Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Marriott Project Digs and Drives Shoring Beams

February 26, 2015 // by Jason Henderson

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.

Photos from February 24th:







Downtown Marriott Project Selects General Contractor

October 28, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

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:




Downtown Hampton Inn Going Canopy Hilton

October 21, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The downtown Hampton Inn project has chosen to be one of the first eleven hotels in the US and London to build the newly-released Canopy by Hilton. As issued in Hilton’s press release last week, the Ithaca Commons project will take part in Hilton’s new lifestyle brand, which plans to cater to travelers that would like a more local, and leisurely experience. The renders released last month by the project team of Baywood Hotels, Architects Group One Partners, and Whitham Planning and Design seem to reflect the Canopy branding and design approach.

The planned seven-story hotel sits in roughly the footprint of the former Strand Theatre (parking lot behind the Carey Building) and the City’s municipal parking lot. The ground floor would include a 2,000 square foot restaurant tenant, a cafe/retreat area, and hotel programming space and the second floor is planned to contain a fitness room, board room, and meeting room. Guest rooms would fill the remaining portion of the second floor and all the way up to the seventh, along with a roof terrace. The project is currently in site plan review at the City of Ithaca Planning Board.

Here’s the press kit portion explaining the amenities, along with the September render and plan release:


Hilton Canopy Downtown Ithaca 2

Hilton Canopy Downtown Ithaca 9

Hilton Canopy Downtown Ithaca 6

Hilton Canopy Downtown Ithaca 7


Hilton Canopy Downtown Ithaca 3

La Tourelle & Firelight Camps: Glamping Project

July 15, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

If you haven’t Google image-searched “Glamping” yet, I would do so now, link here. When I first heard the term about a year ago I didn’t know what it meant, but it’s luxury camping (Glamorous camping, yes). State parks have dominated the car/tent camping getaway for a long time, but the business model is an amenitized, stepped-up version of just that, which sounds pretty cool. For urbanites, young couples and professionals without the space or time to store or transport a load of camping gear, this seems like an ideal solution to get some nature, but still maintain amenities you would find in a hotel. Apparently, it’s quite popular on the West coast.

La Tourelle has been through a series of Town of Ithaca approvals, partnering with Firelight Camps, a startup hoping to create a brand out of the pilot project. The plan is to build 25 of these tents in various sizes (13’x20′, 14’x16′, 16’x22′), with a common tent (already up), a large hot tub, firepit, bathroom and wash facilities, and outdoor grills. I took a tour with Scott Wiggins, owner and manager of La Tourelle, and took some photos below.

La Tourelle - Firelight_Page_12-1


The lower site used to contain two clay tennis courts, providing the perfect foundation for a stone patio and assembly area. The looped drive was graded and rocked over for the main camp, along with clearing of additional trails and staging areas for the tent sites.

Guests will have access to the August Moon Spa, John Thomas Steakhouse, and support from the La Tourelle staff during their stay. So far there’s been interest from folks planning wedding parties, young families, and large groups looking for a nice outdoor weekend.

La Tourelle - Firelight_Page_12

La Tourelle - Firelight_Page_03



The tents will come in two varieties (to test each out), with one having two posts and one beam, and the other with one main center post. The material is fire-retardant fabric with a rain fly over top.

La Tourelle - Firelight_Page_10

The platforms are being built with Locust posts and rough-milled Larch lumber for the decks (both species age well outside), requiring oversized joist hangers with long carriage bolts to secure the corners and beams. This first deck will be for one of the larger 16′ x 22′ tents, which includes a queen mattress, tables and chairs, and an open area in the back with a guardrail, rain cover and bug netting.

Many of the wooded sites have been cleared, seeded, and post holes dug, but for this season, the plan is to build six tents to be ready by early September, then more for next year.


Site Plan Review Submission from back in May available here

My Thanks to Scott Wiggins for the tour, and Robert Frisch of Firelight Camps

Downtown Marriott Going For Design Revisions

June 9, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Downtown Marriott project will be going before the City Planning & Development Board for Design Revisions Review at a special meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, June 10th) at 6pm, and below are the submission documents showing some revised elevations, and the facade materials. The final design submission was posted last year (it’s changed since the initial designs), and here’s the post and set from that time. This set looks the same: 10 stories, 160-room, same massing, but the specific facade materials are being presented; the total development cost was pegged at $32 million. Urgo Hotels and Rimland Equities (owns the parcel and the adjacent Rothschild Building) are developing the project, with design by Cooper Carry.

