It is interesting that the 210 Hancock St. project has now been characterized by both the Ithaca Journal and the Ithaca Voice as a “Fall Creek neighborhood project,” even though it is in the Northside Triangle neighborhood. The Northside, which runs east to the Cascadilla Creek, is a neighborhood with a different flavor than Fall Creek. It is a neighborhood we are proud to call home. It is not Fall Creek, and we do not aspire to be Fall Creek.
We would like to suggest that instead, we look at what the Northside neighborhood aspires to be. In 2001, fourteen years ago, Common Council passed a resolution directing the Department of Planning and Development to work with neighborhood residents to facilitate a neighborhood-based plan. The city’s planning department should be commended for a job well done. Over the next two years they sought input from hundreds of Northside Triangle residents to create a collective vision for the neighborhood that called for expansion of neighborhood retail, more diversity, and more affordable, mixed-income housing.
We, as Northside neighborhood residents, still support this vision. We imagine the 210 Hancock St. as an anchor for a thriving urban neighborhood with more quality, affordable apartments, more ethnic restaurants, shops and services owned by people who live in the neighborhood. We believe that the four-story buildings that require a six-and-a-half-foot height variance are in keeping with the character of the neighborhood as envisioned in the 2001 neighborhood plan, and we would like to point out that four-story buildings are already allowed in the current zoning. INHS is requesting an additional six-and-a-half-foot height variance because of the parking garage on the first floor and the fact that the project is located on a flood plain, requiring the first floor to be three and a half feet above grade. As to the question of density, this project appears to be a relatively minor deviation from what already exists in the neighborhood, with 23.6 units per acre compared to Cascadilla Green next door that has 20 units per acre. Making the building four stories rather than three stories will increase the number of permanently affordable apartments so desperately needed in this city. We would like to see at least 40 percent of those apartments be reserved for people eligible for Section 8 housing.
Further, we believe the IURA and the City of Ithaca should stipulate that a living wage be paid and local labor be used in the construction of this project.
We, the people who live, work and worship in the Northside Triangle neighborhood, are in full support of the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing 210 Hancock Street project. We do not feel that the height of the building will detract from the neighborhood. Further, we do not believe that parking is going to be the problem that those opposed are making it out to be. It is highly likely that a number of the future residents will not have a car and parking spots on the neighboring streets are plentiful. We urge you to approve the zoning variances requested and give your full support to the project. The Northside United neighborhood children have already given input to INHS regarding the beautiful playground that will be incorporated into the project and we believe that the additional park and greenway along the creek will benefit the entire community.
– Northside United Steering Committee: Karen Friedeborn; Irene Dixon; Phoebe Brown; Linda Holzbaur; Tenzin Tsokyi