Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that work is underway on a new $96 million affordable housing development and conference center in downtown Ithaca. Asteri Ithaca will be constructed on the western portion of the Green Street Parking Garage, which will be demolished as part of this comprehensive urban renewal project. The highly energy-efficient, all-electric building will feature 181 affordable apartments with 40 homes reserved for people in need of supportive services to live independently.
"We are committed to providing access to quality, comfortable homes where New Yorkers can live and play in the communities they love," Governor Hochul said. "Asteri Ithaca is a key piece in this well-conceived urban renewal plan that is bringing essential affordable homes with supportive services for those who need them, and a state-of-the-art conference center that will promote the growth of businesses nearby. This is the way a city builds its future."
The Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency released a Request for Proposals in 2017 for an urban renewal project to renovate the Green Street Parking Garage. The project consists of three portions: affordable housing, a conference center, and the Green Street Parking Garage's renovation and construction. All three components are being financed separately.
The affordable apartments and 55,000-square-foot conference center will occupy the same 12-story building. The $62 million residential portion on the top nine floors will include 78 studio, 87 one-bedroom, eight two-bedroom, and eight three-bedroom apartments. Rents are structured to be affordable to households earning up to 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income.
Forty apartments are reserved for people in need of supportive services. They will benefit from an Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) award to Tompkins Community Action, Inc., which will be administered by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).
All residents of the development will be provided with free internet service, with each unit hard-wired for 5G access, including routers for WiFi. Amenities will include a 12th-floor sky terrace, outdoor space, and a fourth-floor fitness center and community room. Residents will also have access to a common laundry room on every other floor, and indoor bike storage on the ground floor.
The eastern portion of the Green Street Parking Garage will be renovated and expanded to include 350 parking spaces, with spots available for building residents to lease.
Located at 118 East Green Street, Asteri Ithaca is within walking distance of the Ithaca Commons, City Hall, restaurants, shops, medical offices, and professional offices. The development is close to Six-Mile Creek Trail, DeWitt Park and Cascadilla Gorge Trail. The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit's Ithaca Commons - Green Street stop is nearby and is served by more than 10 bus routes.
The energy-efficient, all-electric building will further the state's goals under the Climate Leadership Protection Act of achieving 85 percent carbon neutrality by 2050. All Apartments will have low flow plumbing fixtures, along with Energy Star rated windows and appliances. In addition, the building is expected to meet the standards of the EPA Energy Star Multi-Family High-Rise Programs, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) New Construction Housing Program.
State funding for the $62 million residential portion of the Asteri Ithaca includes $11 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $26.3 million in equity and $19.8 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). NYSERDA will provide $550,000 in support. Empire State Development (ESD) is supporting the Conference Center with $5 million through a Regional Council Capital Grant.
Asteri Ithaca's developer is the Vecino Group. The city of Ithaca, Tompkins County, the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency, and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance are providing significant financial support for the conference center and renovation of the remaining portion of the garage.
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Asteri Ithaca will add to the vitality and energy that downtown Ithaca needs to continue to thrive. With affordable rents, free internet, exceptional amenities and supportive services, the 181 households soon to be filled here will have the tools they need to live successful lives. On top of all that, the sustainable design will provide a healthier environment and move us closer to meeting the State's carbon reduction targets. Congratulations to the Vecino Group and thanks to all the partners who share our vision of building bright, exciting downtown destinations across the great state of New York."
Asteri Ithaca is part of the state's $20 billion, five-year effort to provide New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing. The plan, now in its final year, makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing.
Over the last decade In the Southern Tier, HCR has invested more than $230 million to finance nearly 2,650 affordable apartments in multifamily developments, an investment that leveraged more than $376 million in funding from other sources. Nearly $36 million of HCR's total regional investment led to the creation of over 400 apartments in Ithaca.
Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, "Asteri Ithaca's new conference center and mixed-income apartments are at the heart of the city, close to businesses, public transportation and to some of Ithaca's iconic gorges and green spaces. We are proud to be a partner in this project, which reflects New York's commitment to strategic investments that boost local and regional economies while creating more vibrant downtowns around the state."
OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said, "Homelessness and housing insecurity are often rooted in underlying issues that are left unaddressed. Asteri Ithaca will couple affordable housing with the supportive services that tenants can rely on to confront those issues that previously contributed to their housing insecurity. Under Governor Hochul's leadership, our state continues to make headway toward ensuring all New Yorkers have access to safe, affordable housing and the services they can rely on to live in independent settings."
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO of NYSERDA said, "NYSERDA's support for this major affordable housing project will help ensure that low-income Southern Tier residents have access to housing that incorporates high performance energy efficiency features inside and out for enhanced comfort, increased health benefits, and lower energy costs. The investments in the development of Asteri Ithaca's project demonstrate the State's continued commitment to reducing harmful emissions statewide while ensuring that all New Yorkers benefit from the transition to clean energy."
Senator Tom O'Mara said, "Asteri Ithaca promises an exciting and important community development project. It will enhance the city of Ithaca and all of Tompkins County through additional, high-quality affordable housing for local residents, as well as a new Conference Center and other features that will help bolster the local economy. These types of state-local partnerships offer effective ways forward for communities throughout our region and all across New York."
Assemblymember Anna R. Kelles said, "Our need for affordable and supportive housing is profound and has become further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asteri mixed-use project will help us move forward on the long road to sufficient affordable and supportive housing. The conference center will fill a community gap in convening space and significantly increase mid-week tourism to boost our local daytime and nighttime downtown economies providing much needed stability for workers in the hospitality industry."
Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature said, "This is a transformative development for our community. Pairing a conference center that will attract thousands of visitors to Tompkins County with quality, much needed, affordable housing is a creative approach that will continue to make Downtown Ithaca a vibrant place to live, work, and visit. Tompkins County is proud to support this project and thanks our community partners, the Vecino Group, and New York State for their leadership and commitment to making this project happen."
Rick Manzardo, President of the Vecino Group said, "Ithaca's need for affordable housing is substantial, and Asteri Ithaca will go a long way towards meeting this need while also preventing homelessness in Tompkins County. When you combine this housing with the broader community impact of the conference center and expanded parking garage, it becomes not just a solution for Ithaca, but a truly transformative project for the entire region. The level of partnership and teamwork the Vecino Group experienced in Ithaca—from elected officials and State and local government agencies to Ithaca's business owners—demonstrates a community that cares about and works toward a better future for everyone."
Gary Ferguson, Executive Director of Downtown Ithaca Alliance said, "The Green Street Garage site redevelopment is an incredible set of projects that delivers desperately needed affordable and supportive housing, a brand-new garage parking, and a long-sought community conference center. All three of these projects sit at the epicenter of Downtown Ithaca, adjacent to the Commons and Center Ithaca, City Hall, and our public library. They collectively will make Downtown a stronger, more vibrant and inclusive place to live, work, and visit."
Heather McDaniel, President, Ithaca Area Economic Development said, "The Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency provided much needed assistance to get this project to the finish line. We are grateful to have such committed partners at the table creating public and private amenities that will strengthen our downtown, making it a vibrant and active place to live, work, and visit."
Local Development Corporation President Jennifer Tavares said, "This important economic and tourism development project is the result of the hard work, collaboration, and investment of numerous individuals, organizations, and agencies over the course of the last five years. Our team is incredibly proud and grateful that the Ithaca Downtown Conference Center will come to life in 2023, thanks to the support of local and state officials, community partners, and the Vecino Group - all who shared our vision for this project and investing in downtown Ithaca."
Mayor Svante Myrick said, "Over the last decade a number of projects have helped transform and revitalize downtown Ithaca. This is - along with the reconstruction of the Commons itself - the largest and most important project to date. This will give hundreds of working people the opportunity to live in the center of the city, create new job opportunities in the conference center, promote our tourism economy, and provide more parking spaces. We are thrilled by the partnerships that make such a historic project possible!"
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.