ITHACA, N.Y. — Documents submitted to the city of Ithaca last week indicate a new small apartment building on the horizon for Collegetown, as well as refinements Finger Lakes ReUse’s plans for a larger retail space and supportive housing at its property on Old Elmira Road.

Prolific local developer Todd Fox of Visum Development plans to increase his Collegetown offering with the construction of a new 4-story apartment building at 118 College Avenue. The property is currently a  5-bedroom single-family home that, like many properties along the lower blocks of College Avenue, has been converted into student housing. The property is currently owned by Red Door Rentals, indicating that Visum likely has a purchase option on the house, should the plans proceed.

The new 118 College as designed by Ithaca’s STREAM Collaborative would be a 5-unit with 28 bedrooms – one four-bedroom unit, four six-bedroom units, a clear sign of purpose-built student housing. The design bears similarities to Visum’s recently-approved apartments at 126 College Avenue, which was another STREAM project. Zoning is CR-4, so no parking is required, although Visum does have to submit a transportation plan for the city’s review (the documentation suggests bike racks and landlord-provided membership in Ithaca CarShare). If all looks acceptable, the $1.4 million project would start construction this summer, and open by August 2018.

Meanwhile, over on the edge of Ithaca’s Southside neighborhood, Finger Lakes ReUse has refined their plans for a new mixed-use expansion, and plans to start the city’s formal project review process later this month. Some of the numbers have been tweaked a little bit, but the basic components are the same – Finger Lakes ReUse would work with Tompkins Community Action (TCAction) to bring a new 4-story, 26,100 square-foot (SF) building to FLR’s property at 214 Old Elmira Road. The first floor would expand FLR’s retail operation, while the upper floors would provide office space for FLR, and 22 units of transitional housing for formerly homeless individuals. Plans also call for an 8,100 SF warehouse for salvaged lumber/wood, and a 600 SF pavilion. 79 parking spaces are included in the project.

For those unfamiliar, Finger Lakes ReUse (FLR) is a local non-profit focusing on materials recycling and sustainability. The organization has “deconstruction crews” who take apart buildings by hand, salvaging reusable building materials (which can be up to 70% of a building) for sale at FLR’s stores on Old Elmira Road, and at the Triphammer Mall in Lansing.

The housing provided is a semi-communal or dorm-style format. Units are 300-330 SF studios with kitchenettes and bathrooms. A larger kitchen and dining room, office/computer space, laundry, bike storage and fitness room are included as shared living spaces. TCAction will manage the units, and STREAM Collaborative is the architect.

In a grant application filed with the Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency earlier this month, FLR indicates that the $10 million expansion would create at least three new full-time jobs, with the potential for nine full-time jobs. Most would be filled by previously unemployed low-to-moderate income workers, who would receive skills and job training from FLR. All positions pay at least a living wage.

As with the Collegetown apartments, Finger Lake ReUse has plans to start construction this summer, but being a larger project, build-out would take somewhat longer – the site plan review suggests an opening for the expanded store and transitional housing in summer 2019.

Brian Crandall

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