Poet’s Landing Phase II Construction Update, 10/2016

22 10 2016

Site clearing and grading is underway for the second phase of the Poet’s Landing affordable housing in Dryden village. Developed by Rochester-based Conifer LLC (the same company developing Cayuga Meadows on West Hill), the plan is to build an additional 48 units of housing to complement the existing 72 units of housing built in the first phase. As with many of Conifer’s affordable housing projects, Rochester-based LeChase Construction serves as general contractor through a joint venture partnership, called Conifer-LeChase.

Plans for Poet’s Landing date back to at least 2010. The original plan called for a 72-unit first phase that was built out, but the second phase was initially planned as a 72-unit apartment building for those 55 and older, not unlike the Cayuga Meadows and Conifer at Ithaca projects. Conifer hasn’t publicly stated why the plan changed, but given that the company had major difficulties getting financing for Cayuga Meadows, they may have decided to go a different approach in Dryden and revised their plans to address general population affordable housing. Previous to Conifer’s proposal, there had been earlier talks for housing at the Freeville Road site, but plans did not move forward in part because during the 2000s, there was a moratorium on new water connections in Dryden village, which severely limited multi-family building development. Development potential is also limited by extensive wetlands towards the rear of the property – by state law, any wetlands removed would have to replaced, which is an expensive process. As a result, only 14 of the 46 acres are being developed. Although facing some opposition due to traffic, flooding and that it’s affordable housing, the plans were approved in January 2011 and the first phase opened in early 2013.

Poet’s Landing does suffer somewhat from a classic affordable housing conundrum – location. Generally, affordable housing is most effective when placed in locations with easy access to goods, services and community resources. But, because of land costs, stricter approvals processes and more intense neighbor opposition, affordable housing developers often procure rural properties, since they’re less expensive and easier to develop. However, that may force residents to maintain cars, which can be a burden on tight incomes. In extreme cases, it can also leave residents isolated and frustrated, leading to health and safety concerns. In the case of Poet’s Landing, it’s walkable to the village and its shops and services, but it’s not really integrated into the fabric of the village and its location isn’t all that pedestrian friendly. The affordable housing is certainly welcome, but this isn’t an ideal solution.

The project will consist of six 2-story, 8-unit buildings in two design layouts by NH Architecture. These are a standard pair of designs that Conifer uses with many of their new multifamily builds – these units will look just like Poet’s Landing Phase I, just like Linderman Creek, and just like the dozen or so other examples Conifer has built around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. As a result, proxy floorplans and interior shots can be found on apartments.com here. Although not as architecturally interesting, this helps them save on material costs and can help the contractor maintain high quality control because they have a strong familiarity with the design. Each unit will have its own exterior entrance, fully equipped kitchens, central air, closet-size storage unit, sliding glass doors and a small private balcony or patio. The residents will share the community center (exercise rooms, meeting rooms, laundry facilities and a computer lab) with the first phase residents.

Of the 48 units, 24 will be 1-bedroom, 16 2-bedroom, and 8 will be 3-bedroom units. Three units will be adapted for mobility-impaired residents, and a fourth unit will be adapted to individuals who are hearing or vision-impaired. According to a filing with the state as part of the grant application, the gross rents (rent plus utilities) will range from $724 to $1,070 a month, to be occupied by households with incomes 50% to 60% of area median income.

2015 AMI in Tompkins County is $54,100 for a single person, and $61,800 for a two-person household, and $69,500 for a three-person household. Therefore, the income limits are $27,050-$32,460 for a single person, $30,900-$37,080 for a two-person household, and $34,750-$41,700 for a three-person household. Assuming the project is completed on-time on or close to September 1, 2017, Conifer will likely start accepting applications and scheduling tenant interviews for the units sometime in the late spring or early summer.

The overall project cost is about $10.8 million. Financing for phase II comes from a variety of public and private sources – the ever-complicated jigsaw puzzle of affordable housing financing. $7,702,326 comes from Citibank. On the public end, Conifer was awarded $1.6 million in a Housing Trust Fund grant from the State of New York’s Homes and Community Renewal division, and $734,956 in low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) to help finance construction of the new apartments.


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St. Catherine of Siena Parish Center Construction Update, 10/2016

19 10 2016

Work continues on the new Parish Center for St. Catherine of Siena in Northeast Ithaca. Edger Enterprises of Elmira has framed the structure, and a water-resistant spray barrier has been applied. Windows still have yet to be fitted. It looks like sheathing is going on over the water barrier, and then the stone veneer is attached. The white boards are GlasRoc fiberglass mats layered with gypsum, over metal stud walls with cavities filled by spray insulation. The exposed plywood section will eventually be replaced with a floor-to-ceiling glass entryway.

Although the diocese doesn’t allow the parish to carry long-term debt, Tompkins Trust lent the church $3 million earlier this month.

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205 Dryden (Dryden South) Construction Update, 10/2016

16 10 2016

205 Dryden is practically finished from the outside. There may still be some work on interior finishes for spaces like the basement gym. It appears that the decorative pre-cast concrete crown has been modified, so that of a slightly projecting cornice, the crown is flat. That might be the result of value engineering, the rush to have the building finished, or both. The exterior wall facing the College/Dryden intersection might seem a bit stark, but chances are, that corner will be the site of its own construction project at some point in the near future. Photos of the furnished rooms can be found on the project’s website here.

