238 Linden Avenue Construction Update, 7/2018

22 07 2018

Might be jumping the gun a bit on this, but the fence encroachment into the street, pile driving equipment and steel/caisson tube liners on site are leading me to believe this one is in site prep.

Consider this project thr second half of a 2-for-1 package deal from developer John Novarr. Novarr and his business partner, Phil Proujansky, own a fairly large and widespread set of local properties, with the massive Collegetown Terrace project being the best known ($190 million investment, 1,250+ beds, 16 acres). Most of the rentals operate under Novarr-Mackesey Property Management. Their latest development was on behalf of Cornell, the 76,000 SF Breazzano Family Center for Business Education, which was dedicated last fall, an imposing six-story building at 209-215 College Avenue in Collegetown.

When Novarr first bought the properties that would be demolished to make way for the Breazzano, he bought a ramshackle six-bedroom house at 238 Linden Avenue for $1.35 million – this was in December 2010, before he had assembled his final, full group of properties (and realized Pat Kraft was flatly not interested in selling to him, later doing his own redevelopment at 205-07 Dryden), so the purchase of 238 Linden could be seen as a secondary purchase to give room for flexibility, and a place for construction staging in the notoriously tight spaces of inner Collegetown. In its last few years, Novarr did not rent out the house, which was in poor shape and torn down in June 2015. A redevelopment was always intended at some point, through it was only as the Breazzano plans were drafted did Novarr and Proujansky settle on a concept.

Inner Collegetown is a captive rental market – regardless of economic recessions, there will always be students willing to pay a premium to live near Cornell’s campus. The Breazzano project presented a unique opportunity – the project will serve up to 420 Executive Education students, who tend to be older, deep-pocketed, and infrequent visitors to campus, coming up for a few weeks of the year.

The new 238 Linden is designed to tap those Executive Education students who might come up more frequently, or prefer to have a second place to call home during their matriculation with the Johnson School. The project is a 13,715 square-foot building with 24 efficiency units (studios). It will be 4 stories with a habitable basement, just under 50% lot coverage, and is fully compatible with the site’s CR-4 zoning.  Each fully above-ground floor will host 5 efficiency units, with four in the partially-exposed basement. While intended for Johnson Executive Education students, it does not appear it would have provisions limiting the units to E-MBAs.

The design intent was to create a townhouse-like appearance, in form if not in function. The exterior includes fiber cement panels to complement the colors of the Breazzano, aluminum windows and a glass curtain wall with energy-efficient glazing. A number of green features are included in the project, such as LED lighting, low-water plumbing fixtures, and a sophisticated VRF high-efficency HVAC system, which uses air-source heat pumps.

Plantings, walkways, steps and retaining walls are planned, with decorative entry stair bridges and little landscaped courtyards to provide a pleasing aesthetic for the basement units. As with all inner Collegetown projects, no parking is required so long as a transportation demand management plan (TDMP) is filed and approved by city planning staff. During Site Plan Review, the project cost was estimated to be about $2 million.

The project had a pretty quick trip through the planning board – it was proposed in March, there were very few suggested aesthetic changes, and since everything conforms with the size and intent of zoning, the board was pretty comfortable with the proposal. However, while it was approved in July 2017, the project was unable to move forward because of a change in state fire codes that essentially made construction along Linden Avenue illegal for any building taller than 30 feet (and 238 Linden is 45 feet tall), because Linden is too narrow. The way around this was to petition the city Board of Public Works to treat the parking space on the street in front as a loading zone, creating a “wider” street since a fire crew would no longer have to worry about parked cars along the street frontage. This made it easier for the project to obtain a fire code variance from the state. Normally, BPW would reject this, but 238 Linden and Visum Development’s 210 Linden had already been approved when the code was changed, so they got a special, rare accommodation. Suffice it to say, any other Linden project would be difficult if not impossible under the revised state fire code.

