The Downtown Ithaca Alliance tasked the Danter Company, a national real estate
research company, to conduct a study and create a report that identifies potential support levels for new market rate, tax credit and purpose-built student apartments as well as condominium development in the downtown Ithaca Effective Market Area (EMA), notably the urbanized area of Tompkins County.
Here are the studies overall findings:
- People want to live here: The overall vacancy rate in the market is 1.5%.
- Ithaca’s EMA population is growing: It is expected to increase by 1,788 (3.0%) between 2016 and 2021 while households are projected to increase by 712 (3.3%) from 21,389 in 2016 to 22,101 in 2021.
- ̧Over the next 5 years an overall housing demand exists for up to 1,350 units — 350 for-sale housing units and up to 1,000 rental housing units — in the downtown EMA.
- In 2010, there were 20,551 occupied housing units within the Ithaca EMA. This is an increase from the 19,624 units identified in the 2000 Census. By 2021, the number of occupied area housing units is projected to increase 7.5% from 2010 to 22,101.
- Students occupy many of the existing units: Among the 5,164 market-rate units in the EMA, approximately 67% are occupied by students.
- 6% to 8% of the total rental market are senior citizens and empty nesters.
- Rent in Ithaca’s EMA is higher ($200 to $300 more per month) compared to other college towns.
For-sale housing demand:
- 200-220 (40-44 units per year) for-sale homes that cost less than $250,000 should be built during the next five years
- 80-100 units that range in cost between $250,000 to $399,000 can be supported during the next five years
- The EMA can also support 20-30 housing units priced at or above $400,000.
Rental Housing Demand:
- 900 to 1,050 during the next five years;
- Demand exists for units at all price points — 100-225 luxury/upscale units ($1,400 to $1,800+ per month), 300-350 affordable to moderate units ($1,000 to $1,300 per month); and 300-350 tax credit family and senior living units. **Based on two-bedroom units net rent with water, sewer and trash removal.
- In Ithaca, 6% of the net student population is housed in purpose built properties. Based on national averages, this percentage should be between 20% and 35%.
- Downtown Ithaca can support up to 1,000 student beds over the next five years.
For Sale Condominiums:
- Downtown Ithaca EMA can support 360-410 units during the next five years.
- The market demand for for-sale housing in the downtown Ithaca EMA is distributed among three sales price ranges: under $250,000 (200-220 units), $250,000 to $349,999 (100 to 120 units), and $350,000 and higher (60-70 units).
Conclusion (Facts and figures to keep in mind):
- Downtown Ithaca is a popular residential area for students, business professionals and seniors in the market. We need affordable housing for these groups. The overall shortage of rental housing has served to support higher rents.
- Although new housing projects were built in downtown recently, 72.6% of the market-rate units surveyed were constructed and opened before 1990.
- Building student purpose housing and condominiums will free up space at existing rental properties that were intended to house families. A strategy encouraging non-student rental housing development at moderate rents should be considered.
- Some yet-to-be-created public programs will be necessary to provide middle income rental and affordable condominium products.
- Downtown Ithaca EMA needs more low-income & affordable housing: Currently, there are a total of 9 existing Tax Credit developments in the downtown Ithaca EMA. These 9 developments contain a total of 837 Tax Credit units. The overall occupancy rate among the Tax Credit units is 97.4%.
Information for this sheet taken from the 2016 Downtown Ithaca Housing Demand Study prepared by Danter Company LLC. The full study is available online at www.downtownithaca.com under the Business Development tab.