The interior spans 17,000 square feet with a bar, public restaurant, full kitchen, cooking lab, teaching lab, a lounge with offices and restrooms, and two large assembly areas for events split by a vertically-collapsible folding wall. The interior finishes are varied: brick veneer, tile, composite/rubber, and painted walls; tile, wood, and carpeted flooring; and interesting finishes, like the reclaimed wood-trimmed and tin-panelled ceiling clouds, and filament bulbs. It’s quite a cool space.
Steve Bloomfield of Bloomfield/Schon + Partners was kind enough to grant a tour of his Lofts@SixMileCreek project downtown, so here are some photos taken about two weeks ago, and the press release from yesterday. The construction schedule has been revised for late summer completion, but a tour will be available April 18th through the Downtown Ithaca Alliance. Most walls have been framed, and trades are currently roughing-in services at the top floors, and drywall and finish-work has begun at the lower floors. The exterior wall framing and glazing has progressed to the fifth floor, so the building should be almost fully-enclosed in the coming weeks.
I ventured down to Scranton, Pennsylvania for a factory open house tour at the Simplex Homes production facility a couple weekends ago, and thought I’d share some photos here. Simplex produces modular units for builders putting together everything from single-family homes, to townhouses, four-story apartment complexes, and student dormitories. Modular construction is essentially just a construction technology that can be applied to many different structures and situations. Simplex specializes in wood-framed units with a surprisingly-complete level of finish already done before trucking and craning on-site. In addition to production efficiency, factory-settings tend to ensure better QC, material recycling, and environmental control.
800,000 square feet is a lot to comprehend, especially when separated into a total of 26 buildings, built in various interlocking shapes, at different times, with various building systems, and various ceiling heights, as is the case with the Emerson site on South Hill. Including the end zones, a football field is about 57,000 square feet, so the existing structures constitute around 14 football fields of enclosed space. These photos are from a site visit taken a couple weeks ago.
For a brief history, Morse Chain first built and occupied the site from 1906 until 1928 when they were acquired by BorgWarner, which owned the property from 1928 to 1982. In 1982, BorgWarner sold the property to Emerson Power Transmission, which continued manufacturing at the site from 1983 until its closure in 2011. Unchained Properties, LLC has negotiated with Emerson for several years and obtained an agreement to acquire the site for redevelopment. The 95-acre site is being re-named the Chain Works District, with the intention of developing the site into a “live, work, play” mixed-use district.
For development rights, the project is utilizing PUD/PDZ (planned-unit development/planned development zone) zoning to fit the zoning requirements with the redevelopment site plans, and is currently in the process of writing a Draft GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) for municipal and state review. For more information about the process, see the planning page here. Some further remediation will be required on the site, but major portions have been remediated in the past few decades, and the updated environmental studies for the redevelopment project are extensive (the combined Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments go over 60,000 pages of documentation). There was an Ithaca Times article last November on the topic.
For starters, it’s easy to forget how close the site is to downtown. The building behind this shot is building 24, slated for Mixed-Use:
The current plan involves select demolition of the structures between the long corridor buildings (the original factory is one of them) and the newer structures to the southeast:
Here’s the northern end of Building 13B, slated for workshop space (23,200 square feet). It has a 3-Ton rack crane and loading bays:
This shot is looking northeast in Building 3/3A. Buildings 11A, 10A, 3A, 8A, 9, and 6A are being demolished to open-up the interior space on the site. Buildings 2, 3, and 4 are slated for multi-level residential with the ground floor as parking:
Here’s another shot in 3/3A looking the other direction (southwest) down the really long interior corridor. You can see all the way to building 6:
Moving south, here’s a shot of Building 34, slated for manufacturing. It’s massive- Buildings 33 and 34 make up 170,000 square feet, with a clear ceiling height of about 30 feet:
If I remember correctly, this is an upper-level of Building 6/6A, at the southwest end of the long corridor:
The wood floor planks are about a foot thick, since they were required to hold the weight of lots of heavy machinery:
Upper-level of Building 4:
The views are fantastic: windows on Buildings 2 through 6 lining the hillside provide a panorama from the Southwest Area, across Downtown and the lake in the background, then up to Cornell:
This is the NYSEG substation for South Hill:
Upper-level of Building 8:
Building 35, very high ceiling, and two 6-ton rack cranes:
Shot looking the other way, Building 35 and 15:
Ground level of Building 4, which would be used for a parking level, stretching from 2 to 4:
Here’s the overall use-concept from the presentation materials:
William H. Lane Construction has been working away at the future 159-room, 10-story Downtown Marriott project since receiving notice to proceed last September from Developer Urgo Hotels. Partners in the project include Rimland Development and Ensemble Investments. A large crane is now on site, and a bulldozer and excavator have been digging out the small parcel’s hillside. The shoring beams along the South Aurora Street side will be used to support a shoring wall due to the need to excavate the site to start the foundation. A generator on site runs the electrical equipment, and part of the early sitework involved the relocation of electric utility services around the corner on Green Street (the site contained a small underground NYSEG substation).
The total development cost is pegged at $32 million, with a completion target of 2017. The project is designed by Cooper Carry Architects based in Atlanta, with offices out of Alexandria, VA and New York City.
The structure was furred-out with lumber on the edges and wrapped in plastic in November to prepare for the arctic winter we’ve been experiencing here in Ithaca, and work has since sped-away to finished wall-framing, rough plumbing, electric, HVAC, exterior sheathing, exterior wall systems (windows and conventional metal framing) and interior wallboard. The phasing for each trade has progressed from the first floor and up, so it’s likely that the lower stories are in the midst of finish-work. The shower stalls made their way in during the early wall-framing phase in October (most units secure directly to studs nowadays).
