Developer Paul Varsames was poised to start construction the week of Nov. 18 following a Nov. 9 groundbreaking ceremony for his newest development in Rye, a downtown condominium complex on Locust Avenue.
“The former owner had taken 45 years to accumulate seven consecutive pieces of property. It encompasses 1.25 acres. I purchased it in June of this year,” Varsames told the Business Journal. “We re-subdivided the property from seven consecutive parcels to four parcels. We are planning on building four buildings.”
About 42% of the site will be open space. There will be two condominium units in each building, with each of the condos having three bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. Each condo will take up an entire floor.
“The units start at 2,258 square feet and the largest one is 2,856 square feet,” Varsames said. “At the ground level you’ll have a two-car garage for each unit. You’ll have a common foyer and staircase and elevator and then you’ll go up to the first floor and that will be one unit, and you’ll go up and on the second floor will be the second unit.”
Varsames said among the distinguishing features of the units will be 9 1/2-foot ceilings, windows on all four sides of the buildings and high-end finishes and appliances.
“We think this makes a big difference compared with a lot of other condo projects both in Westchester and lower Fairfield,” he said. Varsames described the exteriors as being a mixture of stone and shingle and clapboard.
Prices will vary depending on unit size and floor.
“Our starting price is $2,483,800,” Varsames said.
He plans to have the first units ready for delivery in March 2021 with all units completed by July of that year. A showroom has opened at 46 Locust Ave. where various designs and options can be seen.
“Within three blocks of our site you can kind of do and enjoy anything you want, including traveling to New York City,” he said. “Directly across the street is the YMCA. We are a half block from Purchase Street with over 30 restaurants and we are three blocks from the Metro-North train station.”
Rye has been the focal point for Paul Varsames Development, which also has done work in Armonk and Greenwich, Connecticut. A major portion of the company’s business has been building luxury single-family homes.
“I used to do it quite a bit on a speculative basis,” he said. “More recently, in the last few years, I’ve done it more on a custom basis for clients and we’ve done anything from probably $2.5 million homes to $10 million homes.”
The company also has a portfolio of luxury single-family and multifamily rentals.
“I started in rentals in about 2005,” he said. “I had a friend who was coming from London back to the Rye area and he asked me to try to find him a rental in Rye so his family could move back here. While I was looking at all of the rentals, everything was kind of old and tired. Wet basements, dated bathrooms and kitchens and what I said to him was, ‘Look, I don’t think there’s anything here that’s really going to suit you and that you and your wife are going to enjoy.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you build me something and I’ll rent it from you.’ ”
Varsames said that’s when he realized that the area was “in desperate need of nice, new-construction rentals.”
Varsames said they have about 40 luxury rental houses in their portfolio, concentrated in Rye. He said a typical project takes about 12 months if the property does not need to be subdivided. “We can find the property, close on the property, design the property, engineer the property, construct it and take occupancy,” he said.
Varsames said real estate brokerage Houlihan Lawrence will be handling sales of the Locust Avenue condos. He said the firm’s April Saxe has been his broker for 16 of the 30 years he’s been dealing with them and Houlihan Lawrence has done very well for him with the rental portfolio.
Varsames has nothing but praise for Rye.
“To me it’s the only town in Westchester that truly has everything to offer, so when I built them people kept coming, so I just kept building to continue what the market will bear and the market is still bearing nice, new-construction rentals,” he said.
He also pointed to a practical side of focusing on one area.
“We have so much construction going on, whether it be the rentals or the custom clients, that we always have people available for service calls,” he said. “We give white glove service. Somebody calls and a toilet’s leaking or something. Typically within an hour somebody’s there to fix it. I can only do that if I really work in close proximity to all my properties.”