A three-pronged plan that would bring more than 3,500 apartments, almost 4,000 parking spaces and more than 4.5 million square feet of new construction to downtown Yonkers was unveiled at the Oct. 14 meeting of the Yonkers Planning Board.
The developer, AMS Acquisitions LLC, and its affiliated companies are the owners and contract vendees for various properties. The construction would take place on three sites that are in fairly close proximity.
Attorney Mark Weingarten of DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkher LLP described the proposed components that would be built at the three sites: Chicken Island; North Broadway; and Teutonia Hall near the train station.
AMS has filed a petition requesting modifications to the city’s zoning ordinance and zoning map to facilitate the projects.
The Teutonia Hall site would see two 40-story residential towers with 906 luxury multi-family units in 770,100 square feet of residential space, along with 10,000 square feet of street-level retail and 956 parking spaces.
The Chicken Island proposal consists of six buildings varying in height from 25 feet to 400 feet, with approximately 2,000 luxury apartments in 1,700,000 square feet of residential space; approximately 70,000 square feet of retail; 17,000 square feet of office space and 2,200 parking spaces.
The proposal for the North Broadway site consists of 650 luxury apartments and townhouses in 552,500 square feet of residential space; approximately 17,000 square feet of retail space; about 21,000 square feet of office space and approximately 750 parking spaces.
“These projects, all within a half-mile walk from the Metro-North train station, continue the remarkable renaissance of downtown Yonkers,” Weingarten said. “AMS seeks to follow in the footsteps of the city’s achievements at the waterfront, the Saw Mill River daylighting, the RXR project, and so much more.”
Weingarten said that the proposed mixed-use transit-oriented developments reflect an unprecedented level of investment in Yonkers and validate the city’s vision for its downtown.
“AMS has built a portfolio of development projects of all asset classes throughout New York City and has also acquired approximately 750,000 square feet of Class A office space in Connecticut,” he said. “Recently, AMS shifted its focus to Westchester and New Jersey. They invested for the first time in Yonkers when they purchased the Trolley Barn site at 92 Main St., a 78,000-square-foot mixed-use loft building and thereafter purchased 86 Main St. across the street, a 70,000-square-foot office building.”
He said AMS has grown exponentially with more than $1 billion in transactions making up more than one-million square feet of properties.
AMS is a privately held firm that was founded in 2012. In 2018, after it had made its third purchase of property in Yonkers, a principal of the organization, Michael Mitnick, was quoted in the Business Journal as saying: “Downtown Yonkers is in the middle of a renaissance. AMS is invested heavily in the growth and expansion of this incredible and unique market.”
Weingarten said the zoning changes are necessary to enable the heights, density, design and the creation of much-needed affordable housing in the city. He said the Planning Board will play a major role in the environmental review, review of the zoning requests and the review of the proposed site plans. Weingarten said that the required environmental impact statement will help evaluate appropriateness of the projects for the city.
Architect John Clifford of New York City-based S9 Architecture, a 90-person firm, said that while they have worked on major projects in other cities, they don’t like to import buildings from one city to the next.
“We’ve worked all over North America and we’re very proud that our master plans actually get built,” Clifford said. He showed designs being built in such cities as Ottawa, St. Paul and Atlanta.
“What we started with was really looking at how Yonkers was laid out, its history and where the strong investments were made and how we could leverage and reinforce those,” Clifford said. “First we looked at all the investment that’s been happening in Yonkers and that’s both public sector and private sector. Most of the private sector has been along the waterfront with the exception of RXR that’s a little bit more inland.” He praised the city for investing in parks and the daylighting of the Saw Mill River.
“We wanted to think how we could take all of this investment and make this better,” Clifford said. He pointed out that the three parcels they’re proposing for development ring the existing downtown and will add to the investment that’s already been made while making the downtown more cohesive.
“Historically the city met and mingled around Getty Square and North Broadway,” Clifford said, describing Getty Square as the “heart and soul” of downtown.
Yonkers Planning Director Lee Ellman explained that although the City Council originally wanted to be lead agency for the environmental review of the proposal, after discussions with the city’s administration and the developer it was felt that the task should go to the Planning Board.
“Mr. Weingarten, myself, the attorneys representing the City Council caucuses have been speaking about how we could best run this process in a way that we would be able to run something smoothly, run it in a way that would have a lot of public access and in a way that the City Council remains very involved while not necessarily needing to make the day-in, day-out decisions about when to hold a meeting and how to respond to an applicant,” Ellman said.
The Planning Board voted approval of a resolution to seek lead agency designation for the environmental review. The resolution asked the City Council to set aside its effort to act as lead agency and cede the task to the Planning Board.
Ellman said that the board will be able to bring on board a consulting group and the firm BFJ Planning headed by Frank Fish has been selected. Ellman said Fish was the city’s consultant on it’s very first downtown waterfront redevelopment project in the early 1980s and has worked consistently on projects in Yonkers ever since.