The city of Yonkers has parted ways with one developer and seeks another as first-year Mayor Mike Spano continues to push for redevelopment of long-vacant and deteriorating relics of the city’s industrial past.
The city this month issued a request for proposals (RFP) from developers interested in acquiring the former Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research property at 1086 N. Broadway to redevelop for commercial uses. The 6-acre property, which adjoins the South Westchester Executive Park, comes with a 60,000-square-foot, two-story brick Georgian Revival building built in 1930 by Yonkers resident William Boyce Thompson and several glass-shattered greenhouses.
Thompson, whose former Alder Manor country estate sits across North Broadway from the industrial site, was an international financier who created the nonprofit scientific institute to help assure an adequate food supply for America’s anticipated population boom, according to a history of the property on Rob Yasinsac’s “Hudson Valley Ruins” website. Vacant for about 15 years, the institute has been furtively claimed by graffiti artists scrawling on its interior and exterior walls.
The Yonkers City Council in 2007 approved a sale contract for the property with Eastchester developer Ted Weinberg after an RFP was issued the previous year. The project stalled, however, at least in part over the issue of preservation of existing structure.
In May, the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency and Spano, who also serves as IDA chairman, sought to revive the Weinberg project and help the developer secure financing by tentatively approving sales and use tax exemptions for renovation purchases and a tax abatement agreement. IDA officials said medical offices, a bank and a restaurant were planned for the site in a $21.4 million project that would create an estimated 180 to 250 permanent jobs. Spano said the original building would be largely preserved under the plan.
But Weinberg never paid the balance due on the purchase contract after putting down a deposit, said the mayor’s spokesperson, Christina Gilmartin. She noted too that “certain due diligence was to be met by Weinberg within 13 months of the contract” that was negotiated in 2006.
“After continued outreach to Weinberg, city of Yonkers is moving forward with this project and is now looking for another developer,” Gilmartin said in an email.
Weinberg did not respond to a call for comment.
The city’s new RFP urges prospective developers to rehabilitate and adaptively reuse existing structures on the site. The developer initially will lease the property from the city with an option to purchase within six months of substantial completion of construction.
Proposals are due Jan. 30, 2013.
“After standing for years as a blighted property in an otherwise prosperous area, the Boyce Thompson site hopefully will soon be part of the economic revitalization for the city of Yonkers,” Spano said with the RFP release. “A building with such unique architecture and prime location should be restored and utilized for the benefit of residents, visitors and to further the economic goals of the city.”