Tompkins County
New York


Authorizing the Sale of the Tompkins County Old Library Property at 310-314 North Cayuga Street to Dewitt House Associates, LLC


Department:County AdministrationSponsors:


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Resolution/Document Body

WHEREAS, Tompkins County owns property commonly known as the “Old Library” located at 310-314 North Cayuga Street, Real Property Tax Parcel 61.-1-4, in the City of Ithaca, and


WHEREAS, the property consists of approximately 0.88 acres with a 38,630 square foot building that was originally built to serve as the Tompkins County Public Library, and


WHEREAS, subsequent to the Library moving to its current location on Green Street in 2000, the Old Library building has been primarily used for records storage and as the site of the Community Justice Center, and


WHEREAS, the Old  Library is now vacant as the result of the digitization of County records and the relocation of the Community Justice Center to new space added to the County’s Human Services Building, and


WHEREAS, studies of County space needs have considered re-use of this site but found no economically feasible use for County purposes, and


WHEREAS, the property is strategically located in the City of Ithaca and has the potential to contribute to the community and to the tax base if redeveloped, and


WHEREAS, by Resolution 2013-199, this Legislature authorized the issuance of a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) to seek potential developers who would purchase or lease the property for the purpose of redevelopment, and


WHEREAS, by Resolution 2014-221, this Legislature authorized the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to three respondents to the RFEI, requiring the presentation of additional project details and commitments that would inform the Legislature’s ultimate selection of a preferred developer for the Old Library site, and


WHEREAS, by Resolution 2015-158, following seven meetings by the Old Library Committee during which responses to the RFP were reviewed and debated, and as the first step in a review process that included completion of a coordinated State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) with the City of Ithaca, this Legislature designated Travis Hyde Properties of Ithaca, New York (in collaboration with HOLT Architects) as the preferred developer for the Old Library Property, and


WHEREAS, the Travis-Hyde (“Dewitt House”) proposal received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission on February 14, 2017, and


WHEREAS, the City of Ithaca declared the Dewitt House project to be a Type I Action under the City of Ithaca Environmental Quality Review Ordinance (“CEQRO”) §176-4 (1) (h)[4], (k) and (n) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) § 617.4 9 (b) (9), for which the City of Ithaca Planning Board issued a Negative Declaration of Environmental Significance on May 23, 2017, and


WHEREAS, the City of Ithaca Planning Board gave preliminary and final site plan approval for the Dewitt House project on June 27, 2017, and


WHEREAS, this Legislature’s Old Library Committee has reviewed the plan for the Dewitt House and found that the core elements of the project are in keeping with the preliminary Travis-Hyde proposal earlier considered by this Legislature and will include a four-story structure of approximately 86,700 (gross) square feet comprised of approximately fifty-eight apartment units, thirty-two underground parking spaces, 1,160 square feet of commercial space, and 2,000 square feet of community space that will be managed and utilized by Lifelong, and


WHEREAS, the development will be undertaken by Dewitt House Associates, LLC, a limited liability corporation created by the Travis-Hyde/HOLT Architects team, and


WHEREAS, a sale price of $925,000 was established in the Request for Proposals based on the appraised value of the parcel which was reviewed by the County’s Director of Assessment and found to be fair and reasonable based on current market values, and


WHEREAS, the process followed in the disposition of this parcel is compliant with Chapter 19-1 of the County Code governing the sale or lease of County Property, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Old Library Committee, That the County Administrator be and hereby is authorized to execute any and all documents to complete the sale of the Old Library property, City of Ithaca tax parcel 61.-1-4, to the Dewitt House Associates, LLC of Ithaca, New York, for the sum of $925,000, with the County retaining a reversionary interest in the property,


              RESOLVED, further, That the Director of Finance be and hereby is authorized to record the proceeds of $925,000 in the Capital Reserves Fund Account No. HQ1698.42660 Sale of Real Property.

SEQR ACTION:  TYPE I (Negative Declaration)



Meeting History

Aug 16, 2017 3:30 PM  Old Library Committee Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Ms. Robertson said she would like to sell the property and MOVED to amend the resolution as follows, seconded by Mrs. McBean-Clairborne:

Title: Change “50-Year Lease” to “Sale”;

Resolved: Change the word “lease” to “sale” and change “an amount equivalent in value to a sale price” to “the sum”.

Mr. Lane responded to Ms. Robertson’s questions about leasing and said this property has been owned by the County since the 1960’s. He believes it is good planning to look long-term and said the County may have use for the property 50 years from now as it is close to other County offices and it is in a historic district. He said this ground lease is similar to the arrangement the County has with Cornell for the Health Department.

Ms. Robertson does not believe the County should be in the business of owning land; it is not good policy for government in her opinion.

Mr. Travis spoke to the issue of a ground lease and said he has not done one before. He commented that the property is not worth as much if he does not own the property. His business model is to have leverage against it and said refinancing could be difficult in the future. He spoke of one of his other properties that has an agreement with Cornell that includes a Reversionary Interest clause and suggested the County consider that option.

Mr. Sigler spoke of his support to sell the property and wants to see the County go forward with that action.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne said she too thought the Committee was moving forward with selling the property, not leasing it. She believes this issue should have been discussed by the Committee before being proposed.

At this time, Mr. Travis further explained his proposal and what he interprets Reversionary Interest to mean and said if the building is used for something other than its original propose, the ground title reverts to the owner.

Following further discussion of Mr. Travis’s suggestion, the Committee agreed to have the County Attorney and Mr. Travis’s attorney prepare agreed-upon language to be added to the resolution as it relates to Reversionary Interest.

A voice vote resulted as follows on the motion to amend: Ayes - 4 (Lane, Robertson, McBean-Clairborne, and Sigler); Noes - 1 (Kiefer). MOTION TO AMEND CARRIED.

MOVER:Dooley Kiefer, Member
SECONDER:Michael Lane, Chair
AYES:Michael Lane, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Michael Sigler, Martha Robertson
NAYS:Dooley Kiefer
Sep 5, 2017 5:30 PM Media Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting

Mr. Burbank referenced comments made by a member of the public under Privilege of the Floor concerning the purchase price and a request not to sell the property. He noted there have been considerable changes since the beginning of this process and requested a report and if there is anything that has changed over the last three years that would raise a question of validity.

Mr. Franklin, Assessment Director, said the purchase price is a fair market price and a good purchase price today.

At this time Mr. Travis of Travis Hyde provided an overview of the changes that have taken place as a result of the meetings and approval process through the City and stakeholders.

This resolution was adopted by a roll call vote.

MOVER:Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Member
SECONDER:Martha Robertson, Member
AYES:Will Burbank, James Dennis, Rich John, Anna Kelles, Daniel Klein, Michael Lane, Martha Robertson, David McKenna, Glenn Morey, Michael Sigler, Peter Stein
NAYS:Carol Chock, Dooley Kiefer, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne