323 Taughannock Boulevard | Ithaca, New York

Report by Kai Uchida

Boathouse Landing from Taughannock Boulevard

Boathouse Landing from Taughannock Boulevard, Source: Kai Uchida


323 Taughannock Boulevard in Ithaca, New York is the address for a high-end 16-unit multi-family housing development called the Boathouse Landing. It was the first multi-family residence to be built on Inlet Island, located West of Ithaca’s downtown (STREAM, n.d.). The property lies along the waterfront of Cayuga Lake’s inlet that extends South of the lake. The new multi-family housing structure replaced a dilapidated, vacant single-floor commercial building and the parking space. The development process for the property began in 2014 and took several years and a couple of iterations before construction was eventually completed in September of 2019 (Ithacating, 2019c). Figure 1below shows the development from Taughannock Boulevard. Figure 2is an image of the development from across the inlet.


Taughannock is highlighted

The address for the parcel is 323 Taughannock Boulevard in the City of Ithaca, New York. Taughannock Boulevard is a street that runs part way along the Western shore of Cayuga Lake and extends down to the end of Inlet Island. 323 Taughannock Boulevard is located within Inlet Island on its Eastern shore. The parcel has direct access to the waterfront. Inlet Island is an island formed by the inlets of Cayuga Lake to its South. The Island is located directly West of Downtown Ithaca and is connected by: bridges along Buffalo Street, Seneca Street, and State Street from the East, State Street, Cliff Street, and Taughannock Boulevard from the West, and Brindly and Taber Street from the South. Attached below are Figure 3 and Figure 4which indicate the location in the context of Ithaca at large and the parcel’s boundaries (Figures from UrbanFootprint City of Ithaca parcel data layer)

As shown in Figure 5, in 2013, before the new development was constructed, the property had just a single-story commercial building and its associated parking lot. As can be seen in Figure 6, the one-story structure remained on the property until 2018 when the demolition and construction on the property finally began. While Ithacating in Cornell Heights describes the building as a non-descript dive bar in April of 2014, images from before their article seem to show a building that has been abandoned (Figure 5). Tompkins County’s Tax Assessor’s data in Figure 7supports that the building was previously a bar, but it is questionable that it remained as a bar in the three years after the property was purchased by Rampart Real, LLC in 2011. In 2016, an article describing a new potential development on the site —that eventually became the Boathouse Landing—described the existing building as a vacant commercial use (Crandall, 2016). When the building was subsequently purchased by 323T, LLC in 2017 before the land was successfully developed by its new owners, the building was identified as being vacant commercial property with an improvement (Figure 7). It is clear that the land use was a bar previously, but it is unclear for how long and until when the building was used for that purpose. It seems most likely that the building was a bar until it was purchased by Rampart Real in 2011 in spite of the article by Ithacating alleging that it was still being used as a bar in 2014.

The parcel is located in a WF zone according to the City of Ithaca Resident Vicinity Report (Appendix A). The WF zone is the Waterfront zoning district. The area was rezoned to a special waterfront zone in 2011 after a vote in the Common Council (Dwyer, 2011). While the City of Ithaca Resident Vicinity Report did not specify which sub zone it was included under, the proposed zoning amendment map (Appendix B) shows that the area including 323 Taughannock Boulevard is zoned under WF-2 (GIS Planning, 2011). The WF-2 zone in particular has a two story minimum except for “water dependent” uses which have no minimum requirement (City of Ithaca, n.d.c). This is in contrast to the WF-1 zone which has a three story minimum requirement (City of Ithaca, n.d.c). In the WF zone, there can be many uses ranging from residential, business, to industrial and the zone allows for mixed-uses (City of Ithaca, n.d.b). The parcel is not within any historic districts. 

