Yonkers Once Again Looks to Develop Chicken Island

John Jordan | October 2018

YONKERS—City officials hope to end more than four decades of frustration and failed attempts to develop the Chicken Island property in Downtown Yonkers.

In what city officials termed as a “game changer” for the downtown district, the City of Yonkers announced on Oct. 29 it had signed a letter of intent to sell the six-acre property located northeast of City Hall for $16 million to New York City-based AMS Acquisitions LLC.

The real estate investment firm also owns the mixed-use 92 Main St. and the 86 Main St. office building in Downtown Yonkers.

“Seven years ago, the Chicken Island redevelopment plan was dead,” said Mayor Spano, referring to a former plan floated more than a decade ago to build a mixed-use project that included a minor league baseball stadium on the site. “Now we have a workable plan, backed up with hard dollars that the city can use in the short run to fund our schools and essential services, and in the long run we will collect many millions of real estate and income taxes plus take another giant leap forward in revitalizing the downtown.”

The mayor noted that the city has tried for more than 40 years to develop Chicken Island without success. He termed the deal with AMS as “a game changer for Yonkers, because it proves economic development and a growing tax base is possible beyond the waterfront.”

According to a press announcement released by the city, AMS Acquisitions’ vision for Chicken Island is to become the epicenter of the downtown, with a concentration of shopping, dining and experiential retail, coupled with multifamily buildings, an office component and a luxury hotel.

“Downtown Yonkers is in the midst of a renaissance,” stated Michael Mitnick, principal, AMS Acquisitions LLC. “AMS is invested heavily in the growth and expansion of this incredible and unique market. An abundance of culture, diversity and history, combined with a beautiful natural landscape, and robust development is fueling the success of this city.”

Representatives of AMS could not be reached for comment on its pending purchase in Yonkers.

Chicken Island got its name in the late 1800s when the small island in the Saw Mill River was used as a local chicken farm. The site is zoned D-MX (downtown mixed-use zoning) a high-density zone permitting development up to 25 stories that permits retail, restaurant, office, colleges, personal service establishments, residential as well as many other development alternatives. AMS Acquisitions’ development of Chicken Island will complement the building of the new Fire Station 1 on New School Street and the soon-to-be completed phase three of the Saw Mill Daylighting along New Main Street.

In February 2006, Yonkers selected a development team called SFC, which proposed to develop approximately $3 billion of mixed-use space on the waterfront and downtown, including the Chicken Island property. The development team featured Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Fidelco Realty Group, and Cappelli Enterprises.

The first phase of the project was to include: almost 1,400 units of housing, more than 475,000 square feet of retail space, 475,000 square feet of office space in multiple buildings, 90,000 square feet of restaurant space with restaurants opening onto a new riverwalk along a reopened Saw Mill River, a 15-screen, 80,000-square-foot movie theater, and a 6,500-seat ballpark located on the roof of the River Park Center. The first phase called for the construction of parking facilities with more than 4,000 parking spaces.

The ambitious plans of the partnership fell victim to the Great Recession and SFC eventually dissolved.

AMS Acquisitions LLC, since its formation in 2012, has built a portfolio of approximately 1.5 million square feet throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. AMS’ development portfolio consists of an excess of $1 billion in total capitalization.

“This plan is hard evidence that Yonkers has turned around and that it is where investors and residents see a bright future,” said Mayor Spano. The mayor also noted that the plan will require that 10% of all units be affordable and rented to persons with moderate incomes.

Mayor Spano added, “AMS Acquisitions has proposed a comprehensive development we feel will provide our city with new opportunities that will attract local and regional visitors to Yonkers and truly make us a destination. We are excited to finally put bricks and mortar on the ground.”

 

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth