Cornell breaks ground on east hill grad housing complex

Less than a year after the Maplewood Apartments complex closed on Ithaca’s east hill, Cornell University has broken ground on a new project at the site. The new 872-bed Maplewood complex will offer graduate and professional student housing.

Cornell and local officials and developer representatives ceremonially break ground on Friday afternoon at the Maplewood site. Photo courtesy of Julie Paige.

The site, between Maple Avenue and Mitchell Street, above the Coal Yard Cafe, sits between Collegetown and East Hill Plaza. It formerly held clusters with dozens of small apartment-style housing units with just 360 beds in total. The previous complex was built in 1989, with a planned life span of 25 years. Cornell considered renovating the existing structures, but decided to rebuild with higher density.

The original complex was demolished over the winter, following a surplus sale last fall that helped to remove reusable items from the space. The last residents moved out last summer.

Unlike the previous Maplewood complex, the new housing will be financed and managed by EdR, or Education Realty Trust, a company based in Memphis and founded in 2004 by a Cornell University alumnus. That puts the property, and its rental revenue, back on the tax rolls, even though Cornell retains ownership of the land.

Concept art for the mixed-use housing at the new Maplewood complex. Image courtesy Cornell University.

Jeremy Thomas, Cornell’s senior director of real estate, says “EdR is known for its on-campus revitalization and innovation efforts, constructing quality, long-lasting, sustainable buildings and developments that meet the expectations of today’s students.” By more than doubling the housing capacity on the site, Cornell hopes to sharply reduce emissions caused by grad students driving to and from campus from housing farther away. The site will have 3-4 floor apartment buildings, townhouses, and three-level stacked flats.

“Our goals for this site are to foster a close-knit neighborhood feel, while connecting this community through walkways and outdoor spaces to the university and surrounding neighborhoods, including the East Hill Plaza area where we are planning future mixed-use development,” Thomas said in a statement.

Friday afternoon’s groundbreaking ceremony featured remarks from Cornell University’s new president, Martha E. Pollack, as well as from other Cornell officials, Town of Ithaca town supervisor Bill Goodman, and Tom Trubiana, the president of EdR.

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