There’s a whole lot of jackhammering going on in downtown Ithaca these days. The three-year Commons project is all-but-complete. There’s likely going to be a fountain going in where there’s still a blank space in Bank Alley, but lots of new buildings are going up all around the pedestrian mall. 

One of the more prominent buildings under construction is the Marriott Hotel, located at the intersection of State and Aurora streets at the east end of the Commons. Foundations are going in there, and its Maryland-based owner, Urgo Hotels, has recently said that the 10-story, 159-room hotel will be open sometime between July and September of 2016. 

Walk across Aurora Street from the Marriott site, and you can see steel beams rising above a two-story brick building, the Carey Building. Once upon a time, this was where Mayer’s newsstand and smoke shop resided, the last proper newsstand to survive in Ithaca (“Alas, the times are changing,” sighs the newspaperman). Now there’s an outdoors store and a textiles dispensary on the first floor, and Rev, Ithaca’s start-up incubator, will return to a space there when the five-story, $4 million expansion is complete. In addition to providing Rev with a floor manufacturing space, developer Frost Travis of Travis Hyde has said that apartments will go into the other new stories. 

Right behind the Carey building is the site of what will be the Canopy by Hilton hotel, which is slated for a fall groundbreaking. The Canopy’s plans call for a seven-story, 123-room hotel that emphasizes “local art, local food,” according to Ithaca planner Scott Whitham. In short, a boutiquey-hotel owned by a national brand; it’s been often said that Ithaca is by far the smallest city to have a Canopy planned. 

Now, look across East State Street to the little triangular block with a dark-brown brick one-story building now housing an Elmira Savings Bank location and some other offices. This “Trebloc” location is the planned location of an 11-story, $40 million, 620-resident project proposed by Campus Advantage, a developer out of Austin, Texas. Though Campus Advantage does focus mostly on student housing, its representatives have been very clear in recent planning meetings that they are aiming for residents who are not just undergraduates. Expect to hear much more about this project in the pages of the Ithaca Times as you assiduously follow your local news; this project will be in city hall for a while yet—though they do anticipate, if nothing gets held up too long, finishing construction by the end of 2017. 

Walk a block north of the Commons onto East Seneca Street, and once you find the Tompkins Trust drive-through building, you will have found the site of that bank’s proposed new headquarters, a seven-story project that is intended to concentrate all of their 300-some employees now spread among five buildings in the city in one, glass-fronted headquarters. See our feature “Staying Downtown: Tompkins Financial Group Serves as Role Model” on from June 3 for more on this topic. 

Walk westward from the Tompkins site, take a right on Cayuga Street, and go northward along DeWitt Park. There you will find the Old Library, its brick walls covered in murals. The Tompkins County legislature recently approved a 60-unit senior housing development by Travis Hyde for the site, after a protracted fight between that proposal and one that offered less housing but also did not require demolition of the library. When that project might start, if ever, is still in question: it must go before city boards and committees to get approvals, which will surely be a bucket of fun. Watch these pages for more on ongoing projects, or show up to a meeting, and bring an extra sandwich for a reporter, please. §

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