-bedroom unit buildings (net gain of 28 residents, for those keeping in track). Demolition has not yet started on the existing structure, but the most likely plan is to start a little later in the early summer, and have the new pair of buildings ready for a spring 2019 occupancy.





Maplewood Redevelopment Construction Update, 6/2018

15 06 2018

There was an interesting story going around that Maplewood was in serious trouble due to water pressure issues, to the point where its ability to legally house its residents was at risk (no water pressure would have made for a hazardous fire risk). That would have been a huge story had it panned out, but a little bit of checking with the town of Ithaca codes department and the development team turned up no dire situations unfolding, all is going as planned (a welcome change given all the weather and contractor issues that have plagued the project’s tight work schedule so far). There was some worry about water pressure back when the project was first proposed, which is why a new 600,000 gallon water tower is going up on Hungerford Hill Road.

It’s a little sad to see the French Lavender florist and gift shop is closing down after eleven years. It’s not clear if it’s related to construction, or if the timing was coincidental. Coal Yard Cafe was doing a brisk mid-day business at the opposite end of the Maplewood site. With 872 new residents expected by the end of the summer, the site will have appeal to retailers and service providers.

For project background and planning, click here.

For a site plan breakdown, click here.

For a construction timeline, click here.

Webcam link 1 here (updated ~15 minutes).

Webcam link 2 here (updated ~15 minutes).





Cornell Veterinary School Expansion Construction Update, 6/2018

14 06 2018

Looks like we can move this project into the “completed” column. The 12,000 SF, $7 million building is open and occupied – in fact, there appeared to be a couple of folks transferring crates of paperwork into the building as these photos were being taken.

HOLT Architects designed a modest LEED Silver structure with clean, modern lines, and G. M. Crisalli and Associates Inc. did a bring job bringing that design into reality. At this point, the four years of construction at the Cornell University Veterinary School appears to finally be complete. The school will gradually build up to its expanded size (102 to 120 students per class), expand its lab and research capabilities, and through the Community Practice Service building, serve the community in which it resides. The state released its press announcement calling the Vet School Expansion complete last week – and noted that the final price tag for all the phases was $91.5 million.

Before:

Render:

After: