Plan to Redevelop Former Good Counsel Property Secures Key Approval from White Plains Council
John Jordan | March 2, 2021
WHITE PLAINS—A mixed-use project that has been on the drawing boards for more than five years, secured a key approval yesterday from the White Plains Common Council that could put final approvals finally within reach for the property owner.
The White Plains Common Council unanimously voted on Monday evening to accept the environmental findings, zoning amendment and master plan for the 16-acre former Our Lady of Good Counsel property at 52 North Broadway to allow construction of 335 independent and assisted living apartments for seniors, 28 townhouses and 48 multi-family apartments.
The plan by the property owner, WP Development NB LLC, led by New York City-based commercial real estate investment and development firm George Comfort & Sons, has been scaled down several times since the property was acquired from The Sisters of the Divine Compassion in December 2015. The Journal News has previously reported the sale price for the campus was $16.2 million. The property at one time housed Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, which was closed, and Good Counsel Grammar School, which relocated to Valhalla in mid-2015. A portion of the campus was sold to Pace University in 1975, which is now home to the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University and formerly housed The College of White Plains of Pace University and Good Counsel College.
The most recent alternative plan was presented by the developer in January 2020. Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for the property owner, said the White Plains Common Council’s actions on March 1 concludes the review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, establishes a Planned Residential Development Zoning District for the site allowing for the mixed residential uses and approved a Master Plan setting forth the conceptual development program for the property. Remaining actions by the city include a site plan review and a review by the Historic Preservation Commission. The State Office of Historic Preservation has already given its approval to the redevelopment plan, he noted.
The plan now calls for 232 one-, two- and three-bedroom senior-restricted independent living apartments in a six-story building with a parking garage at the east end of the site, linked to a five-story building with a 103-unit assisted living and memory care facility. According to the project’s website, the community will be owned and operated by an unnamed nationally-renowned care provider for 35 years with approximately 300 communities in operation.
The project will also feature 28 two-story, three-bedroom rental townhouses on the north and south sides of the site and 48 multifamily apartments in a three-story building to be constructed as part of the preservation of the west façade of the former convent. More than 90% of those units will be studio and one-bedroom apartment units. It should be noted that the approved plan includes maintaining the Chapel of the Sisters of Divine Compassion for ongoing use, preserving the historic Mapleton House at its present location and preserving the west wing of the former Convent that faces North Broadway, while adaptively incorporating it as part of the new development.
The latest plan significantly reduces the number of planned residential units, parking spaces and maximum heights of the buildings to be developed, but expands the senior housing component of the original plan. In addition, 95 units of student housing for the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University have been scrapped. The original plan put a maximum building height of 10 stories. The latest proposal has the maximum height of six stories or 85 feet, with a height of 50 feet or lower for the first 700 feet from North Broadway.
The plan reduces the number of parking spaces to 450 from 655 in an earlier proposal, and projected vehicle trips in and out of the site at peak times will be reduced by up to 43%, according to the property owner. There will be no access from Ross Street except for emergency vehicles.
The developer also touts the amount of green space that would remain as part of its plan. The current proposal provides for public access to the 2.3-acre front lawn of the campus facing North Broadway that maintains the street view of the property. The entire campus will also have extensive new landscaping.
While Thompson said that the remaining approvals could be secured in the next few weeks or several months, he did not divulge when a shovel will turn the first dirt on the venture and when the development will be completed and accepting its first residents. No estimated development cost for the project was released.