January 30, 2009

Urban Outfitters to Open in Ithaca

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Downtown Ithaca may get a wardrobe change after building plans for an Urban Outfitters on Green Street gained preliminary approval from the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board on Tuesday. Set to open by mid-summer, the store will add variety to students’ local shopping options.
Urban Outfitters will occupy the majority of the ground floor beneath Cayuga Green, a new mixed-use apartment building on Green Street. The overall Cayuga Green project includes a small cinema being built across the street.
David Levy, the architect who represented Urban Outfitters Inc. to the planning board, revealed plans to break ground by late March or early April. Next month the board will vote on the final approval of the renovations necessary for the project.
For Cornell’s student population, the prospect of an Urban Outfitters is causing a stir.
“I think it’s great,” Lauren Bigalow ’12 said. “It will increase the clothing repertoire of Ithaca.”
Allie Strauss ’11 agreed. “I think nothing better has ever happened in Ithaca,” she said.
The company’s decision to bring Urban to Ithaca was based on the large student population, according to Levy. Cornell and Ithaca College have a combined student population of over 24,000, almost equal to the population of 29,000-plus permanent residents in the city of Ithaca.
The presence of a large-scale retailer in downtown Ithaca may attract more students to the area.
“The reason I liked Yale so much is because there was an Urban Outfitters right in town,” Brooke Flohr ’12 said. “Now I have no regrets left about coming to Cornell.”
The addition of Urban Outfitters in downtown Ithaca is expected to change the area’s demographic.
“It will bring more college students out to the Commons,” Andrew Chang ’12 said. “We make it down there sometimes, but not that often. I think Urban will really bring a new crowd to the area.”
On the other side, Duncan Anderson ’11, a native of nearby Trumansburg, thinks the retail store will be detrimental to the feeling of downtown Ithaca.
“It’s an awful idea,” he said. “It will ruin the atmosphere of the Commons. Right now downtown is a rustic, local place with a lot of character. Urban Outfitters is a big corporate chain, and it will completely change that.”
Regardless of any change in Ithaca’s ambiance, the opening of a retail store in the midst of an economic recession is not a frequent occurrence. But according to Levy, the company is not concerned. Urban Outfitters, Inc. increased its sales by 10 percent in the third quarter of 2008, according to Reuters.
The addition of an Ithaca store seems a logical choice for the company, which already has stores located in several college towns, including New Haven, Conn., Cambridge, Mass., Providence, R.I. and Ann Arbor, Mich.