Context of Parcel

Boathouse Landing from across the inlet, Source: Kai Uchida

Properties adjacent to the Boathouse Landing are quite varied. To the South there is a property under construction. When I visited, part of the structure was without walls (Appendix C). This building is slated to become the WaterWorks, a market-rate waterfront five-unit condo development (Crandall, 2021a). The architecture firm in charge of this new development is the same firm who worked on the Boathouse Landing, STREAM Collaborative (Brokaw, 2016; Crandall, 2021a). Further South is Kelly's Dockside, a marine themed restaurant (Appendix D). To the North of the Boathouse Landing is a small, single-story commercial use. It is currently a martial arts school called Hanuman Siddhi. It is located in a building that stood alongside the original 323 Taughannock Boulevard structure. Further North are commercial uses including a pet wellness center and a bar (Appendix E). To the West of the development across the street is Island Health and Fitness, Rasa Spa, as well as a Cayuga Medical Wellness Center (Appendix F). The neighborhood, that being the Inlet Island, is quite small and includes mostly one-story commercial uses. The most prominent building on the Island is probably the Island Health and Fitness building. There are a few single-family homes located in the Southern portion of Island, some of which are being used by non-profit organizations. There is also a Waterfront Trail that runs along the West side of the Island and continues across the bridge to the East and along Cayuga Lake’s waterfront.

The City of Ithaca Plan Ithaca comprehensive plan includes elements that are relevant to the parcel and its surrounding areas. The parcel and the Inlet Island are planned as Environmentally-Sensitive Waterfront Mixed-Use as seen in Figure 8 (City of Ithaca Planning, 2015). One element identified as an opportunity for the Waterfront Mixed-Use area, which extends beyond the Island, is that the area currently falls below development thresholds (City of Ithaca Planning, 2015). From visiting the location, this seems to be true. There are many buildings which are one-story in a location that allows for up to five stories. The plan is interested in promoting mixed-uses that create an active waterfront environment, and to this end, maintaining public access to the waterfront seems to be crucial (City of Ithaca Planning, 2015). However, there did not seem to be obvious waterfront access on the parcel, and in that sense Boathouse Landing may be somewhat contrary to the plan. The Environmentally-Sensitive aspect of the plan emphasizes special care and attention to ensuring the preservation of natural resources and amenities (City of Ithaca Planning, 2015). The plan discusses increased procedural scrutiny as a means of helping to achieve harmony with the environment.


Tax Assessor’s Sale Data

The first version of 323 Taughannock Boulevard proposed by STREAM Collaborative in 2014 was actually a mixed-use 20-unit apartment with commercial uses on the ground floor (Infill on Inlet Island, 2014; STREAM, n.d.). Not only did the density of residential uses decline, the commercial uses completely disappeared in the final form of Boathouse Landing. Now, commercial uses are still technically a part of the design of Boathouse Landing (STREAM, 2017). It was suggested that the first floor apartment units could be repurposed into commercial units for lease. However, without an explicit designation as commercial units, the apartments are not being used as businesses. I found this interesting because the ultimate result seems somewhat contrary to the goals of the comprehensive plan that was adopted by the time this development was ultimately approved. The developer cited issues related to “parking, soft soil, and relatively tight space (Brokaw, 2016, para. 11).” Soft soil is a seemingly legitimate concern as the parcel is right next to the water. Parking also seems like legitimate concerns as well. When I visited the property, the parking out front seemed to barely accommodate the tenants of the sixteen units, even if one were to presume that some tenants would not own or rent a car. There seemed to be some extra space between adjacent structures, but maybe a certain amount of space was demanded to maintain adequate access to the waterfront from the front. Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel that there might have been more that could have been done with the property, from higher density, more explicit mixed-uses, to affordable housing.

