As development in the city has skewed almost solely toward new residential mixed-use apartment buildings, the White Plains Common Council heard plans on Monday night from a developer bucking the trend.
At a special meeting in the mayor’s conference room, a team from the White Plains firm Keeler Markwood Group walked the council through a plan for constructing a 10,000-square-foot office building targeting medical tenants.
The plans target two lots at 6-8 Chester Ave. in the city. The developer would replace two homes on the lots formerly used as law offices with a modern office building. The building would feature on-grade parking below two-levels of office space. Conceptual renderings showed the building with a glass curtain wall.
Keeler Markwood Principal Sam Dickinson said while the building could be adjusted based on tenant interest, the proximity to White Plains Hospital makes health care the likely best use for the property.
The property is toward the middle of Chester Avenue, which runs between East Post Road and Maple Avenue at the southeast end of the city’s downtown. White Plains Hospital is about a half-mile south-southwest.
The hospital is growing quickly, Dickinson told the Business Journal following the meeting, “so the opportunity to build something that is brand new, and allow people to be close to the hospital if they want to be, we found that to be an attraction.”
Dickinson also cited reports of a strengthening office market as a driving factor behind the concept.
While a number of obsolete office buildings have been torn down for residential and other new uses, market analysts were generally positive about the strength of county leasing in 2017, particularly in White Plains.
A Cushman & Wakefield analysis said last year may have been the strongest for office leasing in the White Plains downtown in the last decade. Meanwhile, medical tenants last year drove an increasing portion of the county’s office demand, up to about 24 percent of all leasing in 2017 compared with about 12 percent the year before, according to numbers from Newmark Knight Frank.
The 6-8 Chester Ave. property is already zoned for office use, and the developers would require no variances. The city council would need to give site plan approval for the development to move forward. The project is designed by Brooklyn architect Pablo De Miguel.
Keeler Markwood is a partnership between Dickinson and Matthew Tritt. Dickinson has a background in finance, while Tritt works in construction and development focused in New York City. The partners, both Westchester residents, launched the firm last year with the goal of “doing something more in our backyard,” Dickinson said.
The 6-8 Chester Ave. project would be the company’s first. Dickinson said Keeler Markwood will focus mostly on opportunities for ground-up and repositioning real estate projects in Westchester and Fairfield counties.
While that could mean a range of property types, Dickinson said the company sees the medical office market as a particularly attractive opportunity.
As for the 6-8 Chester Ave. project, Dickinson said, “we’re local guys and we want to do something that is tasteful and something that will add to the character and be useful for the neighborhood.”