Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Commons Rebuild Phase Three: Surfaces Part One

January 13, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Phase Three (the last phase) of the Commons Rebuild project will start this Spring (bid opening is January 23rd), with the focus on installing the surfaces and amenities for the redesign. The full scope and contract documents run up to the 1,000-page range, so I thought I’d condense a few of the items down with basic explanations on finishes.


Erosion & Soils

To prevent soil erosion and ensure proper drainage, cast iron surface and scupper drains will be put in place, much like the ones that exist now, and current drains will be cleared of any existing debris. The drains are primarily located in the side areas where surface water funnels, since the surface is designed to elevate slightly towards the center, much like a street. Each drain then feeds into the main stormwater sewer via PVC pipe.



Surface Materials

The surfaces will mainly comprise of textured and non-textured granite pavers, mortared granite pavers, concrete pavers, and cast in place concrete paving. The granite pavers will be supplied by J.C. Stone (or equivalent- see Englishman’s Bay), and the concrete pavers will be from Hanover Architectural Products (or equivalent- see PlankStone).





Electric Utility Enclosures

Pretty self-explanatory- there are two different sizes, with various locations.


The final lighting will be mostly a combination of lamp post and cable-suspended (the term is “catenary lighting”) Selux Discera 600 LEDs (along the pedestrian way and Bank Alley), Selux Ritorno LED Retrofit Kits (at gateways), BK Lighting “El Dorado” series (at the pavilion and gateways), and “BK Lighting Integral AriStars” (at the pavilion).

Selux Discera 600:





Here are the full documents:
Set Drawings
Set Spec
Soils Report
Contract Part A
Contract Part B

Part Two will contain details on benches, tables, bike racks, plantings, the pavilion, and water features.

State & Mitchell Intersection Lighting

January 5, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The crossing lights and automobile signalling lights have been installed on each of the poles, but the signalling sequences have yet to be programmed, and thus, the intersection is still an all-way stop- however, both lanes heading into the City on Mitchell Street have been opened-up for a few weeks now. The project contract sum is $342,677, awarded to Binghamton Road Electric, LLC (Bothar Construction), out of Binghamton, NY. $150,000 of the cost is being paid for by Cornell University, through the Cornell/Community Transportation Initiative.


Ithaca Commons Rebuild Play Structure RFP

December 17, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

Last month, the City of Ithaca requested proposals to design the new future custom play structure for the Commons Rebuild project. Below are the location map documents, and the RFP. The initial design was a proposed model from Sasaki Associates, the design consultants for the Commons Rebuild project. The design proposals would likely be reviewed at a future Planning & Development Meeting.

The proposal calls for play features that exceed ADA requirements- there is a section in the Americans with Disabilities Act that outlines the requirements for these features, which include accessible routes, ground level activities, and transfer stations (there’s a good link here to some short descriptions of each requirement).

Architect Robert Leathers, founder of Playgrounds by Leathers is originally from Ithaca and has practiced here for quite a long time (his son Marc now runs the company). He is quite well-known in the playground design world for his work all over the country and outside with over 3,000 playgrounds designed and built. Their process focuses on bringing-in local residents, and especially, the children to help design each project. I don’t know if his firm has submitted a proposed design, however, it would make for an interesting turn of events.




City Discusses Future Zoning of Waterfront, Carpenter Business Park Area

December 12, 2013 // by James Douglas

At last night’s Planning and Economic Development committee meeting, council members took a look at an initial proposal for rezoning the land that includes Carpenter Business Park, that of Community Garden fame, as well as Aldi, Rick’s Rental World, and Palisade.

There are two main elements of the potential change. Firstly, the proposed WF-3 zone would scale back the allowable industrial activity from potentially heavy industrial uses (think chemical processing or manufacturing) to light industrial (think food processing), and secondly, residential units as part of mixed-use buildings between two and five stories would be permitted.

Despite Ithaca’s tight housing market, there was push-back from several council members who were not convinced that either housing would be appropriate (or even legally permissible) in proximity to the industrial facilities present near the land in question, or that the City should be zoning away its scarce industrial space.

With those concerns noted, the committee still unanimously approved that the proposal be circulated for review. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes actually occur with the now mostly vacant land in Carpenter Business Park. There was a lot of talk during the community gardens discussion over the need for the City to think proactively about the desired uses of the land in question. We’ll get a better sense next month, after circulation and review, of how the City will proceed.

Here’s a map and memo for the proposed change.

Commons Rebuild Updated Photos

December 3, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

As announced on the Ithaca Commons project page, Vacri Construction‘s team wrapped-up last week for this year’s Phase Two, but they’ll be returning sometime between January and March to finish-up some additional telecom work. For now, the space in front of Center Ithaca is opened-up and paved for events (Ice Wars and Chowder Cook-Off is December 13th & 14th).
The Surface Improvements Phase begins Spring 2014, which will see the installation of the new pavers, chairs, tables, play structures, pavillion, and other features that will greatly enhance the public space. Plans for the improvements posted here.



Updated Scenes from the Commons Rebuild Project

October 28, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

Here are some updated photos of the Commons Rebuild project from today and late last week. The excavation outside the Maté Factor is for a new sanitary service, and the main Tompkins Trust building on Bank Alley is being connected to the new water main along Bank Alley. According to the project site, four more buildings on State Street remain to be connected to the new water main, along with two on Bank Alley (including Tompkins Trust).





Commons Rebuild Bump-Outs, Play Structure, Water Features & Amenities Presentation

October 21, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

Here’s a presentation piece from Sasaki Associates that will be showcased at tomorrow’s Planning Board Meeting (6pm, Common Council Chambers, City Hall). It includes a detailed rundown of the amenities that will be built into the Commons as part of this project. The presentation itself is quite large, so here’s the memo of the presentation and some images of the major features. You can download the full PDF here.










Updated Scenes from the Commons

October 9, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

Various shots from the Commons here over the past few days. Mostly more lateral water connection work as planned, and Bank Alley’s telecom lines were freed up from concrete to prepare for the water main and sanitary sewer work on this end. The work is starting on the south side where the metal shield is situated deep in the ground, and will progress along the trench that has been dug out. There’s already a new sanitary access manhole form in place, which was put in a few weeks ago.




Commons Rebuild Water Service Work Photos

October 6, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

More photos from the Commons this past week- most of the work involved lateral connections from the new water main to adjacent properties on the Commons, as well as new sanitary sewer runs and manhole access precasts. Half of the lateral connections are complete, so additional lateral connection work will commence this week, then I would imagine that the new utility duct tank will go in before the center section is covered-over with pavers before the projected end date of Phase I on the 27th of November.

The utility profile designed are embedded in a three-page PDF below.

For those interested in the full design utility package by Sasaki Associates and LaBella Associates, they can be found here: Full Utility Package Docs




State & Mitchell Utility & Prep-work for Traffic Light Poles

October 3, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

The State and Mitchell intersection light pole concrete bases have been set, poured, and anchor plates are in, as well as what looks like the utility service to each future traffic light. Traffic up there has been Stop All Way since the new curbing work began, so I bet there will be a sigh of relief from many commuters once the lights are up.