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Planning Board: A plan for Southside, and affordable housing for State Street?


The City of Ithaca's Planning Board is going to have a full plate in the months ahead with several projects on the horizon.

One such project is the development of the Lake Falls apartment complex. This building is going to be located on the site of the former Ithaca Gun factory site. While many are concerned with the lead contamination that exists on the site from its years as a gun manufacturer,

Developers of the site have plans to clean up the contamination, and the Department of Environmental Conservation is currently reviewing those plans.

The developer, IFR Development LLC which is working with Travis Hyde Properties, is proposing a four-story building with 74-units of active senior-focused housing. The new development would be a mix of one-and-two-bedroom units and will include 85 parking spaces, with 20 surface spaces and 65 covered spaces under the building. During the public comment portion of the meeting, environmental activist Walter Hang spoke about how the contamination warrants the building being labeled a New York State Superfund Site. However, the developers are looking into all means of getting the site decontaminated.

Some of the other business brought before the board were potential questions relating to the style of Amici House, a new building from Tompkins Community Action to serve low income and homeless people and their children. Most of the conversation centered on the approved style of the building and some of the signage that will adorn the child care center as well as the building, itself. Another portion of the meeting was dedicated to the approval of the Southside Plan.

This plan is looking at how to improve the access to affordable housing and transportation while maintaining the atmosphere of the neighborhoods that compose this area. The plan has already been drafted and is now awaiting City Approval. At the meeting, the while improving access to affordable housing and multi-modal transportation and enhancing quality of life. The draft of the Greater Southside Neighborhood Plan is now complete, and is being reviewed and considered for approval.

At the meeting, the board gave some recommendations on the plan. Most of the board’s concerns were about whether members of the community were a part of the process of creating this plan. As it turns out, multiple residents were part of the committee that provided input for the plan, and meetings were also held in the Southside community, to ensure that residents had easier access to make their voice heard in the meeting.

Finally, two sketch plans were presented by Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative. One was for two new apartment buildings that would be developed at 815 South Aurora Street. One of the primary questions was about how the two buildings wouldn’t be in the way of each other. The buildings are within the guidelines so that one won’t cast a shadow on the other. Another set of sketch plans presented by Demarest was for three buildings on West Seneca, West State, and Corn Streets.

This group of buildings is going to consist of two four-story buildings of infill development. As of now, it is unknown how much of the two six-story buildings are going to be affordable housing, though, this is in the works. One suggestion from the board was to potentially use the top two floors of the building as strictly affordable housing, with this suggestion being taken under consideration.