Ithaca Tompkins International Airport Construction Update, 12/2019

29 12 2019

With the new Customs and Border Patrol station opening this spring, the airport will be able to receive charter flights from Canada, so that makes it an “international” airport. The other news outlets popped in for opening day, and these photos are from a couple of days before, which gives an idea of the mad dash construction crews were doing to have everything ready in time. Give a hand to Streeter Associates and their subcontractors for getting the job done.

The $34.8 million expansion and modernization includes a larger terminal, six new passenger gates and three new boarding bridges (for a total of four), upgraded dining, seating and amenity spaces, tech improvements, a solar canopy system in the parking lot, and a 5,000 square-foot customs facility outside the main terminal. The expansion creates about sixteen new permanent jobs and is expected to provide a boost in tourism and general business revenue. When your community is “centrally isolated” from the main highways, it helps to have a top-notch airport.

The sources of funding for the $34.8 million project include $14.2 million in state funding, $10 million in federal funding and $10.6 million from Tompkins County. The total is well above the $24.7 million initially estimated, so the additional costs are being covered by the feds and as the Ithaca Times reports, a small fee on all tickets through the airport.





3105 North Triphammer Construction Update, 12/2019

28 12 2019

S.E.E. Associates/Andy Sciarabba’s new office building at 3095 North Triphammer Road was approve for construction last spring and started construction this past fall. What’s there right now is the basic frame of the building, a fairly utilitarian clear span one-story wood-framed design with a large gable roof atop an insulated concrete slab. A projection of the front eave will give space for porch columns and smaller gables advertising five of the seven tenant spaces being built in the 9,600 square-foot building, and the exterior will be finished out in vinyl siding and cast stone veneer. Also included are landscaping improvements, stormwater facilities and parking for 48 vehicles. Alternative/renewable energy sources, likely air-source electric heat pumps, are being explored for the project.

The commercial spaces are intended for either office or commercial retail tenants. The $500,000 project is expected to be completed by next spring. Per an email from Sciarabba that came in after the Voice article:

“We have signed 1 (unnamed) office tenant already, 1300 sf and have a verbal commitment from another tenant, a primary and acute care physician. We can accommodate up to 7 tenants and we are using air source heat pumps. The shell should be ready for tenant fit up in January with first occupancy about March. Our goal is to bring services to this part of Lansing which currently do not exist. We are very flexible as to tenant sf size since the bldg is clear span.”

Local architect George Breuhaus is the creator of the design, and Lansing construction firm D Squared (Doug Dake and Doug Boles), who just wrapped up the construction of the Boathouse Landing project, are in charge of the buildout.

 





Arthaus Ithaca Construction Update, 12/2019

23 12 2019

For Vecino Group of Springfield, Missouri, Ithaca is a match made in heaven. It’s a nationally-known firm with two specialties – affordable housing and student housing, two things that a college town struggling with affordability issues would seem to be a perfect fit for.

Vecino has made a concerted effort to break into the Northeastern United States in the past few years. Among the developments it has pursued are Asteri Utica, Mosaic Village in the Capital Region city of Cohoes (“Kuh-hos”, as living in the Albany area has taught me), Intrada Saratoga, Libertad in Elmira and the 444 River Lofts and Hudson Arthaus in Troy. Perhaps the most well known proposal to Ithacans would be the 218-unit Asteri Ithaca planned for East Green Street Downtown.

There is a logic to the naming. Vecino projects identify segments of their target market through the project names. Asteris, like the one proposed for the Green Street Garage, provide not just affordable housing, but several specialized units for those with developmental disabilities. Intradas, like the 157-unit Intrada going up in Saratoga Springs, provide affordable housing with a handful of units set aside for youth aging out of foster care. Muse is the student housing, Talia provides housing and services for those recovering from domestic violence, and Libertads offer housing to formerly homeless veterans. So, kinda just a neat little quirk there.

Arthaus, as one might guess, is the artist-focused affordable housing. The sort of tough part to make clear is that this is not limited to artists. The housing will be available to anyone who meets the income requirements. It just has amenities geared towards creative types, like a woodshop and storage space and gallery space run by an outside non-profit. 130 Cherry Street, where the project is located, was developed for commercial use in the late 1970s, according to documents filed with the planning board, and operated as an automotive repair facility for the last 20 years, AJ Foreign Auto.

