The White Plains Common Council approved two major projects at its Sept.4 meeting that could eventually turn an outdated mall and 1960s office tower, both on Hamilton Avenue, into more than 1,200 apartments, bringing new residents and potential life to an area of the city defined by office buildings and municipal parking.
The city gave site plan approval to a residential and commercial redevelopment known as Hamilton Green that would replace White Plains Mall at the intersections of Hamilton, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Cottage Street and Barker Avenue. The city separately approved a plan for a residential redevelopment of the former AT&T headquarters at 440 Hamilton Ave.
From Port Chester-based Street-Works Development, the approved site plan would tear down the mall and replace the block with a plaza of open public space surrounded by four separate buildings, each hosting a mix of apartments with street-level stores and restaurants. One building would include about 27,000 square feet of coworking space. The retail portion would be anchored by a craft food hall featuring small artisan purveyors.
White Plains Mall was built in the 1970s on the 3-acre block. The development team characterized it as outdated and struggling with vacancies.
The mall is now approved to be replaced by 860 apartments; 85,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space; the coworking and flexible office space and a 40,000-square-foot, elevated open space accessible to the public from all four sides of the property.
Street-Works co-founder Richard Heapes told the council at a July hearing that Hamilton Green’s central open space makes it stand out.
“Here is a very urban project where half of it is not only open space, but open space available to the public at any time of day with activities that the public wants to do,” Heapes said, adding that the space offers a chance to gather for an ice cream cone or relax by a fountain.
Street-Works is working with Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, which led the redesign of Bryant Park in Manhattan, to design and program the open Hamilton Green space.
Heapes was speaking before the final vote the city took July 2 on Hamilton Green’s zoning amendment. At that meeting, the city approved a zoning change necessary for the project about 18 months after the developer first presented its plans to the council.
The apartments would be spread across four separate buildings, each with distinct features. The two tallest, on the western side of the site, would consist of 14 stories.
The project’s 860 apartment units include 115 studios, 212 one-bedroom; 344 two-bedroom and 189 three-bedroom units. A total of 86 of those units, 10 percent, will be offered at rents affordable to people making 80 percent of the area median income.
The coworking space would be placed at the corner of Hamilton and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Along with the public plaza, plans call for about 36,000 square feet of private outdoor space for residents, including a rooftop pool and large lawn area.
City planning documents note that the project would be built in phases, starting with interior parking and loading structures. The first phase would include between 500 and 600 of the residential units, the craft food hall and pedestrian plaza platform, along with about 950 parking spaces.
Asked about a timeline for construction, a Street-Works representative provided a statement from Heapes that noted the company has been working with city on creating the project for the past two years. The site plan approval “brings the project team one step closer to bringing this transformative project,” with an expected start to construction in 2019.
Rose Associates, a longtime residential developer and manager in New York City, received approvals for its plans for apartments at 440 Hamilton Ave., a 350,000-square-foot office building that long served as an office for AT&T.
The city had already approved a residential conversion in March 2017 for the 12-story building, but Rose has since taken over the site’s redevelopment and brought new plans to the city in May.
The original approvals allowed for converting the building to 245 apartment units with 1,600 square feet of ground floor retail space. Rose’s concept, designed by Perkins Eastman, calls for 468 apartment units. The difference in units comes from Rose’s plan to build over a surface-level parking lot next door to the building on its 3.3-acre lot on Barker Avenue.
The plans approved by the city on Sept. 4 call for 255 apartments in the 440 Hamilton building, and 213 apartments in a building at the intersection of Barker and Broadway. That would include 70 studios, 148 one-bedroom and 73 two-bedroom apartments. Of those units, 6 percent would be offered at rents affordable to people making 60 percent of area median income.
A six-level parking garage with 575 spaces, tucked behind the new buildings on the Barker Avenue side, would replace the parking lot.
According to a description given by the project’s architect to the city council in May, the 440 Hamilton building would be re-skinned with a beige-brick treatment.
The Barker Avenue side of the property, meanwhile, would feature a building with variations in height and materials. The ground-level units on the Barker Avenue side are designed as townhouse and maisonette-style units.
During the review of both proposals, Mayor Thomas Roach described the city’s goal of making the wide streetscape of Hamilton Avenue more pedestrian friendly. David Steinmetz, an attorney representing Rose on the proposal, told the city this spring that the developer shares that goal.
“Part of our desire,” said Steinmetz, “as the development team, our client’s desire, is working with the city to try to create some activity along Hamilton and stimulate the area that is now largely business-oriented.”
No timeline was available as to when the projects would start.