DRYDEN, N.Y.- Rocco Lucente has begun the process of pitching and funding his newest development in the Village of Dryden, named “Ezra Village” apartments. 

The development, which proposes 749 units of multifamily housing, will span over 42 acres in Dryden. Construction is anticipated to take 15-20 years and will occur in an anticipated 12 phases, the first scheduled to begin either in March or April of next year, according to Lucente. 

When completed, the development will include 24 buildings and each year, 48-72 new housing units will be constructed to allow for “sustainable growth,” according to a presentation sent by the company. 

Initially, Lucente hoped construction on the first phase would begin next month in September. But due to an issue with the “availability of proper electrical equipment,” Lucente and his team must wait until the equipment is secured.

The housing will be available when construction is anticipated to wrap– around August 2038– according to the environmental assessment form submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The new development has been designed and planned based on the company’s Lansing apartment development called “The Village Solars” at 1067 Warren Road, which has become one of the largest apartment complexes in Tompkins County, according to past reporting from The Ithaca Voice. 

The project is being developed under Lucente’s company Ezra Village, Inc., rather than his family’s well-known company Lifestyle Properties LLC, which was responsible for developing the apartments in Lansing. The company applied for approval from the village’s board of trustees and the planning board back in January of this year. 

Lucente is working alongside contracted architect Larry Fabbroni Jr., whose father is an esteemed engineer in Ithaca who designed and proposed projects with Lucentes’ grandfather for decades.  

Lucente, grandson of notable Ithacan Rocco Lucente Sr., credited for developing a significant part of Tompkins County, alongside Fabbroni Jr., pitched their newest project to Village of Dryden residents Aug. 7 in a town meeting. 

Lucente presented a colorful slideshow depicting thoughtful illustrations and mock-ups of the massive development to an audience of around 40 residents, who murmured concerns mostly about traffic congestion and unsightly parking lots. 

“We’re not just dropping people outside the door on a patch of grass,” Fabbroni said during the presentation. “We’re really trying to create places for people to come together and build community.” 

Lucente and the team hope significant community development in the form of new daycares, office buildings or shops, will come out of the development. 

The development will feature significant green spaces throughout, which will be available for public use for the community. An internal recreational trail will be created and public parking, landscaped and well-kept, will be available. 

The developers assured residents a traffic study has been conducted to identify key information to use in planning to avoid any issue or inconvenience to existing residents. 

Presenters compared the influx of traffic from the development to a new gas station or drive-thru restaurant opening in the community, saying they create just as much, or more traffic than the development will. But unlike other new businesses, the developers are able to anticipate peaks in traffic flow from the development, and make plans to mitigate. 

For example, a four-way stop sign will be installed and at each construction phase, developers will open up entrances steadily to ensure roads are not “overloaded,” according to Lucente during the presentation. 

“We’re hoping people look at this new park space and say it’s a great place to have events,” Fabbroni said. “Maybe once in a while it can be closed off for a farmers market or a winter festival. The lawn can be used for all types of community events.”  

Developers initially planned for buildings in the center of the community to be taller than two to three stories, the highest being five stories. But that was shot down when residents got word and made it clear to developers they did not want buildings higher than three stories in the Village of Dryden. 

Lucente said the initial plan called for a total of 952 units. But when residents expressed distaste for five story buildings, the company listened and changed its plans by reducing the planned five story buildings to three stories, decreasing the total number of units in the complex to 749.

“We understand the character of the village,” Fabbroni said during the presentation. “And we’re not here to try to change that.” 

In order to accomplish what the company is proposing, zoning laws in Dryden must be modified, according to the presentation from Ezra Village, Inc.

Currently, under the Village of Dryden Zoning Law, the land being proposed for the development is zoned under a light industrial/business park zone. This permits building of manufacturing locations, offices or other styles of business space. 

Ezra Village, Inc. is proposing this area be zoned as a multi-family residential space, which, according to the PowerPoint, will contribute to “increased livability for all Village residents” and to the “economic future of the Village and its businesses.” 

Judy Lucas is a General Assignment Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Have a story idea? Comment or question? You can reach me at jlucas@ithacavoice.org or on Twitter @judy__lucas.