February 14, 2001

City Presents Plans For Downtown Area

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The City of Ithaca and the Ithaca Downtown Partnership unveiled a proposal yesterday for a $41 million mixed-use development project for the downtown area.

As its name suggests, the “Cayuga Green at Six Mile Creek” project is proposed for a block between Cayuga and Green Streets and will border Six Mile Creek. The entire initiative will include four new structures to share residential, commercial and parking space.

At least 76,000 square feet will be available commercially, with 14,000 square feet serving ground floor retail.

The proposal’s housing component will consist of 135 market-rate apartments, some costing up to $1,000 a month.

“There’s a population of aging babyboomers in the [peripheral Ithaca] area, empty nesters looking to downsize and move closer to the core,” said Mayor Alan Cohen ’81. According to Cohen, another target group is young professional couples who have delayed parenthood.

“The growth of these groups is a nation-wide trend, not just a regional phenomenon.” Cohen added.

Many of the apartments are to be built along the waterfront of the creek, above shops and offices.

“Mixed-use development has always been a goal of ours,” said Joe Daley, a member of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership. “It’s more economically solid because of the idea that the residents above can also be the customers below.”

Mohan Development, the City’s partner in the project, plans to act as facilitator rather than developer. The fee-based service will seek out developers and negotiate business partnerships for the City.

“We aren’t at the center of the table, we’re at the end of the table,” a Mohan representative said at a Partnership meeting last night.

The developed land would remain publicly owned while developers would absorb all costs of commercial and residential construction. Ithaca would use public funds to build a massive parking garage, with a total of 1,925 new spaces. The garage, designed to look like an office building, will blend with the surrounding structures.

“The size of this project is going to require all the parking generated,” Cohen said, clarifying that the plan is not meant to accommodate parking for Cornell employees.

Ideas for the proposal have been in the works for about nine months, though some members of the Downtown Partnership believe a public announcement is premature in light of the fact that plans are still nebulous. The proposal is yet to be approved by the Common Council.

“I hope it goes through,” Daley said. “Building a walkway with shops looking out onto the waterfront is too good of an idea to pass up.”

Archived article by Sana Krasikov