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  • Mamaroneck Observer

AH Developers Present Their Plans

by Cindy Goldstein -

 

After more than 200 people tried to attend a Village Board meeting on Monday, January 29, 2024 (See HERE) and were eventually turned away due to fire safety concerns, the re-scheduled meeting to hear the two presenters – Westhab/Washingtonville Housing Alliance and LUNA Collective – finally happened at the Emelin Theater on May 22, 2024.

 

See the Westhab/Washingtonville proposal HERE and the LUNA proposal HERE.

 

Moderated by Mayor Sharon Torres each group made their case to the audience and then answered questions that had been pre-submitted.  No questions were allowed from the floor.

 

LUNA

Jordan Thaler from Hyperion took the lead for LUNA who presented first.  There were also two other representatives attending.  He stressed that their project would be customized to the needs of the community.  Described as a public-private partnership they stated that the 187 residential units could be tailored to the needs of potential residents – from studios to three bedrooms.  The plan envisions including property at 136 Palmer Avenue in order to achieve the large number of units.

 

Although under their initial plan there were only 33 public parking spaces, they stated there was a possibility to get 98 public spaces if granted a waiver by the Zoning Board of Appeals.  They also dedicated 6 spaces to the fire department whose Mamaro Fire House is adjacent to the property.  (Currently, the Hunter Tier Parking Lot has more than 200 usuable parking spaces.)

 

Affordability would range between 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) to 120% of AMI.  All units would have the same finishes and look identical.  They stressed the benefits to the Village which include the design of the building, flood, stormwater, and streetscape improvements along with green space. 

 

When asked how long the units would remain affordable, the response was that it all depends on the funding.

 

One detail that hadn’t been fully discussed before was the question of real estate taxes and would the project pay them or be exempt.  The representatives described the use of a “Payment In Lieu Of Taxes” (PILOT) that would pay the various municipalities a negotiated amount for a specific term.  This would give the developer the ability to smooth out the building’s operations for a defined number of years and eventually ramp up to their full tax levy.

 

Torres asked if the fire department could access the building using a ladder truck and whether electric vehicles (EVs) would be parked safely due to the flammability of the batteries.  The answer was that the building could use a standpipe design and/or a dry pump system and did not directly answer the question about the ladder truck.  EV dedicated spaces would comply with the Code and be in open air portions of the lot.

 

An often asked question dealt with the potential for giving priority to current Village residents, volunteers and flood victims was met with the answer that vigorous marketing would be done in the Village and that, although they must market to 9 counties, it was likely many Village residents would apply for units.  Then a lottery and income verification process would ensure that units only be occupied by tenants that qualify based on their income.

 

When asked if they could scale down the number of units the answer was that it was possible but would have to be reviewed.

 

The benefits to the Village were described as providing local jobs during construction of the building and continuing benefits when residents shop and dine locally.   When questioned about the $1 payment to the Village for rights to the Hunter Tier Parking Lot the representatives repeated that their proposal had only affordable housing, primarily for middle income renters, and this project mirrors other affordable housing projects.

 

WESTHAB/Washingtonville Housing Alliance

Richard Nightingale, CEO and Andrew Germansky, Senior Vice President of Real Estate of Westhab presented their project for 77 affordable housing units and described themselves as a not-for-profit dedicated to creating 100% affordable unit buildings.  The “strategic partnership” between Westhab and Washingtonville Housing Alliance was described and the terms “our community” were used often.

 

Like LUNA, Westhab acknowledged that the proposal could be tailored to meet the Village of Mamaroneck’s needs.  Public parking could provide 103 public spaces but most of the $5 million purchase price for the lot would have to be given back to the developer to pay for it.  This proposal also falls short of the current parking available at Hunter Tier.

 

Tenant income ranges would be between 30% - 80% AMI and space would be available for a community hub.  Other amenities were also described.

 

Benefits to the Village were described as:  the building would be eco-friendly and sustainable, the community hub available to the Village, extensive landscaping, parking meter revenue would continue to be paid to the Village, increased traffic to Village businesses and better flood controls and stormwater management.

 

Just like LUNA, this project would provide for a PILOT and would extend the affordability of the units for at least 30 years and most likely up to 99 years.  Because Westhab/Washingtonville are both non-profits they envision that the units will be affordable in perpetuity.

 

Questions about fire safety (access by the fire department and EV parking) were also addressed.  Collection of garbage and waste would be handled by a private carting company.  When asked if the plan could be scaled down they acknowledged that it could be scaled back a little but stressed that they responded to the parameters of the Request for Proposal (RFP).

 

The Village has hired a consultant to help guide them through the process and appointed an Ad Hoc Housing Task Force of 7 residents.

 

The session was videotaped by LMC Media and should be available for viewing on their website shortly.



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