A developer is proposing a housing project in Collegetown that could drastically change the look of East State Street and add about 600 rental beds to the student-populated district. The project would replace nearly all the buildings in the area of Valentine Place, East State Street, Quarry Street and Six Mile Creek, with 1,250 new rental beds and 820 parking spaces, an increase from the current 650 rental beds. The only buildings remaining on the site would be Quarry Arms, Casa Roma and Boiler Works apartments.
“We have an opportunity to revisit the building in general,” said Common Council member Svante Myrick ’09 (D-4th ward). “There are some who believe [that] in order for Collegetown to be healthy, buildings in the middle need to be taller.”
The plan is the brainchild of John Novarr, who has bought up the majority of area’s buildings in question since the early 1980s. Novarr bought his bit of land on East Hill in 1982 from Ithaca College and recently purchased 14 other buildings on East Hill in the last few years. Novarr presented his plan on Tuesday to the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board. The seven-member board is in charge of site plan review of major building proposals in the city of Ithaca.
“I really feel that if we’re going to address the number one issue in Collegetown, which is price and quality of housing, we really need to increase the balance of power,” Myrick said. Myrick also noted that the current prices for potential student off-campus housing is exorbitantly high, particularly for poor quality housing. The Novarr plan is made to be student-friendly, and conducive to easy, off-campus living.
Some early complaints have been raised about the possibility of increasing the density of East Hill buildings, as well as raising the height of the current buildings. However, according to Myrick, students are “almost unanimously in favor of taller buildings.”