August 28, 2003

Residences to Replace Rundown C-Town Corner

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Collegetown residents are anticipating the arrival of a new addition to the neighborhood next summer. The building that once stood at the corner of Dryden Road and College Avenue, 402 and 404 College Avenue, is now a bare lot after the structure’s recent demolition. Replacing the more than 100-year-old building will be a six-story establishment consisting of residential apartments and commercial spaces.

In March of last year, George Avramis, an Ithaca resident, bought the property at a public auction after the court ruled that the previous owner, Constance Papp, was unfit to hold the deteriorating house. Due to the building’s sale, Razzle Dazzle beauty shop, the last remaining tenant, was forced to close. Since all other residential areas in the building had long been condemned and vacated, Papp was the only person still living there. For a year, the building stood boarded and completely unused; the corner became a popular poster-hanging site.

Avramis says that “foot traffic” was his motivation for buying a property in need of such massive repairs. “It was the highest pedestrian traffic corner available,” he said.

When Avramis bought the residence, he was still uncertain if he would demolish the structure. But the conditions proved favorable for such a move when the City of Ithaca said that he did not have to comply with the current parking regulations. Instead of mandatory parking available for every two tenants within 500 feet of the new apartments, the tenants of 402 College Ave. will be given spots for their cars at 211 Linden Ave. on a parking ramp owned by Maria Avramis.

The architect, Jagat Sharma ’72, has worked and designed most of the buildings in Collegetown such as Collegetown Plaza, Fontana’s and buildings on Eddy St. The new project at 402 College Ave. is intended for 35 occupants in 20 single and double apartments and includes facilities for bicycle storage and laundry.

“They will be small size apartments with big rooms,” Sharma said.

According to Avramis, the apartments will attract residents that would normally be interested in buildings such as 312 College Ave., an up-scale apartment building that includes a gym, laundry room and public study areas.

Another landlord in Collegetown, Richard Leonardo, did not see the rise of these new residences as a threat to business for less modern apartments. Leonardo, who has managed three older buildings for the past ten years, said that “there will always be a market for these types of houses.”

Another reason that Leonardo does not think his rentals will be hurt is because in most cases his prices are lower than the new buildings.

Avramis said that rents for the upcoming apartments were still to be decided.

But the main concern appears to be which new businesses will enter the neighborhood. While some Cornellians claimed that the area could use another bar, others hoped for different sources of entertainment such as a roller rink, a gym, an off-track betting facility or a movie theater. Some even suggested that the whole building should be used for commercial spaces with a bar on the top floor. Ithaca residents will have to wait though — at least until next Fall — to see what changes are coming to this prime Collegetown location.

Archived article by Dana Rosenberg