Binghamton-based William H. Lane Inc. General Contractors has been selected to lead the construction for the downtown Ithaca Marriott project, which should be breaking ground later this year. The project is being developed by Urgo Hotels, a group out of Bethesda, Maryland with over 30 hotels under management.
The Marriott will be a 159-room, 10-story hotel with a restaurant/bar on the lobby level designed by Cooper Carry. The total development cost was pegged at $32 million, and is scheduled for spring 2017 completion.
Below are the updated renders and site plan review materials, reflecting the final designs and materials for the project:
The sprinkler pipe-fitters have made their way from the ground floor to 5th, and interior metal stud walls were roughed-in on the ground through the third floor with bottom plate layouts installed on the fourth as of late last week. Shower stalls have made their way into more than a dozen bathrooms, as plumbing risers and pipes are fitted alongside wall completions. A paint contractor has been spraying down the structural steel with fire retardant intumescent paint (the white coating). The structure topped-out on October 2nd with a press event and completion is scheduled for early 2015.
Unchained Properties and the project team for the 95-acre Chain Works District (former Emerson site) held a second public meeting today (August 5th), primarily to discuss their approach to zoning and to give more information on proposed site layout. Mayor Myrick began the meeting by noting that the community involvement this early-on in a project bodes well for its development, and that the local economy is seeing some of the best numbers statewide as far as unemployment, job growth, and housing creation, so this project will inevitably become a major part of the change we should continue to see in the City.
Myrick and the project team explained the reasoning behind the developer’s decision to seek a Planned Development Zone (PDZ) in the Town of Ithaca, and a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in the City of Ithaca, since the parcel is split between City and Town. The PDZ and PUD are essentially the same thing: it’s a form of zoning and regulatory process that can be approved by the municipality in order to allow a project to develop outside of the current zoning on a parcel or set of parcels.
Scott Whitham of Whitham Planning and Design observed that since the current zoning for the Emerson parcel is Industrial, it would not be applicable or realistic to a large mixed-use redevelopment, as is being proposed, so the project team is submitting zoning materials to both the City and Town to consider in their PDZ and PUD processes, which carry the same requirements as a rezoning of any other area: the community has input and commentary in public meetings throughout the process, and the rezoning would fall under the requirements of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), and review from the Tompkins County Planning Board. Once the zoning portion is complete, then the project team may submit Site Plan Review applications to the corresponding Planning Boards.
Craig Jensen of Chaintreuil | Jensen | Stark Architects summarized some items from the previous presentation: several buildings would likely be demolished to create open spaces between mixed-uses, and the design team is studying similar projects that have incorporated adaptive reuse practices on former industrial sites. The 1/2 mile distance to downtown (closer than Collegetown) will make non-automotive transportation options an attractive prospect.
In addition to working on the zoning proposal for this site, Noah Demarest of Stream Collaborative is working on combining the two Town and City Zoning Codes to conform with the Town Zoning & Comprehensive Plan and the forthcoming City of Ithaca Comprehensive Plan. The combination would be adapted into a Form-Based Zoning Code, with Transect Zones rather than the existing zones and codes we have today, which can be over-complicated and use-based, and contain more amended content than original content.
Transect and Form-based zoning seeks to establish allowable building massing as a priority over accepted uses, and emphasizes a logical transition from rural areas to urban centers, mimicking the transitions found in natural geography. More information is available from the Form-Based Codes Institute and the Center for Applied Transect Studies (which was founded by Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, who wrote the first form-based code for the town of Seaside, Florida). The zoning code suggested here is adapted from SmartCode template, which is a Transect-based subset of form-based codes.
Transect-Based Zones are as follows: T1 (Natural) included in project, T2 (Rural) not included, T3 (Neighborhood Edge Zone) not included, T4 (Neighborhood General Zone) included in project, T5 (Neighborhood Center Zone) included in project, T6 (Central Business District Zone) not included.
The existing topography affects these zone decisions: a 15% or greater slope is not realistically developable, so there are several areas, especially towards the south end of the site that would not be developed.
The question and answer session brought-up traffic concerns on surrounding streets. The Project Team has employed Steve Ferranti of SRF Associates to study the current and historic traffic and transportation patterns, along with trip generation estimates based on the proposal as part of the SEQR process. The team noted that mixed-use projects generally have different peak patterns than single-use, which should help with congestion. Concerns about environmental remediation and removal needs surfaced, which will be studied in detail by the team’s environmental consultant LaBella Associates throughout the same SEQR process, in both rezoning and site plan review. The response from the public was again, quite positive overall.
As reported by Ithacating and the Ithaca Voice, Jason Fane, property developer and owner of Ithaca Renting and The Fane Organization presented a sketch plan proposal at the last City of Ithaca Planning Board meeting to build a 12-story building on his parcel at the corner of College Avenue and Dryden Road (former home to the Green Cafe). The plans show a 12-story L-shaped structure with three ground floor retail spaces, a stairwell/elevator core, circulation layout, and apartments adjacent to Collegetown Center, a 6-story mixed-use building owned by Mr. Fane and managed by Ithaca Renting. The plans were done by Architect Jagat P. Sharma. In addition to Ithaca, The Fane Organization owns property in Harlem, NY, and is developing a 47-storey condo tower in Toronto, Chaz Yorkville (latest construction update with photos here).
The current zoning of the parcel is MU-2, which carries a height restriction of 80 feet at 6 stories maximum, so the proposal would need to seek and be approved for a zoning variance to build higher than current zoning allows.