A Yonkers-based developer has proposed constructing two apartment buildings in Peekskill that would have a total of 167 units and 206 parking spaces along with 3,500 square feet of retail space. The project has been named the Magnolia Heights Apartments.
Peekskill’s Common Council heard from Tom Conneally, founder, president and CEO of Cottage International Development Group (CIDG), at its Jan. 21 work session. He was looking for feedback from the council members on the project before making a formal submission to the city.
Conneally emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in 1986 and in 1990 founded a construction company, Glenman Corp. CIDG is Glenman’s development division. The company has completed more than $500 million of construction and development work, 500,000 square feet of which has been residential and 400,000 square feet commercial.
The Peekskill project is proposed for parcels with addresses of 653 Central Ave. and 582 South St. The proposal involves the city selling three vacant parcels along Central Avenue to the developer. Rezoning of one parcel on South Street would be required, according to Jean Friedman, Peekskill’s director of planning. She said the city would need to have new appraisals of its parcels. She also said that the city’s Building Department would determine whether variances would be needed and whether the Common Council would need to issue a special permit to allow greater height.
The proposal includes construction of a public staircase with a sculpture garden platform at its midpoint to connect South Street and Central Avenue. Those streets are separated in elevation by steep sloping terrain.
Gary Warshauer of the Elmsford firm Warshauer Mellusi Warshauer Architects PC told the council members, “From the Washington Street portion of Central Avenue, the slope from Central Avenue to the back of the property is about 35 feet going from low to high.” He explained that as you move along Central Avenue its elevation goes down and the slope up to South Street becomes a 50-foot change in elevation.
“As you get farther down the hill it’s almost an 80-foot grade change between the two streets. So architecturally, the challenge is to design buildings that work with those grades and with the site,” Warshauer said.
The developer said the project would bring new rental options to Peekskill’s downtown. The site is walking distance of both the Metro-North Railroad station and the waterfront. The apartments in both buildings are proposed to be primarily market-rate units.
The Central Avenue building would be four stories with two lower levels of parking. There would be 78 units in a mix of studios, one- and two-bedrooms and two-bedrooms with a den. The building would include a fitness center and residents lounge. The building would have 83 parking spaces.
The South Street building also would be four stories of residential, but would have four lower levels of parking. Its 123 parking spaces would incorporate use of a mechanized valet parking system. There would be 89 apartments in a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom units. Nine of the apartments would be set aside as affordable, or workforce, units.
When council members, including Peekskill’s Mayor Andre Rainey, pressed Conneally on including more units in the affordable category, Conneally responded, “We set it up as market rate. We did give 10% (affordable). We’d have to look at it to see if we could do more.” He said the project is being designed with the idea of keeping rental rates as low as possible for the apartments as well as the retail space.
Conneally suggested that he might consider including more retail space than is currently proposed. “The planning at this point has been for small community type retail spaces, not a large single space but … we have some opportunity to expand that if the market drives that,” he said.
In addition to seeking land from the city, the developer would be asking for funds to help pay for the outdoor staircase along with a pathway, which he says would be a destination in its own right and help draw people downtown.
The developer said luxury features such as stainless-steel appliances, hardwood flooring, in-unit washers and dryers and granite or quartz countertops may be included. The buildings would include bike racks along with energy efficient mechanicals, solar panels and other green-building elements.
CIDG would build the Central Avenue structure first and rent its units before beginning construction of the second building. It predicts the first phase of the project would be shovel-ready in six to eight months after city approvals are received.