East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 9/2019

14 09 2019

We’re about halfway through now, with seven of the fourteen 10-unit townhouse strings open for occupancy, and another two strings coming on each month through the remainder of the year.

The Craigslist ads are fairly standard, though they do raise an eyebrow. Typically, if a place is offering a free month of rent (which is usually deployed in the form of a discount amounting to one month metered out over the 12-month lease rather than a literal free month), they’re not hitting their occupancy goals.

If that’s the case, it probably has less to do with the units, which are by any regard pretty nice, and more to do with the number of them coming onto the market. 140 apartments is a lot to absorb at once in a a suburban neighborhood where students aren’t a significant part of the local rental market. Larger projects in Downtown Ithaca’s can tap into graduate and professional students pretty easily (City Centre relied on students to fill out its less desirable units), and the hills draw both undergrads and graduate/professional students. Meanwhile, Lansing and Dryden have no trouble filling smaller projects, like the 42-48 units the Village Solars brings online each year. East Pointe isn’t doing badly, it just isn’t easy in a small metropolitan area like Ithaca’s to bring a large suburban rental project onto the market in one phase and have it not experience some softness as the initial units are filled.

A full description of the project and its history can be found here.

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East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 5/2019

26 05 2019

Quote: “The first 10-unit apartment strings are ready for occupancy in the 140-unit East Pointe Apartments complex on Bomax Drive in Lansing village. In the typical overwrought, florid language of press releases, Park Grove realty, the developer, states the “East Pointe Apartments offers residents a unique living option away from the compact noisy rentals of downtown Ithaca with comparable prices ranging for $1695 a month for a spacious one-bedroom to just shy of $2,000 a month for a three-bedroom unit,” with “luscious walk-up gardens”, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and wall-to-wall carpeted bedrooms with USB outlets.

As the photos make clear, the “luscious walk-up gardens” aren’t a thing just yet, though there were dozens of saplings stacked next to Bomax Drive, waiting to be planted. Rather unusually, the timeline of the project was moved up, from a Spring 2020 completion to a finish by the end of 2019. Glancing around the project site is like a step-by-step walkthrough of the construction process. First comes the excavation and slab foundation pour with underground utilities poking out in various pipes and tubes. Then comes from the wood framing, the felt papering of the roof, and the plywood sheathing and Tyvek wrapping. Next are the roof shingles and insulation, the rough-ins, the vinyl siding and fixtures. Once the trim boards are up and the cabinets, flooring and finishes are in, they’re just about ready for their new renters.”

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Red boxes overlay townhouse strings that are largely complete from the outside. Green is framed and sheathed (plywood with Tyvek housewrap), but lacks exterior siding, trimboards and architectural details. Blue are townhouse strings where framing is underway. Purple boxes are strings that are undergoing foundation pours and utilities installation. Looking at the site and comparing it to the site plan above, it seems that the community center is actually to the east (right) of the entrance, so there likely going to be two townhouse strings to its left (west), one of which is largely completed and one of which is just a foundation slab at this point.

It appears they’re sticking to just the two color palettes (tan/blue and grey/yellow) and not using the third color combination from the rendering. Although the project states the first units are open for occupancy, it did not appear anyone was living there yet when these photos were taken earlier this month.

Here’s a full copy of the typically puffed-up press release, which appears to quote one of my previous Voice articles:

“Ithaca, New York (March 25, 2019) – East Pointe Apartments, the village of Lansing’s latest property development opens for residence off Bomax Drive in Ithaca, New York. The first apartments are currently available for occupancy.

East Pointe Apartments are in the heart of Lansing, New York – a rural community just North of Ithaca on the shores of Cayuga Lake. The new real estate development will help the historic village gain momentum into the twenty-first century. Rochester, NY developers and property managers, Park Grove Realty hopes to set a standard for luxury living within the community.

With 20 acres and 140 state-of-the-art new construction apartment units the Ithaca Voice rightly reports East Pointe Apartments as, “…one of the largest projects the village of Lansing has seen in many years.”

Lansing’s multi-million dollar property development project will include 42 one-bedroom units, 84 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units all nestled within the quaint village of Lansing, New York. East Pointe Apartments offers residents a unique living option away from the compact noisy rentals of downtown Ithaca with comparable prices ranging for $1695 a month for a spacious one-bedroom to just shy of $2000 a month for a three-bedroom unit.

When approaching East Pointe Apartments property development, residents will be greeted by the luscious walk-up gardens upon pulling into their personal attached garage. Each unit includes a private entrance with a choice of oversized patio or deck.