Marriott Hotel - Planning Board Presentation - 06-10-14_Page_2

Marriott Hotel - Planning Board Presentation - 06-10-14_Page_3

Marriott Hotel - Planning Board Presentation - 06-10-14_Page_4

Marriott Hotel - Planning Board Presentation - 06-10-14_Page_5

Marriott Hotel - Planning Board Presentation - 06-10-14_Page_6

Downtown Hampton Inn Sketch Plan Submission

June 1, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

A revised sketch plan proposal was presented by Scott Whitham of Whitham Planning and Design at the last City of Ithaca Planning Board Meeting, and below are some shots from the presentation along with a link to the PDF.

The proposed site spans across the former Strand Theatre lot (behind the Carey Building), which is now private parking, and the two lots of municipal parking owned by the City and Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (the IURA owns the northern portion, and the City, the southern portion). The project team will be moving towards conversations with the IURA and the City with the aim of divestiture so that the land can be developed. Although Hampton Inn projects are typically suburban, there are a few examples around the country that are designed and adapted to a more urban setting, which is the intent of this new project design. The ground floor would have program space for the hotel, and ~2,000 SF retail/restaurant facing Seneca Way, and the upper floors would be hotel rooms.

Ithacating has an article on the first submission here.










Full Sketch Plan Submission PDF Here

371 Elmira Road Current Site Photos: Future 4-Story Hotel

March 18, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

I wanted to follow-up with some existing site photos for the future Holiday Inn Express at 371 Elmira Road, so I stopped-by to take a few. If all goes well, I’d expect to see site work beginning this Spring or Summer. The existing 960 square foot former auto-body garage on Spencer Road and the 7,554 square foot one-story commercial office building along Route 13 will be demolished, and the two parcels will be consolidated into one parcel. Vegetation along Spencer Road will be cleared-up, and because of the grade, a retaining wall is being planned along that back end to support the slope soil to make room for the parking lot.
The hotel plans are still slated for a 4-story, 11,769 square foot, 76 room and 76 parking space project, developed by Rudra Management and Rosewood Hotels based out of Cheektowaga, NY (east of Buffalo).


Final Colored Elevations:

Original Renderings:

Site will undergo Parcel consolidation (combining parcels 128.-2-8.11 with 128-2-7.1) and the existing structures will be demolished:

339 Elmira Road Independent Hotel Plans

March 1, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Here are a few shots of the plans for developer Jayesh Patel‘s proposed hotel on 339 Elmira Road, in addition to the Holiday Inn Express he’s developing at 371 Elmira Road. His Cheektowaga development firm (Rudra Management and Rosewood Hotels, 24 hotels) also just recently closed on the purchase of the Dunlop Building on Grand Island, between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, for what seems to be a large renovation undertaking to restore the building to new use; it will take $1.8 million just to get the water and sewage infrastructure back in order to begin the process of remediation.

The plans for the 339 Elmira Road project show a total of 37 rooms, 37 parking spaces, four stories, and a gross floor area of 6,468 SF at a cost of $1.7 million on the 0.59 acre site. At about $46,000 per room, this project should be similar to the Holiday Inn Express, which comes in at $39,500 per room (76 room, $3 million project).

Property Assessment

Site Plans

Project Application

Short Environmental Assessment Form




Holiday Inn Express & Another Hotel in the Pipeline

February 27, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The proposed 4-story, 11,769 square foot, 76 room and 76 parking space Holiday Inn Express at 371 Elmira Road had its site plan review postponed for next meeting so that the developer Jay Patel could present and answer questions in-person. In addition to this site, Mr. Patel is also planning another hotel development down the road at 339 Elmira, which was sold at auction this past June, 2013. The same team out of Buffalo, NY, Silvestri Architects and Optima Design & Engineering are working on the proposal. The site previously contained the Salvation Army Store, which moved to its new building down the road in 2009.

Demolition Plan (the Elmira Road commercial frontage has sat mostly vacant for some years, and the building on Spencer Road houses Pete’s small engine repair):



Site Layout Plan:

Rendered Elevations:

Cover Letter

Revised Drawings

Materials Board

Alternate Site Plan

Revised Rendering


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