A rendering of the proposed building features a red brick exterior with black trim and bluestone, which mimics some of the defining aesthetics of the old Chapter House.

Courtesy of City of Ithaca

A rendering of the proposed building features a red brick exterior with black trim and bluestone, which mimics some of the defining aesthetics of the old Chapter House.

January 25, 2016

Chapter House Rebuilding Is Only One Approval Vote Away

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Rebuilding the Chapter House is expected to begin early February if the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission approves final designs today.

The latest iteration of the Chapter House design, which will be presented this evening, features a red brick exterior with black trim and bluestone on the street-facing side of the building to mimic some of the defining aesthetics of the old Chapter House. The building will also be re-leveled to help wheelchair accessibility.

At the meeting, the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to give the Chapter House architects and management full clearance from the City of Ithaca to break ground on the rebuilding efforts of the historic structure.

“In [November], they began applying for a certificate of appropriateness for the reconstruction of the Chapter House building,” said Bryan McCracken, the city’s historic preservation planner.

According to McCracken, the architects behind the rebuilding had received clearance to demolish the old building last summer to make room for their new renovations. Last November, he said, they had met with the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission to receive feedback on their early designs for the new Chapter House.

“They are applying [now] for the final approval of their proposed design for the building,” McCracken said. “If their project is approved, then [the architects and management] have all of the clearances from the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission. They still have to get final approval from the building division, but that’s from the technical aspect of it — if it’s designed to current building code.”

Since the Chapter House is located within a historic district in the City of Ithaca, both the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Planning and Development Board are working with the Chapter House team to review designs and grant clearance.

If their proposal is accepted, the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission will grant the Chapter House rebuilding team a certificate of appropriateness which allows them to move forward past the planning and design stage of the project. McCracken added that the architects and builders may decide when they want to begin construction, but that it must take place within a two year period from the time the certificate is given.

“Once a project is approved by the Landmarks Commission, they have two years to start and complete the project. I don’t see it taking anywhere near that long for this project to [complete],” McCracken said. “They have two years to complete the work that was proposed and approved.”

Architects from the Jason K. Demarest firm are responsible for the design of the the Chapter House, while the property is maintained by CSP Management.

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