The Ithaca Planning and Development Board discussed constructing the proposed Collegetown residence for visiting faculty members and researchers at its Oct. 25 meeting.

Courtesy of Ithaca Planning and Development Board

The Ithaca Planning and Development Board discussed constructing the proposed Collegetown residence for visiting faculty members and researchers at its Oct. 25 meeting.

November 6, 2016

Proposed Collegetown Apartment Targets Visiting Faculty

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By 2018, there may be a new townhouse project in Collegetown: a 67-unit complex located at 119-125 College Avenue. But unlike many other Collegetown residences, the expected tenants will not be Cornell students.

As of the Oct. 25 Ithaca Planning and Development Board meeting, the city is still discussing this project, according to The Ithaca Voice. To make way for the complex, Novar-Mackesey Property Management — the agency proposing the new building — would need to remove three boarding houses dating back to the 19th century.

With units ranging from studios to two-bedroom apartments, the apartment’s intended tenants are short-term visiting faculty members and researchers rather than students, The Voice reported.

The complex is targeted at a very specific subset of Cornellians, and its facilities are expected to cater to those needs. For example, there will not be any on-site parking, because tenants are expected to walk or take the bus to campus, according to the site plan.

Eileen Hayes ’20 said the new apartment complex would be “very convenient” for visiting faculty, providing them with a “more stable and dependable place to live.”

“I would say it could potentially take away from locations for students to live, but I myself have not had a hard time finding a place to live in Collegetown, given that I will be signing a lease this month for my sophomore year,” Hayes said. “For other students, however, it could a much more difficult thing to do. In that case, the apartment complex should still be open to students.”

Irene Byun ’19 agreed, saying the complex would be “good for professors” since some apartments in Collegetown are “very loud and [professors] probably would not appreciate that.”

“I don’t really feel like this really affects me,” Byun said. “[Students] can always live somewhere else; there are different options.”

This August saw the completion of three large apartment buildings and an addition of nearly 200 bedrooms for housing in Collegetown, but off-campus housing remains a concern for students.

“[The proposed building] seems pretty inefficient unless the visiting faculty is staying for months,” Andrew Kozma ’17 said. “Why wouldn’t they build the complex for undergraduates?”

Jonvi Rollins ’20 shared the same concern, saying the University’s priority should be making sure property management companies understand the “pressing need for better student housing.”

“My floor still has a couple of transfer students living in the lounge,” he said. “Guaranteed housing shouldn’t mean that you have to share a lounge with four other people for more than half of a semester. The needs of visiting faculty should not be placed over the needs of students, especially not at an over-enrolled school.”

Novarr-Mackesey Property Manage­ment did not respond to requests for comment.

  • D. Westoby

    I sense a fair bit of the naive thinking about this. Here is the basic scenario you need to keep in mind.

    1\ Cornell is a ‘research school’. Period. Undergrads are an afterthought, and are largely considered a source of revenue. Period. Whatever niceties are thrown your/our way are based on the premise that enough of us/you will be sufficiently content with our/your Cornell experience that when we/you graduate, we’ll/you’ll become rich and generous alumni.

    2\ During massive growth phase in ‘research capacity’ over past 4-5 years (nanotech, Gates hall, etc, etc), the University has been hiring new faculty left and right (and lets not forget the increase in the number of junior Deans and such). Problem is, they (said new faculty, and high-end research staff) have nowhere to live. So, demand for what available housing there was went through the roof (and property values along with it). Ask any realtor in town and they’ll tell you the same thing. Now, when you show any house (even the complete crap the dominates much of what is available) has 10-15 offers, most of which come from ‘Cornell types’. This didn’t use to be the case.

    3\ visiting hotshot faculty are now increasingly part of what the university uses to thrive, without long-term tenure commitments. And, its a good institutional ego boost for the University if some hotshot faculty member is ‘visiting Cornell’. Rep is everything to places like Cornell (they have full-time people who’s entire job is spent scouring the media for anything that makes Cornell look good. Witness the gyrations they go through to find *any* connection, no matter how tenuous, between any recent Nobel laureate and Cornell).

    4\ said faculty won’t visit if there are no places for them to live, and so….

    Seriously, this isn’t uncommon. There are any number of schools that have built ‘faculty’ housing at the expense of ‘student’ housing. Cornell is simply part of that trend.

    Welcome to reality. Cornell has absolutely no part of their budget model wherein ‘numbers’ (faculty, staff, students) are connected to available housing. Cornell only looks at bottom-line revenue streams, and could care not a whit about how they get there.