Home Construction Developer seeks ‘dialogue’ with Greenburgh over plans for former Elmwood Country Club

Developer seeks ‘dialogue’ with Greenburgh over plans for former Elmwood Country Club

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Developers of a proposed 175-unit “active adult” community at 850 Dobbs Ferry Road spoke before the Greenburgh Planning Board recently in an effort to “start a dialogue” with the town.

“Westchester is ripe and ready for this kind of development,” said David Steinmetz of Zarin & Steinmetz, the law firm representing the site’s developer, Ridgewood Real Estate Partners.

On 109 acres of the former Elmwood Country Club, the developer aims to build Elmwood Preserve, an age-restricted community of townhomes for residents 55 and over. The three- to four-bedroom townhomes will feature first-floor master suites, along with amenities like a residents’ clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts.

In January, Ridgewood presented its redevelopment plans to the Greenburgh Town Board.

Steinmetz said before the company bought the property, a development team was assembled to study the property and determine its “environmental features and development potential.” In the months since, he noted the development team had met with a number of stakeholders, including town board members, civic associations and nearby school officials.

A site plan of the proposed Elmwood Preserve project.

The site is zoned for up to 119 single-family homes, but for the project to move forward, Ridgewood will need a zoning amendment, along with converting the property to a planned unit development district.

Jonathan S. Grebow, president and CEO of Ridgewood, said the townhome project would have less impact on peak traffic times than the 119 single-family homes.

The developer filed a petition in April with the town board to rezone the property. Steinmetz said that since that time, the company has been waiting to be placed on the town board’s meeting agenda.

“That did not happen,” he said, adding that “it’s been several months” and he felt he “had no other alternative” than to speak before the planning board.

Steinmetz said he hopes the planning board will urge the town board to move forward with an “open, thorough, deliberative process” and review of the project. However, members of the planning board noted their discomfort with requesting more information on the project without a formal referral from the town board.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said the town board would likely discuss the proposal in September.

In a phone interview, he told the Business Journal his two main concerns with the proposed project are the high number of units and the tax implications of a development of townhomes versus single-family homes. The town board had previously warned that it would pursue legislation to tax the townhomes at the higher rate applied to single-family homes.

Grebow said that one of the entrances to Elmwood Preserve would sit directly across from an entrance to another planned development, this one by Capitol Seniors Housing. That 7-acre site at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road is the former home of Frank’s Nursery & Crafts. Capitol plans to construct a 101-unit assisted living and memory care facility.

The Elmwood Preserve project includes a 200-foot buffer around its perimeter, and the developer plans to donate 14 acres of land to the town to expand Rumbrook Park.

“We think it’s the best use of that property,” said Grebow.

Based in Florham Park, New Jersey, Ridgewood has nine active developments across the country, including the redevelopment of seven golf courses and three active adult communities.

Grebow said these active adult developments keep the burden off the local school systems, since no children under 19 will be able to reside in the community. He noted that these communities are more popular in places like New Jersey, where there are more than 250 such communities across the state.

“It’s not that common in New York,” he said, noting that nearby active adult communities include Christie’s Place in Scarsdale and The Hollows at Blue Hill in Pearl River.

Ridgewood purchased the Elmwood Country Club last summer for $13 million, two months after the golf course filed a notice with the state Department of Labor that it would be closing down and laying off 76 employees.

“Why were we drawn to the property? Location,” Grebow said.

Ridgewood also last year bought the former Philips research facility in Briarcliff Manor. Of that project, Grebow said, “We have been closely following the village’s progress on amending its comprehensive plan and working towards changing the property’s zoning to allow for residential development. We look forward to being a part of this important process as it moves forward.”

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