Home Construction Affordable housing project being readied in Greenburgh

Affordable housing project being readied in Greenburgh

A project to build 45 units of affordable housing on approximately 2.3 acres at 1 Dromore Road in Greenburgh is back on.

Bill Balter and Mark Weingarten facing the Greenburgh Town Board.

Developer Bill Balter of Wilder Balter Partners and attorney Mark Weingarten of the White Plains law firm DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr LLP made a presentation to the Greenburgh Town Board.

The entity WBP Development Partners LLC is the applicant for the project. The action to move the project forward follows settlement of a contentious legal situation that did not involve Wilder Balter and the LLC that’s now proposing to build.

“The land use approvals are in place but we are going to make a request for site plan amendments,” Weingarten said.

The entity S&R Development Estates had purchased the Dromore Road property in 2006 and subsequently created a plan to build 45 apartments on the site. While the property was shown on the town’s zoning map as being in the Central Avenue Mixed-Use District, that turned out to be an error.

In 1997, the Town Board had amended zoning to put a Conservation Overlay District on the Greenburgh Nature Center’s property and other nearby properties along Dromore Road to protect them from development — but it was not mapped for the 1 Dromore Road property. The town tried to correct the error but a court ruled that the town could not make the change.

S&R’s proposed development also was opposed by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, whose sanctuary is at 86 Dromore Road. They went to court to try to block S&R’s development. S&R sued the Sisters, the Town of Greenburgh including some of its boards, the Edgemont School District, and others.

Also in court, Greenburgh’s insurance carrier Argonaut Insurance Co. sought a ruling that it had no duty to defend and indemnify Greenburgh.

The various court actions now have been settled. Greenburgh is required to pay $9.5 million to S&R, $2.75 million of which will be paid by the insurance company. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the Archdiocese of New York and S&R reached a confidential settlement. S&R has sold the property to Wilder Balter, whose WBP Development Partners LLC wants to go ahead with the 45-unit apartment structure but as affordable housing.

Balter told the Greenburgh Town Board: “We have done a lot of developments, many in Westchester County, a mix of market rate, luxury homes, single-family homes, townhouses, rental apartments, but a lot of what we do is either mixed income or affordable housing.”

Balter said that the company has developed well over 3,000 apartments in 35 or 40 communities.

“We inherited these plans but notwithstanding that, we’re making them better in a lot of different ways,” Balter said. “The number one way is we’re doing this as a LEED Gold building. It will be very high efficiency, all-electric, a large solar array on the roof.”

Balter said the building’s mechanical systems would be high efficiency, the building envelope would be designed for energy efficiency, LED lighting and low-water flow fixtures and faucets would be employed, and use of materials with volatile organic compounds would be minimized.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner asked whether the building would be heated and cooled using geothermal heat pumps.

“We’re going to look at using geothermal,” Balter said. “We’ll certainly do it all-electric. Geothermal is something the state has to approve because it’s a significantly added cost to do it. It has a good payback.”

He explained that the state’s Home and Community Renewal division, which helped finance Wilder Balter’s now-underway project to redevelop the YMCA in Tarrytown, supported the use of geothermal heating and cooling at that site.

Balter said that the proposed building would be four stories and would have parking in the rear. He said there would be charging stations for electric vehicles.

“We’re basically increasing the setbacks, making them greater than they currently are,” Balter said. He pointed out that there will be no studios and no three-bedroom units in the building and that the original plans were approved as all one- and two-bedroom units.

He said rents for the apartments would be set to be affordable to individuals and families earning on average 60% of the Westchester Area Median Income (AMI). Units would be priced for those earning from 40% to 80% of the AMI, or a maximum of $40,800 to $102,000. The range of rents would be from $903 per month for a one-bedroom unit to $2,166 per month for a two-bedroom unit. Heat, hot water and electric would be included in the rent.

Balter said they would be looking for a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with Greenburgh that would last at least 32 years. He said that if state funding is approved and other elements fall into place, construction could start in February or March.

Alix Dunn, executive director of the Greenburgh Nature Center next to the building site, reached out to Balter, saying that it will be important for them to understand what will be happening during construction because they have animals at the center. Balter said he and his construction staff would be pleased to meet with her.

“This is not a large development. I think we’d build it in about 18 months start to finish,” Balter said. “Ten times as many people will want to live here as we have apartments so we’ll go from construction to fully-occupied in a month.”

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