Lennar Seeks Approval of $277M Redevelopment Of Westchester Pavilion Mall in White Plains
John Jordan | August 29, 2015
WHITE PLAINS—A few months after it signed an agreement to acquire the troubled Westchester Pavilion mall here and redevelop the site into a major mixed-use complex, the Florida-based developer of the project appeared before the City of White Plains earlier this month for site plan approval.
William Null, an attorney with White Plains-based law firm Cuddy & Feder, appeared before the White Plains Common Council on Aug. 3 on behalf of Maple and Broadway Holdings LLC to present its plans for the property located at the junction of Post Road, South Broadway, Maple and Hale avenues at 60 South Broadway in White Plains. Maple and Broadway Holdings is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lennar Corporation through its Lennar Multi-Family Communities, LLC subsidiary. The Lennar subsidiary is in contract to acquire the 185,000-square-foot retail property with current owner Urstadt Biddle Properties, Inc. of Greenwich, CT. The two parties have not divulged any financial details of the transaction that has not closed at press time. Lennar is seeking site plan and special permit approval from the City of White Plains.
Representatives of Lennar had made an earlier presentation to some Common Council members at a work session on July 27.
Null informed Common Council members and White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach the project specifics that call for the development of approximately 852,000 square feet of space featuring 707 residential rental housing units, including 71 affordable units in three buildings (one building and another L-shaped structure consisting of two interconnected buildings) and 95,000 square feet of retail space at the base of the buildings.
The retail space will consist of approximately 43,000 square feet of retail space and about 22,000 square feet of restaurant space with outdoor dining in select locations and approximately 30,000 square feet that can be used as a health club or additional restaurant space. The project will also feature a linear park as well as four-levels of below-grade parking to accommodate 1,051 vehicles. Among the amenities that will be included are indoor and outdoor pools and an expansive courtyard. The developer is also proposing moving the high-rise buildings to the back of the sloped property to reduce the visual impact to the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We are very excited to be here to be able to present an outline of what the proposed redevelopment will be, which will be a combination of residential, commercial and restaurant uses,” Null said. While the presentation to the Council did not cover the estimated cost of the project, in documents filed with the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency earlier this year, the firm estimated it would spend $277 million to complete the project.
Some Council members, such as Councilmember John Kirkpatrick said that at first blush the project does not have sufficient public space and Mayor Roach had hoped the new development would provide more connectivity from the site to adjoining properties such as The Westchester shopping mall since the site is on the outer edges of the downtown district.
The existing Westchester Pavilion mall is nearly vacant with only the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and a Japanese sushi restaurant still in operation there. The facility has seen major tenants such as Border’s Books, Toys “R” Us, Sports Authority, Daffy’s Education Warehouse and Outback Steakhouse cease operations or relocate elsewhere in White Plains. (See page 1 story on HGAR’s deal to relocate from the Westchester Pavilion to the Source at White Plains.
In April, Urstadt Biddle Properties Inc. of Greenwich, CT, the owner of the Westchester Pavilion shopping center, confirmed that it has signed a contract to sell the property to a subsidiary of homebuilder Lennar Corp. of Miami.
The deal was first reported in the March edition of Real Estate In-Depth.
On April 6, Urstadt Biddle issued a press release announcing it had entered into a contract to sell the 185,000-square-foot Westchester Pavilion to Maple and Broadway Holdings, LLC. Urstadt Biddle has owned the property since 2002.
In November 2014, the City of White Plains approved a zone change of the property to allow its development as a mixed-use property containing residential apartments above ground level retail and restaurant uses. The sale contract contains several contingencies that need to be satisfied in order for the transaction to close, and there is the possibility it may not close. If all contingencies are satisfied, Urstadt Biddle expects the transaction to close at the end of fiscal 2015 (Oct. 31, 2015) or early fiscal 2016, the company stated.
The deal between Urstadt Biddle and Lennar was revealed in paperwork filed earlier this year with the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency. Lennar was on the agenda to present its plan to the IDA Board on March 12, but at the 11th hour pulled its plan from consideration.
The Lennar affiliate has not appeared at IDA sessions in April, May, June and most recently on Aug. 6. The next IDA session is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3. Seth Mandelbaum, an attorney representing Maple and Broadway Holdings, said that the firm has not decided when it will move forward with its pending IDA application.
Included in Lennar’s 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.
Willing Biddle, president and CEO of Urstadt Biddle Properties, stated that the sale price and the closing date on the property are confidential.
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.