At a special meeting of the White Plains Common Council last night, the developer that wants to turn the former Good Counsel school campus into a residence-oriented complex made a presentation on a new zoning petition along with a plan scaling back what it previously proposed.
WP Development NB LLC’s original plan for the site at 52 N. Broadway called for two 10-story buildings with a total of 400 rental apartments, a 125-bed assisted living facility and a four-story 66-unit dorm aimed at graduate students attending the adjacent Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. A total of 655 parking spaces were proposed. Just under 3 acres of the 16-acre site would have been preserved as green space and two existing buildings also would have remained.
An alternative plan that reduced the scope of the original proposal was floated as far back as April 2018 in the draft environmental impact statement that was submitted to the city.
There was a good deal of neighborhood opposition to the development plan including concerns about a former landfill area on the site.
The developer characterized the newly proposed alternative plan as significantly reducing the scale, density and building height, expanding senior housing opportunities, enhancing historic preservation and maintaining open space on the part of the site that fronts on North Broadway.
The new plan reduces the anticipated number of residents at the site from 1,085 to 610. It calls for two buildings that would each be six stories tall. It cuts back the number of parking spaces to 450. It proposes 232 independent living units for senior citizens, a 103-unit assisted living facility, 28 townhouses and 48 workforce apartments.
The revised plan emphasizes that the access to the site via Ross Street would be for emergency vehicles. The plan also places more emphasis on historic preservation of features dating from the days when the site was owned by The Sisters of the Divine Compassion and used for educational and religious purposes. The Chapel of the Divine Compassion would be maintained, the historic Mapleton house would remain at its current location instead of being moved and the west wing of the convent that faces North Broadway would be adapted for use as part of the new development.
Attorney William Null of the White Plains-based law firm Cuddy & Feder told the Common Council, “Within 700 feet of North Broadway, the petition that we’ve submitted would provide for buildings no taller than 50 feet in height and other than the existing convent, existing chapel and existing Mapleton. So the new buildings we’re proposing would be within that height parameter and then instead of 140 feet in the back of the property where it drops down along the edge of Pace law school’s parking area back toward (Interstate) 287 the height is being proposed to be reduced from what was 140 feet in the initial petition that was submitted to 85 feet.”
Null said that in the redesigned plan the developer tried to put as much parking underground as it could and maintain as much open space as possible.
“We’re very excited about these changes. We hope that you respond favorably and we look forward to moving further through the process,” Null said.
Councilman John Kirkpatrick said, “I firmly believe that every landowner has the right to come before us and make applications, whether site plan, special permit, zoning amendment, whatever. We are supposed to listen. We’re supposed to keep an open mind. We’re supposed to give a fair hearing. But this is an application that I’ve always had my doubts about. And, I think it’s only fair to tell you that my doubts are getting stronger. I’m keeping an open mind but there are some things about this that really are beginning to concern me.” KIrkpatrick then outlined his environmental concerns about the former illegal dump on the site, the zoning application and accessory uses proposed in the plan.