The Town Board of Ithaca will be deciding on a resolution at their meeting Monday, the 10th to recommend re-zoning for the parcels of New Earth Living‘s proposed Amabel project from Low Density Residential to Medium Density Residential, in order to allow for 31 housing units on the two parcels, 619 Five Mile Drive, and a 3-acre sub-parcel of 617 Five Mile Drive, which was divested by the City of Ithaca back in December.
The project has a revised site plan, showing that most of the 3-acre sub-parcel that was purchased will be kept as a natural area. Most noticeable is the change in the type of development: the previous plans called for rental or condominium shared housing units in five clusters of six or seven households, whereas the revised plans are for a lot subdivision, much like Belle Sherman Cottages, where the common utilities, roadways, and sitework are developed, then individual lots are developed and built as they are sold. This plan shows two pockets of eight lots each, and an L-shaped line of 15 lots on the southern and western borders, with two sections of parking and a shared roadway heading south off Inlet Road, then east.
The project letter states that the change resulted from consultation with their attorney and numerous bankers, and the financial implications of the previous plans could not be supported by the project, which is understandable: building-out the shared housing units, even in phases, would imply the development entity to hold construction debt obligations that may not have been sustainable, given that quick absorption of the housing units providing adequate revenue is not a sure bet (Belle Sherman Cottages, although a lot development, is a good example- it will eventually fill, but it takes time). In addition, shared housing implies an HOA-arrangement (Homeowner’s Association), a legal entity that shared owners pay into in order to maintain the grounds, common areas, etc.- which is commonly cost-shared with the development entity until a certain absorption percentage is achieved. For condominiums, the legal arrangements are even more complicated and costly, although it’s a novel development concept that has become a norm in urban areas, where strong pre-sales can be guaranteed.