Collegetown residents got their first glance at the proposed redevelopment of the Chacona Block on College Avenue that currently houses Collegetown Bagels and Ruloff's.
The proposal, which was submitted to the city in late summer, calls for a six story building that would redevelop 411-415 College Avenue. The project would bring 56 rental units and 4,000 sq. ft. of commercial space on the ground floor, and will require CTB and Ruloff's to close for at least a significant amount of time.
The feedback meeting, which was hosted by property owner Student Agencies, architect and consultant Whitham Planning and designers HOLT Architects, is one of several similar events that the group will hold over the next few months to better involve local residents. Scott Whitham, of Whitham Planning, listed the project's timeline as follows, assuming all goes well: by the end of May 2020 they hope to have a final approval in hand and begin construction in June. It will take a little over a year to complete construction, meaning they aim to have the building open and operational by the time the 2021 fall semester begins.
Ryan Schutts, of HOLT, said the design was an attempt to connote the building's neighborhood context, though they will likely be tweaking the design now after some feedback from the Planning Board during their initial meeting with them. Their efforts to maintain the neighborhood character, as is so often mentioned, were partially inspired by the intense battle that developed over whether or not the Chacona Block was worthy of a historic designation. The designation would have meant that virtually any major redevelopment plans would have to be approved by the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is in charge of initiating the historic designation process. Mayor Svante Myrick broke a tied Common Council vote to reject the historic designation. The project is currently estimated to cost $14 million, though Schutts said they're obviously working on bringing that down a bit.
"One of the biggest concerns is the use," neighborhood resident Jennifer Wilkins said. "There's a strong interest in this community to have that be a place where people gather and have coffee, a beer after work. There's a hope that that community feeling doesn't go away. And that's going to depend a lot on what kind of business goes into there."
To that point, Student Agencies CEO Kyle Karnes said the organization had been in talks to allow CTB and possibly Ruloff's to move back into the space when construction is finished, but no solid plans have been agreed upon yet.