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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Affordable Housing Process and the Hunter Tier

By Kathy Savolt -

Bringing any housing development to fruition is a complicated process. Having a governmental body involved multiplies the complexity and an all-affordable development makes it worse as it requires a long list of partners, including funding sources of both loans and grants from both governmental agencies and commercial partners.

Add to this mix the planning jargon used during the process and it’s no wonder the average person finds it difficult to understand. We will attempt to explain the process, what has happened so far and what is likely to happen in the future.

The process began with the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Village of Mamaroneck in August that asked for proposals to develop a “complex downtown mixed-use all-affordable housing project” at the Hunter Tier Parking Deck. See HERE.

An RFP is an open request for bids to complete a new project proposed by a government agency, company, or other organization. It is meant to open up competition and to encourage a variety of alternative proposals that might be considered by the project’s planners. Unlike an invitation to bid, a request for proposals (RFP) is used on more demanding and complex construction projects. These projects require a high degree of technical expertise. As a result, experience and approach are considered in addition to the price.

The RFP defined the Village’s intent to “establish a relationship with the successful Responder who will be requested to submit to the Village a Term Sheet that specifically outlines a project concept, contains illustrations and renderings, describes public benefits including unencumbered ownership or lease of the public parking areas by the Village, addresses project financing and delineates the responsibilities of the successful Responder and the Village of Mamaroneck.” (emphasis added)

Simply put, the RFP asked for experienced affordable housing developers to submit a plan and their qualifications to develop an all-affordable housing complex at the Hunter Tier Lot that also includes public parking. Other than requiring zoning compliance, the RFP did not include any parameters for size of building, number of units or number of public parking spaces. (Currently, the Hunter Tier has 181 spaces split between metered, permitted and Village uses.) The RFP also did not limit the development to the Hunter Tier Lot; it was silent on the possibility of incorporating adjacent properties.

The RFP listed four primary objectives:

1. Provide affordable housing units at varied income levels.

2. Provide public parking, especially short term parking.

3. Improve the aesthetics of the area and integrate the site with the Central Business District while maintaining Village character.

4. Provide public amenities and financial benefits to the Village.

The Village Board will evaluate all proposals in accordance with the New York State Open Meetings Law. As listed in the RFP, the evaluation criteria are:

1. Completeness and responsiveness to the requirements of the RFP.

2. Content, quality, and clear concise presentation of the public benefits to be gained by the Village.

3. Demonstrated qualifications and professional experience and competency in analyzing, designing, and building downtown mixed-use projects.

4. Financing position of the firm/organization, financial viability of the proposal, and reputation in the real estate financing industry.

5. Innovative nature and extent of creativity in addressing various aspects of the proposal.

6. Commitment to the Village’s objectives for the site.

7. Demonstrated understanding of the project scope as evidenced by the quality of the submission.

8. References attesting to the character of the firm’s/organization’s principals and the quality of services performed.

Two Proposals Received and the Selection Process

Two organizations submitted two vastly different proposals. Both proposals were made public as attachments to the November 13th work session (see HERE). A scoring sheet was also made public (See HERE) which references a “Selection Committee”, but no detailed information has been provided regarding any committee and explanation of any further process or timetable is coming in small steps. At the 11/13 work session, the Village Manager mentioned the possibility of a Selection Committee and said members of the Larchmont Mamaroneck Housing Coalition might be a part of it. It must be noted that one of the proposers, the Washingtonville Housing Alliance, is a founding member of this Coalition.

Both responders were invited to present their proposals to the BOT and the public.

Separate presentations were held on November 15th and 21st. See other article HERE.

At the beginning of the 11/15 presentation, Deputy Mayor Lou Young announced there would be at least one public meeting in December so members of the public could comment on the project. At the end of that session, members of the BOT were talking about scheduling the meeting.

Attempts to get further information on the next steps for selection before publication were unsuccessful. However, it is clear that once a developer is chosen, there will be extensive negotiations on the details of the project. Once the project is defined, it will be subject to the regular Village land use processes that involve the Planning Board, Harbor Coastal Zone Management Commission (HCZMC) and the Board of Architectural Review (BAR). The public will have several opportunities to comment on the project along the way.


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