The city planning board were on board with it from the start. Plans call for a five-story, 97,500 square-foot building. Among the features are support service office space, a community room, a gallery/studio (in partnership with the Cherry Arts, according to state docs from October) and a fitness room. It’s about 123 units (48 studio, 55 1-bedroom, 20 2-bedroom) of affordable housing, 50-80% of area median income, plus a one-bedroom unit for the property manager for 124 total. A breakdown of units and rents is at the end of this post and on the NYS HCR website here. Forty units (the ESSHI grant units in the rental breakdown table) will be set aside for young adults aged 19-26 for formerly foster care and homeless youth, and administered by Tompkins Community Action.

Along with the housing, the building would include parking for about 36 vehicles within and outside the building ,and 7,748 square feet of potential retail or office and amenity space geared toward artists. Also included is space for 52 bikes and 4 motorcycles, and access to Ithaca CarShare. The exterior will be finished out in light grey, medium grey and red fiber cement panels, with the internal courtyard areas having white stucco finishes. The ground level will have dark grey fiber cement panels and dark grey masonry.

A public promenade will run along the west side of the property next to the waterfront, pending approval from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The project was designed by Vecino’s in-house team, BW Architects and Engineers (remember, they’re a big firm that can afford to have their own architecture team). The project is also seeking to get arts groups involved in the design, to give it a unique local flair. The project will be built to state (NYSERDA) “Performance Path for Energy Star” standards for sustainable housing (Tier II, >25% energy savings above code). The city was looking to start off on the right foot with the upzoned waterfront, and this is exactly the kind of creative, affordable project they were hoping for.

The project pursued and has been awarded a PILOT agreement from the Tompkins County IDA. The PILOT request included a one-time sales tax exemption request on building materials, a one-time mortgage tax exemption on the mortgage recording fee, and a non-standard property tax abatement request. In lieu of the typical seven-year or enhanced ten-year abatement, Vecino asked for and received a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement that would save them about $3.54 million off the lifetime of the tax deal. With the sales and mortgage tax exemptions, the total tax savings comes to $4.54 million, with Arthaus still generating an additional $3.73 million in new tax revenue over the life of the PILOT (note that the $3.73 million figure does not include existing tax payments, and is calculated using the current property taxes as a baseline; the PILOT would not eliminate existing property tax revenue, it reduces the rate of new tax revenue growth). The total project cost is $31,948,378. The PILOT approach has been used previously, with Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services’ 210 Hancock project in the city’s North Side neighborhood.

Neighbors to the site were generally supportive of the plan, while the council members who represent the site (George McGonigal and Cynthia Brock of the First Ward) were not, deeming it too big and too much of a concentration of affordable housing. The Arthaus project was approved by the city in April 2019.

NYS Homes and Community Renewal docs say $14,078,249 is being provided in a HCR Supportive Housing Opportunity Program (SHOP) subsidy loan, and $10,871,535 from Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Vecino is only pursuing 4% credits vs. the more lucrative and harder to get 9% credits, which made obtaining financing easier – it pays to be big and be able to leverage cost efficiencies elsewhere. The tax credit and loan package was approved by the state in October.

Alongside Vecino on the project team are Fagan Engineers of Elmira doing the civil engineering work, local firm Taitem Engineering as energy consultants, and Ithaca’s Whitham Planning and Design for landscape architecture and community outreach. CRM Property Management of Rome (Oneida County) will manage the property on Vecino’s behalf.

With the fence and dust guard up, it seems plausible that this project’s in site prep, taking apart the old body shop and readying the site for excavation and foundation work. December was the approximate date given for a construction start back when it was approved, and the plan is to open for occupancy in late summer or early fall of 2021. 150 construction jobs and four permanent jobs will be created by the Arthaus project.





Heights of Lansing Construction Update, 12/2019

23 12 2019

Forest City Realty (the Bonniwell and Jonson families) is continuing work on the next six-string of for-sale townhouses as part of their Heights of Lansing development at the end of Bomax Drive in Lansing village. The units currently under construction (65, 67, 69, 71, 73 and 75 Nor Way) will be 3 bedroom/3.5 bath with 2,500 sqaure feet of living space and a price tag of $398k-$408k, the higher price tag being for the units on either end of the string (one less party well and a pair of additional small windows).