Details regarding the demolition of the prior structures were more difficult to find. A few elements came to light in analyzing the project proposal by STREAM Collaborative sent to the City of Ithaca. There were many elements that needed to be removed before the demolition of the structure could begin (STREAM, 2017). A lot of the pavement that existed previously for parking needed to be removed as they were under the footprint of the new structure (STREAM, 2017). Not much was specified about the demolition of the main structure in the demolition plan that I found. However, it was revealed that asbestos was included in the roof of the previous building, and some extra care would be necessitated in its removal (STREAM, 2017). Some sewage and gas lines that were supposedly not being utilized anymore were also being removed (STREAM, 2017). A possible consideration in demolition may have been debris falling into the lake. However, the main structure was located a fair distance from the inlet so it is unlikely that it constituted a particularly big concern.

I think many more developments like the Boathouse Landing will be constructed on Inslet Island. Though Boathouse Landing was the first of its type, it is already being followed by the construction of the WaterWorks, a development quite similar to Boathouse on the same road. I reckon the waterfront properties are very attractive and with more dense uses being permitted, developer’s ability to recoup the costs of construction has surely increased. Based on both Boathouse Landing and WaterWorks, the developments that will follow will likely be on the higher end in terms of prices. While higher densities have been generally permitted, it seems that there may be difficulty in constructing many units due to the nature of the Inlet Island, as can be seen from the process the Boathouse Landing development took to eventually get approved. There were concerns ranging from parking, space, to soft soil, which many parcels in the area probably suffer from. This probably means that development of residential units may be limited to smaller-scale market-rate housing as opposed to very large developments that include affordable housing opportunities.

References (APA)

323 Taughannock Boulevard Construction Update, 12/2018. (2018, Dec. 3). Ithacating in Cornell Heights. Retrieved from https://ithacating.com/2018/12/03/323-taughannock-boulevard-construction-update-12-2018/.

323 Taughannock Boulevard Construction Update, 2/2019. (2019, Feb. 25). Ithacating in Cornell Heights. Retrieved from https://ithacating.com/2019/02/25/323-taughannock-boulevard-construction-update-2-2019/.

323 Taughannock Boulevard Construction Update, 5/2019. (2019, Jun. 2). Ithacating in Cornell Heights. Retrieved from https://ithacating.com/2019/06/02/323-taughannock-boulevard-construction-update-5-2019/.

323 Taughannock Boulevard Construction Update, 9/2019. (2019, Sep. 21). Ithacating in Cornell Heights. Retrieved from https://ithacating.com/2019/09/21/323-taughannock-boulevard-construction-update-9-2019/.

Almendarez, J. (2017, Aug. 4). Explainer: Waterfront officially rezoned, what does that mean and why should I care?. The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved from https://ithacavoice.com/2017/08/explainer-waterfront-officially-rezoned-mean-care/.

Boathouse Landing on Cayuga Inlet. (n.d.). Boathouse Landing. Retrieved from https://www.boathouseithaca.com/.

Brokaw, J. (2016, Jan. 20). The Cayuga Inlet: From commerce to condominiums. ithaca.com. Retrieved from https://www.ithaca.com/news/the-cayuga-inlet-from-commerce-to-condominiums/article_db5d1b34-bf99-11e5-9e6e-276f9f9be628.html.

Brokaw, J. (2018, Jan. 10). Tax break approved for $3,500 apartments on Ithaca waterfront. TruthSayers. Retrieved from https://www.truthsayers.org/2018/01/10/tax-break-approved-for-3500-apartments-on-ithaca-waterfront/.

City of Ithaca Planning Division. (2015). Plan Ithaca. City of Ithaca. Retrieved from http://www.cityofithaca.org/DocumentCenter/View/4054/Plan-Ithaca?bidId=.

Crandall, B. (2016, Dec. 21). Townhouses planned on Ithaca’s Inlet Island. The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved from https://ithacavoice.com/2016/12/townhouses-planned-inlet-island/.

Crandall, B. (2019, Sep. 17). Homes rise on Ithaca’s waterfront. The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved from https://ithacavoice.com/2019/09/homes-rise-on-ithacas-waterfront/.

