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Bronxville's Virginia Doetsch Named 2016 Manager of the Year PDF Print Email


By Andrew Wood, Director of PR, William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Mar. 22, 2017:  Virginia Doetsch, manager of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's offices in Bronxville and Irvington, has been named the company's 2016 Manager of the Year.

Doetsch was chosen from among 16 brokerage managers for the honor, winning the award for the second time in the past three years.

"Virginia continuously proves what a tremendous asset she is to our firm with her outstanding support and leadership," said Paul Breunich, president and chief executive officer of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty. "Her achievements are substantial, including her skill for drawing and retaining top talent as well as her impressive track record of realizing notable increases in annual sales volume. She was also instrumental in expanding our presence in Westchester County's key Rivertowns market area during 2015 and 2016. I am proud to recognize Virginia as our Manager of the Year."

Doetsch, who has been in the real estate industry for over 25 years, has led the company's Bronxville brokerage office since 2011. Over the course of her first five years in the position, she grew the brokerage's sales force from a small team of nine agents to 41 while increasing the office's annual sales volume by a dramatic 800%. 

Additionally, in the summer of 2015, Doetsch played an important role in establishing the company's first brokerage based in Westchester County's Rivertowns market and continues to drive the firm's growth there. Located in the region's hub town of Irvington, the brokerage achieved significant dollar volume in its first full year of 2016. She now leads a group of 15 agents in Irvington, after starting virtually from scratch prior to launching the new brokerage in 2015.

"I attribute so much of the success of my offices to all of my fantastic full-time agents, who bring deep knowledge of current real estate conditions coupled with sensitivity to changing global markets," said Doetsch. "I have high expectations for my agents and strive to build teams comprised of sales professionals who focus on what is best for their clients over their own interests. As a result, we are building relationships that we know will last for generations."

Pictured here:  Virginia Doetsch.

Photo courtesy of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty

Bronxville Real Estate Market Forecast Robust for 2017 PDF Print Email


By Carol P. Bartold   

Mar. 1, 2017: The 2017 forecast for Bronxville residential real estate is positive, according to Leah Caro, licensed real estate broker and president of Bronxville Real Estate, LLC. "If the inventory available to purchasers in the $2 million to $3 million 'sweet spot' range remains stable," Caro said, "I believe Bronxville will have a robust year." She added that brokers encountered bidding wars for homes in the high $2 million price point during January, early in the year for such fervent activity.

A "dearth of inventory" in that "sweet spot" price range contributed to lower single-family home sales in Bronxville during 2016. She cited the strong appeal of the river towns, which have large inventories of lower-priced properties, lower taxes, and the "hipness buzz" to buyers from Manhattan and Brooklyn as other factors affecting Bronxville sales in 2016.

Although, historically, no more than four homes per year priced higher than $4 million have sold, 2016 saw a substantial number of homes, as many as twelve, listed in that price range.

Caro noted that activity in 2017 has increased, with strong attendance at open houses indicating that Bronxville is "on the radar" of buyers from New York City and the outer boroughs again.

The current inventory of single-family homes on the market in the village stands at 45. Twenty-six of those homes are priced between $2 million and $4 million. Of the twelve properties currently in contract, ten have a selling price between approximately $1.4 million and $3.3 million.

Caro also believes that the multigenerational culture of the village will help contribute to a strong real estate market this year. "At some point, millennials who have left Bronxville to live in the city return to buy a first and sometimes a second house," Caro said. Empty nesters who downsize often remain in the area.

Bronxville's proximity to the city, its transportation infrastructure, and its central location in the tri-state area continue to serve as strong factors drawing buyers to the community, according to Caro. She also pointed out that Bronxville is a very "walkable" community with a downtown that offers almost anything residents need.

"Condition matters," Caro said in describing what buyers are looking for in a home. "Buyers want the best product they can get at the best price." She described the home that has been renovated and brought up to date with a pristine appearance and modern systems as the home that will sell quickly. Buyers, she added, seem to have neither the time, the inclination, nor the money to do substantial updating.

"The ideal house," Caro pointed out, "wins both the bidding war and the beauty contest."

Pictured here:  Homes on a hill in Bronxville.

Photo by N. Bower

Village Trustees Hire Ecosystems Strategies, Inc. to Keep Abreast of Soil and Water Testing PDF Print Email


By Carol P. Bartold     

Feb. 22, 2017:  In the interest of remaining informed and educated about soil and water testing at The Bronxville School and the Marbledale Road site in Tuckahoe where the Marriott Hotel and restaurant are being constructed, the Bronxville Board of Trustees has hired an independent environmental consultant, Ecosystems Strategies, Inc., to help trustees understand, evaluate, and interpret testing results and data.

Ecosystems Strategies Inc. will conduct a technical review of all environmental reports submitted that pertain to the Tuckahoe site and advise the village on findings in those reports. The consultant will provide a summary of technical information and offer an opinion about impacts, if any, of the site on Bronxville.

The signed contract with Ecosystems Strategies, Inc. indicates that a report should be forthcoming by the end of February.

At the Bronxville Village Board of Trustees January meeting, Mayor Mary Marvin recognized jurisdictional boundaries between the villages of Tuckahoe and Bronxville and pledged to respect them. At the same time, she said, the trustees would make every effort to preserve the village’s quality of life.

“This is a matter that affects all of our lives,” Marvin said.

