Frank’s Nursery auctioneer: There is much interest in site

By Mark Lungariello

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The auctioneer who is set to auction the former Frank’s Nursery in Greenburgh told the town supervisor it had received interest from 60 developers, brokers and other groups.

GA Keen Realty Advisors LLC sent Town Supervisor Paul Feiner a progress report on getting the word out that the property was to be sold. The auction date is set for Nov. 13.

“To date, 15 parties have signed the confidentiality agreement and received all of the available property information and bidding procedures,” the company said in an email to Feiner, a Democrat. “Multiple parties have walked the property and seen the site. On a weekly basis we continue to receive new inquiries.”

GA Keen has included cold calls, emails and run notices in several media publications including the Business Journal. The company is in line to take 5 percent of the gross proceeds of the sale of the 7-acre vacant property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road.

Current zoning at the site allows for uses including residential homes and assisted living facilities, but the Town Council received criticisms for keeping the auction open to potential buyers that might ask to rezone the property. The town initially approved a resolution saying it intended to sell the property only to a buyer who would maintain the property’s existing zoning.

Feiner said the town rescinded that resolution on legal advisement, but members of the civic group The Edgemont Community Council said the move opened up the potential for large-scale retail development in the area.

The auctioning will come after a heated debate over who should buy the property. The town acquired the land in a 2011 tax foreclosure and received an offer from Game On 365 LLC, which offered $1.7 million for the land and promised an additional $1.3 million over 13 years. Town officials announced they had agreed to that deal at a press conference in May 2013.

But the deal drew opposition, with critics saying the phrasing of the deal didn’t properly ensure the $1.3 million. Some residents said the town should have accepted a competing offer from Ardsley-based House of Sports, which had jumped in with a $3.5 million cash offer for the property “as is.”

A month after announcing the deal with Game On, the town offered the property to House of Sports instead. Both companies threatened lawsuits if Greenburgh contracted with the other, leading to the town putting off the sale. Both companies wanted to build a sports facility there.

Game On project manager Martin Hewitt said at the time that an open bidding process is the fairest option. “It’s the cleanest way that the town can avoid a lawsuit,” he said.

Whoever ends up buying the property, environmental remediation will need to be taken before any construction. A study commissioned by Greenburgh and conducted by Harrison-based Woodard & Curran Engineering estimated environmental cleanup of the site would cost millions due to a 2001 oil spill. The firm didn’t give an exact estimate of cost.

House of Sports CEO Donald Scherer told the Business Journal in a recent interview that his company’s project could cost $10 million to $15 million. “We need to do some remediation so it’s s safe environment for kids. That could mean pumping out the groundwater. We’ll see how the town and (Department of Environmental Conservation) want us to handle that.”

Feiner said he expected the starting bid for the property would be $3.5 million.

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About the author

Mark Lungariello
Mark Lungariello is a former contributing editor to the Westchester and Fairfield business journals. He also wrote features for WAG magazine. Lungariello graduated from Columbia Journalism School and has won New York Press Association awards as an editor, columnist and reporter.

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