October 25, 2011

City Approves Seneca Way Building

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The Seneca Way apartment project won final approval from the Ithaca Planning and Development Board Tuesday night.

The board voted in favor of the project six votes to one, with only Jane Marcham ’51 voting against it.The five-story building on the corner of Seneca Way and East State Street will contain parking space, commercial space on the ground floor and apartments above, according to John Schroeder ’74, Planning and Development Board chairperson and The Sun’s production manager.The primary issue delaying the project’s approval was its proximity to a residential neighborhood, Schroeder said.“It abuts a residential neighborhood,” he said. “People who live in this neighborhood … were concerned that this five-story building was up against their yards.”The solution was to move two apartments on the top story from the back of the building to the front of the building, according to Schroeder. The change is intended to increase the privacy of the backyards directly up against the building, and it makes the building shorter there, too, he said.To provide additional privacy, the north side of the building has opaque privacy glass, rather than transparent glass.“Most of that is a spandrel glazing, so there’s really just windows up high so as to not compromise security into the backyards,” said Steve Hugo of Holt Architects, the firm that designed the building.Site light fixtures are designed to reduce light coming from the site at night and entering the surrounding neighborhood, so that residents will not be bothered.“We have sharp cutoff [light] fixtures in the parking lot … no light spillage to the adjoining properties and the neighbors,” said Prof. Peter Trowbridge, landscape architecture, whose firm, Trowbridge & Wolf Land­scape Architects, was involved in the design of the project. Schroeder said that the Seneca Way project will satisfy needs of the downtown area.“We’re getting a substantial amount of commercial space, and that is much appreciated,” he said. “It’s giving much needed housing and commercial space to downtown.”

Original Author: Joseph Niczky