By Aldo Giannattasio ‘19

Part of downtown Geneva is being revamped with the development of townhomes that run off of solar power in what is an estimated 8.5 million dollar project.

Known as Lake Tunnel Solar Village, the project shall be built on a vacant three-acre lot near the pedestrian tunnel running under Routes 5&20.

Under the proposal roughly 38 single-family townhomes will be built and consist of three different sizes.

Prices overall will vary depending on the size of the townhouse.

On the low end a townhouse built by the developer Lake Tunnel Solar Village LLC will start at $124,500 and comprise of 700 square feet with two beds and one and a half baths. The most luxurious townhome on the other hand will be double the square footage with three beds and two and a half baths resulting in a cost of $225,500.

Demographically Ryan Wallace, the founder of Small Grid, is looking to attract older individuals and first time buyers.

“Roughly 65 percent of the targeted group is people between the age of 45-65, while 35 percent are first time buyers,” said Wallace.

According to Wallace, there has become increased interest in the townhome project in an interview.

“Currently we are getting between 200-300 viewers on our website a day without any advertising,” said Wallace.

The project also though will stress green building by serving as a demonstration for Small Grid’s new product Life Wall.

Life Wall is a unit that provides heating, cooling, energy storage, hot water and fresh air from energy supplied by solar panels on the townhomes and carports.

Officials have invested $1.26 million from the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds and a state energy grant of about $127,000 into the project.

Wallace says that the technology, which has been under testing for three years, is cheaper, compared to other green methods.

Through combining all the components, the homeowner is able to spend less since a sustainable home runs upwards of $50,000 due to different contractors doing each step.

Installation of the product is also cheaper than standard instillation methods. According to Wallace, the life wall is 30 percent less expensive to install compared to other renewable companies.

In comparison to traditional methods, Wallace believes the longevity of the product is what draws attraction since most people focus on the financial aspect.

“The trend in home construction is to put in replaceable, perishable, temporary systems,” said Wallace. “We have taken an approach of creating something where all the vital components can be easily maintained and that can be upgraded so the system does not need to be replaced if something fails.”

With this, homeowners also no longer need to be on the grid. Wallace says that the homes will be able to share energy where a neighbor can buy additional energy from another if they have excessive usage in a given month.

Currently, the project is still in the phase of approval before ground can be broken.

In a report to the Finger Lakes Times, Sage Gerling the Director of Neighborhood Initiative discussed how there are still a handful of approvals that need to occur.

“Steps include a rezoning request that will first go to the county and city planning boards for comments and recommendations then to City Council for approval, sale of the property by City Council and site plan and subdivision application to the city Planning Board,” said Gerling.

Expectations though have not changed and by the end of Apr. 2018, the goal is to start breaking ground.

Overall, Wallace believes the project will benefit locals and showcase the benefits of renewable energy.

“We believe in a circular economy approach to home construction, where waste is minimized in what currently is an incredibly wasteful industry,” said Wallace.

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