A brownfield cleanup site near the village of Ardsley, where a Texas development company last year withdrew plans to build an apartment complex after hearing strong opposition from residents and elected officials, has a new owner.
Environmental Liability Transfer, a St. Louis-based environmental liability assumption firm, in May paid $1.85 million to acquire the 11-acre site from Akzo Nobel, the Dutch company that formerly operated a chemical plant on property straddling the Saw Mill River Parkway. Part of the former Akzo Nobel site, west of the parkway in Dobbs Ferry, has been redeveloped as the Chauncey Square shopping center and, more recently, the Rivertowns Square retail, entertainment and residential complex.
The St. Louis buyer plans to complete the environmental restoration of the contaminated site and facilitate its redevelopment, said John Kowalik, Environmental Liability Transfer’s marketing and public relations director.
The company acquires properties seen as environmental liabilities to their corporate owners, facilitates their cleanup and prepares them for new development activity. Its services are used in a variety of scenarios, including acquisitions, mergers and bankruptcies.
Kowalik said the company’s strategy “is not to hold distressed assets and wait on market factors to resell.” Instead, Environmental Liability Transfer takes “a very proactive approach” when acquiring brownfields, and each distressed site it acquires is entered into an environmental remediation program “designed to transform brownfield sites from liabilities to assets.”
Environmental Liability Transfer recently assisted Shell Global in divesting 135 environmentally distressed oil transfer and refining facilities in Canada. The company has assumed more than $1.5 billion of environmental liability from clients across North America since 2004 and has managed the environmental cleanup of more than 300 brownfield properties.
Kowalik said the company is working to formulate a plan of action for the Ardsley site with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “Early estimates from our team indicate that we’re looking at 12 to 14 months of environmental remediation,” he said. “When this process is complete, the site will be marketed for nonresidential development.”
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner is urging the company to build a power-generating solar farm on the property at 1 Lawrence St.
“Solar farms are easier to build on former contaminated sites, create almost no traffic and are great for the environment,” Feiner said. “We want Greenburgh to become a more sustainable community.”
Kowalik said it was “a little premature” to discuss details regarding the site’s future.
Prior to its sale to Environmental Liability Transfer, the property was set to be redeveloped as a 272-unit residential complex.
Texas-based developer JPI Multifamily Communities had proposed an apartment complex named the Jefferson at Saw Mill, a four-story 239,000-square-foot building with 438 parking spaces in both a garage and an uncovered lot.
But the development, which was the subject of multiple public hearings before the Greenburgh Town Board and a petition signed by more than 1,300 residents, faced an onslaught of opposition from the community. Residents’ grievances ranged from potential flooding risks to the impact the residential units would have on the Ardsley school system.
A lack of parking and increased traffic around the property, especially when coupled with the number of large multifamily residences going up in the area, were also chief among their concerns. The Akzo Nobel property, on which JPI had a purchase contract, is directly across the Saw Mill River Parkway from Rivertowns Square, where Lincoln Property Co. earlier this year opened Danforth Apartments, a 202-unit, 277,000-square-foot luxury rental building.
Akzo Nobel announced that it had terminated its agreement with JPI in June last year.