The SouthWorks site is a 95-acre property at 620 South Aurora Street/810 Danby Road, that formerly housed Emerson Power Transmission. The site is in both the City and Town of Ithaca and has been vacant since 2012. SouthWorks will be developed over the next seven to 10 years as a new mixed-use neighborhood to include the adaptive reuse of over 800,000 square feet of former industrial buildings, plus around 1-million square feet of new construction.
Lewis, who lives in Ithaca, most recently served as the Finance Director for GreenStar Cooperative and has been chair and member of the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board for over 8 years. Prior to that, he worked for a variety of start-up companies and in multi-family real estate. Robert studied Urban and Regional Economics at Cornell University and completed his undergraduate work at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Economics and Real Estate. Lewis joins Vicki Taylor Brous, SouthWorks’ Project Coordinator for the development, also a local Ithaca resident.
SHIFT Capital is a Philadelphia based, nationally recognized neighborhood investment group who executes real estate projects and financing strategies that create equitable communities for the long-term. SHIFT is partnering with L Enterprises, US Ceiling Corp, and Xylem Projects on the development after purchasing the site in December 2022. The SouthWorks ownership group brings together extensive experience in development, construction, and placemaking, along with proven track records in delivering equitable community-serving projects.
“I’ve been excited about this project since it came to the planning board years ago. It’s rare to see this scale of opportunity for real mixed-use development so close to a working downtown,” said Lewis. “SouthWorks has the opportunity to meet some of Ithaca’s most important needs: for housing, for affordability, for innovation space, for industrial space, and more. Having a values-driven developer like SHIFT is a great opportunity for Ithaca to grow in ways that really meet its needs.” Lewis added, “I’ve got the best job in Ithaca!”
“For neighborhood investments like SouthWorks, we believe in building a team who brings both a diverse set of experience and local intimate knowledge of the community and neighborhoods we are serving,” said Brian Murray, Partner, CEO of SHIFT Capital. “Rob brings extensive experience with local municipalities, finance, and a dedication to seeing this project meet and exceed the community’s expectations.”
The new mixed-use neighborhood is undergoing a design and development phase in 2023, with an anticipated groundbreaking in 2024. The site has a completed Generic Environmental Impact Statement, a Planned Unit Development (PUD – City of Ithaca) and a Planned Development Zone (PDZ – Town of Ithaca). The site also has an approved Site Management Plan issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) after undergoing environmental remediation. Several buildings on the site have site plan approval from the City of Ithaca. The project has received grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission for infrastructure planning, Restore NY funds for abatement and demolition, and NYSERDA funding for energy upgrades to the site.