The cranes hit the 109-year-old stone facade in the early afternoon, marking the last hours of a revered Collegetown landmark.
Major demolition began on the Chacona Block building, which has stood on the corner of Collegetown and Cornell for over a century, on June 18. The property will be razed to make way for a new housing development at the cusp of campus.
Though the businesses were emptied and the lot fenced off in early June, today saw the most major change as Broome County-based Gorick Construction used several pieces of large wrecking equipment to crush and extract the guts of the building.
Stonework rained down and large windows shattered, a destructive demise for a gathering place that has long served as the heart of Collegetown. Masked passersby gathered to watch and take photos and videos as the icon crumbled.
— Sarah Skinner (@sarahjskinn) June 18, 2020
Cornell’s Student Agencies, Inc., owns the property, and eyed the building for redevelopment as market values in Collegetown increased. The new construction, which will incorporate elements such as stonework saved months ago from the wrecking crane and ample outdoor space, will house five floors of luxury apartments and ground-floor retail.
Collegetown Bagels, owned by Gregor Brous and daughter Lindsey Brous ’12 inked a deal with Cornell last fall to reopen the locally-owned bagel shop in a renovated first floor of Sheldon Court dormitory across College Ave. Renovations have been underway for months; a grand opening is slated for early August.
The Chacona Block building has stood on the corner since 1912, serving as home to CTB for the eatery’s entire 44-year history. The block also housed Cornell swag shop Bear Necessities, which shuttered earlier in the year with an unclear future. The block’s Brous-owned Rulloff’s Restaurant will not reopen.
As the COVID-19 pandemic reached Ithaca, Collegetown Bagels transitioned their late-night hours into an 8-to-8 carryout operation as well as a community kitchen. On the branch’s last days of operation in early June, patrons penned messages with chalk markers on the window to the staple hangout.
As the old stone debris rained down around it, one of the final panes of glass left standing on the iconic storefront read: “We Love You CTB.”