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Tompkins County Follow Up Statement on 408 North Tioga Street Property

Structural and building condition photos available for media use (link)

(Ithaca, N.Y., February 3, 2023) -- Tompkins County is informing interested parties that no decision is anticipated on the future of the property at 408 N. Tioga Street at either the February 7 meeting of the full Legislature nor the February 16 meeting of the Facilities and Infrastructure Committee. Decisions on the property are not expected until the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process is completed, reviewed and evaluated and the County further assesses legal obligations.

Tompkins County previously published a response to inquiries on the considerations regarding the future of the property and structure. Please refer to that publication for details on such considerations and Tompkins County’s organizational space needs.

Following additional questions from interested parties, Tompkins County is sharing the following statements and clarifications:

  • The initial SEQR process completed in 2019 did not consider deconstruction of the 408 N. Tioga Street structure. Since that initial SEQR Tompkins County has made several additional property transactions that impact future decision making. Other properties located on the same block as current County office buildings acquired by the County may better serve as a location for a future building. Around one-third of the parcel at the 400 block of N. Tioga Street was sold to INHS for four units of permanently affordable housing.
  • Tompkins County has not considered demolition of the structure at 408 N. Tioga Street. Rather than demolish the structure, Tompkins County is considering deconstruction, a method of dismantling the building while salvaging architectural elements or reusable materials for future use in the community. Deconstruction is a concept being embraced by Tompkins County following the 2022 ReUse Summit and a presentation on deconstruction which cites successful deconstruction efforts of older buildings in the Collegetown neighborhood. The structure (former Baker Dental Office building) at 412 N. Tioga Street is slated to be deconstructed following a resolution of the Tompkins County Legislature in 2022.
  • Tompkins County is currently planning for a range of short- and long-term organizational space needs in Downtown Ithaca. Tompkins County is committed to continuing to offer services to the public and employment opportunities located downtown. Planning for space needs while committing to locating services and staff in a central, accessible location are leading to the current active considerations on the future of all County-owned properties, including 408 N. Tioga Street.
  • Maintenance and enhancement of County offices and services in the Downtown Ithaca area are County priorities. New and adapted facilities increase the opportunities for centralizing staff and services as well as allow for significant green energy enhancements. Because hundreds of County employees work in the N. Tioga Street area, parking for those employees must be a consideration for any property use, though parking is not the primary goal of the County nor the primary driver of the decision making on any particular property or structure owned by the County.
  • In order for it to be safe and occupied, the current structure located at 408 N. Tioga Street needs significant repairs:
    • Tompkins County Facilities Department and third party engineers have identified structural concerns, asbestos abatement needs, and compliance requirements with the current structure. (Recent photos of the interior of the structure at 408 N. Tioga Street are available here).
    • If the building were to be repaired by Tompkins County it would require significant enhancements to comply with code requirements for public buildings, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in addition to structural and HVAC enhancements that must be made. If the County were to repair the building it would require significant public funds, initially estimated to be at least $1.25 million.

Tompkins County appreciates the community’s questions and neighborhood concerns, and  encourages the public to follow this issue through the Legislature’s Facilities and Infrastructure Committee (meeting agendas and minutes found here, video streams available here).