The Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved plans to rebuild the Chapter House on Tuesday, clearing a major regulatory hurdle for the replacement of the Collegetown building destroyed in a fire last April.
The new plans call for a three story building with many of the same architectural features as the original structure, including a red brick facade with bluestone and wood accents on the ground floor that recall the iconic Chapter House.
The Landmark Preservation Commission’s granting of a Certificate of Appropriateness for the design means that initial foundation work for the new building will likely begin late February, with an aim of opening the Chapter House in the fall, according to Jerry Dietz of CSP Property Management, the building’s property manager.
“We are first and foremost going to get the Chapter House open and then we will continue on and focus on the apartments,” Dietz said.
Interior plans for the apartments and the Chapter House bar are still being finalized, but Dietz said that preliminary indications are that the building will cost over $2 million to reconstruct.
The final exterior plans resulted from a “very healthy back-and-forth between the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the owner and architect,” according to Dietz.
The owner of the Chapter House originally wanted to rebuild the structure while remaining loyal to the original building, according to Dietz. Informal plans presented to the Landmarks Commission in November showed a white-brick building with a mansard roof, without the wood and stone facade of the Chapter House as it appeared last April.
“It was really through conversations with the Landmarks Preservation Commision that we arrived at this building which is really a pretty handsome hybrid of what was originally built there and what was there the day it burned,” Dietz said.
Approval from the ILPC for both the demolition and reconstruction of the Chapter House was necessary due to the site’s location within the East Hill Historic District, according to Edward Finegan, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
“The Landmarks Commission is concerned with how the massing, the scale, the general character of the building is fitting into the historic neighborhood,” Finegan said. “It wasn’t really our objective to force a result that looked like the old Chapter House, something totally different could have gone in there if that is what the owner of the property wanted.”
Dietz called the round of applause from those in attendance after the Landmarks Commission approved the building “very gratifying.”
“There’s a lot of wonderful support in the community for rebuilding the Chapter House” Dietz said. “And there’s a great deal of gratitude being felt by the owner for the outpouring of interest and support.”
Correction: A previous version of this article was accompanied by an outdated image of Chapter House plans. The correct image was approved Tuesday by the Ithaca Landmark Preservation Commission.