Ithaca Builds

Mapping, photos and information for Ithaca construction and development projects


Simplex Modular Factory Tour

March 17, 2015 // by Jason Henderson

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.

Their production is most notable in the Ithaca area for Belle Sherman Cottages, an East Hill 19 single-family detached and 10-townhome project developed by Agora Development and built by Carina Construction. Project page and photos here.

When visiting, the crews were working on a ~300 box project for a four-story multifamily development for downtown Philadelphia.


































Shanghai Tower Exhibit & A Needle Woman Installation

October 20, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Non-Ithaca building related, but interesting nonetheless, here’s an architecture exhibit and a sculpture on the Cornell campus-

Shanghai Tower Exhibit:

This is a massive tower designed by Gensler being built in the Lujiazui District of Shanghai, China, and reaching a finished height of 2,073 feet (121 floors). The scale models are on display in Sibley Hall until November 7th, exhibit page here. Two Russian men actually climbed it back in February. It’s currently under construction, but has topped-out, and will be finishing in early 2015.

Photo copyright of Gensler




A Needle Woman:

Installed last month, this is “A Needle Woman,” a sculpture on the Arts Quad (in front of Goldwin Smith Hall) being exhibited from Sep 18, 2014 to Dec 22, 2014 done by artist Kimsooja, along with a group of collaborators, including Cornell nano material engineer and chemical scientist Ulirich Wiesner. The sculpture is treated with a molecularly engineered nano polymer that is precisely structured to maximize the refractive qualities of natural light (see project page here).



The Commons Project Finishing Next Spring, A Look at Another Pedestrian Mall

September 2, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

As announced a few weeks ago, the Commons Rebuild Project has hit another set of delays with NYSEG utility work, and won’t be completed until next Spring. While the news is certainly a bummer, the deck should be paved with concrete by early November, so I look forward to the center section being opened-up again for pedestrians.


Pedestrian malls are quite uncommon (and not always successful) in the US nowadays, so on a recent trip to Charlottesville, Virginia (college town of the University of Virginia), I visited the Historic Downtown Mall. Charlottesville’s pedestrian mall is sizeable (seven blocks), highly successful, and it’s easy to see why: it’s in the dead-center of town, which is not far from UVA’s campus, and is anchored at one end by a large hotel and conference center (The Omni Charlottesville), Regal Theater, and the other by a public pavilion for outdoor events (the nTelos Wireless Pavillion), Downtown Transit Hub, City Hall, and Visitor’s Center.

The major blemish here is a failed hotel project: the Landmark Hotel, which was to be opened by now, but stalled back in late 2008 when the construction lender folded, the borrower defaulted on payment, then the FDIC took over, then the bank was officially dissolved, and now the property has been bought by another developer, but the City is claiming that the building is unsafe, so construction has not resumed. The original developer is CNET-founder Halsey Minor (see how to blow a fortune).

In any case, I was thoroughly-impressed by the place: large movable planters, sprawling open dining areas, plenty of lighting, directory signs on each block, brick and concrete pavers, and cross-streets allowing traffic fit well here. Charlottesville, like Ithaca, is a big tourist destination, so the retail mix was similar, and certainly loaded with restaurants and cafés. It was hard not feeling envious, but with any luck, Ithaca’s new mall will wrap-up in time for next summer. If you’re ever down in Hooville, it’s worth checking-out:







The Landmark Hotel project:


The Pavilion:


Affordable Housing in Ithaca (Part One)

April 23, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Odds are, if you poll people on the street in Ithaca and ask them to name the most pressing problem in the City, the prevailing answer would be the lack of affordable housing. Over the years, we’ve managed to run up a housing market demand that overruns housing supply.

The Breckenridge Place ribbon-cutting ceremony last May 26th presented a startling reminder of how the lack of affordable housing threatens vulnerable populations, and why it’s so difficult to accomplish.

