Planning Committee Review: Cliff Street Retreat, revised Cayuga Park plan approved-The Ithaca Voice

2021-11-24 02:44:59 By : Ms. Nora liao

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Ithaca, New York-The October meeting started a bit late from the end of Voice, because I was broadcasting live on the West Coast. However, the fun of video streaming means that copies are stored online, and there is no problem with the Voice staff spending 3.5 hours taking notes and writing 10-minute summaries, so you can understand the situation and still use these more than 3 hours for other things. For those who like to view the agenda while reading, here is a 223-page PDF.

When we join, please note that one member of the board was absent in October because member CJ Randall was not present. That night, the city was also flooded, and this happened more than once during the 3.5-hour meeting and discussion session.

The first is the subdivision review of land parcels-these are when land parcels in the city (technically called parcels) seek legal relocation, they can be divided into two or more parcels and reshaped from multiple parcels Or merge back into a plot.

The first subdivision to be reviewed is the third iteration of the proposal for a 5.45 acre vacant lot at the end of the 400 block of Campbell Avenue in West Hill. The original 20 sets of development projects for sale were replaced by a proposal of 8 plots similar to the neighbors, and changed to proposals for two plots much larger than the neighbors, so they may be more expensive than the neighbors. The plot of land is 2.22 acres, The other piece of land is 3.23 acres. The environmental review started last month and is ongoing. The project had to be submitted to the Zoning Appeals Board (BZA) in early October because the public street area of ​​the two plots was insufficient, and the BZA approved the difference, which allowed the planning committee to move forward with voting for preliminary and final approval in October.

BZA is no problem, there is nothing to discuss. Within five minutes, the preliminary and final site plan was approved.

Next comes the main part of the planning committee's agenda, the site planning review (SPR). The site plan review is where the new building proposal is reviewed. In order not to push ten pages of materials, if you want to understand the steps in the project approval process, "Introduction to Site Planning Review" is here.

During the SPR, the planning committee reviewed the draft, announced that it was the lead agency of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), conducted the review and declared a negative (to mitigate adverse effects) or positive (potentially harmful effects, an environmental impact statement is required), and at the same time Projects in these communities undergo design reviews to produce aesthetic impact. Once everything goes well and completed, they will vote on the preliminary site plan approval, and after reviewing some final details and remaining paperwork, they will vote on the final approval of the site plan.

Before the site planning review committee, Cayuga Park was first reduced in size. In the first phase, the new 65,000-square-foot medical office building and 42 low- and medium-income housing units at Cayuga Medical Center were approved last year.

The second phase originally planned to accommodate 166 market-priced apartments (called "Steamboat Landing Apartments") in two six-story buildings, with retail stores on the ground floor and parking lots on the second and third floors. Due to the amendments made by the New York State Department of Transportation to reduce the pressure of new traffic on Highway 13, buildings "B" and "C" were reduced to four floors, with a retail store on the first floor, a parking floor, and The two-story apartment is on the top. Park Grove stated on its website that the number of apartments is now 127, a reduction of 39 apartments. Parking spaces have been reduced from 187 to 113, and total retail space has been reduced from 23,800 square feet to 16,400 square feet. The material finishes have also been modified, and some architectural details have been changed, the ventilation shutters of the parking garage have been reduced, and the roof comfort deck has been added. In October, the revised and scaled-down Cayuga Park plan is about to receive the final site plan approval.

When the board arrived on the project team early, things didn't start smoothly. The only person on the team who could speak was Jacob von Mechow of Whitham Planning and Design. As the chairman of the board, Robert Lewis, pointed out in his severe criticism, the project team is expected to be ready to attend during the meeting, even if the board arrives 15 minutes earlier than the time set on the agenda. von Mechow had to fly for ten minutes when his colleagues arrived.

As von Mechow pointed out in his speech, the biggest change is the restoration of approximately 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space in the "B" building, increasing the area from 13,400 square feet to 16,400 square feet. This was in response to concerns raised by the planning committee in September that the new commercial space replaced eight parking spaces in the indoor garage. Building "C" has not changed. Some additional outdoor seats and flower pots are included in the revised renderings.

"The COVID has really changed everything in business. We ultimately thought it was the right combination and the right number... This is a good compromise," said Andrew Bodewes of Park Grove Realty.

"I don't think we will regret moving some commercial space back. I think this is a good decision," board member McKenzie Jones responded. Other members of the board also agreed with the change and the entire project. Emily Petrina of the board praised the use of seats and flowerpot niches outside the parking lot.

