Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Carey Building IV: More Demolition Photos

February 18, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Here are some more photos, taken near the end of last week, when the remainder of the walls had been demolished. The old plaster ceiling is coming out these next few days, so I’ll post photos of that later on this week and next. One of the interior (formerly an exterior, see photo of piece below) walls was a combination of cinder block, then terra cotta block, with steel rebar rods run all the way through, then filled with concrete- I guess with older buildings, you never really know what you’re going to run into. The concrete has been quite a challenge as well; it’s probably 5,000 to 7,000 PSI based on how it has behaved with a power chisel. Most foundation, slab, and wall concrete mixes are now typically in the range of 3,000 to 5,000 PSI, so the pours done here in 1922 are probably portland cement with a coarse stone aggregate, which is commonly used for applications where the concrete is exposed to freeze-thaw cycles, so in this case, it would make sense for the exterior walls and structural elements.
Interesting fact- the concrete mix for One World Trade Center’s supporting columns and walls (the building has a central concrete tower, like a vertical bunker) was invented solely for the project, and the higher-range pours have a tested strength of 14,000 PSI.




Seneca Way Interior Photos & Apartments

February 17, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Seneca Way Apartments hosted a tour last Thursday evening, and I had the opportunity to take some photos of a one bedroom that has been furnished for a model, and a two bedroom unit. Representatives from CSP Management (the building managers) and Newman Development Group explained the features of the building, answered questions, and showed a large crowd around the new building.
The finishes are quite nice, and the units themselves are well laid out, and very modern. The kitchens feature Corian countertops, solid cabinetry, stainless steel Whirlpool appliances, and each unit has its own Whirlpool Duet washer & dryer. The living rooms are all adjacent to the kitchen, with a bar counter in between, and pendant lighting. Some of the bathrooms appear to be ADA-adaptable, with low clearances for entries, and toilets far enough from the wall to install the proper sizing and clearances for grab bars. All bathroom floors are tile, and shower units are fiberglass. The master bedrooms in each two bedroom unit (types C & D) have large walk-in closets, and a private bath off the bedroom.
Warren Real Estate‘s new offices look completed, and by the end of this month, the Park Foundation will begin moving-in.




Floor plans from Seneca Way’s website:

Breckenridge Place Finished Exterior Photos

February 13, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Well, it’s been a real treat watching this 50-unit, 60,000 square foot project go up a stones throw from where I live, and I think it’s a great addition to downtown. Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services has pulled off a large, mixed-income affordable housing project in the middle of downtown, desperately needed to fulfill housing demands that go well beyond the existing stock and availability of housing units in Ithaca, so hats off to them for making this a reality. Affordable housing developments in close proximity to downtowns and civic institutions offer residents easier access to local resources, and mixed-income developments have been associated with tangible benefits for residents beyond providing affordable housing. [The Director of INHS, Paul Mazzarella, gave a nice short presentation to the City Planning Committee last night on housing trends and needs in the area, so I’ll post the link and content once it’s available]

I have yet to peek inside, but INHS has some interior shots on their website, and the video on YouTube offers nice explanations of the finishes and amenities. The project was designed by HOLT Architects, and completed by Christa Construction.





Carey Building III: Demolition Photos

February 10, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Just a fun little pack of demolition photos here from the Carey Building project, the future home of the business incubator space, a joint effort by Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Interior demolition work is being done by Compass Builders, and after a couple weeks, they should have all the interior walls down, along with the plaster ceiling. The walls are a combination of metal studs with sheetrock facing and sprayed-in cellulose cavity fill, along with original walls, which were built with cellular gypsum block coated in plaster, but also cinder block and terra cotta block. The original plaster ceiling is quite heavy, containing a layer of plaster coating on top of metal lath, then another thick coat of plaster, and then ceiling tiles glued underneath, all hanging from heavy metal hangers attached to the ceiling deck.

Sparks Electric Company started last week, demoing and capping electric lines for the wall and ceiling demo to proceed safely, and HALCO took care of the old cooling system ductwork today, as well as capping a few water supply lines that will be in the way of wall demo.