Approval by Tuckahoe Village trustees of the Marriott Hotel at 109 Marbledale Road, a Brownfield Clean-Up site, raised concerns in Bronxville about the possible migration of groundwater contaminants from the construction site. The hotel will sit on the site of a former marble quarry, which, after closing, was used for commercial and industrial purposes and became a landfill contaminated by items and substances deposited there.

Dan Carlin, assistant superintendent for business at the Bronxville schools, reported in January that soil and groundwater testing on the Bronxville school campus had revealed the presence of heavy metal and pesticides. "Nobody knows where these substances came from,” Carlin said. He stated that the school does not use pesticides. It has been suggested, he said, that the pesticides traveled to the school property in previous stormwater runoff from nearby residential neighborhoods.

The Marbledale Road Environmental Coalition, a group of concerned citizens, reported that, near the beginning of February, the developer began to excavate a “hot spot” on the hotel site without air monitoring protocols in place to gauge the level of toxic substances in vapors released by that operation. Emissions from a “hot spot” location may expose nearby populations to elevated health risks from air and water pollution on the site.

On the day that excavation began, the Marbledale Road Environmental Coalition attorney requested and received an appearance before the New York State Supreme Court in White Plains to seek a temporary restraining order and injunction against further digging on the site.

There was no indication about when the judge might deliver a decision. The developer is free to continue excavating until a decision is made.

Pictured here:  Test tubes of the type that might measure soil and water contamination.

Photo by A. Warner and N. Bower

100 Pondfield Road Condos Await Construction; Drawings Have Not Been Submitted Yet to Bronxville Building Inspector PDF Print Email


By Carol P. Bartold

Feb. 22, 2017: Although the Bronxville Planning Board approved Pondfield Court LLC’s plans to develop the former Manhattan Storage Building at 100 Pondfield Road into 11 residential condominium units with 14 ground-floor parking spaces plan at its April 13, 2016, meeting, work does not appear to have begun on the project.

In September of 2016, Sid Blauner, Pondfield Court LLC representative, explained that the village building department still had to approve construction drawings for each of the eleven units in the plan. Once that approval is obtained, Blauner said, he anticipated an 18-month process from the beginning of work to completion of the development project and the securing of a certificate of occupancy.

Yesterday (February 21), Bronxville building inspector Vince Pici relayed through the office assistant for the building and public works department that, to date, the building inspector had not received any construction drawings for approval.

Blauner stated that the developer was still completing the construction drawings for approval. He added that the job could not be put out for general contractor bids until the drawings receive approval.

Pondfield Court LLC said that it has incorporated the village building department’s requests, including individual unit size and finishes to be installed within the units in the construction drawings.

“Nobody will see anything happening with our building [when work on it begins] because we don’t have to build anything on the outside,” Blauner explained last September. He noted that virtually all construction, save for exterior brick work, will take place inside the building and not be visible. However, he added, the developer will carefully stage work on the project because construction activity will impact the downtown business district.

The developer expressed plans to begin its marketing campaign for the building mid-2017.

Pondfield Court LLC purchased the building in December of 2010. It had been part of the estate of Steven Green MD, who planned to refurbish the building into a six-story private residence and office with a rooftop swimming pool.

The developer submitted approximately eight versions of its site plan to the Bronxville Planning Board over a four-year period before gaining the board’s approval.

Pictured here:  A view of the building at 100 Pondfield Road (building in the back), where condominiums are to be built.

Photo by A. Warner

Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate Firm Sold to Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway PDF Print Email


By Staff

Jan. 25, 2017:  Bronxville's oldest real estate firm, Houlihan Lawrence, has been acquired by HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, according to Chris Meyers, managing principal of Houlihan Lawrence. Warren Buffet is the chairman, CEO, and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway.

William van Dusen Lawrence founded the real estate firm in 1888 while living in New York City. Members of the Lawrence family moved to Bronxville and participated in the incorporation of the Village of Bronxville in 1898. They also donated land and money to found Lawrence Hospital (now NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital) and Sarah Lawrence College.  

George Lawrence IV, the great-grandson of William van Dusen Lawrence, sold his family's real estate firm in 1990 to Nancy and Peter Seaman and moved to Florida. After Peter Seaman passed away in 1994, Nancy Seaman and her brothers Stephen and Chris Meyers took over the management of the firm. 

Houlihan Lawrence has grown considerably in the last two decades to over 1,300 agents and 30 offices and had $6.7 billion in sales in 2016. The firm operates in Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Ulster counties in New York and in Fairfield County in Connecticut.  

Nancy Seaman will step down from her chairman position, but, according the Houlihan Lawrence website, "Stephen and Chris Meyers will continue to lead the firm’s strategic growth initiatives and manage day-to-day operations together with the existing management team." The Houlihan Lawrence brokerage firm will retain its name.  

In commenting about the new ownership, Chris Meyers said, "It was a very difficult decision [to sell], but Nancy had reached a point in her life where she wanted to do more in the volunteer world." 

Chris went on to say, "We see ourselves as stewards of a brand and a legacy. We wanted to make sure that the company remained an independent brand.  Nancy’s husband had a relationship with Warren Buffet who has a division in his company for independent brands called Home Services of American.  There are over 35 regional firms in this division." He further said that "it was a win-win situation" for us to go with Home Services.     

Mr. Meyers assures the public that, other than the new ownership, "there will be no change at all. The public will not know the difference," he stated. "There will be no name change or closing of the Bronxville office. My brother Stephen and I will continue on with the firm." 

Pictured here:  The little white cottage at Pondfield Road and Prescott Street, which has housed the Bronxville office of Houlihan Lawrence since the firm's inception. 

Photo by A. Warner

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