Key Yonkers Development Projects Get Green Light

John Jordan | March 30, 2017

An artist’s rendering of the planned 160-unit apartment building at 705 Bronx River Road to be developed by the Stagg Group.

YONKERS—While some major multifamily construction projects in Yonkers have already broken ground, the City Council and the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency have recently granted approvals for a host of new development ventures in the city.

The Yonkers City Council voted on March 21 to rezone 705 Bronx River Road from commercial to residential use, which allows the Stagg Group to move forward with its plans to develop a 160-unit, nine-story apartment building, with parking.

After investing $7 million into the project, Stagg Group plans to begin demolition within the next 30 days and start construction later this spring. The new complex will take up a city block on Bronx River Road, Crescent Place and Reyer and Springer avenues. Currently, the block has an empty commercial building, parking lot and five houses Stagg Group has acquired on Crescent Place. A spokesman for the Stagg Group estimated the development cost for the project at approximately $35 million.

For the past three years, the Stagg Group has met repeatedly with neighbors and worked with city officials to adjust the number of units and address parking and density concerns.

“We want to be part of the solution,” said Mark Stagg, president of the Purchase-based real estate development company. “We wanted to find out what works best for the neighborhood, what works best for the city.”

When Stagg first acquired the rundown property at 705 Bronx River Road in 2013, he envisioned it as the new headquarters for his company. However, after inspecting the abandoned building, which had undergone four awkward additions over the years, Stagg realized that renovating the existing structure was not economically feasible. “It’s completely unworkable as is. It’s a tiny commercial island surrounded by residences. If you look at a map, it looks like a missing tooth,” he said.

In response to community concerns, a new traffic pattern for the intersection of Bronx River Road, Midland Avenue and Broad Street to reduce back-ups was also added to the plan. “We realize this was a pre-existing condition however, we feel it’s the right thing to do for the entire community,” Stagg said.

The site at 705 Bronx River Road in Yonkers is within walking distance of two Metro-North train stations — Fleetwood and Mount Vernon West.

On March 29th, the Board of the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency granted initial approval to Alma Realty’s plan to convert former School 19, which has sat empty for more than 20 years, into market rate apartments. The developer is purchasing the property from the City of Yonkers for $676,900 under the terms of a recent Request for Proposals. The developer will spend an estimated total of $28 million to renovate the property and create the apartments.

The YIDA agreed to provide a $360,000 mortgage tax exemption and $830,000 sales tax exemption on materials used in the construction of the project, as well as a temporary property tax abatement to be negotiated.

“This property has been empty and gathering dust for two decades,” said Mayor Mike Spano who chairs the YIDA, “We’re so glad to put it back on the tax rolls and provide needed housing for people who want to live and work in Yonkers.”

At the session the YIDA voted to set public hearings on acquiring three parcels of land—including condemnation by eminent domain of a portion of land used by New York City as a bus depot on Alexander Street along the downtown waterfront. The other two parcels the YIDA will consider acquiring by eminent domain is an empty parking lot near the intersection of Point Street and Ravine Avenue, and an empty parking lot near the intersection of Yonkers and Currans avenues.

Yonkers has been trying, without success, for years to work with New York City to find an alternative for the MTA buses stored at the Alexander Street site. Yonkers wants to use a portion of the property to extend Alexander Street in order to facilitate an already-approved residential and commercial development, according to the YIDA. Despite repeated requests from Yonkers, New York City has failed to respond with a reasonable price for the property—asking that Yonkers pay $25 million for a new bus garage elsewhere in addition to the cost of the land. New York City acquired the land several years ago for a little more than $10 million, the authority stated in a press announcement.

“I daresay if these buses were stored along the Manhattan or Brooklyn waterfronts they would be relocated in a heartbeat,” said Mayor Spano, “This bus depot is smack in the middle of a major waterfront revitalization plan for Yonkers, and we need to resolve this once and for all.”

The YIDA voted to conduct a public hearing on the possible condemnation of a portion of the property needed for roadway improvements, which would be the first step to an eventual taking. The Yonkers City Council had previously approved an initial condemnation request, but Mayor Spano said utilizing the YIDA is now more appropriate since the YIDA is expected to be involved in the overall Alexander Street redevelopment project.

One of the other two parcels that the YIDA voted to conduct eminent domain hearings on is a parcel formerly leased by the Yonkers Parking Authority along Ravine Avenue near Point Street, and whose owner has fallen into significant tax arrears. The city hopes to use the property for a new school.

The third parcel is a small parking lot formerly used by a funeral home on Yonkers Avenue at the intersection of Currans Lane that has since relocated. The city plans to create an off-street parking lot in order to relieve traffic congestion on Yonkers Avenue.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth