September 15, 2000

Hilton to Generate 100 Jobs, Boost Downtown Business

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If you are one of the many Cornellians whose parents does not have a hotel reservation for next year’s graduation or family weekend, you may be in luck.

Plans are currently underway to begin the construction of a Hilton Garden Inn this March at the corner of Seneca and Tioga streets in downtown Ithaca, according to Nick Lambrou, a co-managing director of the new hotel.

If all follows according to schedule, the new hotel will open in time for May 2002 graduation.

The building will be 12 stories and contain approximately 110 rooms, with an average daily rate ranging from $90 to $110. Special accommodations will include an exercise room, a pool, a bar and a breakfast-only restaurant.

The hotel is designed to be “middle of the road to upper scale,” Lambrou said.

Approximately 100 jobs will be generated in the physical construction of the Hilton, while another 40 jobs will be created once the hotel opens, Lambrou said.

“This will be a pretty powerful attraction for downtown Ithaca and generate more businesses,” said Douglas MacDonald, director of economic development for the city of Ithaca.

The chief developers of this project are Lambrou, his father, Gus Lambrou, construction industry’s James Cherocci and William Avramis, who owns numerous properties in Collegetown. The group will contribute $1.2 million and have also secured $6.5 million through a mortgage.

In addition, the developers have been awarded $275,000 through a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fund, a federal program that provides investment money in order to revitalize downtown areas, according to Lambrou.

The group appealed to the city for money, which in turn applied for the federal government HUD grant.

An additional $325,000 is expected through more HUD funds and other programs over the next year, Lambrou added. The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $8.5 and $9 million.

“The response of the Ithaca community was very positive from the very beginning,” MacDonald said. “Hilton will not support a project unless the market for more hotel space is there.”

Situated near 79 West, one mile from Cornell University and two miles from Ithaca College, the developers are hoping to attract a wide range of clientele, and compete with the Holiday Inn, Statler and Marriott Hotel by Tompkins County Airport.

“The new hotel will strengthen the market and force other hotels to spruce up,” Lambrou said.

He stated that on average 70 percent of Ithaca’s hotel rooms are filled during the course of the year. The developers had previously hired an independent hotel consultant to determine the health of the Ithaca hotel industry which was found to be solid and able to support another edifice.

Although traffic is not expected to be a problem, parking spaces will be available across the street from the site in the Seneca St. parking lot which has the availability of 450 spaces.

“Hotels are not very big traffic generators,” said H. Matthys Van Cort, director of planning and development.

The other steps necessary prior to construction include obtaining Site Plan approval from the Common Council, finishing drawing plans and finalizing funding issues.

“We believe by March 1 all parallel lines will converge allowing us to get underway with our plans,” Lambrou said.

Archived article by Rachel Pessah