The variance would exempt him from the city’s current parking laws, which his proposed building cannot meet. Under current law, every two housing units built must be paired with one parking spot within 500 feet of the building. Lower’s proposal is currently pending review.
The proposal includes creating 60 new housing units at 307 College Ave.
The pedestrian arcade would make the area between College and Linden avenues a well-lit walkway lined with retail storefronts and restaurants, similar to The Commons.
Svante Myrick, an Ithaca Common Council alderman and Cornell alumnus, said Lower’s proposal would give newer, safer apartments to renters.
“The project as [Lower] is proposing it with the variance is a win-win for both the developer and the community,” Myrick said.
Lower’s solution to the parking problem is to offer residents of the area more incentives to limit the number of cars.
“Each resident will be offered bus and carshare privileges, along with indoor and outdoor bicycle parking facilities,” Lower said. “If a student chooses to bring a car, there is an abundance of parking options available in Collegetown, downtown and on campus.”
Lower said the proposal encourages sustainability and alternative modes of transportation. He said the absence of parking won’t be an issue for prospective renters.
“Collegetown is a transit hub with many transportation options such as biking, bus, carshare,” Lower said. “Many people choose to live here because it is possible to live without owning a car.”
Council alderwoman Ellen McCollister said Lower needs to form a more specific proposal that addresses parking concerns in order for it to pass through.
“If he cannot show clear mitigation for absence of parking then a variance would be a lot to grant,” McCollister said. “The reality is students do bring cars, and they do spill out into the neighborhoods.”
Lower said residents in neighborhoods in Collegetown’s vicinity have expressed their concerns to him over students parking in their areas.
Lower is hoping for a decision from the Board of Zoning Appeals soon so construction can begin in June 2011.
“If we don’t start on time, the completion date is moved ahead, and the building sits empty for year,” Lower said.