What People Think

The Environmentally Conscious

Environmentally conscious people recognize that increasing density in urban centers is instrumental to living sustainably. They are interested in living with a small ecological footprint and enjoying the convenience and amenities the city offers. Cornell University Design and Environmental Analysis graduate, McKenzie Jones-Rounds:

I am very impressed with the design of this mini eco-village, as it will employ many of the most trusted techniques to live in a sustainable manner in a city context with all the enhancing convenient benefits that that proximity provides, and no car is required!


The appeal for elders is threefold: affordable quality living, the opportunity to live independent, active lives simultaneously having easy access to companionship and friendly assistance when needed. Currently there are limited options for this group and as the large baby boomer generation ages the demand for this type of housing will increase geometrically. Seventy three year old Adrienne McNair, when asked about why the Dwelling Circle appeals to her:

I want to live with people that know me and I can rely on when I need to and also have easy-walkable access to the things I want to do every day, The Dwelling Circle has all that and more.

Families with Children

Families with children, will benefit from close proximity to city services and activities for children as well as neighborhoods that are safe and walkable, even for children. Mother of three, Chelsey Kingsley:

Are you kidding? Living close to other families that have children, that are also friends… it would be heaven! And on top of that, not having to get into the car every time the kids want to have a play date or participate in activities, now that is a sweet existence!

The Broader Community

From a public perspective, this comprehensive, community-centered approach to development will be particularly compelling for challenged neighborhoods in need of renewal and therefore, attractive to the policy makers in those cities. City of Ithaca officials called the New Earth Living pilot project, “A model for the future”. It is exciting to imagine the profound economic, social and environmental difference that this type of development can make for distressed inner city neighborhoods.

My name is George Frantz, 604 Cliff Street, Ithaca. We believe that the requested variance if granted could:

  1. result in a substantial positive change in the character of the neighborhood and the city in general; and
  2. foster preservation of the natural beauty and scenic resources of Ithaca and Tompkins County, for the following reasons.

Over the past several decades families have been leaving Fall Creek for the suburbs. As a result according to U.S. Census data:

  • today only about 45 percent of housing units in the neighborhood are occupies by families;
  • today only about 40 percent of housing units in Fall Creek are owner-occupied;
  • today only about 15 percent of families in Tompkins County live in Ithaca proper, compared to 27 percent fifty years ago.

A driving force behind this loss to the neighborhood is the functional obsolescence of most homes, and deteriorated condition of many others. Over 80 percent of the housing units in the neighborhood are more than 70 years old, and many are much older.

As designed the project for which the variance is requested will produce a substantial positive impact by:

  • consolidating wasteful side yard and rear yard areas into one large common open space;
  • bring 3 to 4 new owner- and family-occupied housing units to Fall Creek;
  • reduce potential traffic increases on city streets by placing more families within walking or biking distance of work or shopping: one in four Fall Creek residents walk or bike to work, the second highest rate outside Collegetown and the Cornell campus, and far greater than the 2 to3 percent rate elsewhere in Tompkins County.
  • Provide at least three new highly energy efficient new homes;
  • increase the property values in the neighborhood with an attractively designed project.

Comments from Noah Demarest, LEED AP Project Manager, Trowbridge & Wolf, LLP:

I’m writing to express my thoughts about the Aurora Street Dwelling Circle project proposed by Sue Cosentini. I live with my wife and 2 young kids at 405 E. Marshall Street. My house is directly adjacent to the project’s northeast corner where the alley enters onto Marshall Street.

As a neighbor I completely support this project 100%. The only concerns I may have had were already addressed through an open dialogue between Sue, Rob Morache and myself. These concerns related to proximity to my lot line, solar shading of my house, and drainage. I think the current site plan more than addresses all of my concerns.

As a designer who has worked on dozens of new urban residential developments I’d also like to offer a professional critique. I honestly feel Sue and Rob have done a great job creating a unique style and form that is both contemporary and at the same time consistent with the diverse character of Fall Creek. I fully anticipate that this development will become an important draw for the immediate community and will serve as a model of the most sustainable form of housing within the City of Ithaca.

We are not a very dense city by any means and Sue’s project represents a rare opportunity to take advantage of an alley block configuration that pre-exists. We should be doing more with the two block long alley and identify other potential mid-block alleys throughout the city to create similar developments that increase our density without changing the character of the City neighborhoods.

Like what you hear? Click here for more information about how to get involved in our pilot Dwelling Circle.

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