Mixed-Use TOD Project Breaks Ground in Mount Vernon

John Jordan | April 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 4.25.05 PMMOUNT VERNON– MacQuesten Development LLC and New York State Homes and Community Renewal held a groundbreaking ceremony late last month on a new $31.5-million mixed-use Transit-Oriented Development for downtown Mount Vernon.

The Modern, to be built on an underutilized former industrial area, will include 80 affordable rental apartments and approximately 9,400 square feet of commercial, possibly medical use and office space on the first two floors. Construction began this past December. An opening is scheduled for fall 2016, the developer stated.

The 130 Mount Vernon Ave. site is at the southeast corner of MacQuesten Parkway, previously the site of businesses that had closed, including Avis Car Rental. The site is within short walking distance of the Mount Vernon West Metro North train station, in an area of the city that is transitioning from industrial and commercial uses to mixed-use residential.

With the announced rehabilitation of the Mount Vernon West Metro North train station, which offers the shortest commute from Westchester County to Grand Central Station, The Modern is ideally positioned. The site is within walking distance of the two other train stations in Mount Vernon, as well as the Gramatan Avenue shopping corridor, and is situated on a bus line for quick access to the Cross County Shopping Center and movie theaters in Yonkers.

The Modern is expected to create more than 200 construction jobs and when complete more than 100 permanent jobs on site.

“We are particularly excited about this project because it will serve as a catalyst for the creation of a sustainable neighborhood in which people can live, work and have easy access to services and mass transit,” said Rella Fogliano, president, MacQuesten Development LLC. “As a mixed-use project, The Modern will bring expanded activity and new focus to this strategically important area of the city.”

Financing for the project comes from a combination of sources, the largest being $6.9 million from New York State Homes & Community Renewal in permanent tax exempt mortgage. Another $4.4 million comes from the New York State Office of Mental Health, made possible through MacQuesten’s not-for-profit partner, Community Housing Innovations (CHI) and $3.9 million in additional funding from The Bank of America’s Department of Justice Fund. This is the largest amount to date that the Bank of America has invested in an individual project, MacQuesten officials stated.

“Supporting the development of safe, affordable housing in underserved communities like Mount Vernon is vitally important to Bank of America Merrill Lynch,” said Todd Gomez, Northeast Regional Executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “MacQuesten’s experience with and passion for community development made this an ideal project to finance.  In addition to $27million of debt financing and equity investment, the Bank also provided $3.9 million of deeply subordinate financing targeted to family housing throughout New York, which reduced The Modern’s reliance on state subsidy.”

CHI Executive Director Alexander Roberts said, “We are thrilled to be part of one of the first projects under Governor Cuomo’s innovative mental health initiative.”

Other investment sources include $750,000 from the New York State Community Investment Fund for commercial space; $950,000 from the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team; (also made possible through CHI); $11.8 million from the proceeds of Low Income Housing Tax Credits; $2.6 million in the developer’s own equity; and $200,000 from the City of Mount Vernon HOME Funds.

“This is an exciting time for the City of Mount Vernon. Construction is continuing citywide,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest D. Davis. “The west end of the city will start seeing the beginning of revitalization of the area that will open up opportunity for those living and doing business along that busy corridor.”

The 80 residential apartments will include: nine studio apartments renting at $1,089, 27 one-bedroom apartments renting at $1,167, 44 two-bedroom apartments renting at $1,400, one on premise apartment for the superintendent, and parking for 89 cars

All apartments and common areas will be wheelchair accessible and 22 will be designed for individuals who are living with disabilities, including some veterans. CHI will identify tenants for these units and will provide supportive housing services for them.

There will also be 9,300 square feet of office and community facility space. The 11-story building will also feature a rooftop recreational space.

The building will conform to a stringent Green Building Initiative and seek LEED Certification. Energy efficiency, sustainability, and “green design” are fundamental principles of the project. The Modern has also been approved for NYSERDA certification under the Energy Star and Multi Family Performance Program.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth