ITHACA, N.Y. — Application materials submitted to the city of Ithaca shine more light on developer John Novarr’s glassy new mid-rise for Collegetown’s Dryden Road.


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According to the site plan review documents, the estimated construction cost of the six-story building would be $12 million. As previously covered by the Voice, the building would be occupied by Cornell’s MBA program for its Executive Education Center, current based out of Sage Hall.

The lower three floors would be classroom space, and the upper three floors would be offices. The new educational/office building would be 80 feet tall, 12,301 square feet, and have capacity for 600 students and staff.

Although Cornell expects to occupy the whole building, only about 70% of the space would initially be used – the rest would fill in as the program expands and more staff is hired. Overall enrollment in Cornell’s MBA program has almost doubled in the past ten years.

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The Executive Education program is a part-time attendance program designed for working professionals. They mostly attend classes in Palisades near New York City, but are required to attend week-long sessions in Ithaca a couple times a year. Cornell lodges its Executive Education students in the Statler Hotel on their campus.

Students are expected to walk or take the bus to class from the hotel while they are in Ithaca, and staff would park in one of Cornell’s lots and also take the bus. Quoting the transportation plan, “Relocating the program to the Collegetown location is not expected to have any impact on transportation and travel patterns.”

The sessions take place during January and the summer months – traditionally low-traffic periods in the Collegetown neighborhood, which serves a largely undergraduate clientele. The construction of this building could be of benefit to Collegetown businesses by bringing in hundreds of professional students during these low-traffic times, as well as dozens of year-round academic and support staff.

Cornell intends on leasing the building from Novarr, meaning that taxes would be paid on the new building. With Collegetown falling outside the boundaries of the city’s CIITAP program, an application for a tax abatement is unlikely.

The building fits entirely within the regulations of its MU-2 zoning, so no variances would be required from the Board of Zoning Appeals. Novarr hopes to begin construction this November, with the new building ready for Cornell’s occupancy in April 2017.

For those interested, more information about the design and building plan can be found with the Site Plan Review here, and additional drawings of the new building here.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at