Plans for a $31 million hotel and restaurant on a former brownfield site in Tuckahoe continue to move forward.
Bill Weinberg, principal of Bilwin Development Associates LLC in Eastchester, said that the $7 million environmental cleanup of the former quarry and landfill at 109-125 Marbledale Road is substantially complete. “We’re close to 100 percent capped,” he said of the contamination on the 3.5-acre property.
Weinberg’s company is developing a five-story, 153-room Marriott Springhill Suites hotel on the property, along with a 6,000-square-foot standalone restaurant. The 91,000-square-foot hotel is expected to open its doors later this year.
For more than a century, the site functioned as a marble quarry until it ceased operation in 1930. It then served for 20 years as a landfill and industrial waste dump before it was home to an auto repair and storage shop.
Soil and groundwater samples taken by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) found that a number of wastes had contaminated the property during that time, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls. Weinberg said the contaminated materials on the site have since been removed and the hotel’s foundation has been laid along with storm water and drainage systems.
“All the unattractive components have been done,” he said, adding that “when we get a break in this weather,” the site will see more vertical construction.
The Tuckahoe Planning Board approved a site plan for the project by a 3-2 vote in October 2016. Village officials required that Bilwin Development adhere to requirements of the state’s brownfield program and with a community air monitoring program.
HydroEnvironmental Solutions Inc., a Somers environmental consulting and services firm hired by Bilwin Development, is conducting the remediation work, which is overseen by the DEC and state Department of Health. The village of Tuckahoe also contracted with HDR Inc., an Omaha environmental consulting firm, which must approve all work being done on the site.
“We monitored all the air during the remediation and there were no incidents at all,” Weinberg said of the cleanup that began in January 2017.
The planning board’s decision to approve the project met with backlash from some members of the community. The Marbledale Road Environmental Coalition, a community group, circulated an online petition last year that called for the village to “review, reconsider and rescind” its decision. That petition has since gained more than 1,300 signatures.
“We’re continuing to watch this project closely,” said John Rabius, vice president of the Marbledale Road Environmental Coalition.
The planning board’s decision was also challenged in court by Rabius and eight other Tuckahoe residents who in November 2016 filed a lawsuit against the village planning board, building inspector, the DEC and state Health Department and Bilwin Development. In May, a judge denied a petition from the group for a preliminary injunction to stop remediation work on the site. A final ruling on the opponents’ legal challenge to the project is still pending.
“We don’t see any merit or have any fears about that lawsuit,” Weinberg said. “The big fear among people that was spurred by these groups was the remediation process, and it went without a glitch, and it’s now a better site.”
According to the development company, the hotel project will create 120 construction jobs and 110 permanent jobs and generate additional tax revenue.
Bilwin Development was approved for $1.4 million in financial incentives by the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency in 2014, including $1.2 million in sales tax exemptions and a $200,000 mortgage recording tax exemption.
A number of hotels have been built throughout Westchester County in the years since the Tuckahoe project was first proposed, including the nearby Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Yonkers-Westchester on Tuckahoe Road and Courtyard Yonkers by Marriott on Executive Boulevard. But Weinberg said there continues to be overwhelming and unmet demand for lodging in the county.
“There’s been a dearth of hotels in southern Westchester,” he said. “There are no hotels in Bronxville, no hotels in Eastchester.”
The hotel, Weinberg said, is expected to attract business travelers, tourists and visitors attending weekend weddings or other special events.
The site’s proximity to a number of major highways, the Tuckahoe and Crestwood Metro-North train stations and educational institutions like Sarah Lawrence College and Iona College also make it an ideal location for the construction of a hotel, said Weinberg.
“It’s a really convenient spot,” he said. “It’s a great little village, and it will be a great added bonus for the whole area.”
The developer is keeping his options open for the operator of the restaurant that will sit beside the new hotel.
“There are interested parties, but I haven’t even given it any thought,” Weinberg said, adding that his focus has been on the remediation work and hotel. “That’s just because our plate has been pretty full.”