News Tidbits 6/10/2018

11 06 2018

1. For those of you looking out for something interesting next week, here’s your notice. In the village of Lansing Monday night, a sketch plan is set to be shown involving a cluster home development on the remaining phases of the Millcroft property, about 40 acres off of Millcroft Lane and Craft Road. According to the agenda, the proposal comes from Ithaca-based landlord/developer Beer Properties in partnership with Hunt Engineers.

The back story here is that the Millcroft subdivision was approved in the mid 2000s as a three-phase, 31-lot development for high-end ($500k+ homes). As it turns out, the market for that, absent lake views and on relatively small lots, isn’t so great. The Great Recession didn’t help either. The first phase of 14 lots is mostly built out, and the second phase was approved and shows up on town maps, but no construction has taken place. The village has been aware of a project in the works since at least February.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the property listing for the land, which was on Zillow for quite a while – I recall a figure around $850-$950k. The property falls in the village’s medium density residential zone, Cluster zoning means the lots themselves are smaller to preserve natural space. However, the maximum number of units is the same as maximum allowed by regular zoning – 40 acres in sewered Lansing village MDR means up to 87 units, if I’m doing the math right. Not sure if single-family, townhome or otherwise, so keep an eye out for a follow-up.

2. For sale, 15.31 acres off of Wellsley Drive in the village of Dryden. Sewered, watered, and originally planned for 36 homes but never approved. Price of the land $149,900.

Here’s maybe the more interesting part – this borders Maple Ridge. Maple Ridge’s first phase is built out, and the developer, Paul Simonet, would like to build the roads and lay out phase two (and eventually phase three). However, the village’s issue is that there’s only one entry and exit into the development – something they’ve been hesitant to sign off on because of possible safety/access issues.

Now, this may have already been resolved – the village of Dryden has only updated their website twice since February, with legal paperwork for keeping fowl – but if not, there’s the option of buying the Wellsley Drive property and routing a road through there. Maybe $150k plus the extra road work isn’t in Simonet’s price range, but it’s at least an option.

3. The village of Trumansburg commissioned an independent study from Camoin Associates (the same folks who did the Airport Business Park study) looking at the financial impacts of 46 South (formerly Hamilton Square) on the village. I’ve been told this wasn’t public yet, but it’s on the village’s planning board webpage, so I dunno about that.

Quick refresher: 73 units. 56 affordable, 17 market-rate. 6 affordable rental townhomes, 40 apartments, 10 affordable for-sale townhomes, and 17 market-rate units, single-family and townhome style. 140 residents at full buildout in 2023, assuming one per bedroom.

Here’s the TL;DR on the finances. The net income to the village itself is -$23,757/year when fully built out. The unfortunate truth of residential development is that, frankly, people have needs. They use roads, they call police and fire, they use municipal power lines and water pipes and sewer mains. It is not offset by the village’s share of property taxes, here in this mixed-income example, or in the vast majority of cases. This is a reason to advocate housing density, because the impacts on, say, building new roads or infrastructure is often less per unit.

On the flip side, the school district, which makes up a greater share of the property taxes, sees a net increase of $97,669/year when fully built. Tax revenue more than offsets the expenditure of approximately 33 new students. Not everyone living in has a child, but everyone pays school taxes. This money not only helps the district, the incoming students help ameliorate concerns that declining enrollment may soon lead to consolidation with a neighboring district.

Economic impacts can be broken down into three components – the construction jobs, long-term operation/maintenance, and growth induced by the new residents, who will not just live locally, they will also shop, dine and spend money in the village. There will be an estimated $18.17 million spent on construction, $1.45 million will be spent within the County, creating 20 construction job-years in total (note there are multiple guys on site once, the project is expected to be fully complete within five years), and nearly $695,000 in total earnings. Operation/maintenance in perpetuity creates the equivalent of two jobs, creating $60,732 in earnings and $229,782 in sales. The households will spend nearly $1.7 million yearly within the County, which will support 20 total jobs with over $676,500 in earnings per year. In other words, $2 million spent in the county, 22 jobs and $737,500 in net new earnings from having those 140 more residents in the village.

By the way, if one was inclined to read 289 pages of public comments about 46 South, that can be found here. The project will be discussed at the village board’s meeting Monday evening.

4. Let me note this before I forget again – Park Grove’s Bomax Drive Apartments have started construction. The first two strings of 10-unit, three-bedroom townhomes are expected to be completed by Spring 2019. I’ll make a site visit soon for a longer write-up.