As with all of his other projects, the architect is ikon.5 of Princeton, with local firm Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architecture serving as the project team representatives, and T.G. Miller P.C. providing the civil engineering work. The modern design may not be to everyone’s taste, but Novarr likes the architecture firm’s work so much, he asked them to design an addition to his property in Cayuga Heights. Beauty is in the eye of the wallet-holder. No word on who the general contractor will be, but Novarr has often turned to Welliver for his construction work. The original buildout period was estimated at ten months, so a plausible occupancy for 238 Linden would be complete by Summer 2019.





118 College Avenue Construction Update, 7/2018

16 07 2018

The last of Visum’s trio of Collegetown projects underway is the 5-unit, 28-bedroom building at 118 College Avenue. Officially, one other Visum project has city approvals and is permitted to start construction, a close fraternal twin to 118 College just a few houses up at 126 College Avenue. However, the existing house is rented out for the academic year, so any build-out there (and Visum seems to have deep enough pockets to eventually do it, all things considered) will not begin until June 2019 at the earliest.

As with 210 Linden, Romig General Contractors is in charge of the buildout, and Taitem Engineering is doing the structural engineering – as with Visum’s other projects designed by STREAM Collaborative, the building is built to be net-zero energy capable. Using electric heating and appliances, energy efficient fixtures, low-E windows, double-stud exterior walls and high grade insulation creates a very high degree of energy efficiency that they hope to tie into an off-site solar array, offsetting the carbon footprint of the building and its use.

118 College still has another floor to go before it’s topped out, and the mechanicals will be hidden inside the historically-inspired “Italianate cupola” penthouse. Water and sewer service was installed this past week. I’m uncertain this one will be ready in time for returning Cornell students late next month, though it’s not impossible given that it’s a relatively small wood-frame structure. So far, with the rough window openings I’m seeing one substantial difference from the renders – the windows on the wings of the front facade are smaller than originally planned.





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:





Tompkins Financial Corporation HQ Construction Update, 2/2018

23 02 2018

About the only major exterior facade work left on Tompkins Financial’s new headquarters is the stone veneer on the front face. I don’t have information on file on what kind of stone it is apart from a generic “stone veneer” description. It may be cast stone, a concrete masonry product mixed and molded to resemble natural-cut stone.

Over the blue and black air/vapor barriers, Dow TUFF-R polyiso rigid foam insulating boards are being laid between rails. Atop those, a second set of steel rails, called continuous anchors, are attached to the building. When the polyiso is attached and the rails are screwed on, the stone panels are slid into place, and then they’re mortared or caulked with silicone. There will be a gap between the polyiso and the stone that serves as a drainage cavity for water that gets absorbed and needs to be eliminated. The whole process is about keeping moisture from seeping inward and damaging the more sensitive building materials like the gypsum boards, while allowing any latent moisture in the materials (having been exposed to the elements during construction) to escape outward.

The entrance canopy is up, and steel clasps for the sunshade installs on the front are ready for when the facade is nearing completion. The lights are on, and one can presume that with three months left in the schedule, most of the big interior tasks (utilities, drywall, fixtures) have been completed. Parts of the granite base appear to be in place, but most of the ground floor and its parking area remain a work in progress.





Harold’s Square Construction Update, 2/2018

22 02 2018

Not all cranes come on wheels. Many larger cranes are assembled and disassembled on site. A concrete crane pad is formed and poured to provide a base for the crane, with the pieces assembled upward from the base. That’s what you can see in the photos below. The size can vary depending on the size of the crane required, whether it’s free-standing or tied-in, whether there are rock anchors that can be used, and the soil upon which it and the pad will rest. Here, the crane pad will rest on a thick, firm mud layer beneath, and the concrete will be reinforced with a tied-in (meaning the grid bars are tied together) steel rebar grid. According to the Harold’s Square website, the crane pad itself will rest on a 4’6″ deep concrete, 38′ x 38′. Keep in mind, there will actually be two cranes on-site. The one mounted here will be the heavy-duty 300-ton crane, but they construction team will use a mobile 55-ton crane as well. The elevator pits are also being boxed and formed.

