By Kathy Savolt -
At a special work session of the Board of Trustees (BOT) on November 21, the second of two responders to the Village’s Request for Proposals (RFP) presented their proposed project for an all-affordable housing development. However, before they began, Mayor Murphy made it clear that their inclusion of an adjacent property was “not in the RFP” and the size of their proposal would be a “hard sell.” (It should be noted that inclusion of an adjacent property was not excluded in the RFP; the RFP did not address the possibility.)
This project is dubbed “Luna” after what the developers called “a word play based on the Native American tribe that was once native to the area. ‘Luna’ alludes to an inclusive sense of ‘we’”. It is a joint venture between BRP Development Partners and the Hyperion Group, both headquartered in New York City.
Principals from both firms, as well as the architect from GF55, presented their portfolios of similar works, with emphasis on projects in Westchester County and downtown areas after which they presented the details of Luna, described as a transit-oriented development with the “look of today.”
Luna (See Full Project Proposal HERE) would provide the following:
· Incorporation of the separate privately owned lot at 136 Palmer Avenue
· 187 units of high-quality affordable housing at income levels ranging from 30% AMI to 120% AMI
· 8,000 square feet at ground level for programming that meets both resident and community needs. Currently programmed for a resident lounge and recreation space
· 187 total parking spaces (residents and Village), including 6 dedicated to the Fire Department
Description of the Project
The six-story building would accommodate a range of family sizes with a mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 470 square feet (studio) to 1,050 square feet for a three-bedroom. The finishes are not detailed in the proposal, but the developers responded to a question from Trustee Lucas that they would be the same throughout the building.
The ground floor is 8,000 square feet and affords an opportunity to work with the Village to determine needs for community space although some space will be set aside for residents only. There are also resident-only spaces on the roof top with views of Long Island Sound.
There are 187 total proposed parking spaces. The Village Zoning Code requires 154 spaces for residents leaving 33 public spaces, 6 of which will be dedicated to the Fire Department. When asked about the lack of public parking, the developers indicated that they did not believe they needed 154 spaces for residents and could seek a zoning variance to increase the number of public spaces.
The Affordability Factor
The developers spent time at their presentation discussing the need for affordable housing at all levels in Westchester County. By increasing the size of their building, they claimed they were able to extend affordability to people who ordinarily make too much to qualify for traditional affordable housing yet not enough to afford the average rents in Westchester. They cited the typical annual salaries of teachers, pharmacists, social workers, engineers, lab technicians, ambulance drivers and nursing attendants. Accordingly, the apartments in Luna range from 30% AMI to 120% AMI with 30% of the units at 100% AMI or above. In fact, 61% of the two-bedroom units and 78% of the three-bedroom units are at 120% of AMI, which translates to an income of $176,120. The Area Median Income (AMI) for all of Westchester County is $146,800. See AMI HERE.
Who Will Live There?
The marketing for these apartments must meet all local, County and State affirmative fair housing marketing and qualification requirements. A lottery process is used to choose tenants after income verification has been undertaken. The primary target market area is the Village and Town of Mamaroneck with the secondary target market covering a 9 county area including Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, and Fairfield Counties and all five boroughs of New York City. Based on prior experience, they expect that a large number of applicants will be from the Village and the majority from Westchester County. Each tenant must have their income verified annually to make sure they still fall within the affordability guidelines.
Follow the Money
This proposal did not include any specifics regarding acquisition and/or lease payments to the Village and no questions were asked by the BOT after the presentation.
Impact on Schools
This proposal did not include any projections for school-aged students and no questions were asked after the presentation.
Q & A
After the presentation the trustees asked a few questions, some of which were mentioned above. The Mayor opened the Q&A by repeating his concerns with the size of the project and the community reaction.
Additionally, Trustee Rawlings asked about water retention and storm water run-off. The architect responded that they could incorporate a green roof and/or a blue roof (holds water) where appropriate. Permeable pavers will also be used throughout the development. NOTE: Village Code requires a stormwater management plan, and the project must be reviewed and receive approval from various Village land use boards.
Trustee Yizar-Reid inquired about employment opportunities after the project is completed and was told there will be a live-in Super and possibly some porters or a contract with a cleaning company.
Trustee Young remarked about the size of the building and asked about parking access from Palmer Avenue in addition to Prospect Avenue. The response is that there is access from both streets.
The presentation ended with the developers assuring the BOT that they were flexible with regard to height and mass of the building, will consider other scenarios, and wanted to work with the Village and community to develop the best solution.
It is expected that there will be at least one public meeting where residents will be able to comment on the proposal.