White Plains Releases Long Awaited RFP For Redevelopment of Transit District

John Jordan | June 2019

West White Plains Parking Lot of the White Plains Transit District

WHITE PLAINS—The City of White Plains announced on June 6 that it had released the long-awaited Request for Proposals for interested development firms to redevelop three city-owned properties and one Urban Renewal Agency parcel in the city’s Transit District.

The four parcels total approximately 4.5 acres and are located along the easterly side of the White Plains Metro-North railroad station. The deadline to submit proposals is Nov. 1, 2019.

This project represents a significant re-development opportunity for the city. It also presents an opportunity to enhance critical pedestrian connections between the Transit District and adjacent neighborhoods, including Battle Hill, Fisher Hill and Ferris Avenue, as well as reinforce the existing Main Street connection to the downtown core, city officials noted.

The RFP specifies that all development concepts must be consistent with the six primary community-driven planning principles developed through significant public input through the Transit District Strategic Plan process, including: Bike/Pedestrian Improvements, “Placemaking,” Open Space, Density, Economic Development and Parking.

In terms of density, the city directs interested developers in the RFP to: “Balance high-density transit-oriented development with impact on surrounding neighborhoods. Encourage ground floor retail, preserve view-sheds, and supply appropriate height and bulk transitions between the Transit District and surrounding neighborhoods (Battle Hill, Fisher Hill, and Ferris Avenue).”

In relation to the economic development component of the project, the city states that the proposal should “develop a phased and financially feasible plan that creates value and a variety of vibrant synergistic uses while balancing neighborhood impacts.”

The city stressed in the RFP that proposals must conform with the city’s White Plains Transit District Strategic Plan, which was released in December 2016. The district encompasses the area one-third of a mile around the White Plains Metro-North Station, which boasts the highest ridership station in Westchester County and leading reverse commute destination on the Harlem Line from New York City. The district also includes the Westchester County Bee-Line TransCenter Bus Terminal, and multiple stops as well as the eastern terminus of the Lower Hudson Transit Link Bus Rapid Transit from Rockland County to White Plains.

One of the development parcels owned by the city—20 Ferris Ave.—currently houses a firehouse. According to the RFP, the city is currently evaluating options to construct a new fire station in the immediate vicinity of the development site. “Development concepts need not include the incorporation of a new municipal firehouse facility at its existing location, however it is imperative that the firehouse remain operational in its existing location until a new facility is constructed by the city,” the RFP states.

One development parcel 3 Hamilton Ave. is located in a federal Opportunity Zone.

City officials state the community-driven plan was formulated using extensive feedback received through a comprehensive 15-month community engagement process resulting in the collection of more than 2,000 public comments compiled during multiple public engagement meetings, city events, “Question of the Week” surveys and web-based comments. The final Strategic Plan, background studies, presentations and public comments are available for download at the White Plains Transit District website: www.wptransitdistrict.com.

In June 2017 the city released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the Transit District. The responses received enabled the city to more fully develop its concept for the re-development of the Transit District. Since 2017, 2,000 multi-family dwelling units have been approved within the district and Metro-North Railroad has commenced a $93-million train station enhancement project to be completed in 2020.

“We have taken a very thoughtful and deliberate approach to this project. Our strategic planning process for the Transit District included unprecedented public outreach and detailed baseline studies of the project area,” said White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach. “The RFEI process tested the waters to see what was possible as well as the level of potential interest in these sites. Now, as we enter the next phase of this complex and vitally important project for our city, I look forward to building on that solid foundation.”

He added, “Our goal is to translate the key findings of our strategic plan into a re-development plan that is achievable, provides benefits for our residents, and helps us grow responsibly as a city.”

The schedule for the RFP includes an Information Session on June 27, deadline to submit questions by July 17; answers to questions posted on July 31 and deadline to submit proposals by Nov. 1 at 4 p.m.

The RFP is available online at: cityofwhiteplains.com/TransitDistrictStudy

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth