lansing meadows senior housing v3

LANSING, N.Y. — The village of Lansing Planning Board was rather surprised when developer Eric Goetzmann presented revised plans for senior housing last week. Unfortunately for Goetzmann, the board members’ surprise was not the happy kind.

The latest plans call for 30 units of senior apartments in a three-story building along Oakcrest Road northeast of the Shoppes at Ithaca Mall and the BJ’s wholesale club. The housing is intended to be the last part of the mixed-use development that brought BJ’s to the area five years ago, as well as the creation of new wetlands to replace the ones created by the mall by accident in the 1970s. The plan would also come with 54 parking spaces, reduced on-site wetlands, and the cancellation of the proposed bird sanctuary.

Since initially proposed several years ago, the housing has grown from about a dozen units, to twenty this past March, ten single-story cottages with two units each (twenty units total). This past spring, modifications were approved to add 2,000 square feet of commercial space to the lot for use as a coffee shop or similar community retail. Then came the latest plan.

“This project has been going on for many years and has had many changes from the developer’s standpoint…he’s done a lot of work, he’s trying to make more senior housing and density, which is something the county said they would like to see, and the village said they would like to see,” said Lansing village code enforcement officer Adam Robbs.

“All of sudden he came in with a multi-story 30-unit high-rise, which a significant change from the Planning Board’s perspective, from what was originally put into their minds when they designed or allowed the Lansing Meadows PDA to come to fruition.”

Robbs explained that the issue wasn’t the increase in units, but rather the aesthetics of the new design. “{I}t went from 10 or 12 quaint-looking residential cottages to a big, blocky institutional looking building.”

Should Goetzmann and his firm Triax Management Group continue to push for the larger building, there are several hurdles they will need to overcome. The village planning board voted to declare the modification a major change, which means a revised environmental assessment, public hearing, and new special permits since this is a Planned Development Area with unique restrictions.

Another major hurdle is time, which is of the essence for this project. Goetzmann was granted a controversial property tax deal from the IDA so that BJ’s could be built. After getting several extensions on completing the senior housing and fulfilling the stipulations of receiving that tax deal, the IDA has stated they will not be entertaining another extension request. So if the housing doesn’t get underway this year, the county may pursue legal action against Goetzmann for failing to uphold his obligations to them in good time.

“The Planning Board kinda figured that what he would be coming in with was something they’d already seen and approved, and it would be a short process to get shovels into the ground. But this is a significant change, from cottages to a multi-story high-rise,” said Robbs.

“It does fit the requirements as far as the uses of the PDA, but it was just a big shocker to most of the members that on the eleventh hour, there’s a significant change to something that looks more like a commercial building than a residential structure.”

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