The biggest difference between this six-string (hexplex?) and the previous is that the older set across the street steps down in elevation a little bit for each pair going southward, while this newer set is all the same elevation. In terms of finishes, they should be similar, but not the same. The gables, entries and fenestration are nearly the same, but I suspect the colors of the finishes will be different than the blue shingle/beige stucco on the older string.

Per the advertisements online, this one for 65 Nor Way:

“Brand new, luxury townhouse with Italian villa vibe in the contemporary Heights of Lansing neighborhood. End units have extra windows. Marbled flooring in entrance vestibule leads to sunken Great Room with 10′ ceilings, crown molding, rounded corners, beautiful floor to ceiling windows, gas fireplace with marble and stone mantel. Open Mediterranean style gourmet kitchen shines with stainless steel appliances and ample Ubatuba granite counter space. Back patio features stamped concrete design and privacy fence. Upper level landing with built-in shelving/office area, and balcony access. All bedrooms en suite with radiant heat in baths. Upper level laundry. Energy efficient ductless heating/cooling wall units with 5 zones will save you money, improve interior air quality, and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Attached 2 car garage with its own heating/cooling unit. Low HOA $185/mo. Convenient to Cornell, Cayuga Lake, downtown, dining, and shopping. Bellissima!”

In case you’re wondering, Ubatuba is a very dark-colored and trendy Brazilian granite. These are fully framed, roofed and are being sheathed and housewrapped now, but it doesn’t look like much more than interior framing has taken place within the townhouses, with perhaps some utilities roughs-ins just getting underway. These are likely heading for a late spring (Q2 2020) finish. For those interested but looking for something move-in ready, two of the six townhouses in the last string (64 Nor Way and 68 Nor Way) are still on the market.





East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 12/2019

22 12 2019

Going to go ahead and say these are substantially complete. All 14 townhouse strings appear to be occupied or at least ready for occupancy. According to the rental advertisements, the prices will be in the upper/premium side of the market, though not as high as some of the luxury units in Ithaca: one-bedrooms are $1,695-$1,795/month, two-bedrooms $1,895-$1,995/month, and three-bedrooms $2,445/month. Units come with fiber optic internet connections, cable TV, USB ports in outlets, vinyl plank flooring, 42 inch cabinets, fitness room and lounge access, pool/clubhouse, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, washer/dryer, ample parking and smaller dogs and cats (for a $299 initial fee plus another $35/month).

DGA Builders made quick work of what is a relatively large project by Tompkins County standards. It’s not clear if they’ll be a part of Park Grove Realty next local project, the multi-family and mixed-use buildings at the Carpenter Business Park / Cayuga Gardens site. Park Grove’s 51-unit Downtown Elmira building just opened and a Buffalo project is expected to launch in the next couple months.





Village Solars Construction Update, 12/2019

22 12 2019

Over at the Village Solars site off of Warren Road in Lansing, phase five of apartment construction is underway. 24-unit 36 Village Circle North (3 three-bedrooms, 6 two-bedrooms, 3 one-bedrooms and 12 studios), which replaces an older 12,000 SF 10-unit structure, is fully framed, sheathed with ZIP Panels, shingled and fitted with doors and windows. The installation of exterior fiber cement trim boards is just getting underway. The sets of wires dangling from below the eaves are utility lines for the air-source electric heat pumps, as construction continues they’ll be bundled together and boxed up into the exterior siding (the heat pumps themselves will be boxed in with a decorative screen in a bump-out).

Building M is a new build on previously vacant land. It is an 18-unit building with 12 studios and 6 two-bedroom units. It is undergoing framing now and has yet to top out with roof trusses. If I had to take a guess, I’d say 36 Village Circle North will be ready by the end of April, and Building M will be ready by the end of July.

So, avoiding the political question of whether the town supervisor should have voted on approving the PDA amendment on the community center because that’s not this blog’s wheelhouse, it was granted, but the outcome for the community center is still murky. As previously discussed back in September, it could either be built at its original location in its original ground-floor community/commercial with 20 one-bedrooms above, or with a different design in a location further east, more central to the property next door for sale by Rocco Lucente Sr.’s estate.

