Dec. 11, 2013: The village's third attempt to develop the Kensington Road property is shaping up to be the one that may very well be realized. At its regular meeting on December 9, the Bronxville Board of Trustees approved a resolution to direct the preparation of a contract for the sale of the property, currently a parking facility.
After an exhaustive review of several respondents to a request for proposal solicited by the village last June, an ad hoc committee of trustees and qualified citizens recommended Fareri Associates of Greenwich, Connecticut, to assume the project at the point where WCI, the previous developer, ceased its involvement.
"Our objective is to get to the stage where we can finish the contract negotiations," said Deputy Mayor Robert Underhill and chairman of the ad hoc committee. "We will come back to have a vote to proceed with that contract, probably at our next meeting."
Fareri Associates has agreed to work with the full set of plans for 54 condominium units and 300 below-grade parking spaces, approved by the Bronxville Planning Board in 2008.
Two hundred of the parking spaces will be exclusively for village use and will replace the 180 spaces currently available. The firm has also accepted all of the contracts and agreements related to the property and prepared when WCI was anticipated to develop it.
WCI's bankruptcy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis left the village without a viable party to complete the project. A request for proposal solicited in 2010 did not draw any response from developers.
Underhill stated that Fareri Associates was chosen from among the impressive group of respondents because of its strong desire to build the project, its acceptance of the plans, and an economic package attractive to the village.
"Their track record of building top-quality luxury projects within the Greenwich market is second to none," Underhill said. He noted that members of the committee made several site visits to Fareri Associates structures. They observed one project that dealt with a railroad track restriction similar to the one adjacent to the Kensington Road property and another containing an underground garage that matches the one in the Kensington plans.
With all permits and agreements in place and the anticipated contract negotiations expected to be complete by mid-January 2014, construction on the Kensington site could begin in the spring.
The one- and two-bedroom condominiums in the 110,000-square-foot development, comparable to Christie Place in Scarsdale, according to Underhill, will be targeted toward older residents, primarily empty nesters who want to remain in Bronxville.
The Kensington Road property, formerly the site of Lawrence Park Heat, Light and Power, a coal-fired power plant, and a gas station, is an environmentally contaminated site and has become a blighted property, Underhill said. "It is at the point where the village would have to spend more money on it and run the risk of having to bear the cost of environmental remediation." Any repair work disturbing the site's existing surface would trigger the mandatory environmental work.
In moving forward with Fareri Associates, not only does the village achieve a full release of liability for environmental remediation, it also runs no risk of disturbing the site's surface.
Trustee Guy Longobardo stated that the remediation alone would cost $8 million to $10 million. Fareri Associates will perform that work as part of the contract.
In addition to increasing the number of parking spaces available for village use, the residential project should generate approximately $600,000 in additional property tax revenue.
Trustee Anne W. Poorman expressed thanks to the ad hoc committee. "We feel we have every issue vetted, and we’re going forward with the best plan," she said. "I have every confidence that this is a good idea."
In echoing Poorman's thanks, Mayor Mary Marvin said, "We put together a great team. I couldn't agree more with the conclusion."
The next regular meeting of the Bronxville Board of Trustees will be on Monday, January 13, at 8:00 pm in the Trustees Room at Bronxville Village Hall.
Pictured here: The lot on Kensington Road where the 54-unit condominium is to go.
Photo by N. Bower