Empty east hill property could become Cornell housing village

October 21, 2014 by Rachel Cera

An empty lot across from East Hill Plaza could become an "east hill village" with housing owned by Cornell University. University officials say they're conducting a study this fall to gauge opinions on possible housing plans for the site.

An empty lot on Pine Tree Road could become Cornell-owned housing. 14850 Photo.An empty lot on Pine Tree Road could become Cornell-owned housing. 14850 Photo.The lot is the former site of Courtside Racquet & Fitness, which sat next to Ide's Bowling, across Pine Tree Road from East Hill Plaza, a shopping and office plaza owned by Cornell. Currently, the empty lot, which sits between East Lawn Cemetary and a Rite Aid pharmacy, is used Wednesday afternoons as a seasonal Ithaca Farmers Market satellite location. The Rite Aid moved across the street several years ago after outgrowing its spot in the shopping plaza, and is being joined by a Dunkin' Donuts in the building formerly occupied by an HSBC Bank branch.

Land in the area, between Collegetown and Ellis Hollow, is nearly all owned by the University, and includes a Best Western hotel, local bank branches, an apartment complex, a senior living facility, East Hill Car Wash, and Agava Restaurant. Cornell had plans about ten years ago for a new "gateway to campus" project that would add office buildings, additional retail, and housing near East Hill Plaza, but the economic collapse several years ago put most of the plans on hold. One of a pair of office buildings was completed, but plans for a second incorporating a data center were scrapped indefinitely.

Cornell also owns apartment complexes on Maple Avenue, one used for graduate student housing, and has said it would like to offer affordable housing near campus for staff and faculty. 

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