“We are moving ahead. We like Ithaca. We like downtown. We simply need to re-sequence how this project proceeds”. That is the message that was issued to community leaders yesterday by David Hart, President of Hart Hotels and developer for the proposed Holiday Inn expansion project.
One of downtown Ithaca’s largest planned redevelopment projects is being re-packaged to reflect the some of the hurdles associated with its development. The project consists of the complete renovation of the existing Holiday Inn tower, the construction of a 2nd new tower, and the creation of a downtown conference center. The project was scheduled to be presented to the Tompkins County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Thursday September 19 as part of the project’s request for tax abatement. Hart withdrew the application in a letter to the IDA.
According to David Hart, the following re-sequencing of the project will occur:
(1) Beginning in November 2013, the existing hotel tower and banquet services facility will undergo their planned renovations. Low rise units scheduled for demolition will not be renovated, but will remain in service and be used during the construction.
(2) The Hotel will remain open for the duration of the construction. This change in plans means employees of the hotel will not be furloughed as originally thought and will be able to retain their jobs throughout the construction process.
(3) The name of the hotel will change. A ten-year license agreement with Holiday Inn expires in November and Hart Hotels does not plan to renew this agreement, preferring to operate the new facility as an independent hotel similar to their Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen. The new project will now be known as the Hotel Ithaca.
(4) The new construction portion of the project will be further value engineered to bring costs into line with budget. Once this re-engineering is complete, the developer will again approach the Tompkins County IDA for tax abatement assistance under the County’s CIITEP tax abatement program.
(5) Upon IDA approval, construction would then begin on the new tower and conference center.
Hart briefed Mayor Svante Myrick and other civic leaders about the new plans, stressing his message that the project is continuing but on a slightly different timetable. According to Mayor Myrick, “we continue to look forward to this major project that will be so important to the economic future of our community. It is great to hear that employees will remain employed during the renovation. We appreciate David Hart’s creativity and persistence.” Downtown Ithaca Alliance Executive Director Gary Ferguson also noted that “the good news here is that Hart Hotels remains committed to its entire project, just on a different phasing timetable”.
More details on the timing of the new construction portion of the project will need to await completion of the value engineering.