ITHACA, N.Y. — It was a busy meeting for the city of Ithaca Planning Board last night, as several housing proposals around the city received the approvals needed to move forward with their plans.

First up was Amici House, proposed for 701 Spencer Road. Despite a few concerns by residents about viewsheds and the proximity of Amici’s vulnerable youth housing to the Spencer Road neighborhood, the project received the green light from the board. TCAction will build 23 studio apartment units geared towards vulnerable youth 18-25, as well as five Head Start classrooms in an adjacent one-story building. The project is funded through affordable housing grants at local and state level, and is expected to start construction later this year with a 2018 opening planned.

city centre

In something of a surprise, City Centre received preliminary and final approval, despite having yet to visit the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow for a deficient rear yard setback. City Center is an 8-story, 193-unit market rate non-student housing proposal with about 10,300 SF of first-floor retail and restaurant space, replacing the Trebloc Building on the 300 Block of East State Street (the “rear yard” is the side facing Green Street). The developer, Vestal-based Newman Development Group, has its sights set on an opening in 2019. The project team will likely be scheduling more meetings with the city in the near future, as they plan to apply for the city’s CIITAP tax abatement program before moving forward.

The other housing plans that were approved are all located in Collegetown. Local developer John Novarr received the approvals to move forward with his 67-unit “College Townhouses” project at 119-125 College Avenue. The three-building project replaces three student apartment houses with a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units targeted at Cornell faculty (most of whom are unlikely to leave cans of Keystone Light strewn about the front lawn). The site has already been cleared and is expected to be open for occupancy by August 2018.

Lastly, a pair of projects proposed by Todd Fox were also granted the go-ahead at Tuesday’s meeting. Developer Todd Fox of Ithaca’s Visum Development Group plans to move forward with a 9-unit, 36-bedroom building at 210 Linden Avenue, and a 5-unit, 28-bedroom student apartment building at 126 College Avenue. Each replaces an existing apartment house. Fox and his team hope to have the buildings ready for tenants by August of this year – that’s a rapid pace, but these relatively small, wood-frame structures are quicker to build than larger projects or those that use reinforced concrete.

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