The Town of Ithaca Planning Board gave preliminary approval to plans for a new shopping center during a public meeting April 3. The center, College Crossings, will be located at the intersection of Danby Road and East King Road.
Landowner Evan Monkemeyer, of Ithaca Estates Realty, plans to break ground in May and be open for business in September 2007. But Fred T. Wilcox, chair of the Town of Ithaca Planning Board, said he doubts whether Monkemeyer could reach these deadlines.
“It would be difficult for them to be able to complete the work necessary,” Wilcox said. “[He has to] submit the plans to the town, have them reviewed and then schedule a meeting of the planning board for public review and then possible final approval.”
In a presentation to the board, Monkemeyer said he plans to create a residence-style building with 11 spaces for business, including a bank, a restaurant and retail space. Most of the businesses will be locally owned, he said. The building will be about 40 feet high with 23,000 square feet of floor space.
Monkemeyer said the shopping center would allow residents of the surrounding area and students of Ithaca College to shop without having to commute off the hill.
Freshman Madona Liverpool said that a shopping center within walking distance would save time.
“I would love a shopping center that’s walking distance from Ithaca [College] so that I won’t have to pay for a cab or wait a long time for the TCAT,” she said.
Junior Evan Williams said the shopping center might still be too far from the campus to walk.
“It is still driving distance away,” he said.
Monkemeyer’s plan includes a 600-foot walking trail leading from the shopping center to the college’s Circle Apartments, which could include a blue light system for safety.
Bob Holt, director of Public Safety, said if Monkemeyer plans to attract students to College Crossings with a trail, he should work with the college to implement safety measures like a blue light system.
“The college has a responsibility to put qualifiers on pathways that draw students to it, such as [a path to College Crossings],” he said.
Bill Bartnik, supervisor of mechanics for the college’s facilities maintenance department, said because the proposed blue light system would be off college property, Monkemeyer would have to request a permit from the town. Bartnik said the planning and design could take up to two months.
At the meeting, the planning board was concerned the center will increase pedestrian traffic along Route 96B, Wilcox said, putting pedestrians in danger of traffic.
“[Because of its] commercial establishments … there is the likelihood that people will be walking to and from this,” he said.
Though a sidewalk had been discussed, the board decided not to require it because there are no other sidewalks near commercial buildings along the road.
Monkemeyer said the building will have varying roof lines. The property will include a fountain and an underground storm water storage system to eliminate a large boxed structure on the surface.
The planning board has been concerned with details of the project, but Wilcox said Monkemeyer has gone to great lengths to work with them to meet expectations.
“Overall, I think the planning board was very pleased with what was being proposed,” he said. “[It] appears to be a very nice addition to that small neighborhood commercial area.”