A few weeks ago, an ad showed up on commercial real estate website Loopnet advertising Lucente Sr.’s holdings, listing the property for $10 million. For that price one gets 96.44 acres and 42 existing units in four buildings, as well as plenty of development potential. Now, my gut is that the negotiations between Steve Lucente and his father’s estate were either not going well or had fallen through completely, but no one in the family is talking, so it’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not that big merger of the two sites will happen. If it doesn’t, Steve Lucente will start work on the originally-planned community center building next year, as the modified Planned Development Area states.

I did not realize TCAT Bus Route 37 now passes through here (it appears to have started to make stops here earlier this year) but it makes sense given the population growth. At the start of the decade there were about 56 bedrooms here and about 30 on the elder Lucente’s property next door. When the latest building open next year, it will be 420 or so bedrooms on this site and 54 next door (the elder Lucente built a final 12-unit building with two-bedroom units in 2011-12). When all approved construction is complete in about 2022 (the three remaining rebuilds and the community center mixed-use), that will be up to 507 bedrooms in 333 units, not considering future growth on the property next door. It’s not quite the scale of Cornell’s dorm projects or Collegetown Terrace, but it’s probably the next largest single development site after those, it’s just no one notices because it’s rather out of the way and the build-out has been modest but steady.

According to a county deed filing just after this post went up, Northwest Bank, a regional bank mainly operating in Western Pennsylvania, is lending $4,935,000 for the construction of the two buildings.





Lansing Meadows Construction Update, 12/2019

21 12 2019

In the interest of brevity, I’m going to hold off on writing most of the backstory – as Dan Veaner at the Lansing Star noted, the project had at least nine major changes over nine years, and was a discussion topic at no less than 58 meetings. Several articles can also be found on the Voice here.

Lansing Meadows is a $14 million mixed-use project consisting of the BJ’s Wholesale Club that opened in 2012, wetland creation (done outside the area in the Cayuga County town of Montezuma), and a residential component on Oakcrest Road that was a stipulation of the village of Lansing as part of the creation of the Planned Development Area. The senior housing on Oakcrest is being built on wetlands created by an overflowing culvert in the 1970s, when the mall was built. The rest of the site was a vacant, unofficial dumping ground for materials. Whether they’re new or old, by law wetlands removed by development have to be replaced.

The project also has a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) with the Tompkins County IDA, which was controversial when granted (PILOTS and abatements for retail projects are generally discouraged), and as the years went on and the sentiment was that the developer, Eric Goetzmann of Triax Management Group d/b/a Arrowhead Ventures LLC, was dragging his feet on the residential and the county had started to take legal steps to “claw back” the $2.32 million in benefits before Goetzmann finally put something forth. Even then, the residential portion had to go through a few iterations in order to come to a mutually-acceptable plan with the village. The final set of plans were approved in June 2019.

As approved, the residential components consists of two phases. Four one-story triplexes (12 units total) will be ready for occupancy by the end of July 2020. Two more triplexes (6 units) will be built in a second phase to be ready for occupancy in December 2020. All units are senior rental housing, set aside for those aged 55+.

The two end units in each building will be 1252 square feet with a 395 square foot garage. The center unit will be 1114 square feet with a 251 square foot garage. Although not explicitly stated, the square footage appears to be in the ballpark for new two-bedroom or two-bedroom plus den apartments. The units all face a one-way private loop road, called “Lansing Meadows Drive”. Being a one-way allows it to be narrower, yet still meet the village’s specifications and allowing on-street parking. Project planning/design/construction services are being provided by an all-in-one firm, McFarland Johnson of Binghamton.

Framing and sheathing has been completed for one of the 1.5 story triplexes, with framing underway on a second and foundation work ongoing with the next two. The framing is standard wood frame on a concrete slab foundation with underground utility hook-ups, and the sheathing is the ever-popular Huber ZIP plywood panels. Windows and doors have been fitted into the most complete unit, and the roof has been shingled. Rather interestingly, it looks like vinyl trim boards are already in place on the eaves of the structure, something that usually doesn’t come along until much later in the construction process. On the inside, it appears that mechanical, electrical and plumbing rough-ins are ongoing.

