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Trustees Begin Process of Preparing New Comprehensive Village Plan; Demolition of Single-Family Homes Could Be Considered PDF Print Email


By Carol P. Bartold, Senior Reporter

Jun. 28, 2017: The demolition of the stone house at 150 Midland Avenue was fully permitted, according to Village Administrator Jim Palmer, even though many in the community were unaware of it, including some members of the planning board and zoning board of appeals.

The current owners of the property purchased the house in March of 2015. They submitted an application in October of 2016 to replace the structure. In May of 2017, the village building department issued a permit for demolition of the stone structure and the construction of a new two-story, single-family residence. Plans are on file and available for inspection at the building department in village hall.

Coincidently, at around the same time that the demolition occurred, the Bronxville Board of Trustees began the process of preparing a request for proposal ("RFP") for the development of a new comprehensive village plan. The trustees are formulating the RFP in conjunction with the village's planning board, zoning board of appeals, and design review committee.

Village Administrator Jim Palmer stated that, while the 2009 comprehensive village plan currently in effect contains language indicating that the village “may want to consider requiring site plan approval for significant excavations, earth moving, and retaining walls,” he does not know if this provision applies to the demolition of single-family dwellings.

He indicated that village officials might want to consider a revised provision calling for zoning board of appeals approval for a replacement structure if more than a certain percentage of a house on an undersized lot is removed. “However,” he said, “I don’t believe this lot was undersized, as it has frontage on two streets [Midland Avenue and Sycamore Street].”

As the village code currently stands, applications for the development of single-family residential buildings under pertinent zoning regulations are exempt from planning board review. Therefore, the demolition of the house at 150 Midland Avenue did not require planning board, design review committee, or zoning board of appeals review. The construction plan approved for a new single-family structure on the site is fully compliant with RA-1 Zone (One Family Residence A District) regulations, Palmer noted.

Palmer suggested that a possible revision for the village to consider would be a requirement that an owner appear before the zoning board of appeals for approval to replace the structure if more than a certain percentage of a house on an undersized lot is removed.

Pictured here: Vacant lot on Midland Avenue just after the demolition occurred.

Photo by A. Warner

Priscilla Toomey on Real Estate: Anticipation PDF Print Email


By Priscilla R. Toomey, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker JD, ABR, Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Jun. 21, 2017:  Once seller and buyer have agreed on price and terms, that's it, right? Actually, there is a lot more to do and the possibility of several bumps in the road. Anticipating what they can be will help you avoid them.

Before contracts are signed in this area, the buyer typically has an inspection. Sellers should be familiar with the condition of the basic systems in their home--after all, they have been living there. But it's good to think through those items the inspector will look at. One place to find a list is the property condition disclosure statement. In Westchester, lawyers almost universally tell their seller/clients not to sign it, but it does serve as a good checklist of the items an inspector will take a close look at. Moreover, they are the "big ticket" items, so sellers are well advised to have those items in good working order before the house even goes on the market.

Next, contracts need to be negotiated and their terms agreed upon. Surprises often occur at this step, as one party or the other remembers something he or she previously forgot and wants to make sure it is addressed before things go any further. If the listing has exclusions, that list should be double-checked to make sure it is comprehensive. Changes in basic terms can also be requested at this point--for example, how much cash the buyer intends to put down.

Hopefully, sellers have discussed recent comparable sales with their broker. That's important, not just for correctly pricing the house for listing purposes but also because whenever mortgage financing is involved, the lender will order an appraisal, and the most helpful scenario is for the appraiser to determine that the house is worth the contract price. If the appraiser concludes that it is worth less, the seller and buyer may need to renegotiate the price, or the buyer may need to come up with more cash, or the transaction may not go forward. The broker should always prepare a package of comparable recent sales to give to the appraiser, as well.

Then there will be a title search, there may need to be a new survey drawn, and the certificate of occupancy will be checked to make sure it is current. To the extent possible, the seller needs to have a good idea what will turn up on these documents and will have made sure there are no issues with them before putting the house on the market, because once people are in the midst of a transaction, glitches in any or all can cause significant delays, may prevent the seller from moving forward, or may even give the buyer a reason to back out.

Be cautious if you allow your sale to be contingent on the sale of your purchaser's property--this creates a domino effect and you have no control over what happens on someone else's transaction--it may delay the closing of your sale.

And be sure your closing is scheduled within 60 to 75 days of the date your contract is fully executed. That's because, as they say, "life happens," and all kinds of events can occur--and the longer the parties give before closing the sale, the greater the odds a fly in the ointment will appear.

Knowing what to anticipate and communicating with your broker and lawyer to anticipate and avoid potential problems will assure you a successful transaction!

Pictured here:  Priscilla Toomey, licensed associate real estate broker, JD, ABR, Top5, certified EcoBroker, SRES with Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty, 2 Park Place, Bronxville, NY 10708; cell, 914-559-8084; email, CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Julia B. Fee/Sotheby's International Realty

Join Walk with Architect Anderson Kenny to Learn about Three Hilltop Houses Designed by William Bates Saturday, June 24 PDF Print Email


By Guest Contributor

Jun. 21, 2017:  As residents of Bronxville, we have all read about and heard the name William Bates, the architect who designed over 35 homes for William Van Duzer Lawrence, the original developer of Bronxville's Lawrence Park artist colony. This coming Saturday, June 24, we can all find out just what made Mr. Bates's architecture unique and so iconic.

