ITHACA, N.Y.—The annual Pride of Ownership Awards program works to recognize owners of properties within the City of Ithaca who have taken care to renovate and aesthetically strengthen neighborhoods and downtown businesses.

The Ithaca Rotary Club and the City of Ithaca partner to run this program. It was founded the program in 1998 to recognize the beautification that community members make to their neighborhoods. This year’s awards were presented on Dec. 1, 2021, via a public YouTube stream during Wednesday’s Common Council meeting.

The awards began with Mayor Svante Myrick honoring four members who are leaving the council at the end of the year: Donna Fleming, Graham Kerslick, Seph Murtagh and Deb Mohlenhoff.

Fleming and Kerslick were both awarded and thanked for their dedication to attending grand openings, ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremonies on behalf of the Mayor.

Myrick noted that this is Murtagh’s second Common Council award and thanked him for his work as alternate acting mayor, his work with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance and his “very effective work in chairing of the planning committee since 2013.”

Mohlenhoff was thanked for her 12 years of service, including time as acting mayor, her work with the budget process and transparency to taxpayers of tax allocation breakdowns as well as congratulating her on being the longest-serving individual on the Common Council.

The six 2021 Pride of Ownership awardees are as follows:

701 Cliff Street

Owners: Zach Boggs and Isabella Fernandez

This tree-house–inspired build features two 50-foot I-beams to create the illusion of a floating structure cantilevered over the cliff and designed to take advantage of the west Ithaca waterfront views. 701 Cliff Street utilizes solar panels, a wood-burning stove and blends smoothly into the surrounding landscape to provide an aesthetically pleasing addition.

511 Cliff Street

Garage and apartment

Owners: Joshua Adams and Jon Barnes

Avens and Barns received their first Pride of Ownership Awards in 2003, making this their second for this property.

The property’s drawbacks initially included a steep driveway and close next-door property that had deteriorated and was in need of attention. In 2015, they purchased the next-door property, 509 Cliff Street, and incorporated it into their original property. After demolishing the dangerous house and creating a new design that included a newly leveled driveway and new garage with a 1-bedroom apartment above it, they matched the original 1923 colors and artistry for the next phase of the project. In May 2020, they demolished their original property’s front porch and rebuilt it with mahogany decking, cypress railings and accurately recreated original artistry.

Mural in honor of Ms. Harmony Malone

Artist: Britt Johnson

Located under the bridge along the Cayuga Waterfront Trail along Route 89, this mural by Britt Johnson honors the talented singer, dancer, teacher and choreographer who inspires students at Ms. Harmony’s Dance Studio and the Sunset Community Center. The mural was created after a lively photoshoot with Malone so that Johnson could accurately represent the “power of movement” and impact Malone has had on her community.

225 Ridgedale Road

Porch and garage

Owners: Laura and Christopher Batten

When the Battens purchased this house, it had no garage or front porch. Because of the topographic location, a garage would have to be built on a lower level than the house.. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, the Battens worked with contractor Bob Steurer Builder of Brooktondale, STREAM Collaborative of Ithaca, Cayuga Landscaping of Ithaca, SDM Landscaping of Freeville and Ernz Co. Painting of Cortland to finish the front porch and garage builds with composite steps, tongue-in-groove ceilings and cedar shakes to achieve the look they wanted.

College Townhouse

119-121 College Ave

Owner: John Novarr and Phil Proujansky

Built to look like townhouses, this 49,278 square-foot project consists of 72 1- and 2-bedroom apartments. After working out a lot-compliance agreement, the private ownership committee advanced the plan to utilize modern material layers and a pedestrian-friendly layout and offers an outdoor space for gatherings. The entry railings enable sunlight to come through semi-transparent patterns and architects chose a ceramic panel system commonly referred to as a “rain-screen.” 

Ithaca Arthaus

130 Cherry Street

Owner: Bruce Adib-Yazadi

This 100,000 square-foot project contains 124 affordable, supportive housing studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units as well as offices for the Cherry Artspace staff who will display and maintain artwork throughout the building. This project was in partnership with Tompkins County Action with 40 units set aside as permanent housing units with staff to provide supportive housing services for transitional-age, formerly homeless youth.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is the digital editor/reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Joining in November 2021, she has covered a wide range of topics related to local news. She can be reached at,...