5. Meanwhile, the Triphammer Row townhomes are on pause until the road situation gets worked out. The village won’t sign off on using M&T Bank’s parking lot as an entry route, and the Sevanna Park condos don’t want to allow access to the 15 units through their private road. As a result, the village is seeking to have the road turned over to them, in part to encourage this for-sale plan, and in part because will ownership of the entry road to Sevanna Park will allow them to install better curb cuts and traffic control.

6. Here’s a for-sale property with some small-scale redevelopment potential, this one in the city of Ithaca. A dilapidated house is for sale at 815-17 North Aurora Street in Fall Creek. thanks to unsympathetic additions, the historic value is marginal. A buyer could restore it, or if interested, since it’s a double-lot, they could split the lot in two and do a two-family home on each property. Given other recent projects in the area such as 202 and 204 Queen Street and 128 West Falls Street, it appears to be an opportunity to do some modest densification keeping with Fall Creek’s fabric without upsetting the community too much in the process. The property is for sale for $269,000.

7 Let’s tie this up with something intriguing. Next week, the city’s Planning and Economic Development Committee is being asked to support a grant application by the Downtown Ithaca Alliance to the New York Main Street (NYMS) grant program. They are seeking $322,500 from the state to leverage work on four downtown projects – a commercial project in the Clinton House, a commercial project in the Boardman House, a “commercial and housing project” at 108 West State Street (the Ithaca Agency Building), and a 12-unit development by Visum Development in the West State Street Corridor. Any rehabbed housing units will be required to be 90% area median income for at least five years, but I dunno if either housing plan has existing units, I think the Ithaca Agency Building was all office space. STREAM Collaborative just moved into the second floor, so they would know best.

Quick postscript here – there’s nothing but an outline according to the DIA’s Gary Ferguson, so no Voice writeups for a while yet.

Development Proposed for Eastern Collegetown

9 02 2010

An underdeveloped piece of land between East Hill and Collegetown is the site of a proposed 26-unit single-family housing development to be called “Vine Street Cottages”. The land has been used by a trucking company since 1980, and was previously the site of an asphalt plant. The land has been marketed for the past year or so by several real estate agencies as a site for dense housing (suggested sale price: a cool $1.25 million for 3.4 acres. Mind you, this is Ithaca, so those prices are quite steep).

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

The housing is to be designed similar to the older homes in the nearby Fall Creek neighborhood, and sell for about $300k. However, the land is only zoned to hold ten lots, not 26, so a zoning appeal has to be filed and public discussion has to be undertaken. Which leads to comments like this one:

“…whose parents live on Vine Street, said the proposed development would be too dense, and the asking prices ‘are unrealistic for this area.'” A mature tree line currently buffers neighbors from the trucking operation, but all the trees would have to be removed to accommodate that many units, he said…”

I’ll give it one thing – the asking price is steep. A 1900 sq ft., 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath house that is LEED certified seems like it should only go for 200k-250k in the area. As for being too dense, apparently the joys of the frequent traffic of 18-wheelers up and down Mitchell Ave. outweigh 26 single-family houses. It’s also next to Maplewood Park, which is owned by Cornell and much denser (Maplewood Park is on the site where Vetsburg, Cornell’s housing for vets and their families, was originally placed after WWII). Cornell has its own plans to redevelop Maplewood Park within the next several years (assuming the budget kinks are worked out).

Speaking of which, the company that wants to develop the site, Agora LLC, is headed by Toby Millman, Cornell Class of 1992.

It would seem to be that this is a big win for Ithaca. The housing is intended for permanent residents and follows new urbanist principles, so it’s eco friendly and responds to concerns of students overrunning the area. But apparently, some folks think that a trucking company is better.

News Tidbits 12/10/08: Ithaca’s “Fancy New” Wal-Mart

10 12 2008

So, recently, although the national and state economies are sinking like a stone in a lake, there has been one slight bright spot here in little Ithaca. The local Wal-Mart is continuing its expansion plans, and apparently the giant retailer plans to use Ithaca as its first test market for a more socially conscious image for the retailer. To quote the Ithaca Journal article:

“Wal-Mart is trying out a new branding campaign characterized by smaller signs, earth tones, and more pedestrian-friendly amenities like awnings outside the store, said Jim Gallagher, an architect with PB2 Architecture and Engineering and a Wal-Mart consultant.”

I’d post the Daily Sun photo if I could find it, but locating any image of the redesign has been a royal pain in the ass, so we’ll go without it for now.

