Six months after the company received a necessary zoning change for a $450 million mixed-use development in Port Chester, Starwood Capital Group has informed the village it will sell the former United Hospital property pegged for the project.
“Last week Starwood called the mayor and me … they wanted to inform us that they have decided to go ahead and sell the parcel,” Port Chester Trustee and IDA Chairman Frank Ferrara announced at the Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 18. “They’re engaging a broker now.”
Greenwich-based Starwood had proposed to turn the 15-acre site at 406 Boston Post Road into a neighborhood with a mix of residential, commercial and office uses. Plans had included a 135-room hotel, 217,000 square feet of medical office space, 90,000 square feet for retail or small restaurants, 500 residential units targeting young professionals, 230 age-restricted apartment units for people 55 and over and about an acre of open public space.
While the Port Chester Board of Trustees approved a zoning change for the property in March, Starwood had yet to file a site plan for the development. When the project was brought up during the last board meeting, Ferrara announced the company’s plans to sell.
“They are looking for someone that will proceed with their vision of the property and they promise to keep us informed,” Ferrara said. “And we look forward to engaging whatever new owner comes along.”
Reached this morning, a Starwood representative said it was too early in the process to comment.
At the board meeting, Ferrara said any new owner would have to follow the plan for the site set by the zoning change.
“The zoning that was done on this site is very detailed and essentially the vision that’s been presented will be the vision that is embedded in the zoning,” he said. “And I don’t think anyone will buy that with an idea of coming forward with anything different. It would trigger a re-review.”
The updated zoning maintains the previously allowed floor area ratio for the property, but allows bonus density to build beyond it. In exchange for the bonus density, the developer would have to pay a $3 million fee that the village can use for community planning, rehabilitation and affordable housing.
The statement of environmental findings for the proposal approved by the board recommends the development replace workforce housing formerly on the site with 36 units of affordable housing set aside for people making 80 percent of area median income. Those units would represent about 5 percent of the residential units proposed in the project.
The potential sale could prove another hurdle in the process to redevelop the former hospital site, which already has stretched on for more than a decade. United Hospital closed in 2006 and Starwood bought the property that same year for $28 million.
Starwood was also expected to seek a $60 million PILOT agreement over 20 years from the village IDA. If developed as initially proposed, the project is expected to create 2,800 jobs, by Starwood’s previous estimates.
Port Chester Mayor Richard A Falanka said at the meeting that the village is “anxious to see a site plan come forward as soon as possible.”
“We want to get this project moving,” Falanka said. “It’s been too long in the planning stages, so as soon as they tell us who they’ve moved the property to, we will be contacting them though our planning office and hopefully get the process started again, very expeditiously, so we can get a project there that this community has been waiting for a long time.”
Sustainable Port Chester Alliance, a community coalition of local faith, civic and labor organizations, had previously warned that Starwood would look to sell the site. The group had been pushing Starwood to meet with its leaders to negotiate a community benefits agreement that would have required the company provide 20 percent affordable housing with the project, along with labor guarantees and school funding.
In a statement Sept. 22, Alliance spokesperson Joan Grangenois-Thomas said the group hopes to work with the site’s future buyer.
“While we won some affordable housing and protections for our schools, we’re still not convinced that the village has done everything in its power to make sure this massive development truly benefits Port Chester’s working families,” Grangenois-Thomas said. “We look forward to meeting with whoever buys the site to discuss the need for more affordable housing, local-hire with a career-path for the construction jobs, and greater protections for downtown small businesses. “