Seneca Way, a six-story apartment complex that will hold parking and office space downtown, began construction Wednesday with expectations that it will be completed by December 2013.
The project was unveiled at a groundbreaking ceremony on its site located at Seneca Way and East State Street, at the base of East Hill.
Seneca Way will include 38 apartments total, with room for office space. The lower level of the building includes a secured, covered parking garage and a fitness center.
Seneca Way is being built in conjunction with Warren Real Estate in Ithaca, which owns many properties in the Finger Lakes area, and Newman Development Group based in Binghamton, N.Y. Newman Development Group has built retail buildings in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California.
Bryan Warren, president of Warren Real Estate, said he became interested in developing plans for an apartment complex when he noticed there was a growing interest in urban apartment living in Ithaca, but few housing options were available downtown. Warren said he has seen a trend of people wanting to live closer to where they work and shops, rather than living in houses surrounding the city.
“It’s a popular type of lifestyle that’s really taken hold and really taken off,” Warren said. “Urban living just seems to be the way people are preferring to live these days.”
The site of the complex is currently where the unoccupied Challenge Industry building is located. On Nov. 26, demolition will begin on the building to make room for the Seneca Way apartments.
Warren said the expected cost of the project is not clear at this point.
Phyllisa DeSarno, deputy director for economic development for the City of Ithaca, said the complex is important for adding downtown living opportunities.
“It’s going to bring more housing options downtown,” DeSarno said. “It’s an option for a lot of different age groups and income groups.”
Gary Ferguson, executive director of the Downtown Ithaca Alliance, said Seneca Way is one of many projects in the works for the next few years in downtown Ithaca. Some others include the construction of the Argos Inn, renovation of The Commons and the construction of a new Marriott Hotel on South Aurora.
“It’s a project I think that helps advance the downtown strategic plan, because it provides both new housing and new office space,” Ferguson said. “[It] will really change the dynamics in downtown, making it a lot more vibrant and lively place.”