ITHACA, N.Y. — Need to kill some time during the work week? Here’s a look at some the of latest building projects to get underway around Tompkins County.

GreenStar Natural Foods Market (770 Cascadilla Street, City of Ithaca)

This project isn’t a new building under construction, instead, it’s a reuse of the former Cornell warehouse at 770 Cascadilla St. in the City of Ithaca. The plan also calls for the eventual demolition of its neighbor, the printing press building at 750 Cascadilla Ave., for a new parking lot. 750 Cascadilla is still standing at the moment, it’s the building next to the pile of cinder blocks and dirt in the photo above. The debris pile was created by taking out a section of the west wall, and the gaping hole seen iabove will become the entrance to the new Co-Op. Work includes new entries, siding, an outdoor patio space, and the parking lot, while the inside is a to-the-stud renovation and refit to accommodate the currently cramped Co-Op.

The shell of the warehouse is to remain, but that’s pretty much it. The inside is being gutted and refurbished to Greenstar’s needs, with a larger shopping area, classrooms, cafe, catering, warehouse and administrative functions. The 16,500 square-foot project had its formal groundbreaking in November, and the new store should be open by early next year.

Milton Meadows (Route 34 and Woodsedge Drive, Town of Lansing)

Milton Meadows will be the latest addition to Tompkins County’s affordable housing options.

The project, which is being developed by Cornerstone Development Group of Rochester, is a 72-unit, $17.3 million affordable apartment complex in the Lansing Town Center consisting of ten buildings, nine eight-unit apartment buildings and a community center. Sixty-four of the units will be set aside for individuals making 50-80% of area median income ($29,500-$47,200/year for a single person, $33,700-$53,900 for a two-person household), seven market-rate (100% area median income), and the last unit is for a live-in property manager. Veterans who meet the income guidelines will get preference in the application process. The project will use electric heat pumps and be built to LEED Silver standards.

SWBR Architects of Rochester is the architect. Cornerstone and its general contractor, Taylor the Builders of Rochester, have deployed this apartment design in other towns, so they have a familiarity with it. That allows for more efficient deployment of labor and a higher fit and finish because they know the design’s quirks, and where they’ve had issues in the past.

Site grading and prep work is ongoing at the project site. The access road is crushed stone for now, and it will be paved in the spring, and christened “Louise Bement Lane” after the longtime town historian. The access road will be built by Cornerstone to town standards and deeded over to the town for public use after the apartments have been finished. The internal road for the apartments will be Robin’s Way, after Robin Rubado, Cornerstone’s Vice-President of Housing. The prep for the interior roads is underway, but it will not be paved until most of the buildings are built. The first buildings will be opened by the end of June, with full occupancy by the end of September 2019.

Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport Expansion. Provided Photo.

Tompkins-Ithaca Regional Airport Expansion (Culligan Drive, Village of Lansing)

The expansion project happening at the airport is a bit difficult to track because it’s multiple components scattered over the airport property, and generally, airport security doesn’t like a lot of photos being taken on-site. The expansion’s components are as follows:

  • The Passenger Terminal Expansion will consist of three additions totaling 15,600 square feet. 8,500 square feet of that is an addition to the passenger holding area (which makes flying sound about as comfortable as it feels), another 5,400 SF is for additional bagging screening space and office space for the TSA and for airlines, and the 1,700 square feet by the main entrance, which is the portion seen in the photos above, allows for expanded passenger circulation and ticket counter space.
  • A 40,000 square-foot apron reconstruction. The apron is the area where planes park, refuel, and where some passenger loading/unloading takes place.
  • Utilities replacement, interior “building enhancements”, one new passenger boarding bridge, and refurbishment of the existing boarding bridge.
  • Installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system using 40 underground wells, 350-400 feet deep, and a closed-loop piping system. The operation is similar to a heat pump system, using the earth’s latent heat as a reservoir. The ground disturbance area to install the wells will be about 15,000 SF (~0.35 acres).
  • Installation of overhead canopies with solar panels in the airport parking lot.
  • Construction of a new 5,000 square-foot customs facility. The facility will be a one-story masonry structure with steel framing. The facility will accommodate no more than twenty passengers, and is exclusively tailored towards international business visitors – it’s been previously stated that business executives and Asian visitors, who often come in via Canada, have expressed a strong interest in private jet accommodations.

There will be approximately 10 new employees as a result of the terminal expansion, and six more from the construction of the new customs facility, for a total of sixteen new full-time jobs. As state projects often go, there’s a push from Albany to get projects built on an accelerated timeline and the money to do it, so this $24.5 million project is expected to be completed before the year is out. Streeter Associates of Elmira is in charge of construction.

Arthur Kuckes Childcare Center (Tompkins-Cortland Community College, Town of Dryden)

Tompkins-Cortland Community College’s new $6 million childcare center is coming along. The 9,800 square-foot building is framed, sheathed, and some of the windows have been fitted. Utilities rough-in (plumbing, electrical) appear to be underway. The roof, siding, and landscaping/playground will come along later this year, as the project moves closer to its mid-2019 completion.

As previously noted, the purpose of the building is multi-pronged. For one, it provides a much-needed daycare option for students with infants and young children, giving parents more flexibility to take classes while their kids are in a safe, stimulating environment nearby (it’s also open to the children of faculty and staff). For two, it gives students in the Early Childhood education program a greater chance to develop hands-on experience. The new facility is expected to serve up to 80 children in two infant rooms and six early childhood classrooms, and create a dozen jobs.

Ivy Ridge Townhomes (802 Dryden Road, Town of Dryden) and East Pointe Apartments (Bomax Drive, Village of Lansing)

Perhaps they’re not as high profile as the airport or GreenStar, but a number of larger apartment complexes have quietly been moving along in the suburbs of Tompkins County. The first two photos are Ivy Ridge, a 42-unit townhouse complex under construction just east of Cornell’s campus. Some of the buildings are fully framed, others have yet to get out of the ground. The $7.5 million project is expected to be finished by August.

Meanwhile, over in the Village of Lansing, the 140-unit East Pointe Apartments are being built, string by string, 14 townhouse rows in all along with a community center building. Unlike Ivy Ridge, however, these units will be opened in phases. The first townhouses will be open for occupancy on April 1.  It looks they’ll have three strings of apartments ready to go by that date, with another three framed out now and likely heading for summer openings. A few more are just getting above ground level,and will open at later dates in the fall or winter. The $22.6 million project won’t be fully completed until early next year. Park Grove Realty is the developer, with DGA Builders serving as the construction manager.

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