However, the board was not without criticism, because member Mitch Glass conveyed a message to the project team. "For the site, this is still a great project. About this... I hope that at the end of the day, this thing feels more relevant to Ithaca, which feels to me now It’s a bit generic. I would love to see some signs related to Waterfront Trail. Signs and contextual maps make it feel more like a part of this community.” Chairman Lewis also expressed some disappointment with the face treatment, thinking that Route 13. The side has not been modified and "backyard", the board of directors asked the project team to cooperate with the B&W kitchen supply company next door to set up a crosswalk in their driveway.

Glass was dissatisfied with the choice of panel color (he prefers orange and brown to terracotta red and blue) and asked to amend the approval resolution to allow employees and the board to sign the final material color. The resolution was passed unanimously. Although the material colors in the grand plan of Site Plan Review are quite small, considering the degree of subjective color preference, the project team is indeed a bit angry, so the final panel color selection remains to be seen. Glass's second amendment was also approved, which considered increasing the planting area in front of the niche area.

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So far, the board of directors voted on the preliminary approval, which was unanimously approved. Although the color situation is resolved behind the scenes, the project can now get the second phase of the building when it is ready.

"Is it a bit salty there?" Vice Chairman Jones asked while discussing the text project.

"Just a little bit," Chairman Lewis replied.

The second project on the site plan review project list is an apartment project called "The Ruby" in Collegetown. This 39-unit apartment building is proposed to be built at the eastern end of Inner College City at 228 Dryden Road. The structure will be developed by local residential builder Boris Simkin, and will be four stories above the average level. The basement level is partially exposed to the ground, and a total of five stories are habitable. The project includes 0.185 acres of other amenities such as landscapes, sidewalks and outdoor terraces. The project site is located in the CR-4 sub-zone, and it is necessary to make a difference in the area of ​​land coverage and backyard retreat. It is also subject to the university town design guidelines, which means that the planning committee must conduct a design review.

This is a fairly large-scale project, but compared to other mid-rise apartment buildings built in Collegetown since the 2014 zoning modification, it allows more urban development and fewer parking-focused development projects. Projects in the Collegetown Center are usually not subject to rigorous scrutiny as they are due to a lack of permanent residents. The modified process is quite simple, but not without some minor problems, namely modifying the ground to remove the studio unit and to accommodate a heavier foundation wall on the uphill. The voting items in October include the determination of environmental importance and the recommendation of BZA. With the approval of the BZA, the project can be ready for preliminary approval this month.

Nathan Brown of HOLT Architects provided a project update, which has not changed much since the September meeting. The five differences sought were green space, area, side yard, front yard, and building length. The last few were because the building met the definition of "Town House" until the easternmost ground studio unit had to be eliminated. There is not a single unit on the entire width of the ground, it is caught in different definitions of building types and a mess of red tape. Regrettably, after further analysis and negotiations with NYSEG, the power line in front of the building was not buried as originally hoped by the project team.

The board of directors is generally satisfied with the difference in this situation. Given that the overall design is still similar to a row house, Mitch Glass described the definition of a row house as "semantic." The negative statement of SEQR was unanimously passed 6-0. In its favorable recommendations to the board of directors, the board cited the urban environment of the block, the "type of row houses" and the existing location defects that support the difference. The board did emphasize that the landscape needs to be as lush as possible in order for the project to receive their support. With this, the project was forwarded to BZA as it continues to move towards approval.

Readers may remember that the developer Linc Morse's plan to transform the vacated Incodema manufacturing plant into a mixed-use building has been highly scrutinized because he must apply for planned unit development to allow R3a facilities (industrial use is excluded from legal compliance) To carry the required combination of a wide range of uses. The plan is to transform a 25,297 square foot industrial building into a multi-purpose building, which will include long-term and short-term residential leases, small meeting and rest space offices, and retail.

Now that the PUD has been awarded, the substance of the site planning review by the Planning Committee can begin. According to the document, the refurbished building will comply with the 2020 New York State Building Code and Ithaca Energy Code Supplement. Site improvements include new building façades, clearer parking areas, landscaping, site lighting that matches the dark sky, street-facing entrances, and hillside-facing garden/terrace spaces. If all goes well in the early stages of development, the $4.5 million project will begin this fall and be completed in the spring of 2022. 

October is the possible last stop in the review process, as the project will eventually be considered for preliminary and possible final site planning approval. Craig Modisher of STREAM Collaborative updated the project and pointed out that the only substantial change was the adjustment of the parking area layout to better accommodate fire trucks.

