ITHACA, N.Y. — At its meeting Tuesday night, the city of Ithaca Planning Board got its first look at a pair of apartment buildings proposed for the Collegetown neighborhood.

The two projects are located on the cusp of inner and outer Collegetown. One is located at 126 College Avenue, a few blocks south of Collegetown’s core. The other is located at 210 Linden Avenue, also a few blocks out, towards the southeast.

Let’s start with the shared characteristics before taking a look at each individually. Both projects are proposed by Visum Development Group, led by local developer Todd Fox. Visum has been very active lately and is involved in several local projects, including a townhouse proposal in Varna and the 5-story 201 College Avenue project. Both of these latest building plans fall within the Collegetown CR-4 zoning, which allows 4 floors and 50% lot coverage by the building footprint. No parking is required for a CR-4 zone. Lastly, frequent collaborator Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative is the architect for both proposals.

One quick note – these are sketch plans meant to elicit feedback and gauge board sentiment. Architectural details and materials are still liable to be changed at the applicant’s preference, or board’s recommendation. What that means is, you won’t see building colors in the drawings, because they haven’t been fully decided yet.


126 College Avenue

Now to take a look at each project on its own. 126 College Avenue would replace an existing 6-bedroom apartment house. The house had been for sale for several months when Fox picked it up through an LLC for $510,000 on October 19th.

Plans show a 4-story building with a finished basement and mechanical penthouse designed to emulate Italianate houses of the 19th century (for example, 426 East Buffalo Street or 212 Linden Avenue). The land slopes downward towards the rear of the property, so the basement is partially above ground level at the back of the building. The approximately 9,860 SF (square-foot) building would have 5 units and 28 bedrooms – the basement would have a 4-bedroom unit, while each of the upper floors would have a six-bedroom unit. Units with four or more bedrooms tend to be hallmarks of student-focused rentals.

210_linden_site collegetown

210 Linden Avenue

While 126 College Avenue went for more traditional design features, 210 Linden was designed with a more contemporary roofline. Currently, the site is home to a 5-unit, 3,534 SF apartment house dating from the early 1900s. It has yet to be purchased by Fox, but given that his company is proposing this redevelopment, there is likely a purchase option on the property, if the plans earn approval from the city. Like 126 College Avenue, there are four floors fully above ground level, but the property slopes towards the rear, placing the basement partially above ground level.

Sketch plans indicate a nine unit building with four bedrooms each, for a total of 36 bedrooms. The building would be slightly larger than 126 College Avenue, coming in at about 14,400 SF. Both of these buildings are larger than your typical Collegetown apartment house, but smaller than buildings in Collegetown’s core – living up to the city’s billing of the CR-4 zoning as “transition zoning”.

Since these are sketch plans, nothing is being formally reviewed by the city just yet. But, because Collegetown apartments revolve around Cornell’s academic calendar, a likely scenario is to try and earn city approval by May 2017, with construction during 2017-18, and occupancy by August 2018.

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