Friday, the 7th:

Monday, the 10th:



New Park Foundation Offices in the Seneca Way Building

February 7, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

park-foundationroyparkI was kindly invited to take a tour of the future office space for the Park Foundation in Seneca Way, and here are some photos and descriptions of the space, which is being finished-up near the end of this month.
For a brief history overview: The Park Foundation was established by Roy Hampton Park, Sr. in 1966. Roy H. Park had humble beginnings, as the son of a tenant farmer in North Carolina. He had a knack for writing, and began reporting for local newspapers at the age of 12, finished high school, and went to study at North Carolina State University. He worked his way up to a reporter’s position at the local Associated Press bureau by the time he graduated, and also editor-in-chief of his college paper. He pioneered ways of promoting cotton as public relations director for the North Carolina Cotton Growers Cooperative Association, then in 1942, moved to Ithaca to work for the Grange League Federation (which later became Agway). In the late 1940s, he teamed-up with food critic Duncan Hines to launch Hines-Park Foods, and their runaway success product “Duncan Hines Cake Mix.”
The company was acquired by Proctor & Gamble, and Park stayed on until 1962, around the time he began building a communications business, “Park Broadcasting, Inc.”, which was renamed Park Communications for a public offering in 1983. By the time of his passing in 1993, the company owned 21 radio stations, seven television stations, and 144 publications. He developed close relations with Ithaca College (Roy H. Park School of Communications), Cornell’s Johnson School, and North Carolina State University, serving in board and advisory roles. He left 70 percent of his holdings to the foundation, which provides support through scholarships in higher education, quality media that heightens public awareness of critical issues and protection of the environment.
I’ll gladly admit, I’m a big fan of Bill Moyers/ Moyers and Company and PBS FRONTLINE, both of which the foundation has supported over the years, along with hosts of scholars, public broadcasting agencies, environmental, social justice, and policy groups.



The move into this new space is a big upgrade for the foundation team, and I particularly like the work that has been done to design and lay out the space. LeChase Construction is working on this project, HOLT Architects is providing the design services, and the space is aiming for LEED Platinum Commercial Interiors certification. The HVAC system is a combination baseboard hot water and cooling units (above the drop ceiling), with LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and variable air volume duct fanning. The duct sizing is huge- ideal for saving energy since operating and circulation time is drastically reduced.


The main arterial hallway drives through the space, with offices and a couple meeting rooms along the outside walls, mainly work, utility, and bathrooms along the inside walls, and the reception area is in the middle of the action, providing visitors with a wide open space and view of the outside, opposed to many waiting room layouts that can feel tucked-away. The tile will be going in over the weekend, with carpeting following-up next week. The walls are mostly complete, and there are beautiful sets of wooden door and light-box/clerestory window frames that are being installed. All the glass should help light shine through the space, eliminating the need for electric lighting on sunny days. A total of twelve thermostats control the air service in the space, only kicking heat or cooling at the appropriate time to the areas necessary.




Shot of the layout here:




All in all, it’s going to be quite a nice office space once completed, and the location is impeccable. I should be following-up with photos from a tour of the apartment interiors next week.



Hart Hotels’ Holiday Inn Re-Branded to Hotel Ithaca, and Some History

January 29, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Holiday Inn of downtown Ithaca officially re-branded to the Hotel Ithaca at the beginning of this year. The hotel is owned & operated by Hart Hotels (principal David Hart), a Buffalo-based group, and the plans for the second tower are still a go, as the existing tower is currently being renovated and upgraded since the start of the slow season here in the cold. Nearly all of the work right now is focused on interior renovations, and the Spring should see the start of the demolition of the one-story room wings to make space for the new tower.
The project is still seeking a property tax abatement through the CIITAP program for a seven year graduated assessment break for the increased value of lot improvements that are to be assessed for the new tower.



Photoshopped render from Trip Advisor– new sign should look nice.


