Two hundred units of luxury one- and two-bedroom rental apartments are proposed for a 22-acre site in the town of North Castle. JMF Properties Group, a Whippany, N.J.-based developer, is under contract to purchase the property, which sits next to a 14-acre campus of St. Christopher’s Inc., an organization for teens with disabilities. As part of the proposal, the developer submitted a petition to rezone the property at 1700 Old Orchard St. from a single-family zone, which would support 11 homes, into multifamily.
The new 248,000-square-foot apartment building, dubbed The Vue, would take up residence adjacent to both the Jennie Clarkson campus of St. Christopher’s, which will remain at its current location, and hundreds of acres of woodland. The project will leave about 18 acres of its site preserved as open space, along with offering 400 underground parking spaces for residents and some above-ground spaces for visitors.
Marketed to millennials and empty-nesters, monthly rent for the 80 one-bedroom apartments would range from $2,800 to $2,900 per month, while the rent on the 120 two-bedroom units would range from $3,100 to $3,200 per month. Ten percent of the units would be designated as affordable.
JMF Properties asserts that the new apartment complex is a “win-win” for both the developer and the town. Along with providing significant tax benefits to the town of North Castle, estimated at approximately $170,000 annually, The Vue would also serve as an incentive for young people to remain in the area and provide support to the existing business community.
But residents are concerned that the proposed project, which would sit in an isolated part of the town that borders the Kenisco Reservoir and the Cranberry Lake Preserve, could have a number of negative impacts, including its effect on the Valhalla school system. JMF Properties asserts that the complex would add only 12 additional students to Valhalla’s school district, about the same as the 11 single-family houses the location is currently zoned for.
“The design is not conducive to families with children,” said Anthony Veneziano of Veneziano & Associates, a representative of the developer.
Veneziano also expects The Vue to have “minimal” impact on traffic, adding that, based upon other projects, he anticipates 80 percent of the occupants will have one car. JMF Properties will also provide a shuttle service to the Metro-North Railroad station a few miles away.
At a town board meeting in July, a resident questioned the project’s claim that it could be a “haven” for millennials considering its isolated location, not in close proximity to the bars or restaurants that demographic usually flocks toward. But Veneziano counters that the location takes advantage of the site’s elevation by giving tenants unobstructed views of the reservoir and the surrounding areas, adding that the apartment complex will be “essentially invisible” from Route 22.
North Castle town Supervisor Michael J. Schiliro said it’s too early in the process to discuss any potential benefits or hazardous effects the project may have on the area. The proposal is at a “very, very preliminary” stage, he said, adding that the board, which declared its intent to act as lead agency to coordinate the State Environmental Quality Review process at its July 13 meeting, is “still far from a zoning change.”
“We’re in a scoping process,” he said. “We’re getting as much information as we can and then (we will) determine if the project progresses.”
Schiliro stressed that the process would involve the participation of all stakeholders, including residents, and that the board will take into serious account all concerns regarding the project.
Referencing an erroneous flyer that circulated the area stating The Vue’s petition was for an “affordable housing zoning change” and mentioned Section 8 housing, Schiliro said, “I love the (residents’) passion, but that passion has to be coupled with the facts. It can’t be with misinformation.”
“We owe it to the citizens to listen to people who are looking to invest in our town,” he said, “and then determine whether the investment may be a net positive for the town or if not. We have to think real long and hard about it.”