After a light breakfast on the stone porch of 7 Valley Road starting at 9:30 am, local architect Anderson Kenny will lead a morning walking tour of Bronxville's historic Lawrence Park Hilltop to discuss the unique features of the homes designed by the esteemed William Augustus Bates between 1890 and 1910. Organized by Houlihan Lawrence agents Susan Law and Rita Steinkamp, the event will include a brief interior viewing of the first floor of their listing at 7 Valley Road. With its dramatic two-story entrance hall, octagonal paneled library, and magnificent dining room featuring a curved bank of stained-glass windows, an ornate, painted ceiling, and a minstrels' gallery, 7 Valley represents the height of Bates's golden age of design.

After the breakfast, the walking tour led by Kenny will meander up Valley Road to view the intricate exteriors of two other iconic Bates homes also currently on the market, 18 Gladwin Place and 6 Chestnut Avenue. Built in 1898, the year of Bronxville's incorporation, Gladwin represented a stunning departure from Bates's Adirondacks shingle-style homes in favor of a grand Southern colonial style, complete with graceful two-story Ionic columns that tower over a sweeping lawn all the way down to Paradise Road. Six Chestnut, the final tour stop, is a 1906 stone and shingle Arts and Crafts-style home with notable provenance. The former home of Elizabeth Custer, the widow of General Custer, 6 Chestnut is a 16-room home that served her well for entertaining numerous guests. It sits perched on a charming cobblestone road above the "valley of Bronxville" and features a stunning gambrel roof and stylized Palladian windows. 

Anderson Kenny, a member of the board of directors of The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, was instrumental in helping the Hilltop Association locate the replica bricks used to restore part of Park Avenue's yellow brick road two years ago. Kenny is currently working on some residential projects in the village, but his enthusiasm for Bates's turn-of-the-century work is compelling. "We all know that people pay a lot of money for Bates homes on the Hilltop … and there is a reason for that. His details are extraordinary and cannot be replicated today," according to Kenny.

Susan Law and Rita Steinkamp will assist on the tour. "We both feel it is so important to keep these amazing period homes relevant to today's buyers. And Bates's work brought such intense whimsy and creativity into the equation. He epitomized what is so special about our village. On Saturday, Anderson will help us understand the features which need to be preserved for ages to come," Law said.

The walk is free and open to the public. Park at Houlihan Lawrence's office lot at 4 Valley Road and walk up the hill to 7 Valley Road, where a light breakfast will be served on the porch at 9:30 am. The tour starts at about 9:45 am. For additional information, call Susan Law at 914-659-5856 or Rita Steinkamp at 914-646-5196. 

Pictured here:  Rita Steinkamp (L) and Susan Law of Houlihan Lawrence, organizers of the June walking tour.

Photo by Charlie Law

Big Hole Left by Sudden Demolition of Stone House on Midland Avenue to See Construction Shortly PDF Print Email


By Margaret Fuller Hayden

Jun. 7, 2017:  In a village of one square mile, it's hard not to notice certain changes in scenery. One of the more conspicuous in recent weeks has been the demolition of the house at 150 Midland Avenue and the large hole that currently takes its place.

Village Administrator Jim Palmer confirmed that the house was torn down the week of Monday, May 22. Village Engineer Vince Pici approved the demolition.

However, the lot will not stay empty for long.


Since purchasing the house in March of 2015, the current owner submitted an application in October of 2016 to construct a new residence. Upon approval, a permit was issued in May of 2017 for two things, demolition of the house and construction of a new two-story single-family residence.

Palmer, characterizing it as a "voluminous application and review," said there were no required approvals by the zoning board, design review committee, or planning board.

The picture of the new residence under construction as it appears on the approved building plans and the picture the village has on file of the old residence indicate that the new house will not deviate from the former's style, and the primary composition of the house will remain stone. However, the construction will introduce several noteworthy amenities to the property, including indoor and outdoor pools and an elevator.


As indicated on the building permit application, the estimated cost of construction is $3,320,000, and the square footage of the new residence will be 5,870.

Pictured here: Progression of the demolition of the house at 150 Midland Avenue.

Photos by A. Warner and S. Thornton Clifford


Bronxville Real Estate Rebranded as Park Sterling Realty PDF Print Email


By Park Sterling Realty

May 3, 2017:  Bronxville Real Estate announces its new name as Park Sterling Realty. The last decade has seen remarkable changes in the way real estate is practiced, including a move away from provincial offices that serve only one area or community. "Our geographic footprint was so much larger than our name," commented broker-owner Leah Caro, "it didn't adequately convey the volume of buyers and sellers we serve throughout the region."

Though most of our clients are still based in the Bronxville area, Park Sterling Realty represents clients in virtually every municipality in Westchester, from the Rivertowns to the Sound Shore, and from Southern and Central Westchester to the Northern communities. They also work with buyers and sellers in the Bronx, Putnam, and other northern counties.

Their commitment to client services remains the same, and their promise and service mark of Putting People First is unwavering. "The Park Sterling Realty brand will bring even greater exposure to our clients by demonstrating the breadth and width of our reach through continued robust marketing and advertising," continued Ms. Caro. "And the name really resonates--Park for our steadfast location on Park Place and Sterling for the consummate services we provide."

"We're all really excited about Park Sterling Realty," echoed the agents. "It brings so much more to the table in this day and age."

Park Sterling Realty's primary office will remain at 17 1/2 Park Place in the heart of Bronxville Village, and the broker-owners, Leah Caro and Jon Posner, will be as hands-on as ever. For more information, contact Park Sterling Realty at 914-337-1234 or contact Leah directly at  CLOAKING

Pictured here:  Leah Caro, broker-owner of Park Sterling Realty.

Photo courtesy Park Sterling Realty

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