Thursday, July 9, 2015

Double Standard in Greenburgh

ABG staffers recently sat down with the developers of The Jefferson at Saw Mill and discussed their plans to build what we understood to be a 296-unit apartment building. We subsequently learned that the size was scaled down to 272 units after management heard from the residents of the area who expressed concern about the size and scope of the development. We discussed their model for what they are seeking to build with their on-site representative, Steven Hutton, who explained that they are a residential-oriented developer and not an assisted living or nursing home builder. Their Corporate headquarters is located in Dallas, Texas and they have offices across the U.S. They are a private, not public corporation and strive to "play" to the character of the region. For this particular project, their research indicated a "mill' heritage and designed The Jefferson at Saw Mill to have that type of feel to it.

The interiors of the apartments are very much upscale with quality fixtures and designs used throughout. The price range of these apartments are tentatively anticipated to be about $3,000 per month and are geared toward Millennials. They have also adjusted the height of the buildings to be four-stories, down from five-stories. We also discussed some of their plans for the area, such as impacts on traffic and the schools. They showed us their plans to refine some of the traffic conditions ignored by the Town as far away as Jackson Avenue, hoping to have a positive impact from their location on Lawrence Street, which is a bit south of the Ashford Avenue area in Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry. Just south of The Jefferson is the new development already underway called The Loft on Saw Mill River, a new upscale, 66-unit development being built by Ginsberg Development,in Hastings. We haven't heard of any similar improvements they may be offering to the region since having broken ground.

There was also a recent exposé about the soon-to-open, resort-style, assisted-living housing complex called The Ambassador, on Saxon Woods Road in Scarsdale. The exposé detailed the unlicensed operation of the Prospect Park Residence in Park Slope, Brooklyn, that was operated by the same management company from 2009 to 2012. The alleged violations also included insufficient care for some of its residents during the tenure of its former Executive Director, David Pomerantz, who has since been replaced with a new Executive Director, Jean Dunphy. During his tenure, the facility was advertising itself as a "full service senior facility," despite its lack of certification or ability to treat patients suffering with dementia and other medical conditions. Mr Feiner had endorsed the new facility and Director Pomerantz, reminding us of other endorsements he's made of people who have lost their positions under questionable circumstances.They recently opened on June 25th, with help from Westchester County through financial incentives.The County Executive has stated there will not be a tax increase in this years budget. Perhaps if government stops giving our money away to wealthy developers that don't really need it, our taxes could actually be lowered.

The Jefferson, appears to be a different kind of proposal, offering to build what they refer to as high-quality, luxury rental apartments consisting of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom configurations. Ironically, a bit farther south will be The Lofts on Saw Mill River, a 66-unit apartment complex on Route 9A in Hastings-on-Hudson. Obviously, developers are more apt to build luxury as opposed to affordable units as the profits, clientele, upkeep, and visitors offer less issues. However, three of the affordable units will be available to households earning up to 50 percent of the area median income and nine will be reserved for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. The affordable units will rent at $874 per month for a studio and up to $1,484 monthly for a three-bedroom apartment. The question always raised is how well will the people in the affordable units fit in?

Mr Feiner recently endorsed the Ginsburg project and rejected the The Jefferson. It's no secret that Mr Feiner has a long-term relationship with Ginsburg, so there's also no surprise he would support Ginsburg's project while being against The Jefferson. Is it because it will impact his Town Board colleague Diana Juettner's community? Is it similar to his rejecting the assisted living proposal off of Payne Street between the Sprain Brook Parkway and the aqueduct near High street because another colleague, Councilman Morgan lives near by? It's interesting how politicians always ignore residents concerns and insist they know what is best for everyone else's neighborhood as they destroy them, but theirs must remain untouched.

Westchester County has agreed to provide Ginsburg approximately $1.2 million toward land acquisition and infrastructure costs. The county Industrial Development Agency has approved sales and mortgage tax exemptions for the project that total $679,780. It's difficult for us to fathom why the County is giving money to Ginsburg Development when this is the fourth site of luxury apartments for Ginsburg in addition to Harbor Square, a $65 million, 188-unit apartment development on the Ossining riverfront; River Tides at Greystone in Yonkers, a $100 million, 330-unit apartment complex on Warburton Avenue; and Riverside in Rockland County, a 106-unit luxury apartment building at Harbors at Haverstraw.

Is Mr Feiner correct when he says The Jefferson is too much because the Town's infrastructure can't handle it? Probably. But the infrastructure he so conveniently complains about and uses to his advantage to stop one or two "non-blessed" developers is the same infrastructure he has ignored with the help of his Town Board colleagues for these last 22-years! While we prefer to see a greener Greenburgh, not congested with affordable housing, that will go unchecked as long as Mr Feiner and crew can easily operate with impunity while they stay in office unopposed. Until Mr Feiner dedicates resources to improving the Town's infrastructure, he cannot turn down any proposal that is made because infrastructure cannot handle it. He should have thought of this 22-years ago. Now that it's a little too late, his behavior promises more lawsuits against the Town. It must change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

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