The board of directors has nothing to add. They have been satisfied with this project for some time, and there has been little change. "Very attractive project; ready to move on," noted Garrick Blalock of the board. With these brief words, Chairman Lewis put the affirmative vote to the vote, and it was passed unanimously.

"This is an exciting thing, and it's nice to see it come together," Lewis said.

"We are about to start work soon!" Morse shouted.

The next project under the site plan review is 325 Dryden Road. This is a controversial plan that will be built on Dryden Road and Elm at the southwest corner of Dryden Road and Elmwood Avenue. The southwest corner of Wood Avenue, on the edge of Collegetown and Belle Sherman neighborhoods. Currently, the plot has two apartments with 16 bedrooms.

For some reasons, this project is a more complicated review. This is a transitional space between large apartment buildings and single-family houses, and the residents of Belle Sherman have been strongly opposed to this proposal. 325 Dryden Road will require several regional differences, including building coverage, minimum green area per lot, backyard retreat and parking spaces. The proposed design will provide six parking spaces, while the zoning will require 13 parking spaces. It is also subject to the design guidelines of the university town.

The project has been scrutinized by surrounding communities and city planners, who are concerned about the seven differences sought-two or three are not uncommon, but seven are enough to make city planners hesitant.

Architect Jason Demarest gave an update, pointing out that the wing facing the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Dryden Road has been pulled back a bit, and the roof line has also been modified. Larger apartment buildings and new duplex apartments will have similar roof slopes, but different exterior materials (various styles and colors of fiber cement boards) so that they are visually different from each other. The distance between the two was slightly enlarged by the building, from 15 feet to 16 feet.

The zoning discussion was postponed because the BZA has not had the opportunity to make trade-offs and will not do so until early November. However, the board is good for the design itself. "I like this more and more," said Blalock of the board. "What attracts me is the high quality of this building... it adds density in an attractive, high-quality way."

At this point, the board of directors concluded their October discussion, waiting for BZA's comments. When I wrote this article after watching the BZA conference, I can say that BZA likes the design, but the perception of the difference is complicated, for this reason they blame the partition itself more than the applicant. If the vote is held today, there may be a split vote, and there is no clear sign that "yes" or "no" will win. We will see how this affects the planning committee discussion in November.

This project has been going on for several years and is finally being passed through the planning committee. The non-profit committee of the Ithaca Farmers Market proposes the construction of a new two-story market building for year-round business and planning, reconfiguration and paving of existing parking lots and driveways, creation of outdoor dining spaces and collections, and installation of coastline stabilization devices , And make various other on-site improvements. The project required the removal of most of the site features, the relocation of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, the removal of some on-site trees, and the installation of enhanced rainwater infrastructure.

As the project progresses, the approval process for any improvements to the farmer’s market is extremely complicated. The site is city-owned land and needs to be approved by the Joint Commission, the Special Joint Commission for the Relocation of Wastewater Easements at the Ithaca Regional Water Treatment Plant, the New York State DEC, and the Army Corps of Engineers. The project site is located in the market area and is also subject to design review.

Several steps were built into the review last night. There will be an updated presentation that will open a public hearing on the project and allow public comment to begin, and review part of the complete Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF) included in the SEQR, particularly the impact of transportation and utility systems.

Kate Chesebrough of Whitham Planning and Design provided the board with the latest news about the farmers' market plan. There are some updates, mainly pedestrian routes through the station. In accordance with the requirements of the Traffic Analysis and Planning Committee, more sidewalks and more protected sidewalks were added, as well as modified bicycle lanes and bicycle parking spaces to provide services for Waterfront Trail and Third Street cyclists. So far, the sewage treatment plant has initially agreed to the design, so potential concerns have been temporarily eliminated. The parking arrangements have been modified (the new version above, and the old version here), more green spaces have been added to replace the parking spaces on the east side of the property, and a larger green buffer zone close to the waterfront promenade.

Two comments were received during the public hearing. Regular customer Sheryl Swink talked about the lack of proper bicycle and walking facilities. One supplier targeted the farmers’ market because there was no more consultation with the supplier, insufficient planting and maintenance, and the use of Brooklyn construction companies instead of local ones. company.

"We have an RFP and have gone through a long process, and the supplier committee has gone through a selection process. We are happy with their proposal," Ithaca Farmers Market President David Stern defended their choice of nARCHITECTS .