Among the speakers was Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, whom spoke of his own experiences growing up with housing uncertainty, and at times, literally homeless. It’s important for us to define housing as a basic need in society, but also housing that is located near downtowns, civic institutions, and economic centers, so that residents are able to take full advantage of social and economic opportunities. Svante made the same point by recalling that his family had lived in a nicely-furnished affordable housing complex for two years, but it had been very far from a town center, which severely reduced the benefits of the housing due to the lack of reasonable mobility to places of work, to basic needs like groceries, and to local resources.

Downtown affordable housing developments are tremendously difficult projects to accomplish, primarily due to the cost of building and financing projects under current building codes, costs, and site availability. Not to say building codes, costs, or site availability are to blame: codes keep people safe, costs are largely predetermined due to wages, materials, and technology, and site availability due to existing productive structures and planning considerations.

At the ceremony, Paul Mazzarella, director of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, introduced Stuart J. Mitchell, CEO of Pathstone Development Corp. (project partner-developer), whom emphasized the complexity of the financing and planning involved in Breckenridge. Generally nowadays, affordable housing projects are complicated public/private/not-for-profit deals that leverage a slew of public and grant funding sources with private equity to finance the construction. The legal and tax benefits of each corporate structure are utilized to take full advantage of each of the funding nuances in order to make the project happen, a bit like putting together a financial puzzle set.

Programs like the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), NYS Homes & Community Renewal programs (NYSDHCR), and federal neighborhood revitalization grants are typically oversubscribed, especially programs for urban multifamily housing development. LIHTC is said to be oversubscribed 3 to 1 with project applications each funding cycle. Organizations like Smart Growth America’s LOCUS are actively pushing federal and state governments to gear their programs towards smarter (denser, downtown) developments in order to re-align incentives with the existing and future sustainable American market for housing.

I wanted to present the current picture in Ithaca, and coincidentally, Paul gave a great presentation on housing trends in Ithaca and Tompkins County to the City Planning Committee last February 12th, and has agreed to share the slides here on the blog. Here’s a selection of slides from the presentation with brief explanations:


Housing sales cost trends show that from 2000 to 2013, prices have increased about twice as fast as income growth, and the fastest in urban areas of Tompkins County, especially in the City of Ithaca. The largest percentage of price gains have been in the lowest quartile of the housing market, essentially pricing-out many buyers from the lower end of the market.


Regionally, we have the greatest gap between median purchase price and median family income:


Affordable (defined by a multiplier of median income) home sales volumes have slipped:


Fair Market Rents (FMRs, defined by the federal government at the 40th percentile of median family income) have increased dramatically from 2000 to 2014:


Tompkins County’s FMRs are almost twice as expensive as some nearby counties:


Rental housing in Ithaca is clearly dominated by student housing, which has been the intended consumer for most new multifamily rental development since 1980, however, rental housing development has not kept pace with demand for new units.


The vacancy rate for apartments in the Ithaca urban area is 0.5%, which is far below the 5% rate considered to be a good rule of thumb for a desirable and competitive market. If not enough units are left vacant, the market is incentivized towards supplying sub-standard housing for the revenues the units command. In addition, the burden of finding housing imposes a cost to consumers. There are demographic changes that drive this housing demand: the City of Ithaca has seen minimal population growth (just less than 1%) from 1990 to 2010, while the County has seen growth around 8%. Part of the discrepancy can be traced to the lack of affordable and new housing created in the City.

Employment is arguably the major driver, since living closer to work is desirable; from 2000 to 2013, the change in private employment looks like this:

(MSA= Metropolitan Statistical Area)

The New York State Comptroller’s Office recently published a report (March 2014) on housing affordability in New York State, and the figures statewide are quite grim. According to the State, housing affordability is defined by housing costs being a portion of 30% or less of household income. Housing costs are defined not only by rent or mortgage payments, but also utilities, insurance, and real estate taxes. Severe housing burden is a 50% cost-share of household income.



