From the Mayor: The 'Why' of a Development on Kensington Road Print

Dec. 31, 2013:  After almost three decades of false starts, the trustees and I are so pleased to announce the resurrection of the Kensington Road project.

At our December board of trustees' meeting, we selected Fareri Associates of Greenwich, Connecticut, to develop the project that was originally approved in 2007.

The trustees and I and the ad hoc committee--Frank Sica, Charles (Jay) Urstadt--believe Fareri Associates is eminently qualified to undertake a project of this magnitude and degree of difficulty. The team we chose has clearly demonstrated experience in construction of high-end empty-nester developments, construction of properties adjacent to MTA facilities, and environmental remediation history with New York State's Brownfield Cleanup Program, as well as expertise in building underground garages.

And, most important, John Fareri understands the history and traditions held dear in Bronxville. As he said in his offering statement, "Bronxville has many beautiful multi-family residences, some ninety years old. They are a testament to good planning and excellent construction methods and most still look as good as the day they were built. I pledge to do everything I can to make the Kensington Road project take its place right alongside those others."

As to financial strength, Fareri Associates has developed over $40 billion of real estate in Westchester and Fairfield Counties over the past 40-plus years. Over $600 million of real estate is currently owned by Fareri and three million square feet of development projects are in the planning stages in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. And most important, Fareri Associates has the demonstrated financial security to ensure completion of the entire project.

In addition to answering the "why" of this particular developer, the seminal question is "why" develop Kensington at all and "why" now?

The following are just some of the points considered by both the trustees and the project team:

• Over 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be removed at a cost of $7 to $10 million by the developer with no cost to the village, and the village will receive a permanent state sign-off as to remediation.

• The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has grant opportunities available to the developer that make the project feasible. These Brownfield Cleanup Programs will sunset in December of 2015 and thus change the economic parameters of any project in the future.

• The entire area, which is currently an unsightly blacktop expanse, will be transformed with extensive landscaping, new sidewalks, and even underground electric cables, increasing the value of not only the Kensington property, but the surrounding neighborhood.

• The village will receive brand-new underground parking, increasing both the safety and number of spaces available to our residents and merchants to park their cars.

• An empty-nester home option will be available to current residents who want to downsize but remain in the village.

• Over $600,000 in new property taxes will be generated on a property that currently produces none.

• The project is preapproved, shovel ready, and consistent with local and regional planning requirements.

• The village will also receive a substantial cash consideration that will directly assist to defray village property taxation.

The number-one concern at the onset appears to be that the structure will generate a large number of school-age children.

The previous developer, who was building the exact same structure, was required in the draft environmental impact study to do an analysis of potential school-age children to be generated by the proposed project. The analysis was prepared without conjecture, rather using nationally accepted multipliers from the Urban Land Institute and the Center for Urban Policy Research. The developer produced several scenarios with the "worst case" bringing four to six new children to the school system.

Even with certifiable data, it stands to reason that no one can forecast with exact certainty the number of children, just as we cannot predict to the exact person the number of empty nesters who will move each year because they have hit the property tax "tipping point" or the number of children who will occupy rental or owner-occupied residences.

The trustees are required as stewards of the community to take the long view, and we came to the unanimous decision that the Kensington Road project will only serve to enhance the village in the years to come. There will be some short-term disruption to the neighborhood just as there will be when the school begins the auditorium renovation, but both projects will result in the betterment for all.

We welcome your input and pledge to work with all interested parties with transparency and open two-way dialogue as our guide.