ITHACA, N.Y. –– Cayuga Medical Center has finally broken ground on its upcoming ‘Cayuga Park’ mixed-use project –– celebrating with a ceremony Tuesday morning which featured speeches and “thank yous” to the community for their support. 

The Cayuga Park project, formerly known as ‘Carpenter Park,’ has been in the works for more than four years –– the land, between Rt. 13 and 3rd Street, was first purchased by Cayuga Medical Center in 2017, with the project proposed a year later. From its inception, the site has included plans for a CMC facility, mixed-use retail and market-rate residential space, affordable housing units and land for the Ithaca Community Garden 

Dr. Martin Stallone, Chief Executive Officer of Cayuga Medical Center and Cayuga Health, kicked off the groundbreaking ceremony with introductions and a layout of the complex. 

According to Stallone, the Cayuga Medical Center portion of the complex will be a five story, 60,000 square foot facility that will house services like primary care with a focus on Medicaid patients, walk-in non-emergency care, women’s health, lab services, and select specialty services that are undetermined at this time. 

“Cayuga Health System has viewed this as a gateway into the city from the north,” Stallone said. “This project, this asset, will be a community asset and an active part of our entire community for generations to come.”

Tom LiVigne, a member of the Cayuga Health Board of Directors, commented Tuesday on the benefit to the Community Gardens as well, saying the development has ultimately led to the gardens having security for years to come. 

“Because of our project and the way we worked everything out with the city and the gardens, they now have pretty much a permanent location,” LiVigne said, “as well as many new improvements that are incorporated into our project such as fencing and water accessibility for the gardeners.”

Instead of their usual one-year lease, the garden now has a 30-year lease, in part, due to the new development project.

The project has also brought in the DiMarco Group, which has worked on previous construction in Ithaca. John DiMarco Junior, President & COO of the DiMarco Group, said that he is very excited to be a part of this new development in Ithaca.

“In 1920 we were building a project up on Stewart Avenue… we are excited to have a fifth-generation working in Ithaca on this project and more,” DiMarco said.

The other major piece of this project has been the building of affordable housing units. Over the years, low-income residents have been pushed to the outskirts of the city, which can make receiving healthcare difficult for individuals without transportation. Stallone said this was an important reason to bring together a CMC facility and affordable housing. 

Through its various partnerships, Cayuga Health hopes this project will provide more healthcare access to the community.

“Our organization has been talking about bringing healthcare, a better healthcare facility, to downtown Ithaca for over 20 years and we’ve been looking at trying to bring the right services and the right facility,” LiVigne added.

Ithaca Voice interns Desiree Holz and Mikayla Rovenolt wrote this report.