Tompkins County’s numbers may be skewed due to the fact that student households with ACS-sampled low incomes but high rents are included in the Census Bureau statistics, and thus, the reported percentage (47.8%) of rental households above affordability thresholds may not be accurate. The percentage of owner households above the affordability threshold is likely to be much more accurate, at 21.8%, since students generally do not own the property they live in.

Regardless, the reality in Ithaca is that many people are priced out of the market for housing, and the solutions are not easy. Breckenridge was the first affordable housing development in the downtown area in 30 years.


The Second Part in this series will put on “Developer Goggles”: I’ll present and explain a traditionally-financed development pro forma (cost, financing, and cash flow analysis) with up-to-date construction cost information, financing terms, and typical operating revenue and expenses to show a developer’s financial view of building and operating a sample project in Ithaca.

My thanks to Paul for sharing the presentation on housing trends. You can find out more about the mission and history of INHS at their website: Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services

Green Building, Practices, Local Knowledge & Efforts: Part Two

February 27, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

Energy and buildings are quite inseparable topics, so I thought I’d post a bit about some local initiatives here in Tompkins County I have enough knowledge to write about (there are many others, and the TCCPI newsletters are probably the best resource for this purpose). The bulk of this article contains a basic explanation of the utility-based renewable incentive structure in New York State. If you’ve ever purchased electricity in New York State since 1996, it’s been on your utility bill (unless your utility company is LIPA, which has its own programs, NYPA, a municipal or cooperative grid).

I’m leaving out Cornell University and Ithaca College, since the AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) program assessments already provide lots of superb documentation about sustainability per each institution (and there’s just way too much to go through):


Cornell University STARS Scorecard

Ithaca College STARS Scorecard




The Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI) is a coalition of those in the area that are involved in sustainability within the organizations they work for (or with), and/or run programs themselves. The Members List provides a good idea of the organizations involved. The group meets each month for presentations from members and guests, and also to talk informally about strategies and efforts.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated projects is the Black Oak Wind Farm, a wind turbine installation breaking ground this year that will erect seven wind turbines on Buck Hill in Enfield, with a production capacity of 11.9 megawatts.

Solarize Tompkins has led workshops, educational events, and has coordinated well over 100 solar installations in Tompkins County by leveraging NYSERDA incentives, and contracting through Solar Liberty, a large solar installer based out of Buffalo, NY.

Per building codes at the state level: the 2010 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (NYS Energy Code, which originates from the collaboration of ASHRAE, the International Code Council & US Department of Energy) requires new construction to be certified through a verification process, screening the heating/cooling devices, lighting, building envelope, and various components of the project for energy compliance. The codes have been in effect since Dec 28th, 2010. There’s a good map online showing National Energy Building Code Adoption Statuses.

As far as incentives, New York State (and many other states) have setup mandates for usage-based charges on customer utility bills that direct funds to energy-efficiency and renewable-energy grant programs through the public service regulators, in New York’s case: the Public Service Commission (PSC). The PSC has oversight of utility providers, telecom companies, and regulated water service providers (natural monopolies). NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority was setup and is regulated by the PSC to administer programs and funds for the purpose of energy-efficiency and renewable incentives, and also research grants.

There are two separate charges, usually combined into one charge on the utility bill, but they have different objectives. The System Benefit Charge (SBC) was setup in 1996, and has been utilized for programming that reduces peak load. The first two five-year periods of authorization focused funding into a variety of programs: basically everything from customer-sited photovoltaics and weatherization to small R&D grants. Since 2012, the programming has shifted more towards providing funding for broad energy-efficiency programs in commercial buildings, including Combined Heat & Power, and market development incentives.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was enacted in the State Legislature in 2004, and mandated the PSC to provide enough programming to bring the state’s grid consumption to 29% renewable by 2015 (it’s commonly called “RPS 30 by 15,” but the original target was 25% by 2013). The program is split into two tiers: a Main Tier, and a Customer-Sited Tier. The Main Tier receives the bulk of funding, and provides incentives for new renewable production capacity and producer-plant upgrades, with most of the funding going to large-scale wind projects, but also hydro, biogas, and biomass. The Customer-Sited Tier, or “behind-the-meter” programs incentivize private property owners to install photovoltaics, anaerobic digesters, small wind, fuel cell, and solar thermal projects. The majority of the funding goes to photovoltaic installations, commonly through the NY-Sun Initiative.

