Gail and Nathan Lyman, members of the Ithaca Rotary Club, received a 2023 Susan Blumenthal Pride of Ownership Award for the renovation of their home at 1322 East State Street in Ithaca.
The Lymans bought the house, at the southeast corner of Route 79, in 2007 and have steadily made improvements to the property, including adding gardens, a waterfall and fish pond. In 2023, their hillside garden was featured by the Garden Conservancy, including an education program discussing hillside drainage and wall construction by the contractor, Elrik McCheyne of GreenScene.
The annual Pride of Ownership Awards, recognizing owners of properties within the city of Ithaca who have developed projects or taken care of their properties in ways that enhance the physical appearance of city neighborhoods and commercial areas, is a joint project of the Ithaca Rotary Club and the City of Ithaca.
Founded by former Common Council member Susan Blumenthal, who felt that developers and property owners should receive recognition for work that went above and beyond the requirements of the project, the awards are focused on projects that are thoughtful, unexpected, and lift the aesthetic experience of their setting and surroundings.
The 2023 committee consists of Margaret Hobbie, Realtor, local historian, and current chair; Brett Bossard of Ithaca College’s office of Alumni Engagement; Frost Travis of Travis Hyde Properties; and architects John Barradas, Pauline Morin, Emily Petrina, and Scott Whitham.
The awards were presented during the December 6th meeting of the Ithaca Rotary Club at Coltivare, and again in front of Ithaca Common Council at their meeting inside City Hall at 6pm that same evening.
This year’s awards include:
1322 East State Street Ravine and Hillside Garden
Owners:  Gail and Nathan Lyman
Contractor:  GreenScene Lawn & Garden
1322 East State Street lies at the southeast corner of the city on Route 79 and is the first property travelers see when they enter Ithaca from that direction.  A beautiful ravine runs through the steep lot—wonderful to look at, but over the years periodic floods caused the banks to move and stone retaining walls to collapse, threatening the side yard and potentially the house.
Gail and Nathan Lyman bought 1322 East State Street in 2007 and have steadily made improvements including exterior restoration and painting, a splendid Tudor-style garage, and numerous gardens, one including a waterfall and fish pond.  But the most visible project came in 2022 with the removal of an existing concrete patio, re-building of the lower end of the ravine near the road, reinforcing the west side of the ravine with stone to protect the existing bank, managing the groundwater around the house, and expanding the gardens.
The front wall facing Route 79 was rebuilt with dry stack-style facing capped with hand-cut bluestone.  Full-height and -width stone steps replaced pieced steps that were prone to decay and chipping.  The stamped concrete walkway and the patio were replaced with natural stone pavers.   Materials from the site work have been integrated into the gardens, which have been designed with an emphasis on sustainability, reduced maintenance, and wildlife habitat.
In 2023 the Lyman’s Hillside Garden was featured by the Garden Conservancy, including an education program discussing hillside drainage and wall construction by the contractor, Elrik McCheyne of GreenScene.
Mural at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (C.A.R.S.)
Corner of N. Plain and W. State/MLK Jr. StreetsProject Team:  Betsy Casañas and Mauricio Peréz, artists; Katarina Wehemeyer, nurse manager at CARS; Caleb R. Thomas at Ithaca Murals.
Spanning all 160 feet of their Plain Street wall, the new mural adorning Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services is one of the longest in Ithaca. The creation of this latest addition to Ithaca’s exciting public art scene is the result of several months of planning and collaboration among C.A.R.S. staff, Ithaca Murals, and two Philadelphia-based artists, Betsy Casañas and Mauricio Peréz.
Katarina Wehemeyer, nurse manager at C.A.R.S., initially reached out to Ithaca Murals’ founder and facilitator Caleb Thomas for help in both beautifying the neighborhood and conveying the important mission of the organization to “transform lives and the community with flexible and inclusive person-centered treatment.” The center at the corner of Plain and State Streets is part of a system of residential and outpatient facilities operated by C.A.R.S., which serves Tompkins and several surrounding counties.
Thomas approached Casañas, an accomplished muralist with three decades of experience, who immediately asked Peréz, an artist who works primarily in papier-mâché, to join her on the project. The mural marks the first collaboration between Casañas and Peréz. The artists were inspired by the themes of transformation, nurturing, and growth inherent in the work of the agency, and decided to use their shared color pallet to depict a garden scene. Amongst the many symbols of struggle and rebirth, the colorful, two-story collage of images features a flurry of butterflies bursting from their cocoons, people tending a garden, and a woman being comforted as she sits wrapped in a blanket.
The community spirit behind the creation of the mural echoes the collective effort at the center of the recovery process. As Thomas noted at the ribbon-cutting for the installation, “the theme of this mural is that the opposite of addiction is connection.” This new work succeeds in making an indelible connection between the C.A.R.S. facility and the vibrant neighborhood it occupies.
The Ithacan 
Owner: Jeff Rimland, Green Street Development Partners, LLC 
Design Team: Roland Architecture, CHA Consulting (Engineer)
The Ithacan, a 14-story residential tower, has made an important mark on Downtown’s growing skyline and has increased our city’s supply of quality housing. The 200-unit tower features a combination of studio, 1-Bedroom, and 2-Bedroom apartments. It provides working Ithacans and students a new home in Downtown, with 10% of units leased affordably at households with 80% of area median income, and a number of other units offered at a discount to Ithaca College students participating in the College’s 2-year physician’s assistant program. The Ithacan’s prime location gives its residents immediate access to the cultural, gastronomic, and economic heart of our city.  
