The village of Pelham has adopted a new zoning law that is meant to invigorate a quaint but aging downtown and that has encouraged at least one developer who wants to build shops and apartments on a long-vacant piece of prime property.
The village Board of Trustees approved a business district “floating zone” on April 18.
The new zone complements, rather than replaces, existing zones, allowing greater density and taller buildings.
It encompasses the commercial corridor along 5th Avenue, Wolfs Lane and Lincoln Avenue.
The new zone also gives the village the opportunity to encourage development of affordable housing, according to an analysis by the Westchester County Planning Board, as well as dwellings for young professionals and empty nesters.
Pelham’s 2008 comprehensive plan puts great emphasis on maintaining the village’s character and unique qualities. The floating zone aims to blend in new buildings and improve the appearance of the commercial district.
Most of the commercial and residential buildings are two to four stories and have little room to expand, the county analysis states. The floating zone gives developers an incentive to work with few “vacant and severely underperforming sites within the village’s main commercial area.”
Developers who get approval to use the new regulations could build up to six stories, a gain of up to 50 percent from the old zoning. They could build on smaller lots and use a greater portion of the lots.
Matriarch Development is poised to take advantage of the new zoning for 101 Wolfs Lane.
The vacant lots are across the street from Wolfs Lane Park, cattycorner to Metro-North’s Pelham train station and between several restaurants, shops and offices.
Pelham Private Property Corp. and Pelpark LLC, controlled by real estate brokers Lester and Rosalie Kravitz, own the parcels.
“As longtime Pelham residents,” Rosalie Kravitz said, “it’s really important to us to come up with something really beautiful.”
The Kravitz’s bought the lots in 2002 from Forest City Daly Housing.
A few developments have been proposed over the years, Kravitz said, including a plan by Forest City.
She thinks the last time apartments were built in Pelham was in the 1920s. Marbury Corners condominiums were built around 2005.
Two years ago, the Kravitz’s Matriarch Development presented designs to the village for an L-shaped building with 51 apartments, 6,750 square feet of retail space and indoor parking.
The section fronting on Wolfs Lane was four stories, with retail and a village office on the first two floors and apartments on the top two. The back of the building, parallel with the New Haven Line train tracks, was six stories with apartments and underground parking.
The main access was at the back, by way of Sparks Avenue, and an enclosed walkway connected a public parking lot at the back to Wolfs Lane.
Now Matriarch is going back to the drawing board to revise its 2015 concept in accordance with the new zoning.
The village’s adoption of the floating zone has signaled that Pelham is open to development.
“The village is finally ready,” Kravitz said. “We’re very excited to get started.”