Westchester Pavilion Mall to be Sold To Make Way for $275-Million Project
John Jordan | March 2015
WHITE PLAINS—The Westchester Pavilion shopping center, the current headquarters of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, is under contract to be sold by Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc. to Lennar Multifamily Communities, LLC of Herndon, VA.
Lennar, a subsidiary of Miami-based Lennar Corp., is proposing to demolish the 185,000-square-foot shopping center to make way for a high-rise mixed-use project that will include rental apartments and retail. The impending sale of the property that at one time was an Alexander’s department store, was revealed in an application filed by Maple and Broadway Holdings, LLC (care of Lennar Multifamily Communities) with the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency in connection with incentives the developer hopes to secure for its estimated $275-million project.
Lennar Principal Tim Mulcahy was scheduled to appear before the IDA Board on March 12 to present the firm’s application for a straight lease arrangement on the Westchester Pavilion, but the proposal was pulled from the agency’s agenda the morning of the meeting.
Lennar officials could not be reached for comment. Officials with Urstadt Biddle Properties also offered no comment on the pending sales deal on the 3.58-acre parcel at 60 South Broadway. However, in its IDA application obtained by Real Estate In-Depth, the company states: “Maple and Broadway Holdings, LLC and Urstadt Biddle Properties, Inc. have entered into a purchase and sale agreement for the property located at 60 South Broadway, White Plains, New York. Closing on the property is subject to several conditions.” The company did not reveal any financial details on the sale agreement.
Also included in the IDA application was a project timeline that included acquisition of the land by June 2015, a projected issuance of a building permit by April 2016, commencement of construction in May 2016 and occupancy by May 2019. Lennar is seeking approximately $11.7 million in sales tax exemptions and about $2.76 million in mortgage tax exemptions from the IDA. The project is expected to create 2,895 construction jobs during the three-year construction phase.
Urstadt Biddle Properties secured a zone change from the City of White Plains in November 2014 that will allow as much as 860,000 square feet of mixed-use space to be developed at the site.
Willing L. Biddle, president and CEO of Urstadt Biddle Properties, in a release issued on March 11 on the company’s first quarter operating results acknowledged the zone change approval it received from the City of White Plains. He added, “We are working on preliminary site plan approval for that re-development and hope to have more progress to report on in the near future.”
Lennar in its application to the Westchester County IDA stated that the new development would entail a total of 851,900 square feet. The company, while describing the development as a “high-rise,” did not disclose the proposed height of the building or whether it would involve multiple buildings.
The plan as reported in the IDA application “will be a mixed-use facility, comprised of retail on the ground floor and multifamily dwellings above, together with associated parking and amenities. There will be approximately 95,600 square feet of retail and 756,300 square feet of multifamily dwelling space.”
Lennar is proposing to develop what it terms as “the equivalent of a LEED Star building” that would include a variety of green technologies.
Biddle, who appeared before HGAR’s Commercial Investment Division on May 22, 2014, characterized the Westchester Pavilion retail space at the time as “functionally obsolete” and near impossible to lease due to its low ceilings and parking design. Competing properties nearby on Bloomingdale Road and the City Center on Mamaroneck Ave. have negatively impacted the property. The mall lost most of its major tenants who have either shuttered stores, such as Border’s Books or moved to other locations in the city such as Toys “R” Us and Sports Authority. HGAR, Outback Steakhouse and a McDonald’s restaurant are the only major tenants left at the complex.
Biddle said the company decided it needed to redevelop the property because despite its attractive location, “the bricks and mortar that are on it just don’t work.” Biddle at the time said the plan would involve demolishing the existing building and replacing it with primarily residential development with a retail component. He told the CID gathering that the project would be developed as two separate condominium properties with the residential portion to be owned by an as yet unnamed international developer and the retail component to be owned by Urstadt Biddle Properties. The international real estate firm would in fact develop the project and then turn the retail component back over to Urstadt Biddle upon completion, he explained.
The Lennar IDA application only states that the commercial component of the project would be owned and operated by Lennar Commercial Investors, LLC.
The company’s plan back in May 2014 called for between 650 to 700 residential apartment units with a maximum building height of 280 feet. When it first broached the redevelopment of the Westchester Pavilion, the preliminary plan also included some office and hotel space.
HGAR Headquarters To Move This Year
Earlier this month the HGAR Board of Directors approved a resolution to have association staff pursue a proposed relocation of the company’s operations at 60 South Broadway to another downtown White Plains location with building owner Urstadt Biddle Properties. HGAR CEO Richard Haggerty told Real Estate In-Depth that negotiations are ongoing, but that he expects a deal to be finalized in the near future.
HGAR took occupancy of its approximately 16,000-square-foot penthouse space at the Westchester Pavilion on Aug. 1, 2008. The original lease at the Westchester Pavilion between HGAR and Urstadt Biddle Properties was for 20 years with three, five-year renewal options.
The association’s new downtown White Plains offices would be of comparable size, Haggerty said.