Holly Creek in the Town of Ithaca, a project of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS)

The second phase of Holly Creek Townhouses is about to be completed. They have already sold the first model home and have just opened a new one for open houses. This is a project of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) and is part of their continuing expansion beyond the city’s borders.

The entrance to Holly Creek is the first left off of King Road in the town of Ithaca, just below the intersection with Rt. 96B. This location is convenient to the businesses that are concentrated around that intersection. It is also just up the road from the Ithaca College campus, a walk or a bicycle ride away.

These 11 units—a mix of three- and two-bedroom floor plans—are built to LEED Gold standards, and are therefore highly energy efficient. LEED standards include the use of safe building materials, but they also include use of modern LED lighting, efficient heating systems, a lot of insultation, and tight windows. The result is lower utility bills.

INHS has desigated this development as “affordable housing.” As such, you must be making less than 80 percent of the median income in Tompkins County in order to qualify for a mortgage for one of these units.

The units in the first phase, according to Paul Mazzarella, the executive director of INHS, were purchased by employees of Ithaca College, Cornell, local not-for-profits, and the city government.

The purchase price varies according to the square footage of the unit from $124,900 to $138,900. Closing costs are estimated at around $8,766. INHS quotes a bank loan rate of 4.375 percent for a 30-year mortgage and suggests a downpayment of three percent (although some banks may require more).

The monthly payment for a $125,521 unit, including the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, “ground lease,” and homeowners’ association fees, comes to $1,285.

The latter two costs reflect the nature of this development. INHS retains ownership of the actual land and the homeowner leases it from them for $50 per month. Each homeowner pays $150 per month in order to have the association maintain the exterior and grounds of the development. This includes not just mowing and plowing, but also roof repair and other capital projects that are necessary over time (and usually paid for by an individual homeowner).

When you enter the model unit at Holly Creek, one of the first things you will notice is the bamboo floors in the living room and dining area of the kitchen. These highly polished surfaces have a beautiful grain to them, different from that of hardwoods, and a blonde color that resembles a white oak.

The homes are warmed with radiant heat in the floors; the hot water is heated in a natural gas boiler.

The kitchen is separated from the dining area by a breakfast bar. It is equipped with a gas stove, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher. 

There is a half bath off the kitchen that includes the hook-ups for a washer and dryer.

In the three-bedroom units the master bedroom occupies the front of the second floor and the two smaller bedrooms are in back. They all have wall-to-wall carpeting. There is a full bathroom on the second floor with a large tub/shower.

The exteriors of these attached units are in a Colonial style with some elements of Greek Revival suggested around the eaves. The siding is factory-painted fiber cement and the colors are a mixture of earth tones and subtle blues and grays. 

The front porches are small, but the back patios are large enough for a table, chairs, a grill and a small party. Sloping lawns fall away beyond. 

The buildings were designed by local architect Claudia Brenner and the landscapes were designed by Trowbridge Wolf Michaels.

These homes are for first-time home buyers. INHS uses subsidies from state and federal programs to slightly reduce the purchasing price of their units, making these 1,160 to 1,343 square-foot units very affordable.

In exchange for their keeping the prices of the homes low, INHS has stipulated that when a unit is sold the owner may realize a profit equivalent to 2 percent per year of ownership. •

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