Ithaca landmark commission approves development on old library site

Despite vocal opposition from some residents in the Dewitt Park Historical District, the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan to develop the site of the old Tompkins County Public Library with new housing.

A rendering of the Dewitt House project as it would be seen at the Cayuga Street and Court Street intersection. Travis Hyde rendering courtesy of ILPC.

According to Ithaca Common Council alderperson Seph Murtagh, the ILPC narrowly approved the redevelopment of the old library site by a 4-3 vote. “Close vote, but the right decision,” he said on Twitter.

The approved project, Travis Hyde Properties’s Dewitt House plan, would build a four-story building on the foundation of the old library building, based on revised plans that adapt to criticisms raised in past rounds of the approval process.

“New shrubs and trees, new parking underground, better setbacks, pretty much everything that was demanded,” said Tompkins County legislator Martha Robertson on her Facebook page of the revised plans. She urged Ithaca residents to chime in this week in support of the project. “Our only choice is whether we’ll change to be more sustainable, inclusive, and just, or less so? Please value the good of the many over the privilege of the few.”

Some area residents have objected to the density of the new housing project in an historic neighborhood that has mostly consisted of family homes and churches.

More info about the project’s current design is on the city’s website.

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