Inside luxuries include a private laundry room with in-unit washer and dryer, granite counter tops wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, high end electric and plumbing fixtures, and wall-to-wall carpeted bedrooms with USB outlets throughout.

The high-end finishes extend beyond the residences with access to Fiber Optic WiFi throughout the complex, an exclusive dog park, and a luxury community building. The residents will enjoy an in ground pool, fitness center, great room, and kitchen. The community building will also house the leasing office and professional on-site management staff.

DGA Builders, LLC construction will continue to expand the residences throughout 2019 with all 14 buildings scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Park Grove Realty has over 35 years of real estate experience in property development, property management, and consulting. Their focus on long-term value and community-centric actions have earned them Western New York’s Landmark Society Award of Merit. They continue to broaden their portfolio in 2019 with upcoming developments all over the Northeast.”

 





East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 2/2019

1 03 2019

With so much construction underway at one site, I figured it’d be easiest to try and color code this using the site plan.

Red boxes overlay townhouse strings that are largely complete from the outside. Green is framed and sheathed (plywood with Tyvek housewrap), but lacks exterior siding, trimboards and architectural details. Blue are townhouse strings where framing is underway. Looking at the site and comparing it to the site plan above, it seems that the community center is actually to the east (right) of the entrance, so there likely going to be two townhouse strings to its left (west), one of which is framed and one of which is just a foundation at this point.

Knowing that the first units are expected to be open for occupancy on April 1st, I’d wager the three strings in red (~30 units) will be ready by that time, the community center and units in green (three strings, ~30 units) will be ready by June 1st, and the three strings in blue (~30 units) will be ready by September 1st. That would give roughly December 2019 and April 2020 for the last two sets, which sounds about right from the construction timeline I’ve seen for a spring 2020 completion.

Rents on the units are as follows, per the project website and multiple apartment advertising websites:

# BRs/ # BAs / Monthly Rent / Square Footage / Unit Code

1 BR 1 Bathroom    $1,695    820 Sq Ft   B
1 BR 1 Bathroom    $1,795    873 Sq Ft   C
2 BRs 2 Bathrooms $1,895 1,093 Sq Ft   A
2 BRs 2 Bathrooms $1,910 1,095 Sq Ft   E
2 BRs 2 Bathrooms $1,975 1,157 Sq Ft   G
2 BRs 2 Bathrooms $1,995 1,090 Sq Ft   F
3 BRs 2 Bathrooms $2,445 1,268 Sq Ft   D

Layouts can be seen here. Each townhouse string contains a mix of 1-3 bedroom units. In total there are 14 three-bedroom, 90 two-bedroom, and 36 one-bedroom units, which doesn;t break down neatly by fourteen townhouse string, so there are some variations.

Those variations also show up in the exterior finishes. The units near completion now use what looks like Certainteed vinyl siding and trimboards. Type “1” is tan and navy blue siding with stone accents around entrances, and Type “2” is slate grey and yellow siding, though I didn’t get a close enough look to see if these have stone accents as well (there were crews actively working on site). The rendering in advertisements suggests there will be a third type, Type “3”, with beige and olive green vinyl siding and stone veneer accents.

Just like the townhouse strings, the community center is a different design than first advertised. So basically, nothing in the built project quite matches the plans that were publicly available, whether it be building designs or site plans. The only things that have stay constant are the fourteen strings of ten units with a community center and a loop road. Not a fan of surprises here, but we’ll see how the finished product is looking once more of the site has been built out later this year.

More information about the project’s history and seemingly accurate details can be found here.

 





East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 11/2018

21 11 2018

The design of the townhouse strings underwent some pretty substantial changes. This was what was originally proposed and approved, on Park Grove Realty’s website:

And this is what’s being built, according to the apartments.com listing:

The new render was posted online Monday at 10:30 AM according to the image properties, so this is quite literally “hot off the press”. It would appear that active marketing for the apartment began on several real estate websites (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com) this week.

Same architect, but very different designs. The number of units remains the same per string (ten each), but it’s not clear if the unit counts by bedroom has been modified. 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 will be $1,695-$1,795/month, two-bedrooms $1,875-$1,975/month, and three-bedrooms $2,345/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 has continued building these out at a very quick pace. It appears that at least three of the ten-unit apartment buildings have been fully framed, a fourth is starting framework, and at least a few more have foundation work or site grading underway. The loop road (named “East Pointe Drive”) is partially complete, and the underground utilities (sewer, water) appear to be in place. Given the units that have been built, it looks like the only significant distinguishing factor between strings will be the secondary vinyl siding color – noting the Spruce Green in the render and Pacific Blue in the most complete townhouse string. Most likely, this is Saint-Gobain Certainteed vinyl siding. The first units in the 140-unit townhouse complex are expected to hit the rental market this April.

