April 10, 2014

South Hill Factory Redevelopment Proposed

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Local developers and planners held the first public planning meeting Thursday for the proposed redevelopment of the unoccupied Emerson Power Transmission factory on South Aurora Street.

If completed, planners hope to turn the site of the approximately mile-long factory into a new Ithaca neighborhood called the Chain Works District, according to Julie Bargmann, founder of Dump It Right There Studio, a site design company.

Bargmann said she thinks there is a large amount of potential in redeveloping the factory.

“We’re pretty happy that it’s been affectionately called the ‘sleeping giant’,” she said. “We’re kind of poking it to wake up.”

The project to build the Chain Works District is being lead by Whitham Planning and Design, developer Unchained Properties and Dump It Right There Studio.

Bargmann said the team wants to celebrate the factory complex’s industrial past and that she is looking to “work with what’s there” to repurpose the factory.

“The intention here is to work with what’s there, to really use the evidence of the site histories and use adaptive reuse to bring the giant into being a friendly adaptive reuse to bring the giant that’s awake again,” Bargmann said.

Additionally, Bargman highlighted the factory’s former glory and its potential to emerge as a vital part of the Ithaca community.

“Morse Chain was, and now again can be, a really vital part of the community here,” Bargmann said. “This is a cultural landscape and it can be that way again — this his site could come back alive.”

Bargman added the existing buildings — which were built from the 1910s to the 1980s —“have incredible personalities,” which would be maintained in the Chain Works District.

An aerial photo shows the existing buildings of the unoccupied Emerson Power Transmission site. An inset shows the Arts Quad at the same scale. (Base Aerial Photo From Google Earth)