All the piles have been driven in at this point, and the sides of the site have been shored up as necessary with lagging and steel H-beams. The low-rise Commons-facing portion of the building will utilize an 18″ rebar-reinforced mat slab foundation, while the tower portion will have a 30″ rebar-reinforced mat slab. These pours should happen by mid-March. The structure will be anchored into the foundation, which will evenly distribute the weight and support the floors above. After the foundation is in, the only way to go is up.





107 South Albany Street Construction Update, 2/2018

20 02 2018

The wood frame for the eleven-unit 107 South Albany Street project is now up to the second floor. ZIP panel sheathing has started to be attached and interior stud walls have been erected. It does not appear utilities rough-ins have started on the ground floor yet.

The project recently underwent a last-second but substantial design change. It doesn’t affect the interior square footage (something that would have sent it back to the Planning Board), but the aesthetic have changed up quite a bit.  The tall mid-building stair column and flat roof with cornice have been ditched in favor of a less prominent stairwell with a small gable, and a large hipped roof. The fenestration and ground floor details remain largely the same. Before and after renders are at the bottom of this post.

Marketing for the eleven one-bedroom units has started, with units starting at $1,395/month – pricey, but not Collegetown pricey. The advertisement for a “luxury unit” reads as such:

“Brand new luxury 1 bedroom apartment in Ithaca’s newest development available August 1, 2018. One block from the Ithaca Commons and a bus stop with multiple routes at your door.

The Unit:
– Is beautifully furnished
– Boasts high end finishes throughout including: custom cabinetry, quartz counter-tops, stainless appliances and a beautiful tiled bath.
– Has laundry in building
– Includes indoor bike storage
– Water, high speed internet, common area maintenance and snow removal included in this professionally managed 11-unit building

The exterior, with cornice and orthodox windows are additional architecturally designed items that add to the beauty of the building. No detail has been overlooked. A must see as downtown Ithaca continues to grow. Photos are from other recent projects and are for illustrative purposes. They represent the types of finishes you will find within apartment.”

It’s a bit of a risk, since the real estate waters are generally untested west of Ithaca’s downtown, although a couple other small projects are planned along the State Street Corridor. Long-time residents also worry about gentrification encroaching on the edge of the Southside neighborhood. However, city planners are pushing development westward from the downtown core, and the possibility of a government center on the Central Fire Station site a block away means that there may soon be a large employer practically at its doorstep. The Facebook ads are pitched with an eye to students, but that seems a stretch; even with the buses, this is a bit too far out for many Cornell or Ithaca College kids to consider, and it’s double the per bedroom price of shared South Hill, Fall Creek or outer Collegetown units.

The developers, the Stavropoulos family, don’t seem especially inclined towards any one neighborhood. Previous projects include a pair of duplexes in Fall Creek, a new home on Linn Street, and home additions on South Hill. The Stavropoulos family’s next project after this would potentially be the duplex pair at 209 Hudson Street on South Hill, if approvals are granted. Arguably, South Hill is a safer bet financially thanks to Ithaca College, though becoming less amenable due to the concerns from permanent residents regarding quality-of-life manners, which has led to a new zoning overlay to rein in infill in that neighborhood.





107 South Albany Street Construction Update, 12/2017

22 12 2017

Since October, it looks like the foundation slab has been poured over the footers, and the construction crew is preparing to start work on framing. Judging from the materials on-site, it looks like wood-frame with Huber ZIP panels. Wood-frame structures tend to rise quickly, so once the project team is ready, it should go up at a rapid pace, and probably top out in within just a few weeks. The 11-unit, $1.1 million apartment building is expected to be ready for occupancy by July.

It’ll be interesting to find out what Stavros Stavropoulos’s next project is, since the plan for a pair of duplexes at 209 Hudson Street was kiboshed by the city after the South Hill zoning overlay went into effect. If he’s looking at other locations along the State Street Corridor, he’d likely find the planning department and Common Council more amenable. If his name shows up in any sales, I’ll note it in the round-up.

On that note, expect a brief holiday pause in the daily posts. They’ll be back next week.

For reference, project summary here.