Aside from residential amenities such as a roof top terrace and fitness center, the property features a 3-story parking garage, with the second and third story reserved as public parking. The property also provides an interior pedestrian connection from its lobby on Green Street to the Ithaca Commons via the Rothschild Building, the façade of which was also upgraded, making a beautiful contribution to the Ithaca Commons.  
Roland Architecture and CHA Consulting designed the building with elegance, simplicity, and energy efficiency in mind. Its exterior features a harmonious arrangement of red brick and black and white paneling all woven together with an abstract black metal ribbon that travels vertically and horizontally from the Common’s façade around to the Green Street façade. The Ithacan’s simple shape minimizes the exterior walls exposed to the elements and the 30% window to wall ratio helps reduce energy demand. All residential units and commons areas use electric air source heat pumps and LED fixtures, and the roof was designed to accommodate the potential future installation of solar panels.  
The Ithacan stands alongside its new neighbors Harold’s Square, City Center, and Asteri Ithaca, positively marking the skyline of our small but growing city. 
E State Street / MLK Jr Street Sidewalk and Street Rebuild: 400-600 blocks
Owners:  City of Ithaca
Project Managers:  Michael Thorne, Superintendent of Public Works, City of Ithaca; Tim Logue, Director of Engineering, City of Ithaca.
Contractor:  Department of Public Works, City of Ithaca
Between Schuyler Place and Stewart Ave on the north side of E State St / MLK Jr St, exists a stretch of sidewalk without street-facing homes.  This condition is unique along the north side of the street where a continuous sidewalk ushers pedestrians between the residential neighborhoods of Belle Sherman and College Town and Ithaca’s downtown urban core.  Historically, it was a stretch with little personality and in various states of disrepair over the years. 
In 2023, the City of Ithaca’s Department of Public Works executed a project to rebuild the sidewalk and its connection to the existing stone retaining wall and street.  The result is a surprisingly delightful new pedestrian experience.  The elevated walk has been transformed with a new sidewalk, board-formed concrete retaining wall, and black vertical-baluster metal railing.  The board formed concrete retaining wall facing the street has an interesting pattern which complements the texture of the existing stone retaining wall above.  The new railing looks sharp throughout the day and creates a series of playful shadows, animating the sidewalk and creating a dynamic visual experience.
It has been noted that the original railing installed during the 2023 renovation was removed due to diminished sight lines for vehicles exiting Schuyler Place.  While the new railing does not animate the sidewalk with shadows in quite the same way, it does strike the right balance of safety and design for the pedestrian experience. 
The Department of Public Works designed a thoughtful combination of materials where it wasn’t required for a sidewalk project.  As a result, they have created a more exciting and safe experience which adds momentum to the downtown entry corridor and focuses on the pedestrian rather than the car.
601 Hudson Street New Porch and Façade Improvements
Owners:  Jessica and Scott Stratton
Contractor:  Rocco Design + Build
Jessica and Scott Stratton have given their 1926 Hudson Street bungalow a much-needed exterior renovation.  The house was characterized by mismatched additions, peeling paint, and undersized gutters.  The porch was uninviting.  601 Hudson Street is now a stylish modern home which stands out on a quiet street that is steadily upscaling.
After replacing windows and refurbishing the front door, the entire exterior façade was painted “Iron Ore,” a very dark grey. The front porch was not in good condition and was rebuilt over the existing foundation. The original posts were reused and encased in new wood. The porch floor replaced with long-lasting composite, decking material. The porch was modernized with black metal balustrades hung horizontally.  They painted the new wood a golden yellow-orange, so it would contrast the dark grey of the house, and make it feel warm and inviting.  
They replaced all of the gutters with faux copper ones, as they wanted them to stay copper colored and not patina. New wood siding was added to the garage and painted to match the house.  The property now is a harmonized whole with an eye-catching front porch, a lovely punctuation to the neighborhood.
Marketview Apartments
Owner: Park Grove Realty, in partnership with Demarco Construction and Cayuga HealthDesign Team: Passero Associates Architects, Whitham Planning Design Landscape Architecture PLLC
Among the many elements of the new Cayuga Park, a mixed-use development in Ithaca’s evolving Waterfront District, Marketview Apartments sets a new bar for affordable, accessible, beautiful housing done right.
Built for working families, Marketview Apartments is a 42-unit building overlooking the Ithaca City Farmer's Market and the Cayuga Lake Inlet. A shared community room and access to the adjacent Ithaca Community Gardens complement individual private patios and attached balconies for each apartment.
The building’s design, which marries human-scale massing with an elegant color scheme of watery blues, is a useful example of how conscientious and mission-driven developers, like Park Grove Realty and their architect Passero, can build affordably without compromising architectural integrity. It is no easy feat, but everyone deserves to live in a well-built and attractive home, no matter their income or status, and this basic tenet drove every decision the development and design team made along the five-year project. Whitham Planning Design and Landscape Architecture (WPD) led the development’s entitlements process and site planning and design.
More than just an opportunity to mitigate the shortage of affordable housing options in Ithaca, Marketview Apartments also seeks to bring the best of what Ithaca has to offer – a stunning natural landscape, water access, walkable streets, access to healthy food, (the apartments are a short walk to Aldi’s, Wide Awake Bakery, the Greenstar Food Coop and the Ithaca Farmer’s Market) and beautiful flora and fauna – to hardworking families who have had difficulty in finding housing. As a testament to both its need and desirability, the project was fully leased in the second day of availability.