Leased Space

In addition to the facilities the university owns to carry out its mission, Cornell has a relatively extensive portfolio of leased space, both as tenant and landlord, at its Ithaca and New York City locations and in other parts of the state, the country, and the world.

Cornell Lease Portfolio – September 2012 (pdf)

In January 2016, the Capital Funding & Priorities Committee (CF&PC) approved an updated process for the identification of need, review, and approval of leased space for the university.

Leased Space Approval Process   (Word, Flow Chart)

  • This process applies to all transactional arrangements involving leases for all units of the University, excluding:
    • Weill Cornell Medicine;
    • Transactions for space that involve other purchasing arrangements, such as direct billing by JC Leasing for warehouse space managed by Advance Moving Company;
    • The use of procurement cards to rent storage units.
  • Jeremy Thomas, Senior Director of Cornell Real Estate, is the contact for all real estate leases.   Real Estate will help to identify space in alignment with University objectives, coordinate with University Counsel and Risk Management, and obtain necessary approvals.
  • The Space Management Program Manager is the contact for all space request forms
  • Mary-Lynn Cummings, Director of Capital and Space Planning, will receive Lease Approval Requests for financial approvals by the Capital Funding & Priorities Committee (CF&PC).

New Leases

For leases less than 1 year, in all locations:
The unit representative can coordinate directly with Real Estate to resolve the need.

For leases of 1 year or more, in all locations:
Real Estate will work with the unit representative to evaluate opportunities to occupy Cornell-owned leasable space or an externally-owned property with an existing Cornell lease.

If this is possible, and/or the lease is of one of the following types:

  1. Lease by Cornell Cooperative Extension, including the NYS IPM Program and other extension programs of the colleges, anywhere in New York State, and involves only one or two people;
  2. Office or housing lease for a Cornell program operating abroad; or
  3. Housing lease by a Cornell unit to support faculty or staff outside Ithaca or to support visitors to Ithaca, consisting of no more than one or two units under one lease.

Then the unit needs to:

  1. Complete a Notice of Programmatic Space Need (short form), obtain the Dean/Vice President’s signature, and submit it to the Office of Capital and Space Planning.
  2. Obtain appropriate financial and other approvals, as advised by Real Estate.
  3. Work with the Unit Facility Director or other unit representative to make sure the location is properly recorded in the Facilities Inventory System.

If it is not possible to find space in a Cornell-owned or externally-owned property with an existing Cornell lease, then the unit will need to complete a Request for Allocation of Space (long form), obtain the Dean/Vice President’s signature, and submit it to the Space Management Program Manager.   The Space Management Program Manager, in coordination with the Senior Director of Real Estate, will evaluate the request for consistency with Cornell leased space strategies.   Any request that is not in alignment with stated strategies will be passed to the appropriate committee for review:

  • The Space Use Advisory Committee for space needs in Tompkins County.
  • The Provost or designee for space needs in New York City and elsewhere.

The Cornell unit cannot execute a lease until such review is complete. Therefore, unit advance planning in lease space arrangements is essential to timely development of appropriate space solutions.

Renewing Leases

Leases with existing space approvals and leases of less than one-year term:

  • Can renew with appropriate financial and legal approvals, as advised by Real Estate.
  • Real Estate will notify the Space Management Program Manager and the Facilities Information Group of such renewals.

Leases without an existing space approval:

  • Will complete the process for new lease space, as above.

Transactional Approval

Transactional approval for all leases (space and/or land) is as prescribed by Policy 4.2, Appendix C which references the Cornell University Real Estate Administrative Plan.   Only three people can sign leases – the Senior Director of Real Estate, the Vice President of Infrastructure, Properties and Planning, or the Executive Vice President. Unit representatives cannot sign leases. Real Estate will determine the appropriate authority in each instance.

In order to provide consistent and organized information regarding the lease arrangement, all transactions that must be presented to the Capital Funding & Priorities Committee will complete a Lease Approval Request (LAR).

Best Practices for Developing Cornell Leases

  • Academic and administrative units need to coordinate all lease activities through the lead facilities director and/or business officer for the college/division before working with other University officials.
  • Units need to be considering the need for leased space to meet programmatic needs as far in advance as possible.
    • The larger or more complex the space need, the more benefit can be derived from longer planning horizons.
    • There are many variables in each phase of the lease process, from finding the correct property, negotiating, internal reviews and approvals, and custom fit-out.   The length of time is impossible to estimate, as every instance is unique.
  • Within Tompkins County, Cornell-to-Cornell leases are preferred over Cornell leases from third parties.
  • New Cornell leases outside of Tompkins County and New York City should consider co-locating with other local Cornell interests, where possible.
  • In any location, co-location arrangements with other Cornell units are preferred.