Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Biggs Property

Tompkins County Biggs Property Will be Sold to NRP Group

October 1, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

The resolutions regarding the sale of the Tompkins County Biggs Property to NRP Properties, LLC have passed, so the project will go before Town of Ithaca Planning Board meetings next. The final resolution to approve the sale passed 11-4.

The project’s working titles are “Cayuga Ridge Village” and “Cayuga Village Townhomes”.

There would be a Homeowner’s Association managed by Better Housing for Tompkins County.

The units would have an option to purchase after a 15-year period due to the requirements of the tax credits that would be sold to investors in order to finance the project.

60-Unit Townhomes, one to four bedrooms; from the renderings and floor plans, they look as if they would be modular.

Total development cost: $13,500,000 +/- ($225k build-out cost per unit)

Developer: the NRP group LLC, Cleveland, Ohio

Architects: RDL Architects – Shaker Heights (Cleveland), Ohio

A gentleman from the NRP group gave a short presentation and answered questions from the legislators, as well as Ed Marx, the planning commissioner. Ed summarized the history of the project, and the results of the meetings with residents on West Hill.

The legislators spent a lot of time going over the structuring of the tax credits (the fact that the units can’t be sold until 15 years in), and how the project is ultimately financed, as well as some site plan questioning. There’s a lot that has yet to be determined at this point, and there was a considerable amount of dialogue on the future property taxes, the current assessment, the affordability criteria, and the ultimate sale pricing.

The main discussion just before the resolution passed went over the opposition points: the site placement relative to the City, traffic congestion and pursuant costs, violence since the beginning of housing expansion on West Hill, and the inequity of City taxpayers subsidizing the housing and transit implications of the Town’s development decisions.

There’s a petition from Ithaca West and a large number of individuals that have opposed the sale for the use of this project. The pages with the objection letters and a letter of support are particularly good.

Here’s the Community That Works site, setup to communicate about the project. Much of the project’s impetus comes from a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for Climate Showcase Communities, and the program is modelled on EcoVillage-style development.


Here’s the Project Description:



Here’s a memorandum on affordable housing from Ed Marx, the Commissioner of Planning:


Tompkins County Selling Biggs Property to Ohio Development Group

September 26, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

The NRP Group LLC of Cleveland, Ohio partnered-up with Better Housing for Tompkins County to respond the the County’s July 2012 Request for Proposal (RFP) for acquisition and development of the former Biggs property, a 25.52-acre wooded site right across from Cayuga Medical Center, at the end of Harris B Dates Drive on the left (see tax map and google map below). The site is assessed at $340,000 and the purchase offer is set at $500,000 with proposed contingencies that the County will provide funds for off-site pedestrian and transit improvements.
The NRP group mainly focuses on multi-family development, senior housing, and LIHTC (low-income housing tax credit) projects, and Better Housing for Tompkins County is a local not-for-profit that promotes and incentivizes affordable housing in rural areas by offering purchase assistance, rental housing, and various home repair programs. Since this project will be next door to Cayuga Medical Center, I imagine that the target housing demographic is low-income seniors. Post-publish, there was an Ithaca Times article introducing the project as a 30-90% median income clustered townhouse project with 60 units of one to four bedrooms. The rents translate from $300 to $1300, some units single story and others two story.
If I had a bone to pick with this proposal, it’s this: I think incentivizing low-income housing and senior housing is appropriate, but this sort of development is exactly the kind of thing that gets municipalities into fiscal and transportation trouble. Single-use facilities beyond urban fringes without realistic walkable neighborhoods and amenities aren’t as desirable or fiscally-sustainable as urban mixed-use developments with walkability. Ithaca is a tough development scenario because there’s a shortage of flat, developable land in the urban core, but I think if land held by the public is being transferred to private hands for a specific project, there should be a public disclosure of the lifecycle public costs, as well as a fully-fleshed-out plan for development. (The Town of Ithaca Planning Board will be reviewing this Fall)
Given the new information in the article, I think mixed-income is a good move, and it will be interesting to see the actual proposal in Town Planning, and whether or not there is housing demand information from Cayuga Medical Center staff. The article references plans for walking paths and a neighborhood-style layout, but we’re still looking at a single-use facility 3 miles up West Hill from downtown.

Assessment report and Tompkins County Legislature minutes embedded below.