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209-215 Dryden Road Construction Update, 10/2016

14 10 2016

With the rise of the structural steel, 209-215 Dryden Road (aka the Breazzano Family Center for Business Education) is starting to make a significant dent in the Collegetown skyline.

The floorplates are up to the fourth level, and the vertical steel columns indicate just how tall the building will be when the steel skeleton is built out. The concrete floor has been poured on the ground level, and corrugated steel decking has been laid on the upper floors – note that only the first and second floors have reached their full dimensions, the upper floors are waiting for the delivery of additional steel columns and cross beams for the crane to hoist into place. The sheets of wire grid seen outside the fence are for future concrete floor pours, providing strength and rigidity for the concrete, just as rebar does for foundations.

The large gap in the front of the building is the multi-story atrium space – the lower three floors are academic class space, while the upper three floors are academic office functions for the Cornell Executive MBA program. The smaller gap towards the north (right) side is for a stairwell.

Nice touch with the subtle commemoration of 9-11 emergency responders. It’s not uncommon to see these tributes when steel work is underway during the fall.

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Tompkins Financial Corporation HQ Construction Update, 10/2016

13 10 2016

Normally, the phrase “wow, what a hole” isn’t a good thing. Here, it’s fine. Since this is a large, heavy building, and the soil near the surface is liable to settle and risk upsetting the building foundation, a deep foundation is required. According to the geotechnical report by Elwyn & Palmer, the end bearing piles will penetrate 65-70 feet into the ground. At this depth, the material is stable enough to allow each pile to handle the required heavy weight. The basement floor slab will be about 12 or 13 feet below street-level.

Across the street, the new 965 SF drive-thru building is moving right along. The much smaller building sits on a much easier, quicker and cheaper concrete slab-on-grade foundation. The metal clips on the west wall are for the limestone veneer, just like the panels on the corners. The wall will have metal screens with which vine-spreading plants will grow up and through, creating a green screen intended to make the otherwise blank wall more attractive to neighbors and passerby. The area by the front will have a glass-encased entryway and dark metal panels overhead.

More information about the project can be found here.

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Hotel Ithaca Construction Update, 10/2016

12 10 2016

The Hotel Ithaca is moving at a pretty good clip. The stud walls are up to the third floor. If my notes from the August interview are right, the walls are assembled in sections off-site and trucked in for installation.

Most of the building uses R-Max polyiso insulation covered with Georgia-Pacific DensElement sheathing. The polyisocyanurate, a thermal plastic foam board, helps limit heat loss, and the DensGlass is gypsum panel coated with fiberglass mat, eliminating the need for spray-on waterproofing and fire-rated for the safety of guests (polyiso is a fire risk). The first floor by the elevator and mechanical spaces, and the areas under renovation by the lobby use US Gypsum Securock, and do not appear to have the polyiso layer. The change in sheathing, and use of R-Max might have to do with the expected heat loss from certain parts of the hotel, perhaps greater energy loss is expected from the hotel rooms than from the mechanical spaces. A peek inside shows exposed interior stud walls. The large space in the in the ninth photo will be a new entry area, coatroom and prefunction space.

A filing with Tompkins County indicates that M&T Bank is providing a $13,765,000 construction loan to finance construction, of which $1.6 million is going towards soft costs like legal fees and pre-opening administrative costs. The cost to furnish and equip the 90 new rooms and function/conference space is about $1,393,400.

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Ithaca Marriott Construction Update, 10/2016

11 10 2016

Home stretch for the Marriott. Official opening is November 15th. Although that means they’ll be opening towards the start of the slow season for the local hospitality industry, the general manager says they hope that it’ll give them a chance to work out any wrinkles in service before the lodging season perks up again in March. Hiring has been underway for service staff, with full employment expected to be somewhere between 50 and 60, 75% full time, with wages starting at $10 plus tips for restaurant wait staff, up to $18-$19/hour for other service positions.

From what can be found by playing on the Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons webpage, a mid-week one-night stay in a king or double queen will set you back $195 at a minimum, while the weekends start around $269/night. A run-down of some of the amenities can be found on the website, or in the August construction update. The hotel will have 151 regular guest rooms and 8 suites, which are the rooms with the floor-to-ceiling glass at the corner of State and Aurora.

The Nichiha metal panels are almost complete, with just the west face exposed at this point. I did not expect them to be so bright, beyond the unintended gleam-o-vision of my camera. The rooftop mechanical penthouse has been framed but has yet to have its exterior panels attached. Some of the Marriott signage has been attached already. Most of the stone veneer has been attached, although the finishes for the Commons entrance are still a work in progress. Judging from the plastic sheets on the roof, the synthetic rubber membrane still has yet to be applied. Photos on the hotel’s facebook page show that the front desk is in and sheetrock has been hung and mudded in some places (the “mud” is a premixed joint compound used to cover joints and seams and to allow for a smooth finish for painting). The banner at the top of the penthouse says “The Place To Be”, with the Marriott logo at top.

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