Cliff Street Retreat Proposal Does Not Fit West Hill | Customer reviews

As a longtime resident of Cliff Street and as a town planner with over three decades of experience, nationally and internationally, I once again find my neighborhood under the onslaught of Ithaca Town Hall. . Surprisingly, the assault is being led by none other than our West Hill Alderman, Cynthia Brock, with the warm support of Alderman George McGonigal. The so-called “Cliff Street Retreat” development proposed for the Incodema property at 407 Cliff Street has already been passed by Brock’s Planning and Economic Development Committee and received design approval, with their votes, from City Council.

Although described by Cynthia Brock and the developer as an “innovative” mixed-use residential and commercial project, the rezoning will actually introduce a full-scale residential development in the middle of the Cliff Street neighborhood: a 23,300 square foot commercial development. the size of the building housing Chipotle and Firehouse Subs on Meadow Street.

Contrary to what the developers and Cynthia Brock want us to believe, there is no “residential” component to this development. This is an Airbnb-type business transaction, as the applicant’s project description clearly shows, a “… short-term hostel-like rental, and … retail and lounge / restaurant / cafe … “The notes on the proposed building plans submitted by the developer also uses terms such as” hotel hallway “and” hotel room “. This type of Airbnb operation is not “residential”; it is a HOTEL as defined in the Ithaca Zoning Code.

These types of Airbnb business transactions – businesses where absent investors buy residential properties in established neighborhoods and rent them out for weekend or weekly rentals – have disrupted the neighborhoods of many of the Lake District’s communities. Finger Lakes region, including my professional clients. The unregulated operations attract large groups of vacationers renting a unit, who overload local streets with excessive parking demand and generate loud parties and litter in neighborhoods. “Cliff Street Retreat” will be a sisterhood and brotherhood dream come true: party palaces for short-term rental far from the eyes of CU and IC officials.

The proposed new zoning would have significant negative impacts on the Cliff Street neighborhood, which is already under significant stress from the approximately 15,000 cars and trucks (nearly 600 trucks per day according to New York State data) that seriously disrupt the quality of life of residents. Cliff Street Retreat has the potential to generate 500-1,000 new car trips per day on the narrow two-lane street and create a huge bottleneck for cars turning left to enter or exit the site.

Think of all those suburbanites in the city of Ithaca and the city of Ulysses stopping for that latte and muffin on the way to work, or to take on the way home in the evening at this “. .. retail space and maybe a small cafe, which is sorely lacking in the West Hill community right now… ”but which is not accessible to anyone in West Hill except residents of the town of West Hill. ‘Ulysses and the city of Ithaca.

Introducing commercial zoning into a residential neighborhood like the Cliff Street neighborhood is one of the most destabilizing land use planning actions a city can undertake. This type of rezoning has historically been a successful form of “redlining”: land use policies based on race and class have used cities to destroy low-income and BIPOC communities across the United States.

I have worked in many such communities, including after Katrina Lower 9th Ward and Treme in New Orleans, post-Katrina Vietnamese East Biloxi, MS; in the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky; in the Milton-Montford neighborhood of Baltimore. I have also worked in Roma communities in Italy and in urban villages in China which have been subject to similar policies. The rezoning of the plot at 407 Cliff Street for large-scale commercial use sends a signal that the City of Ithaca, officially, does not consider Cliff Street a legitimate residential area worthy of zoning protection.

In conclusion, the proposed “innovative” development “Cliff Street Retreat” will have significant long-term negative effects on the Cliff Street neighborhood and lead to an even greater deterioration in the quality of life of Cliff Street residents. Perhaps this is what ultimately sends the neighborhood down the spiral of decline experienced by similarly situated neighborhoods in New York and the United States.

The proposed development will not promote the health and well-being of the Ithaca community. It is not in line with the comprehensive city plan adopted in 2015. Nor will it result in any significant long-term community benefit for Ithaca.

So why do our two representatives of the Common Council, Cynthia Brock and George McGonigal, support this proposal?

Smart, curious voters ask.

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