At a public information session earlier this week, the proposed Carpenter Business Park was given a firm shakedown by residents living near the site as well as other members of the Ithaca community.
One of the project’s leaders, Scott Whitham of Whitham Planning and Design, showed a presentation detailing the layout of the project. Whitham is working on behalf of Cayuga Medical Center and Park Grove Realty, who are planning on developing the site with four buildings, which would include a medical office, two mixed-use buildings and an affordable housing building. Since there are several easements in place by NYSEG which limit the height of buildings on the site to avoid power line interference, placing the buildings was difficult, along with ensuring that nothing happened to the local Community Gardens.
During the presentation, Whitham talked about how the project is going to need to be rezoned due to the new height of the buildings. With the issue of parking on the site emerging since the originally proposed underground garages were found to be unfeasible, the developer has plans to make the first and second floors of the mixed use buildings into parking. However, there are still plans for first floor retail to be implemented as well. The site would also have one building dedicated strictly to affordable housing which will be priced at 50 to 60 percent of the average median income. Once the presentation was finished, the room had an abundance of questions, with many coming from residents living near the site of the project.
Some questions dealt with whether or not there was any room to negotiate with NYSEG on modifying the easements, but Whitham said this doesn’t seem possible. Alderperson George McGonigal wanted to know why the project had to be rezoned, and if there was a plan devised where the zoning wouldn’t have to change.
Whitham spoke about how the soil at the site played a large factor in whether or not the building would be able to have underground parking. Since the site was originally supposed to have subterranean parking, this would have kept the buildings compliant with the current zoning of the site. However, since the soil was an issue, as it has been for several projects in that area including Emmy’s Organics, the newly allotted floors for parking have pushed the height of the building up. Alderperson Cynthia Brock had a great deal to say about the development of the site, particularly surrounding the new zoning.