The board tends to use the sidewalk directly connected to Third Street as the main route (page 3 here) rather than the sidewalk along the loop. "I think we use the existing city grid as much as possible, the better," said Vice Chairman Jones. "I think pedestrians will eventually use all these paths, but this one (from Third Street) is preferable," Elizabeth Gordon added.

With the board's investment in the transportation layout, and acknowledging that the wastewater plan and the farmers market have reached an agreement on the layout of public utilities, the project team completed their plan in October and will come back in November for another round of discussion and review.

The last project under the site planning review this month is Catherine Commons, a large-scale mixed-use project proposed for several plots in the inner university city. The development team led by John Novarr and Philip Proujansky proposed to demolish 11 older student apartments and build a residential complex development project worth US$39.1 million. The plan includes three multi-storey buildings in the Katherine North Plot and three multi-storey buildings in the Katherine South Plot, a total of xis buildings, with a total construction area of ​​265,000 square feet. These buildings will contain approximately 360 residential units (a net increase of 339 bedrooms compared to the existing building), 2,600 square feet of commercial space along College Avenue, a 1,600 square foot private fitness center, and a small ADA parking lot. Service vehicle. The project also includes streetscape improvements, several ADA-compliant square spaces, pedestrian facilities and public bus station infrastructure.

There is not much planned for the October meeting, just a project presentation to update the board of directors with the latest and greatest design adjustments, as well as the opening of a public hearing on the project.

Kathryn Wolf, the landscape architect of TWMLA, opened this month's show, which was joined by Arvind Tikku of ikon.5 Architects. Perhaps the biggest change compared with the previous iteration of the project is the exploration of different terracotta board colors, which is different from the discussion of Cayuga Park earlier in the evening. Gold, pea green and slate gray replaced the salmon pink tones (very similar to the Cornell North campus expansion project designed by ikon.5). The project team did not decide on the choice of colors, but was weighing different choices. Together with the window spacing, the purpose is to break the quality of the building and make them look less bulky and imposing. Although you can't see it from the further renderings, the metal and terracotta panels have textured seams and shingle styles respectively, adding more visual interest. The goal of the project is to be approved in the spring of 2022 and open in August 2023.

There was one written comment and one oral comment at the public hearing. Graham Kerslick, the outgoing member of the Fourth District, opposed the height difference required by the project, citing concerns about the lack of light and air circulation on College Avenue and the aesthetic impact on historic buildings. Kerslick said that awarding the difference would create a "shocking precedent." Gregor Brous, the owner of Collegetown Bagels, spoke in person and praised the project's connectivity to the street and the high-quality design.

Mitch Glass of the board praised the color research, but given Kerslick's letter, he wanted more information about the impact on the historic building, and pointed out that the differences were reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and they should justify why the extra height was needed. His colleague Petrina agreed, but she added that in this case, she supports height differences as long as it allows more space and public facilities on the street.

Chairman Lewis noted that the board reached a "positive consensus" at the end of preparations, but not before the last detail. Acting Director of Planning Lisa Nicholas (Lisa Nicholas) pointed out that the vacant houses to be demolished in the project have become a magnet for damage and safety hazards. Discussions are underway to allow demolition before the site plan is approved, which is usually prohibited, Nicholas wants the idea of ​​the board.

With these concerns in mind, the board of directors was "not excited" about Lewis' ideas, but was willing to agree to start the demolition and provide construction fences and potential signs when reviewing the plan. After completion, the project will be submitted to the board of directors next month.

Regarding the District Appeals Committee (BZA), which advises BZA on projects seeking to make zoning differences with city codes, the committee reviewed two submissions in October. One of them is 228 Dryden/The Ruby discussed above.

The other is in Fall Creek. The business owners of 201 East Tompkins requested that the logo be changed so that they could put the required window decals on the new gym in the former Serviente Glass building. The board of directors may be very picky about the signs, but in this case, the board considers the window decals "harmless" and has no strong opinions, saying that the proposal is good. What they care more about is the code and why window decals should be considered signs, because they are not so obtrusive. But that was another day.

In other business areas, Vice Chairman Mckenzie Jones will resign, saying that she will take vacation if possible, but will need time to focus on other parts of her life; Jones has a new baby this year. "I think I'm ready to pass the baton, ready to open the door for others." Anyone interested in joining the planning committee (and watching me quote you every month) can contact the mayor's office. As someone who has quoted Jones for many years, I just want to say that her comments and sarcasm are always frank and clear, and I will miss her keen and thoughtful observations.

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for Voice of Ithaca. You can contact him at More artworks by Bryan Crandall

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