The New York State Energy Planning Board has released their 2014 draft NYS Energy Plan, which contains information about where New York stands in energy production, consumption, emissions, grid stability, and provides policy recommendations for legislative consideration. There are numerous public comment sessions, and anyone is free to comment on the draft plan. The Tompkins County Planning Board has drafted a resolution for the Tompkins County Legislature to provide commentary on the plan, which calls for an interim goal of carbon-reduction of 50% by 2030, in addition to the State’s goal of 80% by 2050. Interim goals are a good idea in order to dissuade from “moving the goalpost” in the future, and the energy market has massive commercial interests involved, so it’s no surprise that the scope and draft plans have less progressive first runs.

Out of over 600 pages of narrative and documentation, the graphs and charts are great, so I’ve chosen a selection here that give a good sense of where we stand now, and what’s been happening over the past decade or so:


As you can see from these two charts, transportation and combustion-heating of buildings comprise the overwhelming majority of C02 emissions.





There was also a great 2012 study done by a Cornell University graduate student on the supply and demand of energy in Tompkins County:

Link to 2012 report by Johnson Grad student


Also- as a follow-up on Ian Shapiro’s Green Building Illustrated: there will be a local release celebration March 7th from 5pm-7pm at the Tompkins County Sustainability Center.

The Value of Downtowns & Density

February 5, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

I’ve written a bit about this topic before, but just this past Monday Joe Minicozzi of Urban Three came back to Ithaca to deliver his talk at the Downtown Ithaca Alliance Annual Dinner. It’s a powerful presentation and argument on how assessed taxable values of property relate to value in a local economy, and that “smart growth”, density, and especially downtowns typically represent a huge value prospect compared to suburban and commercial strip development. The presentation has evolved since last year to include more information on municipal cost comparisons as well, which compound the importance of the argument, since they’ve uncovered that the municipal costs of sprawl typically outweigh the costs of dense development patterns, implying an inherent subsidy in the property tax system that benefits sprawl over density. (Joe brings up a good point in that we’ve known this to be true since the 1970s, when Richard Nixon commissioned a study called “The Costs of Sprawl“, which was updated again in 2000 and 2005)
Luckily enough for those that missed it, there’s actually quite a good video online of a presentation he’s done in Missoula, Montana (about 68,000 people), so here it is:




Green Building, Practices, Local Knowledge & Efforts: Part One

February 4, 2014 // by Jason Henderson

There has been an ever-increasing focus on how buildings are built and renovated to maximize energy efficiency and waste with as few materials and resources as possible, while still maintaining, or even increasing overall function. The effort is commonly referred to as “green building” or “green design,” owing to the term “green,” which traditionally implies a cost and resource analysis that studies the entire lifecycle of the product/structure, with an emphasis on environmental responsibility. It’s also grossly misused for marketing purposes, but that’s besides the point.

The why question is obvious: we use vastly too many resources. The Global Footprint Network, a research organization, produces some interesting and shocking indexes for countries and regions of the world, called “Ecological Footprints,” that measure the use of resources against what the Earth regeneratively provides. The current World Footprint shows that humans use around 50% more per year than the Earth can regeneratively provide in the same period, a situation termed “overshoot”. Worse yet, our usage exacerbates the stability of the climate, so the regenerative capacity is also declining. The measure is quite clever, since it’s the same term we apply to budgeting, so a logical comparison is that the Earth provides us with a budget, and we overspend it worse than the US Congress.