Crandall, B. (2021a, Feb. 9). ‘WaterWorks’ project submits re-vised plan for waterfront condos. The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved from https://ithacavoice.com/2021/02/waterworks-project-submits-revised-plan-for-waterfront-condos/.

Crandall, B. (2021b, Dec. 17). Arnot expands Ithaca presence with Downtown purchase. The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved from https://ithacavoice.com/2021/12/arnot-expands-ithaca-presence-with-downtown-purchase/.

Dwyer, D. (2011, Oct. 12). City of Ithaca: Despite Common Council approval, waterfront zoning debate remains. ithaca.com. Retrieved from https://www.ithaca.com/news/ithaca/city-of-ithaca-despite-common-council-approval-waterfront-zoning-debate/article_22a775de-f488-11e0-8330-001cc4c002e0.html.

GIS Planning. (2011). Proposed waterfront re-zoning: August 2011. City of Ithaca. Retrieved from https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/ithaca.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/05/d05a065c-f487-11e0-bf89-001cc4c002e0/4e9512b16f3cd.pdf.pdf.

Harding, T. (2020, Nov. 11). A new market: Arnot Realty is expanding into Ithaca to take advantage of the stable economy and the need for more housing. ithaca.com. Retrieved from https://www.ithaca.com/news/ithaca/a-new-market/article_1739a07e-2461-11eb-9745-9f280810e814.html.

Henderson, J. (2014, Jun. 20). 323 Taughannock Boulevard waterfront project. Ithaca Builds. Retrieved from http://ithacabuilds.com/2014/06/20/323-taughannock-boulevard-waterfront-project/.Henderson, J. (2014, Jul. 2014). 323 Taughannock Boulevard: Updated plans for 20-unit waterfront project. Ithaca Builds. Retrieved from http://ithacabuilds.com/2014/07/28/323-taughannock-boulevard-updated-plans-for-20-unit-waterfront-project/.

Infill on Inlet Island: 323 Taughannock Boulevard. (2014, Jun. 4). Ithacating in Cornell Heights. Retrieved from https://ithacating.com/2014/06/04/infill-on-inlet-island-323-taughannock-boulevard/.

Henbest, D. (2008, May 28). For Inlet Island businesses, city hesitation means uncertain future. ithaca.com. Retrieved from https://www.ithaca.com/news/local_news/for-inlet-island-businesses-city-hesitation-means-uncertain-future/article_e9b068ae-1258-56c5-9f63-4a8f6b20fe68.html?mode=jqm.

STREAM Collaborative. (n.d.) 323 Taughannock Boulevard.

STREAM Collaborative. Retrieved from https://www.streamcolab.com/featured-projects/2019/7/17/323-taughannock-boulevard.

STREAM Collaborative. (n.d.). 323 Taughannock Blvd Version 1.

STREAM Collaborative. Retrieved from https://www.streamcolab.com/featured-projects/2016/7/5/323-taughannock-blvd.

STREAM Collaborative. (2014). Site plan review documents for 323 Taughannock Blvd. Retrieved from http://ithacabuilds.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/323-Taughannock-Boulevard-SPR-Application-Submission-06-02-14.pdf.

STREAM Collaborative. (2016). Project proposal for 323 Taughannock Blvd.Retrieved from http://www.cityofithaca.org/DocumentCenter/View/7172/323-Taughannock-Blvd-SPR-Apr-2017.

Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency. (2017). IDA Board of Directors meetings agenda for December 17, 2017. Tompkins County IDA. Retrieved from http://www.tompkinsida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/TCIDA-Agenda-Packet-Dec-14-2017.pdf.

Wolfe, M. T. (2007, Aug. 7). Aftershocks in Ithaca. ithaca.com. Retrieved from https://www.ithaca.com/news/local_news/aftershocks-in-ithaca/article_8962a8e2-f242-5a72-98c3-d64af8869141.html?mode=jqm.


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