October 17, 2000

Commons Building Plan Moves Forward

Print More

Cornell University has begun the search for a developer for its new downtown office building, a partnership between the City of Ithaca and the University strengthening town-gown ties.

“We’re hoping to have a developer selected by the end of the year,” said John Majeroni, University director of real estate. “All of 2001 will be involved for the project.”

The preferred location for the building is the current site of Tompkins County Trust Company on the Commons. If the location is approved by the Common Council, the bank’s 55 employees will temporarily relocate for up to two years before opening up offices in the new building.

“The bank owns quite a bit of property,” said Fran Benedict, a consultant with Tompkins County Trust Company. “Our customers will have very little inconvenience.”

Tompkins County Trust Company fully occupies both floors of the present building, which will be demolished before the multi-story building goes up. Majeroni anticipates construction will begin in 2002 and will be completed within 18 to 24 months.

Benedict indicated that the developer “might have to keep the facade” of the original building, which could come under question by the Ithaca Historical Society.

Majeroni denied that the facade is being pegged as a historical landmark, but noted that new building will not change the face of the Commons.

“The facade of the building preserves the character of the Commons,” he said. “Anything we do will also preserve the character of the community.”

The University’s 300 staff members will occupy 70,000 square feet of the 130,000 square foot building, making it the primary tenant in the $17 million building for the duration of the 20-year agreement.

Fifty thousand square feet will be leased to local businesses, and the remainder to storefront property. The bank will return to the first and second floors.

“The bank looks at it as a major inconvenience for a few years,” Benedict said. “But nothing we can’t handle. We’re looking at the long run, not the short term.”

Archived article by Beth Herskovits