Buildings and transportation account for over 75% of this spending in the United States. Transportations costs are closely tied to land use, which is another topic, but building energy consumption is largely a result of lighting, cooling, heating, electronics, ventilation, water heating, refrigeration, and various other activities. The intent of green design is to minimize a building’s demand for energy and resources in order to fulfill these various activities.

Perhaps the most widely-used system for measuring these design strategies is called LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, created and administered by the US Green Building Council. The system awards points for various design features within a project, ranging from simple features like bike racks to more advanced systems like geothermal heating. The number of points determines the level at which a project (or existing building that has been commissioned) is rated: from certified to silver, gold, and platinum. LEED has several types of rating systems based on the type of project.

Just recently announced, the Tompkins County Legislature will be asking for public comment on a proposed law to grant partial property tax incentives to projects that qualify for LEED certification. The meeting is this Thursday, February 6th; below is the proposed resolution: My apologies, I was mistaken: public hearing is February 18th, 5:30pm, in the Tompkins Legislature Chambers The public hearing has been postponed since the resolution was sent back to committee level this past Thursday’s meeting, the 6th.


The legislation passed in the New York Legislature earlier this year to allow municipalities to enact- in New York State, property tax abatements can only be authorized through the State Legislature, and in this case, Tompkins County will be deciding whether or not to enact this section. The legislative intent is to help defray the cost of commissioning a LEED building (fees, design review, design premium, etc.), which can vary depending on the project’s cost and complexity. The 2003 cost study I am citing is by Greg Katz, of Capital E.

The proposed abatement would incentivize existing buildings to undergo renovations and commissioning through the LEED system to gain certification, and would also incentivize new projects to add green design to their plans. I put together a simplistic model below to show the impact on an example $1 million project, along with some of the requirements as pointed out in the law. The proposed legislation aims for a $100,000 cap in abated assessed improved value per the LEED project, applying only to Tompkins County property taxes.


The US Green Building Council is broken-up into chapters, and Upstate New York has its own chapter, which reviews projects, organizes events, educational materials, coordinates among design professionals, and perhaps most importantly- uses the practice and experience of LEED professionals within the chapter to issue guidance on the rating system and proposed improvements to the national organization. There are some great practical training opportunities for those interested through GPRO (Green Professionals), which also just received a grant from NYSERDA to provide further training sessions throughout New York State.

Many architects and design professionals already have experience with green design, and interestingly enough, an Ithaca-native will be releasing what may indeed become a standard reference in the field:


Green Building Illustrated is being released this month, authored by Francis D.K. Ching and Ian Shapiro, Chairman of Ithaca-based Taitem Engineering, PC. Taitem is an award-winning, and often published design and engineering firm, which recently became a fully-certified B Corporation back in May 2013.

I asked Ian about his history as a design and engineering professional, and how the book came about in order to share it here:

Ian Shapiro: I am not an architect, but I have always loved technical drawing. In high school, I took drawing classes from a wonderful old Scandinavian immigrant, and I still have those pencil drawings. In college, I took drafting classes from a Professor Zsombor-Murray at McGill, a real character, with a big beard, a difficult professor, and a stickler for detail.

I always found that drawing brought me great calm. I would come out of drawing classes with a wonderful, peaceful feeling.

After college, I moved home to the New York City area from Montreal, and started grad school at Columbia. Around this time, I believe in a used bookstore, I happened on an early copy of Architectural Graphics, by Francis D.K. Ching. I’m almost certain it was the first edition, smaller than it is now, published at that time by Van Nostrand Reinhold, which was subsequently bought by John Wiley and Sons. I was taken by the straightforward instructions and by the clarity: Make sure two lines meet; show people in a relaxed poses; so much more. I took the book and practiced drawing from it – shading, lettering, and more. I still have my notebook from those exercises. I started sketching buildings just for fun – cabins I stayed in on vacation, homes I lived in, and more. I used these sketching techniques when designing prototype heat pumps while working at Carrier Corporation.

