Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects

Westgate Plaza, Finger Lakes Beverage Center Update

May 6, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Westgate Plaza containing the Finger Lakes Beverage Center and FedEx Office is currently being re-sided in addition to interior work that, if I’m reading the plans correctly, will result in an expanded mercantile space for the beverage center (entry on the western side, change of occupancy from S-1, storage to M, mercantile). As you can see from the roof, there’s a new layer of EPDM being installed, as submitted in the site plan review application in June last year, and the ceiling structure in southern portion of the building is being modified to accept a new drop ceiling, along with new partition walls and coolers. The renovated exterior will feature a wraparound apron roof, and a redesigned parking lot in addition to new siding.

The work is being done by Benchmark Construction Fitz Contracting LLC out of Trumansburg




Planned Parenthood Project Photo Update

April 14, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Photos of this Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes project taken last week, but exterior siding and fiber-cement facade panel installation look complete, as well as recently-placed granite curbing along the drive entry and Seneca Street. It’s hard to tell from the outside, but it looks as if the walls are all framed, and electric, plumbing, and mechanicals are roughed-in, but finish-work like drop ceiling grids and drywall are continuing. Once the remaining windows, shades, signage, doors, lighting fixtures, and roofing fascia boards are installed, the building itself should look relatively complete on the outside.

This project is being constructed by LeChase Construction, and is designed by Chiang O’Brien Architects.






Purity Ice Cream Construction Photos & Final Interior Design

April 12, 2014 // by Jason Henderson


The Purity Ice Cream project is reaching drywall-finish stage as demolition finished-up back in February, then the bathrooms, former entry, new entryway, seating, and serving areas were re-framed by Strawbridge and Jahn Builders and outfitted with mechanicals. A new trench was dug and filled across the parking lot for an improved underground power service, while all the electric was re-wired by Richardson Brothers Electric. New lighting fixtures, an entirely new HVAC system, and plumbing have been roughed-in. Drywall and cement boards have been hung, taped, mudded, and the seams were being sanded down this past week.

Stop by Purity this weekend to take a look, they’re serving 12-6



Architecture & Design by John Snyder Architects



Important Tip for this Spring: no longer a door here; new entrance will be to the right


Planned Parenthood Facade Work and Window Installations

March 20, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The 16,000 square foot Planned Parenthood project on Seneca Street in Ithaca’s West End has been transforming on the exterior at a rapid pace. The fiber cement panel siding has been finished-up on much of the Seneca side, and all of the eastern side within the past two weeks, and windows have been installed along the Seneca side. The brick portions were completed back in early February, and hanging the remaining fiber cement panels will probably go quickly now that the weather is becoming more favorable.

For those interested, the last post contained some information about ground source heat pump systems; one will be installed on this project, as the drilling concluded a couple weeks ago- see the series of tubes sticking out of the ground on the western side (those are the refrigerant loops).

This project is being constructed by LeChase Construction (which now has an office in Ithaca), and was designed by Chiang O’Brien Architects.





Planned Parenthood Progress Photos & Geothermal

March 4, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Planned Parenthood project on Ithaca’s West End has been moving along steadily, as LeChase Construction has installed Dow TUFF-R boards on the exterior, which boosts the overall R-value (resistance to heat flow) of the thermal envelope. Over the boards, pressure-treated wood strips have been fastened to hang the fiber-cement panels that make up the finish layer of most of the facade, which has begun installation along the northern west face. The sections of stone base along the bottom have also been completed, and once the weather gets warmer and more panels have been installed, the windows should follow-up right afterwards.


American Auger & Ditching Company is on site to drill the well field for the vertical loop geothermal system (ground source heat pump), which requires drilling a set of well loops anywhere from 50 to 400 feet deep, depending on system size, soil, heat pump specifications, climate, and other design factors. Heat pumps are a broad term, but it simply means moving heat from one place to another. A closed loop geothermal heat pump system works by circulating refrigerant (or anti-freeze) through the loops, which allows the refrigerant to exchange thermal energy with the ground due to thermal inertia (lag) of the soil at these depths.

