Ithaca Times

Tompkins County: Green housing planned for Biggs property

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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 12:26 pm, Wed Aug 1, 2012.

Some 26 acres of county-owned vacant land in northwest Ithaca could be home to an affordable, green housing development similar to Ecovillage.

Tompkins County is seeking a developer to either purchase or lease 25.5 acres of land adjacent to Indian Creek Road near the Cayuga Medical Center for a 70-unit, mixed-used residential community. County planners envision a housing development that is energy efficient, sustainable and pedestrian-focused, with at least two-thirds of the site retained as open space.

Affordability is also a priority.

“I think the point is to take Ecovillage, its concepts and design, and apply them to a more market-housing situation,” said Ed Marx, commissioner of planning and community sustainability within the Tompkins County Planning Department.

Ecovillage, located off Route 79 on Rachel Carson Way in Ithaca, includes some 60 homes within its two residential neighborhoods. Late last month, crews broke ground on a third neighborhood that will add 40 more housing units. The 175-acre cohousing site is largely green space, sporting community gardens and homes that utilize alternative energy sources – solar panels.

Four Ecovillage homes currently on the market range in price from $130,000 to about $237,000.

As outlined in the county’s request for proposal (RFP), the new development site – referred to as the Biggs Property -- would cluster 10 housing units per acre, retaining some 70 percent of the site as green space with a “forest buffer” along the entire stretch of Indian Creek Road from Dubois Road to Harris B. Dates Drive. Additionally, planners have requested perspective developers to meet a number of conditions, including space for a community garden and a connection to the Black Diamond Trail.

The county is asking a minimum bid of $500,000 for the Biggs property. A three-bedroom residential building on a nearby one-acre parcel is also county-owned and is available for a minimum bid of $150,000, according to the RFP.

Bids are due to county planners by October.

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