The long-vacant site created by the massive urban renewal effort of the 1970s and ’80s in downtown White Plains known as Gateway II could soon have a 500-unit mixed-use development rising on part of its 3.54 acres. The White Plains Common Council has approved the site plan that was submitted for the project.
Gateway II, near the Metro-North Railroad station, has been controlled by the Alaska Permanent Fund, which was created to invest Alaska’s oil proceeds and now totals more than $70 billion.
The Alaska Permanent Fund has teamed up with Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC and Greystar Development East LLC to submit a plan to develop the 85 N. Lexington Ave. site.
The property is bounded on the south side by Hamilton Avenue, on the west by Ferris Avenue, on the north by Water Street and on the east by North Lexington Avenue. Running through the property is New Street. The northern portion of the site has a Westchester County Bus depot and a parking structure for workers at the Gateway I office building on Hamilton Avenue. The south side has an at-grade parking lot where the development is proposed.
The project has been designed by Handel Architects LLP, which designed the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. It has more than 200 architects in offices in New York City, San Francisco, Boston and Hong Kong and has created numerous high-density mixed-use projects, hotels, corporate headquarters and buildings for institutional and educational clients.
Architect Gary Handel told the White Plains Planning Board, “The core of our practice is the idea that architecture and design can transform cities for the better and that we can use each individual architectural project to be a catalyst for urban change.
“Here at Gateway II the goal is to create pedestrian improvements along Lexington, Hamilton, Ferris and New streets with the hope of significantly enhancing the experience of all those who use those streets. We’re also tremendously excited about the possibility of transforming a surface parking lot into what we hope would be a highly contributive piece of the developing urban fabric of downtown White Plains and adding a high-quality, architecturally significant building to its skyline.”
Proposed is a podium design with two towers that intersect. The podium would conceal a 755-space parking structure that has four above-ground levels and three fully- or partially-underground levels. The proposal notes that 192 of the parking spaces would be for use by workers of the Gateway I building just across Hamilton Avenue.
The podium also would house 19,000 square feet of retail space. Rising above the podium would be a 25-story tower that parallels North Lexington Avenue and a 16-story tower that is perpendicular to the other tower and intersects with it. The lower tower has a section that bulges out the other side of the taller tower. The apartments begin on the second floor of the 25-story tower and on the sixth floor of the 16-story structure. The 25-story tower would be just under 280 feet tall while the 16-story tower would be 188 feet in height.
The structures would contain a total of 563,230 square feet. There would be 167 studio apartments, 208 one-bedroom units, 117 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.
Eight percent of the units would be required to be dedicated as affordable under the city’s housing requirements. Instead of providing all 40 affordable units, the developer is proposing to pay the city a fee to replace 25 of the units and plans to provide 15 units. It’s projected the project would attract 857 people to the area.
The developer’s site plan shows that approximately 7,400 feet of publicly accessible open space would be provided along Hamilton Avenue and portions of Ferris Avenue and New Street. There would be greenery, trees, benches, art and sidewalks.
Because of the additional demand that the new residents would place on the city’s parks and recreation facilities, the city would expect to charge the developer a fee of $1,479,000. Because the developer is providing the open space, a credit of $504,908 has been recommended with the remaining fee of $974,092 to be paid in two installments as certificates of occupancy are issued.
On-site private indoor and outdoor amenities for the residents are proposed that would include two rooftop decks. One on the roof of the podium portion of the building would be a fifth-floor terrace. It would include a swimming pool, seating, dog park, exercise room, movie theater, conference rooms, kitchens and grills. A rooftop deck on the the lower tower would include kitchens, grills, seating and a bocce court.
Various city boards and commissions that reviewed the plan expressed support for the project, with the city’s Planning Department recommending that the Common Council approve the site plan subject to a number of conditions. Among them are that the developer prepare an updated landscape and lighting plan, provide a construction management plan and documentation about meeting certain LEED certification requirements and New York State Energy Star Standards.
Attorney Neil Alexander of the White Plains-based law firm Cuddy & Feder LLP said the developer would like to break ground toward the end of third quarter of this year and there likely would be 24 to 30 months of construction.