The proposed Marriott Hotel on the Commons has received its final site plan approval — with conditions.

The project received its final site plan approval Tuesday, Nov. 13, and also has received its easement and encroachment agreement with the city, bringing the proposed hotel at the end of the Commons on Aurora Street close to being able to begin construction.

“All of their approvals are in place except for their building permit and they’re working on those documents right now,” said JoAnn Cornish, the city’s director of planning and development. “There are still some smaller issues like with the garage connection and what exactly that’s going to look like, but their approvals are in place and they just need to get their building permit.”

The 10-story hotel will be located at 120 S. Aurora St., just off of the Commons next to the Rothschild Building and will take about 18 months and $19 million to build.

Cornish said the construction site will be a difficult one because of its small size, its location at the end of the Commons and that fact that part of it is on, and connected to, city property.

“It’s really complicated,” she said. “Part of the building wall is a retaining wall that holds up Aurora Street. So it’s complicated.”

Cornish said it is possible the project could begin to mobilize this fall — getting construction equipment, fencing off the site and putting up the covered pedestrian walkway — all things that need be done to begin construction.

“I would anticipate some kind of activity on that site fairly soon,” she said.

The proposal for the hotel began three years ago as the proposed “Hotel Ithaca.”

“Jeffrey Rimland owned the Rothschild building and owns the building that the hotel would be built on,” said Cornish. “He started this project before the economic downturn and then almost all development projects came pretty much to a screeching halt. Financing was pretty much frozen, so we saw a lot of the projects that were just starting out put on hold.”

Rimland continued to try and find financing, eventually partnering with the Urgo Hotel Group and Marriott.

“Mr. Marriott has some connection to the Statler and Cornell, so he was very much interested in doing something in Ithaca and was excited about it,” said Cornish.

The hotel will contain 160 rooms, a restaurant on the ground floor and a meeting space.

“It’s a big hotel,” said Cornish.

The original proposal for the hotel included a lit elevator tower, but when the design changed to include 160 rooms instead of 124, the original lighting proposal was lost. Cornish said there has been an attempt to install exterior lighting on the building to maintain some of the brilliance at night that had been sought with the lit elevator tower portion of the initial proposal.

She expects the aim will be to time completion of the hotel with a holiday season or graduation weekend.

“They’re getting all their ducks in a row and we’re going to see that start pretty soon and that’s pretty exciting,” said Cornish.

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