14,000 Cornellians Moving Onto South Hill: Protest Too Little Too Late

Categories Columns, Housing & Development, Ithaca, Politics

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June 6, 2022

By Robot TKTK




On Wednesday night at City Hall, 107 variably angry people of majority grey-haired complexion aired their concerns about wealth and smug pollution coming out of the new Chain Works District industrial, commercial, and residential complex.

Forty seven out of the 49 re-developed and new buildings have been completed on the 95-acre plot, on Ithaca’s South Hill. There, Emerson Chain Works once produced highly un-chic industrial thing-a-ma-jigs and what-sa-ma-callits, products known today primarily for being totally gross and requiring an uncouth number of blue-collar workers to make.

Once the industrial, commercial, and residential facilities on the property are fully occupied, the Chain Works District will be noted worldwide for highly disruptive innovations like six self-powered, 742-foot towers that work on the types of proprietary technology only Tesla’s Elon Musk understands. Their carbon footprint is NEGATIVE, this roborter is told by Tesla Public Relations.

As advertised when the Chain Works District started the planning process with meetings at City Hall and the Ithaca Town Hall in 2013, there are 915 units on the property. Each individual unit has the capacity to hold one Cornell student, their visiting parents, and anywhere from four to 16 lackeys, yes persons, social media consultants, and domestics. Units range in price from the starter “Duchess” units, with rents around $5,200 per month and in-unit parking for only one Range Rover, up to the Penthouse Premium units. All six of the Penthouse units, price undisclosed, have already been leased to Cornell’s so-called “Silver, Gold, & Platinum Six,” Cornell’s most-anticipated freshman class in years. These sparkling six have families that own, cumulatively, over 27 percent of the world’s wealth, putting the Big Red in second place this year only to Harvard.

SportBusiness: B1 – An excellent recruiting class for the Big Red in the Oligarchy Olympics.

In-unit parking of SUVs will require the purchase of carbon offsets from offsite wind farms, a price built into the rental rate.

The Chain Works District as it appeared in 2016. Josh Brokaw/TruthSayers

In total, David Lubin’s Unchained Properties LLC expects about 14,500 people to move into the Chain Works District when all is said and done. There will also be 15 micro-manufacturing businesses featuring locally-sourced, artisinal products, most of them aiming at earning market share in the rapidly growing gold-plated plumbing fixtures sector. It was announced last week that Gordon Ramsay will be signing a lease on the restaurant space, with another installment of his hot new series of restaurants “F*ck You! You Overpaid!”

The Chain Works District is being hailed as a triumph of walkable, urban design, and sustainable, environmentally-friendly building by architects and planners worldwide.  Money, Inc., and Forbes have all called the Chain Works’ business model of drawing in the absolutely wealthiest tenants imaginable “innovatively disruptive of the status quo.”

Ithacans speaking at Wednesday’s meeting from all over the city decried the negative effects such a concentration of wealth will have on the community’s health, questioning the value of a “walkable” development, given the one-mile skybridge to Collegetown that will allow in a line of luxury SUVs and other expensive transit craft.

“How can I keep my children happy with playing outdoors with organic sticks and stones when they see hovercrafts cruising by everyday?” Sue True, a mother of two, asked council. “We can barely afford our property tax bill. How can we buy our children hovercraft?”

Council members expressed their sympathy with the concerned citizens, but told them there was nothing they could do about the development as it stands. The Chain Works District went through a planning process that started in 2013, with an environmental assessment of the site. Industrial pollution was cleaned up with funds from the developer, local governments, and the state by the time building started.

Despite the eternal concern about housing affordability in the city of Ithaca no requirements were ever enacted that the development include all income levels. City officials maintain that the addition of this many new units will open up other apartments to the several dozen working people still holding out hope for an apartment for the city, if they can scrape together the approximately $2,500 entry level studios in the Southside rent at these days.

Residents didn’t realize the scope of the project until the towers started construction three weeks ago, a process completed in rapid time through the new, proprietary technology provided by Tesla. Approximately 110 meetings were held over the past 9 years to approve the Chain Works District’s plans; these were attended by about six people, total. This roborter apologizes for not covering this issue more thoroughly but it was my assignment to write about bulldogs on skateboards for the past four years. 

If you didn’t figure it out by now, this is satire.

If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: Show up to government meetings! Pay attention! Besides myself, there were two other people in the audience on January 30, for a meeting on the zoning requirements the Chain Works District projects is going to have to follow. There’s lots of talk about walkable, urban, dense development in the documents; lots of talk about how the buildings should look – there is NOTHING about how much those apartments are going to cost. 
– Josh Brokaw, writing today as “Robot TKTK”

The Chain Works project site is here. 

The City of Ithaca document page for Chain Works District project is here. 

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Josh Brokaw is an independent reporter based in Ithaca, N.Y.
Email josh.brokaw@truthsayers.org with tips, story suggestions, and gentle criticism.
Twitter: @jdbrokaw

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