September 28, 2010

New Apartment Building to Rise on Eddy

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At its meeting last night, the Ithaca Planning and Development Board approved the construction of a new apartment building that will be located on the east side of Eddy Street. The five-story structure will be the sixth building in the Collegetown Park Apartment complex, replacing a two-story residential house located at 309 Eddy Street.

The building will have 24 units with a total of 41 bedrooms and will include a fitness center, a storage room for bicycles and trash, and an elevator, according to the board’s resolution.

In addition to increasing population density, the aesthetic improvement to the east side of Eddy Street was a strong factor in the board’s decision to approve the project.

“The building fits beautifully onto the streetscape,” said John Schroeder ’74, chair of the board and The Sun’s production manager.

He noted how the five-story building will add cohesion to the street by fitting in better alongside the other buildings than the current one does. He said the new building will have a strong “individual expression” while providing much-needed housing.

As part of the project, the developers will also create an entirely pedestrian passageway connecting Eddy Street with Dryden Road. Currently, the path connecting the two streets is interrupted by a parking lot.

As one apartment complex gained final approval to break ground, a separate Collegetown development has hit a new roadblock.

As part of its meeting last night, the board also discussed the Collegetown Terrace Apartments, a development that would replace and redevelop existing buildings into an apartment complex in the area surrounded by South Quarry Street, East State Street, Valentine Place and Six Mile Creek.

Two linked buildings on the proposed development site –– jointly known as the Jane A. Delano Home –– were given historic designation by the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission. If this designation is approved by the Common Council, it would make the project financially infeasible, the developer has indicated to the board.

The board will compile a report on issues related to designating the home as a historic site, which it will pass on to the Common Council before the council makes the final vote on the home’s historic status.

The Delano Home currently includes two buildings located at 113-115 Valentine Place connected by an enclosed bridge. The first building was built in 1889 and the second was built in 1929.

“The commission relies both on assessment of architectural significance and historical significance,” said Leslie Chatterton, a historic preservation and neighborhood planner for the City of Ithaca, regarding the commission’s vote.

According to the Delano Designation Report filed by the commission, the building merits historical designation because of its connection to the Ithaca City Hospital, itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places and included as part of the local East Hill Historic District. The home was used to house nurses from the hospital and the School of Nursing that was affiliated with the hospital.

The home was named after Jane A. Delano, a native of Montour Falls, N.Y., who served as a nurse during World War I and is widely considered a founder of the American Red Cross.

While the whole property has been around since 1929, “the commission first became aware of the property during the environmental review process” for the Collegetown Terrace Apartments, Chatterton said. The Delano Home is “tucked away” and Chatterton did not believe it was well-known to many Ithaca residents.

The possibility for a historic designation in part of the development property is only the most recent potential hitch in construction of the development.

In addition to the required approval of the board regarding the development’s Environmental Impact Statement, the development also had to comply with the city’s zoning policies. As the city considered rezonings throughout the community, there was a short-lived proposal to rezone part of the Collegetown Terrace site. Though the council eventually elected not to rezone that area.

The board did not vote on a draft of the report Tuesday night; however, they did discuss some potential items that likely will be included in the report.

Schroeder said that while he believed the home was worthy of historic designation in isolation, when assessed within the context of the planned development and the necessity for greater housing density, he was willing to see the house removed to accommodate the development.

To mitigate the “adverse impact” of losing a worthy historic site, he said he believed that the developer should renovate the historic Williams House, which is also a property in the development.

The Williams House was initially home to George C. Williams, the former business manager of the Ithaca Conservatory of Music as well as the first president of Ithaca College. The house is located on State Street.

There is no definite timetable as to when a final designation will be considered by the Ithaca Common Council. The development board has to send a report to the council within 60 days of the commission’s vote, and the council then has 90 days to approve, reject, or return the proposal for modification.

Original Author: Seth Shapiro