A full description of the project and its history can be found here.

Interior renders:





East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 8/2018

6 08 2018

No one can say DGA Builders is wasting time. A visit on Friday showed three sets of CMU foundation walls have been assembled and mortared, each for a ten-unit townhouse string. A few crewmen kept an eye on a material placement truck, also known as a stone slinger, as it launched rocks into the footprint encased by the foundation walls. This may be a crushed stone base (hardfill) for a concrete slab pour, given the stacks of rebar with surface rust sitting nearby. A shallow foundation would work fine here because two-story buildings aren’t especially heavy as structures go, and it would be less expensive and time consuming than a deep foundation. Elsewhere around the site one sees PVC sanitation pipes (sea green), water pipes (blue), and pieces for utility junctions.

Meanwhile just a stone’s sling away on Nor Way, Forest City realty continues work on the six-unit string (hexplex?) of townhouses. Two are fully framed and roofed, two have had their first floor framed though not fully sheathed, and the other two are only partially framed on the first floor. As with all the townhouse strings, these will incorporated some unique design features while keeping the general unit layout the same. I know they’re not happy about the East Pointe townhomes, but it could be a good synergy – the price points ($1,400-$2,000/month fr East Pointe, $350k for the Heights of Lansing townhouses) are such that renters who may wish to stay in that neighborhood may look at the Heights townhomes as an option.

A website is now up and running for East Pointe. It’s mostly stock images and bland corporate-speak, but they do have floor plans and some new renders. Here’s the advertising pitch:

“This apartment community is located on 20 acres in Lansing, NY, which is part of the Ithaca, NY, market. This is new construction of 140 state-of-the-art apartments. There will be 36 one-bedroom units, 90 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units. The project will include fourteen apartment buildings with 10 units in each building that will be walk-up garden style with private entrances and a community building. All units will have high end finishes and amenities, including stainless finish appliances, microwave, dishwasher, washer and dryer, ice maker, granite counter tops, wood cabinets, vinyl plank flooring and wall-to-wall carpeting, tile showers, high end plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures. All apartments will include a patio or deck. The community building will include the leasing and maintenance office, Great Room and warming kitchen for gatherings, and a fitness center. The project also includes an outdoor pool with changing rooms and shower.”

I have no idea what a warming kitchen is, but my very Sicilian mother is pretty good at turning kitchens into warming spaces around the holidays. A photo of the community center is included below.

UPDATE: I’m just going to add this here since the timing was ever so slightly off- on Monday the 6th, the construction loan was filed with the county. M&T Bank is lending Park Grove (represented by an LLC) $22.6 million for construction of the East Pointe project.





East Pointe Apartments Construction Update, 6/2018

24 06 2018

If the name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s okay. For the past two years, the common reference to these was either “The Bomax Drive Apartments” or the “Park Grove Realty Apartments”, either of which was used interchangeably. The official name according to Park Grove Realty’s webpage is “East Pointe Apartments”. East of what, I dunno.

Park Grove Realty is a new company headed by a group of long-time developers and real estate professionals. Andrew Crossed and Andrew Bodewes cut their teeth at Conifer Realty, a regional affordable housing developer based out of Rochester (readers might be familiar with some of their local projects, including Linderman Creek, Cayuga Meadows, and Poet’s Landing). They knew their way around development and had familiarity with the area. Not only that, they were working with Tom LiVigne, who has been on the board of many local projects and recently retired as the president of real estate operations at Cornell.

While LiVigne was at Cornell in 2008, the university purchased a 19.46 acre parcel on Bomax Drive. The property was zoned for business and technology, which is intended for commercial office, warehousing or tech-focused industrial space, which is what Cornell originally had in mind. But, with the onset of the Great Recession, and a re-assessment of Cornell’s needs, nothing ever came forth for the property.

A little bit of speculating here, but because Conifer’s Cayuga Meadows had been floating around since the late 2000s, LiVigne would have been professionally familiar with Crossed and Bodewes. It seems likely that as LiVigne retired in early 2015, and Crossed and Bodewes launched their company a few months later, they might have approached him with the idea of an Ithaca project, knowing the market’s strong economics and housing deficit. LiVigne was familiar with Cornell’s excess holdings, and whatever discussions he had with Park Grove post-retirement led to the idea of a project on this property.

