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Home » Tompkins County » Ithaca » Ithaca’s Comfort Inn proposal moves forward despite concerns, zoning challenges

Ithaca’s Comfort Inn proposal moves forward despite concerns, zoning challenges

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

The ongoing proposal for the development of a new Comfort Inn in Ithaca’s Inlet Valley, led by local entrepreneur Pratik Ahir of Ramji Hospitality, recently received split approval from the town’s board to continue with its design, though not without reservations and alterations voiced by the Planning Board members.

The Ithaca Voice reports this project, initially proposed as a Sleep Inn in 2016, had to pivot to a Comfort Inn to accommodate the preferences of Choice Hotels, focusing on a more “upper midscale” market and offerings.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The proposal has witnessed numerous hurdles, with financing disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the new Inlet Valley Overlay District over the neighborhood, which limits lodging facilities to under 60 rooms and encourages the development of smaller, upscale boutique hotels.

Adjustments were made to the original plan to conform to the new zoning overlay, including reducing the number of hotel rooms to 67 and modifying the building’s design to align with the district’s guidelines.

Despite the revisions, there has been considerable debate within the town’s boards regarding the environmental impacts and the aesthetic appropriateness of the building’s materials, leading to extensive discussions and a 4-2-1 pass on the environmental review (SEQR).

The ongoing debates and discussions culminated in the granting of Preliminary Site Plan Approval, under the condition of further revisions to the exterior materials, with a 6-1 vote, with member Liz Bageant opposed, according to The Voice.