After remaining stalled in development for more than two years, the South Hill’s newest shopping center, College Crossings, may finally be moving off the drawing board and into reality.
The property selected for construction, located at 1061 Danby Road on the corner of East King Road and Route 96B, is owned by Ithaca Estates Realty LLC and will feature retail, commercial and office space once the building is completed.
Evan Monkemeyer of Ithaca Estates Realty said College Crossings is planned as a 19,000-square-foot two-story building made to accommodate up to seven tenants. The first floor will feature a bank as well as retail and restaurant space. The second floor is slated mainly for offices.
Monkemeyer said the entire building along with the surrounding grounds will offer free wireless Internet service to patrons, and groundbreaking on College Crossings is projected for this summer, and should be completed by Fall 2011.
Monkemeyer said College Crossings is planned to have two car entrances, one each off East King Road and Route 96B. An 8-foot wide, 800-foot long pedestrian path has also been designed to connect the shopping center with the campus and make for easy student access, in particular the college’s Circle Apartments. The footpath will be paved for use by both walkers and bikers and to allow for easy clearing and salting during winter months. The shopping center is intended to service the needs of the immediate South Hill community, including emerging neighborhoods and the student population.
Sophomore Caitlin Davis said the location of the new mall has notable advantages for students planning on living in the Circles in the future.
“It’s so convenient for people living there because they won’t have to use cars to go out shopping now,” she said. “I would definitely take advantage of it if I were them.”
Susan Ritter, a member of the Town of Ithaca Planning Commission, said the plan was first filed in late 2009, but did not receive final approval until September 2010, when the Town of Ithaca granted the requested zoning variance to the property’s developers.
Ritter said the long period of arrested development was because of the plan’s lack of several required legal easements, but these have now been met.
“They have filed approval and they still have some conditions to meet before they start building, but they are certainly on the way to getting what they need,” she said.
Ritter said that among the legal easements still needed for development to commence are a curb cut permit for the corner on which the property is located, storm water operation maintenance approval and sidewalk agreements.
Evan Monkemeyer of Ithaca Estates Realty said the economic recession in recent years has also contributed to stalling the project’s development.
“When we were supposed to start two years ago, the economics just weren’t there,” he said. “Banks weren’t lending money, and tenants weren’t interested. Now we’re starting to come back from that drop-off, and we’re getting more attention to the property.”
Monkemeyer said preliminary development on the property is already underway. Construction crews worked through the winter to remove an old foundation from a previous building still on the site, and Monkemeyer said the company is waiting to break ground until 50 to 60 percent of the planned building has been pre-leased.
“We’re still waiting on those magic numbers in pre-leasing, because without it we can’t pay the mortgage or taxes,” Monkemeyer said. “It’s not an easy time, and there’s a lot of economic worries still on people’s minds.”
Monkemeyer said groundbreaking on College Crossings is projected for this summer, and the completed building by fall.