After a few years working for Carrier, I started Taitem Engineering. Taitem stands for “Technology As If the Earth Mattered”. The name derives from the subtitle to the book Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher, which I read when I was at McGill. Today, Taitem is a 40-person consulting company, recognized for its work in energy conservation, engineering design for buildings, and renewable energy.
When I started Taitem, I illustrated my own reports, at that time I was using an early CAD program. I don’t regard my drawing capabilities as anything but simple, but I have a deep love for line drawings, that goes way back over four decades. I treasured Architectural Graphics, and still do. Over the years, I picked up other books by Frank Ching, and am simply in awe of the breadth of the work. I have my favorites, I’m thinking of Architecture: Form, Space and Order for example, but I love them all. It’s not only the drawings, the crispness and clarity of the text is just something else.

So this is how I came to think of Frank when someone suggested that a book on green building design needed to have illustrations.

About 30 years after reading Architectural Graphics, I reached out to Frank Ching and asked him if he would co-author a book on green buildings. He had recently retired from teaching at the University of Washington. He graciously agreed. Frank’s body of published work in architecture is unrivaled. His books are translated into over 15 languages around the world. It was a great honor and pleasure to work with him.

If you’re interested in the book, it can still be pre-ordered through Amazon until February 24th when it’s released for general sale, and also ordered through the publisher, John Wiley & Sons. As a personal endorsement, I own three Frank Ching books, and they’re a tremendously helpful professional resource- this book should be no different.

Part Two of this post shall feature information on a few local efforts, as well as a section on the System Benefit Charge, a funding mechanism in New York State that charges energy consumers a fee on their usage in order to fund energy-efficiency incentive programs through NYSERDA as part of New York State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

The New Google Maps

December 17, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I’d highly recommend doing so- as has been expected for a while now, Google Maps is now in 3D: terrain, buildings, everything. Here’s a screenshot of a view over Ithaca, but you can see the new map engine by going to Google Maps, then hit the lower left for “Earth view”, then bottom right for “Tilt” to see varying degrees of view. Just make sure you’re free for several hours before doing so.


Some screenshots here, updated January 22nd, 2014:

Core Downtown

Cornell North Campus:

Cornell Main Campus:

East Hill Plaza:

Ithaca College:

The Route 13 Strip:


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.

Some Basic Data on Home Sales & Reported Costs in Ithaca

November 26, 2013 // by Jason Henderson

I generally don’t dig into single-family home development, but for the sake of sharing some basic information, here’s a series of charts I put together not long ago.

Most of this data is from the US Census Bureau, so the term “housing unit” can be confusing. Here’s the official definition:

A housing unit is a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms, or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters. Separate living quarters are those in which the occupants live and eat separately from any other persons in the building and which have direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall.

Home sales data from the Tompkins County Assessor’s Office:


And the obligatory comparison to the rest of the nation:


The following three charts are reported data from Building Permits, which can be imprecise due to the inherent incentive to “lowball” the projected build cost in order to decrease the permit fee, since it is based on a percentage of total cost, but I still found it interesting that the double-unit cost has been reported so much lower than single-unit. It’s probably due to a slew of complicated factors like intended market (finish quality), renovation versus new build, etc., but it’s not what I would have guessed.


MSA stands for Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is an area of Census blocks used to form combined statistics. The Ithaca MSA is the whole of Tompkins County.




The 2010 Census Data has scant information at the block level, however, it still has housing stock and population information per each block, so I took a selection of blocks within a 1.75 mile radius from the center of downtown. Although it’s not exactly apples-to-apples, the pricing above takes the 2010 weighted mean City & Town home sale price from the first chart divided by people per housing unit to get us a crude estimate of the cost of housing per person at the 2010 market. So, for a family of three in the City & Town, a $235,000 home price may be typical, which would be about a $2,200 monthly PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) payment on a 30-year mortgage at 5% with no down payment.


Sources: US Census Bureau, Tompkins County Department of Assessment, City-Data