Harrison Approves Multi-Family Plan At Site of Two Vacant Office Buildings

Real Estate In-Depth | September 2016

HARRISON—The adaptive reuse on former office properties along the Platinum Mile in Westchester County now includes residential development.

Normandy Real Estate Partners, announced that the Town of Harrison Town Board recently approved an important “first” for the Platinum Mile of the Interstate 287 (Cross Westchester Expressway) corridor by voting to approve a Special Exception Use Permit that will allow for the creation of 421 rental apartments, including 42 affordable units, on a site that for nearly 50 years has been occupied by two corporate office buildings.

This will be the first multi-family housing in the so-called “teardrop” area of the I-287 corridor (between I-287, I-684, the connector road from I-287 to I-684, and the Hutchinson River Parkway), what has long been known as an epicenter of corporate offices.

The vote at a Town Board meeting on Sept. 1 followed two years of review by the Town of Harrison that included a full review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) by the Planning Board, and multiple public meetings and hearings. The 10.35-acre site owned by Normandy is currently occupied by 103 and 105 Corporate Park Drive, two 87,700-square-foot, three-story, multi-tenant, 1970-era office buildings that are essentially vacant, with 103 having been unoccupied for 14 years and 105 less than half occupied for much of that time. The new use is consistent with the town’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan, and a zoning amendment approved by the Town Board in April 2016.

The office buildings will be demolished to make way for a five-story, multi-family rental apartment building featuring studio, one- and two-bedroom units and 752 indoor and outdoor parking spaces. The new building will closely match the footprint of the existing buildings and the existing green buffers will be essentially maintained.

The property is owned by Normandy Real Estate Partners, a major commercial property owner whose portfolio includes nearly 1.6 million square feet of office space in 15 buildings along I-287 in both Harrison and the City of White Plains.  The housing will be built by Toll Brothers, a prominent national residential builder that is active in Westchester County and the Hudson Valley region. Construction is expected to begin in early 2017.

The decision to allow residential housing to replace chronically underutilized office space marks a major step forward in the repurposing and repositioning of the so-called Platinum Mile that parallels I-287 from White Plains and Harrison east to Port Chester and Rye.

Mayor Ron Belmont said the Town had taken a methodical approach to the inclusion of residential housing. “This is a significant change and we did not take it lightly,” he said.

Giorgios L. Vlamis, a partner in Normandy Real Estate Partners, said, “Normandy is thrilled to be a part of the repurposing of the I-287 corridor in Harrison. We applaud the vision and foresight of the Town of Harrison in permitting the multi-family residential use of the 103-105 property, which will provide a new high-quality housing option for young professionals and empty nesters in close proximity to transportation, offices, and amenities.”

Frank S. McCullough Jr., a partner in the McCullough, Goldberger & Staudt, LLP law firm based in White Plains, has represented property owners in accomplishing many of the changes along the corridor, including the replacement of 101 Corporate Park Drive with a hotel, the replacement of the Gannett/Journal News office and printing plant with Life Time Fitness, and Fordham University’s conversion of the former NYNEX building into its Westchester campus.

“Harrison has recognized the realities of the changing market needs and demands and has carefully, but steadily made the adjustments to assure that compatible and viable new uses can be established and that its tax base is preserved,” he said. “The decision to allow a residential component is the next step in the process and the town’s leaders deserve a great deal of credit for their willingness to think outside the box.”