The project was first conceived and brought before the village of Lansing in July 2016. East Pointe is a 140-unit townhouse complex, fourteen strings of ten units, plus a community building, situated on a wooded vacant parcel on Bomax Drive. The intent was to explicitly avoid Collegetown and Downtown, and do a project geared towards the upper-middle class market segment, more specifically empty nesters and young professionals who may be moving in for work, but have yet to buy a house (this is exactly the same sub-market and words used by the developers of the 102-unit Cayuga Orchard project over in the town of Lansing, and even bears a passing resemblance). Arguably, a modest slice of graduate/professional students is possible as well.

To make the project possible, the zoning would have to be changed to high-density residential – the village planning board wanted a traffic study and wasn’t excited that there was no affordable housing here (the project team argued the asking price Cornell wanted made affordable housing infeasible), but was otherwise open to the idea of the zoning change; no one had developed a business and technology space since 2005, and residential was seen as a downzoning from what could have been done there, should Cornell have really pushed for a large office of research building. The neighboring developer, however, was not okay with the rezoning.

I don’t intend to rehash Forest City Realty and the Jonson family’s attempt to stop the project, but the argument was that it was a “spot rezoning” and that it was illegal. The Jonsons felt the units would decrease the desirability of their own project, the luxury for-sale townhomes in the Heights of Lansing. It became so impassioned that Lisa Bonniwell (Ivar and Janet Jonson’s daughter) ran herself and allies to try and take over the village Board of Trustees and mayorship last year in an effort to stop the proposal – they lost by a large margin. They also took the village to state court, lost, appealed, and lost again. The village estimates, with considerable distaste, that although they won, the court cases cost them close to $50,000.

It’s because of the lawsuit that the timeline gets a little muddled. The rezoning request was filed in September 2016, the public hearing in October, and the zoning change was made in November 2016 – to make it clear, that was the rezoning, not the project. The project wasn’t approved until November 2017, after the lawsuit was rejected and had gone to an appeals court. For a little while, Park Grove had a “continue at your own risk” for preparing final drawings and legal paperwork, given that the appeal was not declined by the state court until February 2nd 2018. The first real sign the project was moving forward came on March 16th of this year, when Cornell sold the land to Park Grove for $1.5 million, $300,000 more than what the university paid in August 2008.

Each string will have four units on the first floor, and six units on the second floor. Each unit has their own entrance, and the project is being described by the developer as “walk-up garden style“. The mix of units is 36 one-bedroom units, 90 two-bedroom units, and 14 three-bedroom units – since 36 and 90 don’t break down evenly by 14, I’d expect slightly difference unit mixes per building, and perhaps that will result in some slight design differences for things like window and door placement. However, they’ve only ever shown one apartment string in their official renders. The renders above are from early in the process (top), and the one they uploaded to the company website last week (bottom) – note the differences in the end garages and in the second floor/roof on the right side of the image. it may be a change in design, or it may be two different building designs they plan to utilize depending on unit layout. Have to wait and see on that one.

The one-bedrooms will be about 900 square feet and go for $1,400/month, according to an early interview with the Ithaca Times. The 1,300 SF two-bedroom units will go for $1,700/month, and the three-bedrooms, which will be about 1,400 SF, will for $1,900/month. The Lansing Star gives similar stats. Renters will get “high end finishes and amenities”, with possible amenities including  the community building with swimming pool, bocce ball court, walking trails, a community garden and a dog park.

I have not seen any building costs or local lending activity associated with the project, but if it’s in the ballpark of the nearby Village Solars (which is $2-$3 million per building), then it would not be unreasonable to expect something in the range of $30 million (of course, I am not the county tax assessor, so don’t take my word as gospel).

The architect, James Fahy Design Associates of Rochester, has a lot of experience with newer suburban developments, both single-family and multi-family. A google search (their website hasn’t been updated) shows similar gable-loving, shake siding and stone veneer embracing projects in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany areas. Jess Sudol of Passero Associates is the engineering consultant.

Right now, the site is being cleared and graded, with subterranean utilities installs (water/sewer) and early foundation excavation work is underway. The first two apartment strings are expected to be ready by Spring 2019. DGA Builders of Pittsford (suburban Rochester), a division of Pennsylvania-based DGA Construction Group, appears to be the general contractor, and A.E.Y. Enterprises of Macedon (Wayne County) is the site work subcontractor.