The new brand (either purposefully, or unintentionally) brings to mind the since demolished “Ithaca Hotel,” which sat on the corner of North Aurora and East State Streets, and was built in 1872, and demolished in 1967. The original Ithaca Hotel was first built in 1809 by Luther Gere, although a “Mr. Vroorman” had a public house of the same name around that time as well. Mr. Gere was a carpenter’s apprentice, then he ran a tavern he built around the future hotel site from 1805, then built the three-story wood building, which burnt down in 1871. The structure in the photo below is the rebuilt hotel, a four-story brick building designed by A. B. Dale. The hotel could accommodate 200 guests, and 175 diners, and had billiard tables and sample rooms, and a popular Dutch Kitchen. (From Ithaca and its Past and Landmarks of Tompkins County)


Courtesy of The History Center in Tompkins County

The Carey Building II

January 27, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

For the purposes of this site, I’d rather not focus on the end-use of the project (rather, the physical details of the project), but coincidentally, The Economist ran a nice, in-depth Special Report on Tech Startups this past January 18th edition, which provides some thorough information on business incubators, accelerators, corporate venturing, and their differences. The planned incubator for this space will be a coordination between Cornell, IC, and TC3. Cornell is betting heavily on the academic-private model for the development of its Cornell NYC Tech Campus, which will be leveraging NYC’s large, and growing tech business community.

The structural members are all steel-reinforced concrete columns and beams, with a brick facade, in some parts backed-up by terra cotta. Many of the original interior walls are cellular gypsum block, covered in plaster. One of the challenges with older brick buildings is the northern walls- brick is very porous, so buildings in the north with brick north faces get exposed to lots of precipitation, but little sunlight. The resulting moisture makes its way through and erodes the plaster in older structures that don’t have a moisture membrane. One of the options is to build the wall inward, or simply clean up and re-plaster with more moisture resistant cover.

Column cut showing steel bar and spiral steel reinforcement:

Gypsum Block:

Roof ceiling at filled-in section, with beam-to-column connection. The beam depth and column masses are quite large, typical of buildings built in the early days of reinforced concrete:

Here are some existing conditions photos:



There’s a lot of demolition work to be done before any construction begins. The ceiling grid, almost all existing interior walls, former plaster drop ceiling, HVAC, electric, etc., all get removed. The incubator space is going for a much more open floor plan, so the best option is to basically clear everything out and start new. There’s some remediation work to be done as well, typical of projects with older building materials. The floor to roof deck height is quite generous, so the final space will have a much taller ceiling height than it does now. The windows provide a lot of natural light as well, since they’re located all along the northern, eastern and southern faces, which have generous setbacks before any adjacent structures. Once the office enclosures are removed, the space will probably be relatively well-lit during the day from sunlight.

Press Bay Alley Getting Close to Opening Day

January 23, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Swung by today, and besides final interior painting, roof trim fascia, some gutter work, and final electric, this project is nearing completion. John Guttridge, the owner, indicated that everything should be done sometime around the end of this month. I hope to see some adventurous tenants move in- it’s a cool space, perfect for a small cafe or a retail concept to get off the ground, especially since there’s ample space in front of each bay to stretch into once the weather gets nice in the Spring. Looking forward to opening day.



Before Photo:

Seneca Way Nighttime Photos

January 20, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

It’s always interesting seeing how buildings turn out looking at nighttime. Much of it seems to reflect the lighting decisions, facade texture, and colors. I’m a fan of these LED pole lights lighting the curve along the sidewalk- they give a solid definition to the property boundaries, and may provide a good visual cue to drivers.
Several of the units look completely finished from the outside, as I imagine the unlit ones probably are as well. The second level 8,600 SF Class-A office space for Warren Real Estate and the Park Foundation is still being worked on, along with some aspects of the exterior like support column wraps and garage doors.



Breckenridge Place Updated Photos

January 18, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

INHS’s Breckenridge Place is now officially leasing for occupancy, with 50 one and two bedroom units coming online in this brand new LEED Platinum building. Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services has posted an informational video on Youtube, describing features of the building with shots of the interiors and views. The window shades have been going up above each street-facing window, and as I walked by a day ago, the ground floor laundry room at the corner had washers and dryers fully installed.