The City of Ithaca's Planning and Development Board approved the final plans for a new Marriott Hotel in downtown Ithaca on Tuesday.
The 10-story tall hotel, which will cost $19 million to build, will be located next to the Commons at 120 S. Aurora St.
Housing 160 rooms, a restaurant and meeting space, the hotel building will also contain design elements meant to symbolically evoke Taughannock Falls — creating the illusion of flowing water through strategically placed lights adorning the exterior of a vertical glass column, according to John Schroeder ’74, a member of the planning board.
It has taken three years for the hotel’s site plans to reach their final stage. Though an initial site plan to build a hotel was approved by the planning board in 2009, the applicants’ failure to secure sufficient financing delayed the project, according to Schroeder, who is also The Sun’s production manager.
“That was just after the national financial collapse, so banks were not giving financing,” Schroeder said.
Originally, developers intended to create a “Hotel Ithaca,” but most recently, they approached Marriott International, Inc., to help to create the hotel. As a member of the Marriott chain, the hotel has made a few changes to its plans, including increasing the number of guest rooms, repositioning the hotel’s restaurant and creating a revised design for the building’s exterior, according to Schroeder.
The hotel’s latest blueprints illustrate several entrances, including one that will let out onto the Commons and others that will connect to the Green Street parking garage. The multiple entrances, in addition to a widened sidewalk and refurbished TCAT bus stop, will reduce any trasnportation impacts that the new hotel might create, according to Schroeder.
The Marriott, in conjunction with a major new conference center proposed for the Holliday Inn expansion, will help businesses and others in the area hold more events in downtown Ithaca, Schroeder said.
“You are vastly increasing the opportunities for major conferences to locate in Ithaca,” Schroeder said. “That is something that the downtown business community has been seeking for years.”
Additionally, small business owners with storefronts in the Commons will have access to a new customer base. According to Schroeder, this “higher-end” hotel will attract customers who have the means to shop at local establishments.
The plans for the hotel are just one of several proposals for local developments that city officials hope will improve Ithaca. The Holiday Inn on South Cayuga Street will be building a second tower and the City of Ithaca has proposed plans to rebuild the Commons, according to Schroeder.
Plans for the Commons’ renovation are up for approval later this fall.
Similar to the plans for the Marriott Hotel, the designs for the Commons will draw from Ithaca’s natural landscape.
According to Schroeder, the cracked surfaces of the gorge’s rocks will be reflected in the pavement’s patterns and a fountain will stand in Bank Alley, which is on the Commons, to also reflect the gorges. In just a few years time, the natural beauty of Ithaca will extend beyond the gorges and into the architecture of its urban environment, he said.