A groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning for The Duet, a development that would consist of two apartment buildings at the intersection of Hale and Maple Avenues in White Plains.
There actually are two parcels involved: a lot at 97-111 Hale Ave., on the west side of the street and another directly across on the east side at 110-114 Hale Ave. The developer is Hale WP Owner LLC of Armonk. Saber Real Estate Advisors LLC, PCD Development LLC and Circle Squared Alternative Investments compose the development partnership. Martin G. Berger leads Saber; Jonathan Stein is the managing member of PCD, which is in New Providence, New Jersey; and Jeff Sica is president and CEO of New Jersey-based Circle Squared.
According to documents on file with the city of White Plains, the building on the east side is designed to be seven stories and have 70 apartments while the one on the west side would be eight stories and have 57 apartments. The total 127 residential units would include 13 designated as affordable. The buildings would have enclosed parking to accommodate a total of 170 vehicles. Both buildings are below the permitted height of 125 feet. The lot area on the west side of Hale is shown as being 20,000 square feet and the lot on the east side is 24,753 square feet.
The west building would have six studios, 31 one-bedroom units and 20 two-bedroom units. The east building would have five studios, 49 one-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom apartments.
At the groundbreaking, White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said, “At one time this city was a retail hub, it was a corporate hub and it still remains that. But, both of those areas have shifted dramatically and you have to shift with them.” He said the city has done that in development by “moving to the residential side and this is just another great example of that.”
Berger told the Business Journal that although construction costs have gone up since The Duet project was first proposed, they anticipate it will come in close to the $48 million originally estimated.
“We spent the last 18 months redesigning the parking garages which were exorbitantly expensive because of the limited size of the parcel and we were able to take all of those savings and put them back into upgraded finishes throughout the building,” he said. “We used the savings to upgrade the interior finishes and the exterior finishes on the building.”
The Westchester County Industrial Development Agency provided incentives for the project, including $370,000 in mortgage recording tax exemption and $794,685 in sales tax exemption. When the IDA adopted a resolution granting benefits to the project, it noted that this was presented as an “open shop” project from a labor standpoint and included a requirement that the developer have discussions with unions to help achieve the developer’s hope to use as much union and local labor as is competitive in the project. The IDA was told that the project would create 180 construction jobs and five permanent jobs.
“We are doing everything we can to keep our costs in line,” Berger said about the costs of materials and labor. He also said that lenders seem to like financing projects in White Plains these days in part because the city has a controlled supply of developments either underway or in the pipeline. “I think what is problematic is that real estate taxes are high and construction costs keep soaring,” he said.
Berger drew a contrast between the Hale Avenue project and one he’s doing in Poughkeepsie, which encompasses 156 acres of multifamily and mixed-use development. “In regard to the Hale Avenue apartments, what is nice is that the buildings are small in size and you have the benefit of being with a smaller collection of residents,” he said, adding that with projects like the one in Poughkeepsie, “You create a village, a work-play village.”
Berger expects two major factors to have special appeal at Hale Avenue: the location and the attention to detail in the finishes. “The location is excellent. You have Whole Foods next door, you have The Westchester and Neiman Marcus across the street and you’re two blocks from Mamaroneck Avenue so with the walkability you have all of the restaurants and bars,” Berger said. He also noted that the proximity to I-287 should be attractive for people who need highway access rather than being next to a Metro-North station.
The Duet project has been designed to appeal to couples, including empty nesters, rather than millennials. “The bathrooms have double sinks and double vanities. They have large, oversized closets, little things that are essential for couples and older people as compared with millennials,” Berger said.
Berger said that with the groundbreaking accomplished, they plan to be putting the real shovels in the ground right after the new year and expect to start taking residents about 20 months after that.