A facadectomy isn’t going to change the image of a store so despised by fringe locals that they planted a bomb (yes, it was an actual improvised explosive device [3]). But, hey, if that’s how they want to spend their money, then let them do stonework and vestibules in the hope that people stop associating them with corporate greed.

A Wal-Mart was first proposed in Ithaca for the property in the early 1990s where the Home Depot sits today, but it was shot down by community opposition (the site was planned by Widewaters Development Group out of the Syracuse area). The current store wen through an untold number of hoops while trying to avoid the barbs of angry locals who did not want a Wal-Mart in the area, The current Wal-Mart, approved in 2002, opened in early spring of 2005 [6].

Meanwhile, Cornell is still planning the 6,000 sq. ft. Plantations Welcome Center [4] , and a new water tank off of Hungerford Hill Road. Student Agencies is seeking approval for the construction of a 10,000 sq. ft warehouse off of Sheffield Road to expand their capacity for the storage of student items during the summer months.

Apart from that, nothing really new from the planning board agendas of the town or the city. Some cosmetic work and a few more large parcels of land being subdivided for future house development.






[5] -Wal-Mart Attack


News Tidbits 8/15- CU ERL Project

15 08 2008

So, I’m writing this as I’m sitting at a desk within the hotel; granted, I’m on the job, but it would help if I had more than one customer every forty-five minutes. It’s a bit of a running joke among Cornell Store employees that the Statler requires a dress shirt, tie and a really long book. Luckily, one of the few benefits to working the Statler Hotel gift shop over the main store is that we actually are permitted to browse the internet (with discretion).

So, doing as I often love to, I was perusing the planning board notes for the August 19, 2008 meeting of the Town of Ithaca planning board. And lo and behold, look what pops up:

8:00 P.M.        

Consideration of a sketch plan for the proposed Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) project located north of the Pine Tree Road and Dryden Road (NYS Route 366) intersection, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 63-1-8.2, 63-1-2.2, 63-1-12, 63-1-3.1 and 63-1-3.3, Low Density Residential Zone.  The proposal involves construction of an underground accelerator tunnel (14-foot diameter and 2 km long), a cryogenic facility and associated electric substation (+/- 15,000 square foot footprint), and an extension to the existing Wilson Laboratory (+/- 185,000 gross square feet of building space).  The project will also involve new stormwater facilities, parking, outdoor lighting, and landscaping.  Cornell University, Owner; Steve Beyers, P.E., Engineering Services Leader, Agent.

The other agenda items aren’t notable (a radio tower, continued discussion about the IC Athletic Complex, and the continued use of an equestrian facility).

So, the construction of 200,000 sq. ft of physical plant, a cryogenic facility and an accelerator tunnel require a bit of investigation.

The first thing I came across is this week-old Cornell Chronicle item. The particle accelerator has a planned timeframe of construction that would allow for the beginning of operations in 2011 [2].

Rather than try and explain the operations of the particle accelerator itself, I’m just going to quote the article (I’m excusing myself on the grounds that I study thermodynamics, not quantum physics).

The ERL would accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light in a linear accelerator (linac) made of two straight tubes, each about 330 meters (0.2 miles) long, then feed them into the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, Hoffstaetter said. After a single rotation around the ring, the electrons would return to the linac, where their energy would be recovered and used to accelerate the next batch of electrons.

Meanwhile, at various points around the ring, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source would use the electrons to produce ultra-bright, ultra-fast pulsing X-ray beams capable of imaging structures just a few atoms wide, and whose oscillations would be resolved with sub-picosecond resolution (less than a millionth of one millionth of a second). [2]”

On another note, the building is visible in the master plan diagrams, as the large expansion that exists to the east of the current Wilson Lab structure:

So, our physical plant will continue to expand for some time yet.



News Tidbits 6/26

26 06 2008

from the IJ:

“* The housing supply project calls for developing “quality, affordable and sustainable residential communities for the benefit of Cornell employees.”

The proposal is to build “new affordable townhomes” on Cornell property by 2010.

This property could include land at East Hill Plaza, in Collegetown and potentially anywhere else Cornell owns land, Johnson said. New housing would be built within easy biking or walking distance to Cornell or along public transportation lines, he said.

Cornell proposes to spend $600,000 on the housing supply project in 2009.”

Have to keep an eye on that.  $600,000 isn’t much to build with though. Although Cornell already owns the land, and intends for it to be affordable (i.e. not big or loaded), I could see at most four or five townhomes being built with $600,000. Whether or not they continue to add as much each year is a big question.

Example townhomes