April 4, 2007

This Week in History

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The Sun reported on April 4, 1974 that the Ithaca Common Council approved plans for a $1.35 million pedestrian shopping mall. The proposed mall was intended to extend from Aurora St. to Cayuga St. on State St. A section from Seneca St. to State St. on Tioga St. was restricted to pedestrian traffic and was set to include trees and benches.

The Council instructed the Board of Public Works to offer the project out to contractors’ bids.
The Council passed a resolution to create a special property tax on merchants in the central business district, which included owners on the future mall — or those closest to it — paying the highest rate tax. The tax rate would decrease the further a business was located from the mall.

According to the article, Anne Jones, chairman of the planning and development committee, announced that 69 percent of downtown business owners said they supported the mall “unconditionally.”

The terms of the project specified its completion by the end of 1974.

Ithaca Mayor Edward Conley stated the Council’s approval of the mall as “the most significant step this community has even taken and maybe ever will take.”

The mall is better known today as the Ithaca Commons.

—Compiled by Molly O’Toole