Representatives of Travis Hyde Properties today presented the Legislature’s Old Library Committee an update on redevelopment of the site of the Old Tompkins County Library, now that the City of Ithaca’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, after many months of review, has awarded a Certificate of Appropriateness for the proposed project, which is located in the DeWitt Park Historic District.
The current design, it was noted, has changed significantly from previous versions. It represents the seventh design iteration since the Legislature awarded Travis Hyde preferred developer status nearly two years ago. The design retains the ground floor of the main area of the existing Old Library building, which will become a raised plaza at the ground level, about nine feet above sidewalk level. The four-story building includes set-backs of the third and fourth floors on three sides— the north and east sides along Court and Cayuga Streets, and the south side, adjacent to the DeWitt Park Inn, providing a two-story presence along the street.
The project includes 58 units, compared to the 60 initially proposed—a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and two-bedroom with den, including four first-floor loft units on the ground floor facing Court Street. The ground floor also includes a community room, to be managed and with priority use by the older adult organization Lifelong, and 1,250 square feet of commercial space. The new design also includes 38 spaces of enclosed ground-floor parking, compared to only ten parking spaces in the last design. Vehicle access to the building will now be from Court Street, instead of from the more heavily travelled Cayuga Street.
Asked about what will happen to existing trees, developer Frost Travis said those along Court Street, because of their current condition and problem of interfering with overhead power lines, will probably have to be removed and replaced with something similar, but that he intends to preserve as many existing trees as possible along Cayuga Street. Asked about energy aspects, Travis said the structure will be an all-electric building, with the potential for heat pumps.
The City Planning Board must still conduct site plan review, a process that will begin next month, and the developers said they hope for a somewhat accelerated process at this stage, in view of the lengthy review by the ILPC. Architect Graham Gillespie said he hopes discussions with the City will wrap up in May, with the developers back before the Legislature by late June.
Several people praised Travis Hyde for their considerable work on the project and development of the latest design, among them Chair Michael Lane, who expressed appreciation for the latest design, and particularly the parking configuration. (Mr. Lane had repeatedly expressed concern about the project’s parking capacity.) He said the latest design appears to address many of the concerns that have been voiced throughout the many months of project review.