November 19, 2007

$30 Million Project Fosters Urban Renewal Downtown

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Ithaca continues its effort to revitalize the downtown area with the Cayuga Green project, which will contribute to both commercial and residential growth.
Gary Ferguson, the executive director from Ithaca Downtown Partnership, described the “large downtown redevelopment project, the largest in downtown history at a cost of over $30 million. The project, he said, consists of four parts, the first of which is already in operation. The parking facility across from the Holiday Inn, near the Commons, was the initial site for this initiative.
“The first floor has commercial space with currently one tenant, but 23,000 square feet for commercial development,” Ferguson said.
“These parking garages are for multi-uses, not just for parking,” he continued, which will allow for commercial expansion in downtown Ithaca.
The second aspect of the project will focus underneath the current Green Garage. As with the first initiative, the second aspect of the project will provide commercial space on the first floor, namely a five-plex movie theater.
“We will be combining Cinemapolis and Fall Creek Pictures,” Ferguson said.
The new theater, will keep the name Cinemapolis, and will continue to show independent and art films, the kind of films Ferguson dubbed as “Academy Award-winners.”
The new theater will offer no competition for the new Regal Pyramid Mall 10, as the two theaters show very different films.
Lynn Cohen, the co-Executive director, of Cinemapolis and Fall Creek Pictures, is looking forward to the new theater.
“We are mostly very happy about it because we can offer a better viewing experience,” Cohen said. “We have 21 years experience in doing what we’re doing, and we know the Ithaca experience, so this feels comfortable.”
The new theater offers a cozy feeling, just like both theaters currently have, while expanding for a larger audience.
“The largest screen we have now will be the smallest in this new theater,” Cohen said. “It won’t be as a big a commercial theater, but will be bigger than now.”
“People are fond of the theaters, and when the people try the new theater we expect them to be even fonder,” Cohen said.
The new theater is expected to garner a larger audience.
“I’m looking forward to a new and even better theater to go to this spring. I love independent films and the new Cinemapolis will be a great alternative to Regal,” Mariel Eisenberg ’10 said.
This aspect of the development project will additionally offer a walkway from The Commons to Green St. underneath the parking garage, offering a new Commons entrance.
The theater should be ready by spring 2008.
The third part of the project will begin with construction for residential space.
“We are building 68 units of market-rate apartments opening next fall in a five-story building including 12,000 square feet of retail space,” Ferguson said.
The new building will look very different from other buildings in the area, Ferguson explained, and will have a Scandinavian look with glass and wood panels.
The final component of the development project will consist of 45 condominium units, to be built on Clinton St. in the middle of the Cayuga-Green block beginning next spring.
While Cornell did not supply any funding for this project, Ferguson does credit the University for its inspirational role.
“Cornell’s interest in the Seneca Place building laid a lot of the ground work for us moving forward, sort of a stimuli for getting the rest of the block done,” said Ferguson.
“Cayuga-Green was an area part of an urban-renewal project from the late 60s and early 70s when everything on the block was demolished.” Ferguson said.
The rest of the block was created as a redevelopment site, he explained.