The space on the easternmost end of the parcel is intended to be developed at a later date for a small-scale (~2,000 SF) commercial retail component, possibly a small restaurant or coffee shop.

 

 

 

 





Milton Meadows Construction Update, 12/2019

19 12 2019

Not completely done, but substantially complete enough that this will be the last visit. Only landscaping, paving, and exterior and interior finish work (trim pieces, carpeting) Three of the nine eight-unit apartment buildings have been opened for occupancy. The others will open over the next month or so. The units are by and large spoken for already, having been awarded through a housing lottery to screened but otherwise randomly selected income-qualified tenants (making 50-80% area median income).

This $17.3 million, 72-unit project is wrapping up, and with the confusion over Tiny Timbers it may be the only residential component of the Lansing Town Center for some time yet. A further 56 units may be built as a “Phase II” 2-3 years from now when the sewer is in. There will be at least one commercial neighbor moving in next year – the Salt Point Brewing Company has started site prep for their new 4,000 SF restaurant and tap room next door.

Project background and history can be found here. SWBR Architects of Rochester is the architect. Cornerstone Development Group is the developer, and the Taylor the Builders of Rochester served as the general contractor. Passero Associates served as project engineer.

The history and details of the project can be found here.





GreenStar Co-Operative Market Construction Update, 12/2019

18 12 2019

In the home stretch at 770 Cascadilla Street. From the outside, the project is largely complete. The exterior siding for the 16,500 SF store is nearly finished. The landscaping and paving have been laid out, with the grass seeded, the asphalt striped (148 spaces) and the lighting fixtures in place. The custom protective metal grates around the trees are a nice touch. The farm stand pavilion accessory structure has yet to be installed, the signage has yet to go up, and about the only major detail on the main building that appears to be unfinished is the exterior mural on the northeast wall, something that may have to wait until the warmer spring months. Unfortunately, it looks like some details, like the windows above the front doors, were value engineered out late in the design process.

The inside is in the process of being fitted out with equipment, with some late-stage finishing work apparent through the windows. The store is expected to open in March 2020, after the equipment is in, shelves are stocked and electronics are tested. Once that happens, GreenStar will sell its old properties to the City Harbor development team for $2 million.

At last report, the GreenStar Capital Campaign, largely intended to serve the project through community-based owner-members, had raised $1,938,500 towards its $2 million end of 2019 goal. Click this link for some more interior shots, showing the new lighting, interior outfitting, and high-efficiency refrigeration equipment. Also up are some construction videos of the project on YouTube.

This will probably be the last visit; as far as this blog’s concerned, this project is complete. The project is the result of a partnership between GreenStar and the City Harbor partners (Edger Enterprises, Morse Construction and Lambrou Real Estate) as Organic Nature LLC. Local architecture firm STREAM Collaborative is in charge of exterior design, and architect Pam Wooster will handle the interior layout. Elmira’s Edger Enterprises will be the general contractor for the buildout. Delaware River Solar will supply the solar energy to power the building via an off-site array.

History and project specs can be found here.

 





119-125 College Avenue (College Townhouses) Construction Update, 10/2019

10 11 2019

Probably the last update for this one. All that’s left is some landscaping, at least until the power lines are buried. Definitely one of the stranger projects I’ve covered. Practically no online presence apart from city documents and what I’ve written for the Voice and here. As far as I’m aware, these are just privately-owned Cornell faculty apartments.

“John Novarr and Phil Proujansky’s latest Collegetown development appears to be in the home stretch. The glass and steel facade is basically complete, the concrete entry stairs have been poured and cured, and railings, trim and other exterior finish work is ongoing. Interestingly, these appear to come pre-furnished. Peering inside the windows, unopened mattresses were laid out on new frames and tables and chairs had been stocked in the apartment units.

Part of the reason for that might be the intended market – during the approvals process, the project team stated that the 67 units of rental housing geared towards Cornell visiting faculty and researchers. Reasonably, many of those folks would arrive in Ithaca with little in the way of furniture, and given the relatively short appointments for visiting faculty and staff (a year typically, maybe two), it would make sense to offer units pre-furnished. It would also probably explain why these units aren’t advertised online. Welliver and their partners should have the apartments ready for their first tenants by the end of this year.”

A history of the project can be found here.