Reporters Faith Meckley and Emma Rizzo said down with Scott Whitham of Ithaca-based Whitham Design to discuss the proposed Trebloc development project for the State Street Triangle. Whitham is offering consulting services for Texas-based Campus Advantage, the site’s developer.
The first 15 minutes of this interview aired on the July 24th, 2015 edition of WRFI Radio News. The following is an extended interview with Whitham, including content that did not air on the radio:
Development projects have been hogging Ithaca headlines lately as the city government and developers wrestle to make decisions on the old library site and 210 Hancock Street. Public debate has focused around the balance between the need for more affordable housing and business and the community character of the City of Ithaca.
One such project that is currently in the early planning phases is the Trebloc development at the State Street Triangle at the corner of Aurora and East State Streets. Texas-based developer Campus Advantage is planning to build a large, 11-story multi-use building that would include 240 housing units, five retail spaces and a restaurant.
The price tag for this project, according to the site plan review, is 40 million dollars, with an anticipated construction period from January 2016 to August 2017. For comparison, the Hilton Canopy Hotel across the street, the largest non-Cornell project approved by the city in 2014, according to the Ithaca Voice, was valued at 11.5 million dollars.
One of the original design drafts was met with opposition from members of the Planning and Development Board, who were concerned about the colossal size of the project and how it would impact the aesthetics of the newly completed Commons entrance and the pedestrian-heavy restaurant area.
At the June 23rd meeting of the Planning and Development Board, board member John Schroeder said the project had quote, “no consideration of urban fabric.”
The plot that Campus Advantage is looking to build in was re-zoned in 2013 from 60 feet to 120 feet, specifically with the intention of encouraging development. Now that the developer has arrived, however, board member Jack Elliot went as far as to say that the zoning should be reconsidered to prevent projects that will detrimentally affect Ithaca’s character, such as, in his opinion, the Trebloc development.
Rizzo and Meckley followed up their interview with Whitham by speaking with Irene Weiser and Jeff Furman of the Coalition for Sustainable Economic Development, who offered their thoughts on current and past development projects, as well as CIITAP tax abatements.