ITHACA, N.Y. — The typical Collegetown pattern looks like this – propose a project in late fall or winter, get city approvals by the Spring, begin construction after student leases run out at the end of May, and have the new buildings ready by August of the following year.
At first glance, Visum Development Group’s proposals for 126 College Avenue and 210 Linden Avenue are not typical. According to Site Plan Review (SPR) documents submitted to the city, developer Todd Fox and his project team would like to start construction in January 2017, and have the buildings ready for renters in time for the 2017-18 academic year.
Asked about the unusual time-frame, Fox responded with a correction. “No, that’s definitely a typo! The city has not even declared lead agency.” He explained that the units are still occupied, and pending discussions with tenants, construction (if approved) would either start later in the spring and be done by August 2017, or deconstruction and site preparation would start in the summer after the tenant leases have run out.
The proposal at 126 College Avenue (shown at left) replaces a six-bedroom house with a 5-unit, 28 bedroom apartment building. The plan for 210 Linden (shown at right) is a little larger, replacing a 3-unit, 6-bedroom apartment house with a building containing nine apartments with 36 bedrooms.
The construction cost of the two buildings is estimated at $1.972 million for 126 College Avenue, and the cost for the somewhat larger 210 Linden Avenue is pegged at $2.88 million.
In something of a rarity for city projects, neither appears to require a zoning variance of any kind. Both fit the maximum length, width and building lot coverage allowed under the Collegetown Area Form District’s CR-4 zoning, and both projects clock in at or just under the 45-foot height maximum – the sites are sloped, and the 45′ height is defined as the average above grade plane. The CR-4 doesn’t require parking on-site as long as a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan is received and approved by city staff. The zoning does require a bike space for every five bedrooms, and interior bike storage is proposed in secure basement rooms.
In the project description, architect Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative notes that the extent of fossil fuel use has yet to be determined because the heating and cooling systems have yet to be designed. However, the project team is exploring building the apartments as net-zero energy ready, meaning that all energy consumed by the building could be met with an off-site renewable energy system, such as wind or solar panels.