ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s been fairly quiet lately with the City Harbor project proposed for Ithaca’s waterfront on Pier Road but now the project appears to be seeking a refresh, with a new investor on board and a new design to send forward to the city’s planning board.

Elizabeth Classen Ambrose, the Principal of the Bridges Cornell Heights senior care facility, has joined the City Harbor development team as a co-investor, alongside Lambrou Real Estate, Morse Construction and Edger Enterprises. While Classen Ambrose has made her name in providing services to seniors, her involvement in the City Harbor project does not indicate any senior-specific housing component.

Another change related to the project is the architect, from one local firm to another. STREAM Collaborative has been replaced by HOLT Architects, and revised designs show that STREAM’s more traditional aesthetic has been replaced with a more modern look. The Guthrie Clinic building is a separate development within the greater project, and there have been no changes to its design.

The Phase One site plan for City Harbor.

Plans for the project indicate a two-phase buildout for the project, with 156 residential units, medical office space for Guthrie Clinic, a waterfront restaurant, a wellness center, boating and golfing amenities, and a public waterfront promenade. The project is also closely tied to GreenStar Co-Op’s plan for its new flagship a couple of blocks away — the warehouse GreenStar is renovating at 770 Cascadilla Street had been previously owned by Guthrie, and as the result a $3 million sale back in November, the developers of City Harbor are now GreenStar’s landlords.

The first phase of City Harbor consists of the Guthrie medical building, the “Point West” building with a ground-floor restaurant and residential above, and the all-residential “Point East I” building. The second phase would include an additional residential building, called “Point East II,” and the Newman Community Center, which will replace the existing city-owned clubhouse and provide expanded golfing and boating amenities in conjunction with city parks and recreational services.

At the last Planning and Economic Development Committee, Common Councilors gave their consent for the City Harbor developers to apply for state grants to help pay for the construction of the public promenade. Last year, the project had filed a $1.355 million grant request via the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, but was only awarded $29,575. At the PEDC meeting, the project team noted that they’ve been consulting with the state on how to improve their application, and hope to be more successful in the next round of grants to be awarded later this year.

The completed site plan, with both phase one and Phase two of City Harbor.

A copy of the press release is included below:


City Harbor: Ithaca’s Urban Waterfront 

The lively, urban waterfront of Ithaca’s future is City Harbor, a multi-family waterfront community that promotes public lake access through a pedestrian promenade, a full-service restaurant, residential rental units, updated boat slips and marina services, enhancements to Ithaca’s City golf clubhouse, and convenient access to medical offices, all situated overlooking Cayuga Lake’s waterways and within walking distance of the Ithaca Farmer’s market.

City Harbor springs from a bold, visionary alliance among established, locally focused developers: Jodi and Jessica Edger of Edger Enterprises, who bring decades of large-scale construction expertise, Nick and Costa Lambrou of Lambrou Real Estate, initiators of much of the recent development in Collegetown and Downtown Ithaca, Elizabeth Classen Ambrose of Bridges Cornell Heights, who rewrote the book on caregiving and placemaking for older adults and Lincoln Morse of Morse Project Management, originator of the waterfront vision and orchestrator of complex developments. The partners announce their plans to create City Harbor, a waterfront community at 101 Pier Road in Ithaca, the site of the former Johnson Boatyard.  The project will be led by T.G. Miller Engineers and Surveyors, HOLT Architects and Whitham Planning and Design.

City Harbor’s partners are guided by the spirit of the newly created Newman Zoning District in the City of Ithaca.  This zoning is aimed at opening up Cayuga Lake’s inlet as an underutilized tourism asset and expanding lake access through the emphasis of waterfront activities and the promotion of public access to the waterfront.  City Harbor’s commitment to public access is demonstrated, most notably, in an ambitious pedestrian promenade accented with pocket park seating areas, which connects directly to the Waterfront Trail and the Ithaca Farmers Market.

City Harbor’s multi-use development plan supports the objectives of City, County and other local groups to improve waterfront access and infrastructure for public enjoyment, to support tourism in the area, to create jobs and to provide access to medical care within the City limits.  “It’s clear this project will be a journey, an arm-in-arm coordination with the community, the City and the County, to reach the potential for this one-of-a-kind location,” says Elizabeth Classen Ambrose. “We have one shot at doing this right and doing it well, so many people can benefit from this extraordinary natural setting, not just a few.”

The wide-ranging plans for City Harbor include the creation of 156 one and two-bedroom residential units with associated wellness center and amenity providers, a full-service restaurant with indoor and outdoor waterfront dining, a central and defining pedestrian promenade, improved boating and golfing amenities, and a medical office building that will bring convenient health care into the City of Ithaca for the benefit of all city residents.

“City Harbor is transformational. It connects Downtown Ithaca with Cayuga Lake, creates an urban waterfront, with the density and anchoring power of a year-round residential community, plus the seasonal boost of tourism, to support Ithaca’s growth,” says Nick Lambrou, adding, “we anticipate, overall, 75-100 newly created, full-time jobs as a result of this waterfront community.”

The planned revitalization of this underdeveloped location will address long-standing infrastructure needs such as storm water facilities, fire accessways, parking and seawall construction supporting the interface with the waterfront.  As a part of this objective, City Harbor hopes to coordinate with the City of Ithaca on an improved golf and boating center at the current Newman Municipal Golf Course clubhouse.  The new golf and boating center is expected to house a sandwich shop with indoor and outdoor seating, a recreational lounge, a golf pro-shop, a boating center with amenities to support power boaters and sailors such as private and public boat slips, a public boat fueling dock, locker rooms and laundry facilities, as well as a convenience store to provide essentials to guests and residents alike. “We also plan to establish a boat charter company to provide tours to the public using the infrastructure provided by City Harbor” states Lincoln Morse. “Overall, this project offers an extraordinary opportunity to transform all of these raw materials into an economic engine for Ithaca, while opening up and sharing Cayuga Lake’s natural beauty more broadly with the community.”

In addition, nearby at 770 Cascadilla Avenue, City Harbor’s partners are thrilled to collaborate with GreenStar Cooperative Natural Foods Market to build its new flagship location, which is anticipated to add another 40 full time jobs.  With GreenStar as another anchor within walking and biking distance, City Harbor and GreenStar are creating momentum in the downtown waterfront district.

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