After spending 43 years at 415 College Avenue, the flagship location of Collegetown Bagels (CTB) and Rulloff’s will be closing in June 2020. The building is being redeveloped by the owner, Student Agencies, which has recruited a team of local architects to help with the redevelopment.
Ramsey Brous, owner of Collegetown Bagels, is sad to see the original CTB location go.
“It’s certainly a loss for us as a business,” Brous said. “Of all of our stores, it remains our busiest location despite some of the challenges it has faced, as a business environment. It’s certainly a loss on those grounds.”
Brous said CTB has been looking for other locations to move to in Collegetown since the company has such strong ties to the neighborhood beyond the name of the business. He’s also hoping the redevelopment will start after Cornell’s reunion weekend to avoid losing a substantial amount of business, though that remains to be seen. The move comes as its other downtown location, on Aurora Street, will move from its current storefront into the bottom floor of the City Centre development.
Kyle Karnes, CEO of Student Agencies, spoke about some of the elements of the redevelopment and what jump-started it.
“We’re going to redevelop it and it’s going to become a newer version of what’s there now,” Karnes said. “There will still be commercial space on the first floor, just like there is now and on the upper floors, in this case, floors two through six will be residential apartments/student housing. The outdoor patio is an important component to the project as everybody else has articulated, as Student Agencies is the owner of the building, we understand the importance of this corner as a community gathering place for generations.”
Age is the main motivator for redevelopment, Karnes said, as the building approaches its 110th year. The redevelopment plans come after a prolonged debate last year over whether or not the Chacona Block would receive historic designation, which would have inhibited its redevelopment potential. That was one of the more contentious historic designation battles, which came down to a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Svante Myrick against historic designation, with Student Agencies lobbying hard against it as well.
One of the biggest changes to the building is that two more floors will be added, bringing the building up to six stories, which will be set back from the lower four floors. As stated, those two additional floors will be used for residential units. The end goal of the renovations is to update the building and potentially increase revenue for Student Agencies. That’s perhaps the most important factor: this is how Student Agencies is able to garner funds to sustain itself, according to Karnes; in essence, the building is one of the most valuable assets Student Agencies has.
“While we do have a lot of programs and partnerships that we do with the university, we are not part of the university so we get no funding from the university,” Karnes said. “We get no funding from outside sources. The way we fund our mission is through the income that we generate from these buildings. In other words, we have commercial tenants, we have residential tenants. After we pay taxes, maintenance, and repair, whatever we generate from those buildings is reinvested in the business to fund our mission. Effectively, the buildings serve as the endowment for Student Agencies.”
Karnes said he wants to ensure that the building maintains an aesthetic and facade that is architecturally consistent with the rest of Collegetown’s buildings after it is redeveloped. Student Agencies has been working with local firms Holt Architects, Travis Hyde Properties and Whitham Planning and Design to help with the designs for the new outdoor patio on this project due to their background as a not-for-profit organization instead of a developer.