January 31, 2002

C.U. Changes Building Plans

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A site has been settled on for Cornell’s office building project in downtown Ithaca. The proposed plans will use some of the building space for a hotel in addition to retail and office space.

The multi-story office building will be built on the northwest corner of East Seneca St. and Tioga St., instead of the proposed location of the Tompkins County Trust Company building on the Commons.

Because the size of the office building project has increased, now including a Hilton hotel, the construction site was moved.

“The primary reason the building site was changed was because it was insufficient in size,” he said. “We were always looking at possible places and we found that [the Tompkins County Trust Company site] wasn’t large enough for the expanding size of the project.”

Shortly after the decision to go through with the project, there was some concern that the facade of the building might look out of place in the town.

Chiazza explained that the physical appearance of the project was not a factor in the decision to change building sites and would not be a problem in its new location.

Several commercial buildings currently occupy the new location and would be demolished to make room for the office building, according to John Majeroni, director of the University’s real estate office.

The construction of the new office building project, plans for which were announced by President Hunter R. Rawlings III in September of 2000, was a collaborative move between Cornell and the City of Ithaca to strengthen University-downtown relations. The plan is also intended to support recent economic and cultural investments, as well as stimulate new interest in the downtown area.

The proposed office building had 130,000 square feet of space, containing approximately 10,000 square feet of retail space, 70,000 square feet of Cornell office space for 300 University employees, and 50,000 square feet of speculative office space that could serve an additional 200 employees.

It has yet to be determined whether the project will involve one or two buildings, according to David Chiazza, vice president of development for Ciminelli Development Company, which is contracted to construct the building. The completed project, however, will still house the same number of people as originally planned.

The building project will now include an independently-run urban version of the Hilton Garden Inn, equipped with a pool, restaurant and 110 rooms, according to Chiazza.

“The developer found it beneficial to integrate the building plans with plans for a hotel,” explained Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations. Chiazza added that a precise projection for the number of hotel employees has not yet been determined.

While the physical construction of the project has not yet begun, there has been continued progress in planning and administrative matters, according to Chiazza. “We’re working at a rapid speed behind the scenes,” he said. “A lot of finance and design work is still going on.”

Archived article by Michael Van Wert