A divided Dobbs Ferry board of trustees narrowly approved an environmental impact report in a vote that allows developers of Rivertowns Square to move ahead with site plans for their approximately $150 million mixed-use project in the village.
The board’s 4-3 vote Jan. 8 reflected continued division among Dobbs Ferry residents as to the impact of the project on the community since partners at Saber Dobbs Ferry L.L.C. and Lincoln Dobbs Ferry L.L.C. first proposed two years ago to redevelop a nearly 18-acre site adjoining Chauncey Square Shopping Center.
The property, near the intersection of Lawrence Street and the Saw Mill River Parkway, formerly was the office and laboratory complex of Akzo Nobel Chemical Co., which vacated the facility in 1996. Food Emporium leased office space there until 2005, and the complex, which includes 200,000 square feet of floor space in three buildings, since then has been vacant.
“I have never seen a more rigorous review, especially for a project of this size,” said Rivertowns Square development partner Corey B. Rabin, a White Plains attorney and Realtor. His company, Dobbs Ferry Capital Partners L.L.C., in 2010 paid $5.125 million for the Akzo Nobel campus. “The review was very, very transparent,” he said.
Responding to concerns about traffic congestion and planning and design elements voiced by residents and village officials, the developers twice made changes to the proposed development. The modified proposal reduces total project square footage by more than 20,000 square feet, to 441,320 square feet, and eliminates 24 residential units from the initial plan. A 70,000-square-foot supermarket will be replaced by an 18,000-square-foot Mrs. Green’s Natural Market and a 33,600-square-foot movie theater complex that will help reduce the impact of shopping traffic.
In addition to the theater complex and gourmet grocery, the project now includes a 202-unit, approximately 277,000-square-foot luxury residential building, about 61,300 square feet of retail and restaurant space in six buildings, a 123-room hotel and 1,222 parking spaces.
The eight-screen, 1,350-seat theater complex will be operated by Sundance Cinemas L.L.C., a Los Angeles-based company headed by actor and filmmaker Robert Redford. Dobbs Ferry will be the company’s first East Coast location.
Lincoln Property Co., based in Dallas, is the project’s residential developer.
Dobbs Ferry Mayor Hartley Connett before the vote said the modified project “is in the best interest of the majority of residents” and “will make Dobbs Ferry a more sustainable and affordable community into the future. And I think it will make Dobbs Ferry a better, a more desirable and an even more exciting place to live.”
“It could have gone either way,” Rabin said of the board vote, “and we were very heartened by the support that we got. Frankly, the people that spoke from the community” during the meeting’s public comment period “echoed the sentiment of the board,” said Rabin, with slightly more residents speaking in favor of the project than against it.
Rabin said he expects the site plan review to take “several months. I hope it doesn’t take as long a time as went through the (state environmental quality review) process.”
With approvals in place, “I would hope that we would be able to be in the ground by the end of the year” for an 18-month construction project.
“It was a very long and very fact-filled comment period by the trustees and I’m very pleased that we reached this important step,” Rabin said.