The ground temperature is warmer than outside air in the winter, and cooler in the summer, since the thermal energy from the sun and precipitation lessens in effect the deeper (and denser) the soil mass in between, until there’s almost no variation. The refrigerant fluid gains thermal energy (heat) from the ground in the winter, but flowing in-reverse, loses heat in the ground during the summer. Once inside, the heat pump exchanges the energy with a heating system, and/or a cooling system, depending on the season, space, and type of system. Heat pump systems work in conjunction with other devices, typically forced-air HVAC systems (servicing air through return and supply ducts) and hydronic systems (servicing air by circulating water through radiators and baseboards).

In addition to this project, we’ll be seeing Purity Ice Cream installing a geothermal heat pump system as well. The latest updates and a new serving area render are on their Facebook Page.





Design by Chiang O’Brien Architects


Westgate Plaza / Finger Lakes Beverage Center

February 21, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The retail building housing the Finger Lakes Beverage Center and FedEx Office at 605 West State Street, Westgate Plaza looks to begin their renovation work this year, as expected in their site plan review materials submitted in the Summer of last year. The FedEx space has been wrapped with Tyvek, and I’ve heard that work is in full swing on the interior towards the south end of the building. Drawings of the planned exterior are below, along with photos taken a couple weeks ago. The plans will expand the Finger Lakes Beverage Center store area, add an entry along the western wall, a rebuilt pitched roof, parking lot improvements, and a wrap-around awning.




Planned Parenthood Photo Update: Brick Facade

February 9, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Sections of the Planned Parenthood (of the Southern Finger Lakes) Ithaca project’s facade have been filled-in with brick as called for in the design by Chiang O’Brien Architects. The majority of the work is moving along in the 16,000 square foot interior, which was closed-up by early December, along with the sealing of the bright green glass-mat sheathing covering over the exterior stud walls. Besides brick, much of the building will be covered with various styles of fiber cement panels, as shown in the plans below. LeChase Construction is the general contractor on the project, which should be finishing up later this year.


S:PPSFL09-09008 & PPSFLGrant-09035200-DesignDocuments250-DD258-PresentationsSPR-Final SubmissionRenderingsPPSFL09-2012 C



Purity Ice Cream Site Walkthrough Photos

January 31, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

I had a walkthrough of the Purity Ice Cream project this past Wednesday with Bruce Lane, so here are some photos of what’s being worked on. The work is being done by Strawbridge and Jahn Builders.

From the outside, it’s probably not too noticeable yet- there’s a section of brick facade that has been removed on the opposite (north side), which will be replaced with a grayer toned brick, along with the walls towards the western end. The original building was built rather recently- back in 1953, and there have been three additions since then, and various renovations.

The current owners, Bruce and Heather Lane bought the business back in 1998, about a month before it was ready to close its doors due to financial insolvency. Ithaca seems rather fortunate in this regard: we have an abundance of individuals and local leaders investing their personal time and capital in order to keep cherished places and businesses alive.

The Purity operation used to distribute all sorts of goods around town beyond ice cream- almost like a general goods delivery service. Once large national distribution companies like SYSCO began to emerge and compete, typically the smaller town-based and regional distributors were either bought out, shifted business, or went out of business.

View from South on Meadow Street:

Former line queue and serving counter- the space will be reworked for more efficient serving:


Former bathrooms for customers- new bathrooms will be slightly larger, with a shared hallway:


Future prep area and mechanical closets (part of the second addition- the windows and concrete block wall to the left were the original face of the building, then this new section was added, where you can see the corrugated steel on the ceiling):


Former production room to become a generous seating area:


Render from North edge of the lot:


Future floor plan for first floor:


More information here:
Purity Ice Cream
John Snyder Architects

Purity Ice Cream Demolition Phase

January 24, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

The Purity Ice Cream project has been moving ahead, with the demolition phase closing-in on completion as interior walls and built-ins are removed, some asbestos containing materials are remediated, and the brick facades removed. The asbestos removal is wrapping-up by early next week- the whole project is closed-up at the moment so particles don’t escape during the process. Following Purity’s Facebook Page will get you some great photos and updates about the project as it is unfolding, and here’s a selection of photos from just before demolition and during, taken from the posts so far. I’ll be swinging by next week to take a look at the progress, and should have some new final renders from John Snyder Architects to post shortly- their Facebook page also has some nice shots from photographer Gary Hodges.




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.