Ithaca Estates Realty, a local rental company, has received final approval from the Town of Ithaca Planning Board to begin construction of a community shopping complex building project near the Ithaca College Circle Apartments this fall.
Evan Monkemeyer, real estate broker and community builder for Ithaca Estates Realty LLC, said the complex will house a fitness center, a bank and an Ithaca Bakery restaurant.
Monkemeyer said that he hopes a restaurant will rent one of the retail property and can use the over eighty outdoor dining spaces he has planned.
The project had been set to break ground in the summer of 2011, but it will now most likely start construction in early October. The complex should be ready to open by next fall, as long as they are able to obtain a building permit.
The project has been considered since around 2005, Monkemeyer said. The complex, which is set to hold both residential and commercial spaces, will be located on the corner of East King Road and 96B. There are also plans for a paved walkway that goes from the back of the building to the Circle Apartments.
Monkemeyer said financial reasons and difficulty obtaining bank loans forced him to postpone the project, which he estimates will cost him close to $2 million. The original design for the project was estimated to cost more, but Monkemeyer said he decided to contract it himself to cut costs. Monkemeyer said he doesn’t have projections about project gains yet.
In the original College Crossings design, Monkemeyer said, the building was supposed to be a commercial building with offices on top and businesses on the bottom. However, in the current design, the building, which will be more than 19,000 square feet, will have six commercial spaces on the main floor and a space for two four-or-five-person apartments. This makes it a mixed-use commercial and residential building.
Sue Ritter, director of planning for the Town of Ithaca, said the project seems to be on track.
“What’s required is getting site plan approval and special permits from the planning board to be able to have this mixed-use building,” Ritter said. “The next step really is for them to come to the town with a building permit.”
One feature of the project that the Town of Ithaca planning board liked was the plan to add a paved walkway from the back side of the location to the college, Monkemeyer said. He also said the walkway will begin at the College Crossings parking
lot and will to the Circle Apartments, which will make it easier for students to commute to downtown.
“It’ll give you pedestrian access from East King Road, in the Town of Ithaca, all the way to downtown,” Monkemeyer said. “It will be blacktop and smooth, so you can bicycle, skateboard or jog.”
Junior Ian Vitkus, a resident of the Circle Apartments, said he thinks the project has potential to be useful to the college community.
“It could be a place to get stuff that’s actually close to campus that you don’t have to drive to,” Vitkus said. “Underclassmen don’t have to rely on the buses.”
Monkemeyer said he hopes the project will benefit the South Hill community. He said he hopes to turn it into a more popular destination.
“For the size of the project, I think it’s going to be Collegetown for South Hill,” Monkemeyer said. “It’s not going to be College Avenue or Dryden Road, not with six story high-rises. This is going to be a suburban look, a suburban feel, and it’s going to be a landmark building.”