401 E. State St. Project Heads to Voting, 510 W. State Street Hits Roadblock | Ithaca
ITHACA, NY – The Planning and Development Council met on June 22 to discuss a large number of proposed construction projects in Ithaca, primarily focusing on projects proposed at 401 E State St. and 510 W State St.
While the 347-unit apartment building at 401 E State St. remains on schedule for a vote next month, concerns about 510 W. State St. construction externalities have delayed a vote to determine. the fate of the mixed-use apartment.
The council met the 401 E State St. project, proposed by McKinley Development Company, with a warm welcome. Responding to the board’s request at the last meeting, the developers presented their updated landscape plan to highlight the changes. These changes included adding vegetation and green space at the end of the building and ensuring that there were more native tree species around the exterior, which matched well with the council. administration.
As the building approval process nears its final stages, the council also addressed the subject of finding labor. Developer Jeff Githens said his goal is for 35% of the construction workforce to be local, but he expects it to be much higher, a statistic appreciated by the board of directors.
The developers also presented the changes they are making to the bricks that they will use to construct the building. Based on a cost analysis they conducted, the developers at McKinley suggested using a utility sized brick in order to save some labor costs while maintaining the same aesthetic appearance. The board of directors welcomed this change.
Some members of the board of directors contested the modifications made to the balconies of the building. The developers reduced the number of balconies on the project and replaced the larger balconies with Juliet balconies above the east wing.
“The elevations were so much better with these bigger balconies and with more balconies, and I’d love to see that again,” said Lisa Nicholas, assistant planning director. “I think that really added a lot to the building, and I think it’s a shame that they were reduced so much.
According to Githens, the external market and budgetary factors have had an impact on many decisions to modify the proposed building.
“We’re just trying to make budgets work,” he said. “We are facing material price increases. We try to be smart with choices. Some of them are programmatic, others are budget driven… we are trying to overcome an arsenal of material shortages and price increases that continue to increase. ”
Board member Mitch Glass wanted more details on how the resort will fit into the public site facing Six Mile Creek, particularly with regard to the passage from State Street to the Parkway. stream.
“I’m afraid there are only a few benches in there, and I think it has to be some sort of signature public space,” he said. We spent a lot of time on the passageways because they are really important.
Member Rob Lewis concluded the discussion with next steps, which included resolving lingering issues with the balcony, maintenance, and public use issues. Overall, the feedback has been positive.
“I’m starting to see a little more life in the building,” said McKenzie Jones, board member. “… I feel hotter about this”
Glass echoed the general support consensus: “I think we should continue to support this project. I appreciate the work you continue to do on this project.
If the McKinley Development Company gets approval for the Board of Zoning Appeals deviations (including a controversial nine-foot-tall deviation), the board will vote next month when it meets again.
501 W State St
While discussing the project at 510 W State St., board members expressed concern about the foundation of the building, as well as the potential externalities of the construction.
Visum Development presented its most recent changes to the proposed building – a 58-unit apartment building affordable to households earning 50 to 80 percent of the region’s median income – to the board. The main modification was the potential use of CMC piles, a substitute for traditional deep foundations for buildings. Given the extreme budgetary concerns over the price and availability of materials, developer Brandon Ebel said the company is not yet ready to commit to using the CMC Foundation.
Glass sparked a discussion about the “barrage of comments” they received from people on neighboring properties who are concerned about the impacts of construction. The developers said they received critical comments from two neighbors in particular – one being the sole owner of the street – but generally positive responses from the others.
“I think we were doing a lot to welcome or respond to comments from a particular neighbor,” Ebel said. Certainly with any construction project there is going to be noise, there is going to be impacts, there is going to be debris, but I think, to date, we have now provided the majority of that … and certainly if any. more things are needed, here we are.
Despite this assurance, board member Garrick Blalock said that since construction sits right on the neighbor’s property line, the site’s unique position can create an “unacceptable environmental externality”.
Board member Elisabete Godden stressed that the only considerations required for the Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) – the state’s environmental impact assessment – relate to the magnitude overall impact and the number of people affected. Complaints from a few neighbors are not the responsibility of the SEQR. However, she too recognized the building’s unique position on the block.
Many board members agreed the building had merit, but wanted more information from the developers on how to fix some of the potential impact issues. The council requested specific information on whether the construction impacts have been mitigated to the extent possible, and whether or not additional information is needed to ascertain this.
In the absence of this information, the board of directors failed to vote on the multi-use apartment building at the meeting.
Faith Fisher is a Cornell Daily Sun reporter who works on the Sun’s inaugural Summer Fellowship at The Ithaca Times.