January 06 2012

Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca

Cayuga Lake (top) and the Inlet flowing south

The potential for waterfront redevelopment has been a recent hot topic of debate here in Ithaca, New York. Ithaca’s waterfront consists of the southern end of Cayuga Lake, which is mostly parkland and upscale residential properties, and Cayuga Inlet flowing from the south into the lake, whose banks host a wider variety of industrial, recreational, and residential uses.

Cayuga Inlet is seen by some as a corridor of great physical and economic redevelopment potential. The first step in the process of redevelopment for any site is usually to change its zoning. As such, in March 2011 the Ithaca Common Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee entered into discussions of rezoning the area to allow for denser development. New zoning for the area, including increased height limits and relaxed setback limits, was approved by the Common Council in October 2011.

Despite nearly unanimous agreement among the Common Council, the debate over the waterfront’s future persists. While supporters see new development at increased density as a way to open economic opportunity and reinvigorate this area of town, opponents worry that this scale of development is inconsistent with the small city’s character and will push out small business owners (read letters of opposition from the Tompkins County Planning Dept and a prominent local attorney here).

Aerial View

The Inlet from above. The Johnson's Boatyard project is sited for the land on the left, which is just south of the Golf Course on the above map.

A pending proposal for a large-scale housing complex informally called “Johnson’s Boatyard Housing Project” presents one example of the denser redevelopment, constituting a drastic change in the Inlet as Ithacans know it. The sketch plan suggests three phases of development:

  • The first phase, to start in 2012, will build about 20 townhouses;
  • The second and third phases will be multistory (2-4 floor) mixed-use buildings of a modern design. Future market conditions will determine the final height of these buildings.

Usually urban planners, landscape architects, and environmental non-profits always support waterfront improvement, but the intense debate surrounding Ithaca’s waterfront may leave doubts in the community’s mind as to whether this redevelopment is an improvement or not. An important question is whether it will contribute to a more sustainable Ithaca.

Has waterfront redevelopment affected your community positively or negatively?

Credits: Images and documents linked to source.

Nina Coveney

Nina Coveney graduated from Cornell University in 2011 with a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies. When she began as a blogger with Global Site Plans, she worked for the Town of Ithaca, New York Planning Department. She then transitioned - in writing and real life - to New York City where she began working in the Events department of the Bryant Park Corporation. She hopes to eventually pursue a Master’s Degree in urban planning and design. A native of the New York City metro area, she blogged about trends in sustainability, housing, transportation, and adaptive reuse in both Ithaca and the Big Apple until April 2012.

Website - Twitter - Facebook - More Posts

This entry was posted on Friday, January 6th, 2012 at 8:44 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environment, Government/Politics, Housing, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Share

6 Responses to “Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca”

  1. Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca | www.kotilink.com Says:

    [...] more here: Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca Be Sociable, Share! Tweet This entry was posted in Business & Industrial and tagged [...]

  2. Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca | www.kotihost.com Says:

    [...] from: Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca Be Sociable, Share! Tweet This entry was posted in Business & Industrial and tagged [...]

  3. Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca | www.erasedmail.com Says:

    [...] more here: Capitalizing on Cayuga Lake: Waterfront Redevelopment in Ithaca Be Sociable, Share! Tweet This entry was posted in Business & Industrial and tagged [...]

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Interesting debate and a well written piece about the pros and cons of both sides. I look forward to seeing what happens with the waterfront.

  5. Nina Coveney Says:

    Thank you, Anonymous! Personally, I think that — despite the opposition — this development will occur. The rezoning has been approved, and development proposals have already been submitted… even if it doesn’t seem like it, that’s pretty far along in the development process!

    Also, this project seems somewhat linked to the subject of my last post on the transit-oriented redevelopment of the Ithaca Commons. The enhanced transit that the city wants to put in will only be a success if it takes people to places they want to go!

  6. New York State and Ithaca Announce $88K Grant to Complete Waterfront Trail | The Ithaca Independent Says:

    [...] also said today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony is also a chance to look to the future of “waterfront improvements here on Cayuga Lake.” Some have questioned City Hall’s desire to turn the city’s [...]

Leave a Reply


+ 9 = thirteen

 

Follow US

Categories