Harrison approves first apartment project on Platinum Mile

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

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A plan to raze vacant and underused office buildings off Westchester Avenue in Harrison and replace them with a 421-unit residential building has been approved by the town board, with a stipulation that 10 percent of the rental units be reserved as affordable housing.

Normandy Real Estate Partners LLC, owner and operator of The Exchange office park portfolio in Harrison and White Plains, will work with Pennsylvania-based luxury home developer Toll Brothers to tear down two office buildings at 103 and 105 Corporate Park Drive and reuse the 10-acre site for luxury apartments targeting millennials and empty nesters.

The project represents the first conversion of office space into residential use in the Interstate 287 corridor, a move the town of Harrison called for in its 2013 comprehensive plan.

The project, known as The Residences at Corporate Park Drive, calls for a five-story building with studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with 752 indoor and outdoor parking spaces. There will also be a restaurant on site.

A spokesperson for Normandy Real Estate Partners declined to disclose the estimated project cost.

Built in the 1970s, the Corporate Park Drive buildings have declined in tenant occupancy along with much of the office space on the Platinum Mile and throughout Westchester County. One of the Corporate Park Drive buildings is boarded up and vacant, while the other has only a single tenant.

The Residences at Corporate Park Drive will be the first multifamily housing built in the so-called teardrop region of the town, an area bounded by I-287, the Hutchinson River Parkway and Interstate 684.

The market for older, larger commercial spaces has slowed as companies seek more diverse working arrangements for employees and better technology infrastructure. While Platinum Mile commercial properties represented 60 percent of Harrison’s tax revenue 30 years ago, that share of municipal revenue was down to about 12 percent by 2012, according to the town’s comprehensive plan.

Harrison’s plan was updated three years ago to recommend a wider range of uses for the teardrop region, including housing. In April, the town board approved a zoning change for the teardrop region to allow multifamily residential developments.

“In the end, we concluded that this is a viable use for an already developed location that clearly has been underperforming for a long time,” said Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont in a statement following the town’s approval for The Residences at Corporate Park Drive.

The affordable housing provision was added after lobbying from the Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition during the project’s review by the town. In April, Westchester Workforce Housing Coalition founder Alexander Roberts pushed for the developer to put aside 10 percent of the project for affordable housing.

“We are pleased to have played a role in obtaining the inclusion of affordable units in the project, which will enhance the county’s efforts to attract a young professional workforce, as well as businesses who depend on their labor,” Roberts said in a statement distributed by Normandy Real Estate Partners.

Harrison has not constructed new affordable housing in 25 years. The town was one of 31 communities in Westchester County named in a 2009 legal settlement with the federal government that required the county to build 750 units of affordable housing in targeted, largely white communities.

Of the 421 units planned, Normandy will reserve 21 apartments for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, about $52,000 for a family of two. The other 21 units will be be reserved for households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, about $69,000 for a family of two.

Normandy aims to start construction on The Residences at Corporate Park Drive in early 2017, according to a press release from the developer.

“We applaud the vision and foresight of the Town of Harrison in permitting the multifamily residential use of the 103-105 property, which will provide a new high-quality housing option for young professionals and empty nesters,” said Giorgios L. Vlamis, a partner with Normandy Real Estate Partners.

Normandy Real Estate Partners is headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey. Its portfolio includes about 15 buildings along I-287 in Harrison and White Plains among 13.2 million square feet of commercial assets in the Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. markets.

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About the author

Ryan Deffenbaugh covers energy, education, food and beverage and the Sound Shore for the Westchester County Business Journal. He previously worked for Westchester Magazine and The Citizen daily newspaper (Auburn, N.Y.). He started with the Westchester County Business Journal in March 2016.

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