The former United Hospital site in Port Chester, once planned to be developed by Starwood Capital Group, is now to be developed by two established New York City real estate firms. It was announced on June 28 that Rose Associates and BedRock Real Estate Partners are partnering to develop the 15.45-acre site as a mixed-use community with housing, retail and what are termed “other offerings.”
Starwood had proposed a $450 million mixed-use development containing approximately 1 million square feet of space. It was to include a hotel, restaurant, apartments and offices. United Hospital closed in 2005.
When asked by the Business Journal, a spokesperson for Rose and BedRock declined to name the entity from which Rose and Bedrock bought the property. United Hospital sold the property on April 25, 2006, to a Delaware limited liability company, PC 406 BPR LLC, having an address of 591 Putnam Ave., in Greenwich, Connecticut. The consideration was $25,650,000.
Although Starwood undertook the extensive approval process for its project, including a detailed environmental review, the property sat abandoned and deteriorating. It became a hangout for youngsters. In June 2017, a 14-year-old Port Chester High School student, Chris Aguilar, was killed when he fell through a section of roof and down a 60-foot elevator shaft.
Amy Rose, president and CEO of Rose Associates, said, “We are thrilled to embark on the complete redevelopment of this ideally located property and to deliver a product that truly benefits Port Chester and the surrounding community.”
Rose currently is involved in the redevelopment of the former AT&T building at 440 Hamilton Ave. in White Plains. Her company specializes in luxury multifamily rental properties in the tristate area. It places a value of more than $2 billion on the projects it has completed during the past six years and says its portfolio includes 14,000 units. The company plans to raise $1 billion by 2020 for new transit-oriented developments in New York City, New Jersey and Westchester County.
BedRock Real Estate Partners, founded in 2013 by Chuck Berman and Tracey Applebaum, is a privately held investment manager. It is involved in the development and acquisition of rental apartments and mixed-use projects in the Northeast. It says it has $1.3 billion in assets under management, totaling more than 1.75 million square feet. Berman said, “We look forward to meeting a market need for housing while layering in amenities and services that will be attractive to area residents.”
Port Chester’s Mayor Richard A. Falanka told the Business Journal that he met with the developers a few days before they closed on the property. He said they told him they were assembling a team to start dealing with plans and their vision for the property. “We’re hoping they stay as close to the zoning, or stay with the zoning, that was approved back in 2017 so we don’t have to go back and do environmental studies again nor do we have to do anything with regard to zoning. We want to get a schedule on how they see and want to proceed with the demolition of the property. It’s been vacant for all these years and it’s time for that property to be demolished and we’re hoping that that’s one of the priorities they take on with their plans for the property.”
Falanka said he’d like to work the developer on enhancing a public park which is next to the property. “That could be a showcase for the village and also for their development,” he said.
When asked when he’d like to see shovels in the ground, Falanka chuckled and said, “After all these years, I hope it’s immediately.”
Joan Grangenois-Thomas, a member of Port Chester’s Board of Trustees who also is executive director of the community group Sustainable Port Chester Alliance, welcomed the news. “My reaction is relief. Hopefully we can finally get a project that is worthy of Port Chester built on that site,” she told the Business Journal.
The Sustainable Port Chester Alliance is a coalition of faith, civic, housing and labor organizations and residents focused on promoting responsible development, affordable housing, good jobs and the safeguarding of human and civil right in Port Chester.
Recalling the previous proposal for the site from Starwood, Grangenois-Thomas said, “We had asked for several community benefits to come from the project. One of them was affordable housing. We wanted at least 30% of the units that were going to be proposed to be available and affordable to workforce,” such as fire, police and teachers. “It’s a massive piece of land and open space is always a benefit to the community, where young people can find recreational opportunities. Hopefully, also cultural space, space for the arts.”
There are other public benefits Grangenois-Thomas believes would help Port Chester. “This new property is going to have to receive public services and certainly we could benefit from new fire trucks or garbage trucks or things like that,” she said. “Community benefits are geared toward what the community needs and so let’s take a good look at that and see what could be put on the table.”
She also called for the development to contribute to environmental sustainability.
“It only makes sense that we move away from fossil fuels and look at renewable energy as a way to remain sustainable and have a positive environmental impact. The use of solar panels, the use of green roofs, recycled water, all of those things should be taken into consideration so that this is a project for the future,” Grangenois-Thomas said. “The Sustainable Port Chester Alliance is happy to see development come to Port Chester. We just want to see it done responsibly and to meet the needs of the community.”