The new owners of the former AT&T building in downtown White Plains, plan to seek city approval of a possible conversion of the 350,000-square-foot office tower at 440 Hamilton Ave. to residential uses.
Aaron Wexler, managing principal on Long Island of American Equity Partners I LLC and American Equity Partners II LLC, which closed on the building sale in November, said the new ownership is in the process of filing an application to the city of White Plains to convert the decades-old office building to a luxury residential building with a new facade, terraces and other structural changes.
Wexler contacted the Business Journal following the publication of an article on Nov. 28 that reported the building’s new owner was planning renovations and seeking new office tenants for its first Westchester property. Ayall Schanzer, president and CEO of Greiner-Maltz Realty Advisors in Rye Brook, told the Business Journal that his company was seeking office tenants as exclusive leasing agent for the 12-story building and the building’s owners had decided to have office space there after initially considering a residential conversion.
Wexler, however, said that Greiner-Maltz is exploring possible office tenants only for two floors of the building. “They asked us for the opportunity to lease two floors,” he said in an email. “We agreed to test the office market on a very limited basis.”
Plans to convert the property to a luxury residential building have not changed, Wexler stressed. “There was a possibility of leaving part of the building commercial and having a mixed-use building,” he said.
The 440 Hamilton building was sold by AT&T for $20.5 million to Wexler’s companies in a deal that closed Nov. 10, according to county property records. Built in the 1960s, the building served as a regional control center for AT&T, according to a company history on its website.
Wexler said the new owner has retained architect Philip Fruchter, managing principal of Papp Architects PC in White Plains, to lead the residential conversion.
Fruchter said the standing building is “functionally and stylistically obsolete.” The development team has proposed a plan to remove the building’s aged facade and replace it with a transparent glass one.
The residential building as planned would have about 245 rental apartments, with 25 affordable units. Seven units would be what Fruchter described as “maisonettes,” duplex units with access to the street down front stoops, similar to a Brooklyn brownstone.
The proposed conversion project would add a 13th-floor penthouse level, including five luxury units with terraces. A small area of ground-floor retail space would be slated for a neighborhood market and coffee shop with access from North Broadway, Fruchter said.
On the corner of Hamilton Avenue and North Broadway in the White Plains Central Business District, the building is at about 25 percent occupancy, according to Greiner-Maltz. Entergy Corp., the owner and operators of Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, is its lone tenant. Entergy uses the top two floors of the building as corporate offices and a disaster recovery site.
The owners of 440 Hamilton Ave. have not yet filed plans with the city for the conversion, but Wexler said the company has started the process.