With a bevy of projects before them, many construction proposals that came before the Planning Board were met with some resistance. Even though all projects were met with eventual approval, many projects will be coming back next month after considering any changes the board suggested.
One such project is the new GreenStar location which will undergo site layout and material changes. The primary issue the board found fault with was the northeast façade of the building, which faces Route 13. In the current proposal, the wall will be blank though suggestions were made to add windows or some other aesthetic to improve the building’s overall visual appeal. There was push-back to the idea from Noah Demarest of STREAM Collaborative, who is representing the project because that section of the building will mostly be used for machinery so the windows will have little to no purpose being implemented.
Another suggestion was made to add some form of GreenStar insignia to that wall, or even a piece of public art. Regardless of the changes that need to be made, the resolution to approve the site layout and material changes was approved. But Demarest will be back next month for further review of the changes to the northeast façade.
Demarest came back before the board to present plans for Perdita Flats, a zero-energy home located at 224 Fair Street. The building was praised for the new designs that don’t use as much backyard space as originally envisioned.
The other project he represented, is a new student housing development at 815 South Aurora Street. The new buildings were met with approval from the board, though talks with Ithaca Fire Department Chief Tom Parsons will ultimately decide the buildings design fate. Parsons and Demarest discussed firetruck and roof access for the building, with Parsons looking to use internal stairs to the roof for easier access.
This, however, would require the project to be designated a high-rise and is going to require state-level approval. Parsons also took issue with the idea of a having rooftop foliage as it can possibly increase the likelihood of a fire spreading. The board approved a declaration of lead agency and was pleased with the information they received.
Other projects that were met with some backlash from the board include City Centre’s signage proposal with some additional site changes. Ithaca Ale House’s new space and changes to the windows of Chase Bank’s new branch were those questioned by the board. For the new Ithaca Ale House space, there will be a patio space with an iron gate and fence separating it from the other residential patios. However, the board took issue with using plexiglass on the new fence may not be the best way to keep out intruders.
Suggestions included looking into a wire fence or some other type of barrier to have a better impact on the building. The developer, who has experience using a plexiglass and iron fence said this is a trusted style they have been using. A key fob system will be implemented so residents and employees of Ithaca Ale House will be the only ones able to enter the rear patio space from within City Centre.
The issue with the specialized window treatment of Chase Bank was that it would obscure the view inside part of the bank. Many members of the board opposed this because it seems to be aesthetically displeasing. However, the reason for the treatment of some windows is due to the design of the building. The windows in question will be facing a wall and nothing else. Despite this, the board asked the developer to consider putting a piece of public art in place of the window treatment. Even though the board still seemingly had some reservations about the signage changes, they unanimously voted to approve them.
When it came to talking about the Arthaus development on Cherry Street, the board was not happy with some of the new renderings they presented. Both JoAnn Cornish, the head of the Planning and Development Department and Planning Board Chair Rob Lewis had misgivings about them. Along with this, the board had plenty of questions about some additional pieces of the property.
One of the primary concerns brought up by the board regarded how Arthaus would be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The building is going to have elevators but other ADA compliant additions are unknown at this time. Other concerns revolved around adding windows to the stairwells of the building to make people want to use them. Following this discussion, the board approved the changes to the designs with the project moving forward to preliminary and final approval at the next meeting.
Other projects the board heard from include the Chainworks Districts Redevelopment Plan, who were looking to have their environmental findings report adopted by the board. The board adopted the findings with unanimous approval. Cornell University’s North Campus Residential Expansion (NCRE) received preliminary approval by the Board. The Cayuga Townhomes Development implemented the design changes the board requested in terms of exterior colors and design layouts. A new subdivision is going to be created at 109-111 Homestead Road and Anke Hoffstaetter, the owner of 505 South Albany Street, received unanimous approval on the many measures brought before the board to have her home be used as a massage parlor.