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ITHACA, NY -- The new Ithaca Farmers Market inches toward reality after meeting with the Planning and Development Board to go over preliminary building and parking designs. The ultimate goal is to provide an updated, partially weatherized facility that maintains the spirit of the current building, and rehabbing the parking lot to be a little less confusing and a lot less dusty.

The designs presented to the Planning Board at the Sept. 28 meeting had a fairly significant change to the parking plan. Currently, the parking rows run parallel to the length of the building. In the latest design, all rows would run perpendicular to the building instead, aside from one long row that runs parallel closest to the building. It will have vendor parking and some designated spots for electric vehicles.

“After reflection we thought it was more in the spirit of the place to keep some of the funkiness that we all enjoy, but also have a functional parking area,” Kate Chesebrough, an associate at Whitham Planning & Design said.

Chesebrough said having (mostly) perpendicular parking rows will allow for sightlines to the building and makes finding the market more intuitive for first-time visitors especially.

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Designing the building comes with complications due to its location near the water and Cayuga Waterfront Trail and various easements. For instance, there’s a 20-foot setback required from the water, a 15-foot setback required from the center of the trail to the building and manhole structures and NYSEG easements that have to be avoided. However, Mimi Hoang, co-founder of Brooklyn-based nARCHITECTS which is designing the building, presented a preliminary design for the new building.

The main entry in the center of the building has been widened to 45 feet to provide direct visibility to the pier, a section has been designed to be winterized, there are two stories for overflow vendors, additional bathrooms and seating that overlooks the lower level. Hoang said the design team kept in mind the public and vendors’ desires to keep the openness and natural light in the building. To do that and still provide better protection from rain, the eaves were extended from 18 inches to 48 inches. Additionally, vendors will have the option to face both outward and indoors.

To maintain the feel of the current building, Hoang said for materials they’re thinking of a galvanized steel frame, a galvalume roof and waney edge cladding, which is a live-edge wooden siding. Additionally, there are hopes to reuse the wood from the current building depending on how the contractor is able to remove it and the condition of it.

“The hope is to repurpose it for flooring and/or stalls,” Hoang said.

The planning is still in its early stages, but so far the board largely likes what it sees.

“I really, really like the project,” board member Emily Petrina said. “It’s a more sophisticated version of what we have. It’s a difficult job of pleasing everyone who likes this building and coming up with something new.”

There are still plenty of meetings ahead, but the Planning Board is looking at Feb. 22, 2022 for the potential first phase of final approval. The next meeting is the public hearing, and is scheduled for Oct. 26.

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