ITHACA, N.Y. — A few months ago, Horseheads-based Arnot Realty Corporation had mentioned in an interview with the Voice that they were interested in expanding further into the city of gorges. Turns out they weren’t kidding.
An LLC registered to Arnot Realty’s address purchased the Bishop’s complex at 430-444 West State Street for $2.075 million on Thursday the 12th. The 29,422 square-foot complex, a series of older interconnected structures, is home to several retail tenants, including Bishop’s Carpet One, Mimi’s Attic, and the Mama Goose gently-used children’s clothing and accessories store. On the upper level, it hosts a number of small office suites and was home to the Ithaca Voice’s first office. County records also indicate it hosts two apartments and additional storage space.
According to property records, the Bishops sold the building to David and Kelly Moreland, the owners of Mama Goose and Mimi’s Attic, for $956,900 in 2008. In its most recent assessment, the property was valued at $1.15 million, well below the most recent purchase price.
Arnot Realty Development Manager Ian Hunter confirmed that it was his company that made the purchase.
“Arnot Realty Corporation is excited to be a part of the vibrant West End neighborhood,” said Hunter. “As an established urban retail and dining destination, we believe that the State Street Corridor is poised for growth and with the successful launch of Boathouse Landing on Cayuga Inlet, we felt that investing in the West End, which connects the Waterfront to Downtown, makes sense.”
This is Arnot’s second major investment in the Ithaca area. The firm bought a controlling stake in the Boathouse Lansing townhouse project at 323 Taughannock Boulevard during the development stages, and the sixteen units opened for their first tenants earlier this year.
Asked about potential plans for the Bishop’s property, Hunter made clear that it will remain as-is and Bishop’s, Mama Goose and Mimi’s Attic will remain open for the time being.
“No immediate changes to the property are planned. While our long term vision is to retain the mixed-use aspects of the property that have allowed it to remain successful throughout its history, we are currently in the process of reviewing the best way to realize that vision,” Hunter said.
As Hunter noted, the State Street Corridor has garnered considerable interest from local and regional developers, thanks to a 2013 rezoning and the attraction of the location. It’s roughly the geographic center of Ithaca and in easy access to Downtown, the West End, Cornell and Ithaca College. In addition to that, land values are less expensive and development is less logistically complicated than it is in Downtown Ithaca, making potential acquisitions easier to afford and building projects easier to execute.
To that point, though, while the area has been the subject of interest, the projects under construction or completed so far have been fairly modest in scale and scope. Elmira Savings Bank renovated the former restaurant at 602 West State Street for a new branch office, and HOLT Architects renovated the retail strip at 619 West State for its new headquarters. A couple of smaller housing developments have been undertaken, including 310 West State Street and 327 West Seneca Street. A plan to renovate the Wyllie Dry Cleaning building next to Bishop’s appears to have stalled.
The 2013 rezoning has been the subject of some debate. In October, Common Council voted to decrease the maximum building height on State Street from six floors/60 feet to five floors/52 feet. The zoning discussions were sparked after a 76-unit affordable housing proposal was submitted by Visum Development for the neighboring 500 block of West State Street, and it drew backlash over its size and aesthetics in relation to the rest of the neighborhood. The Morelands had spoken out in writing and in person opposing the downzoning.