Westchester County legislators have approved a 30-year, $55.5 million lease for a courthouse in a structure yet to be built on a former industrial site in New Rochelle that might be contaminated.
Westchester Family Court is housed at 420 North Ave., but it has to move before July 2021 when the lease expires.
The deal approved by the county board of legislators on July 15 is for two floors and 35,000 square feet, or three times more than the current location, in a building proposed for 26 Garden St.
The site encompasses five parcels in a triangular section between Garden Street, Cottage Place and the New England Thruway.
Several parcels were bought by Mark 95 LLC, managed by Bronx-based developer Mark Stagg, who grew up in White Plains and lives in Harrison. The project is also being developed by Joseph Simone of Simone Development Cos. of the Bronx.
Stagg is known primarily for residential projects and Simone for commercial work.
The developers have proposed a residential and office project, according to a New Rochelle permit application. Besides offices, the project includes a 24-story, 391-unit apartment building and parking for 489 cars. Fifty to 60 parking spaces would be allocated to the court.
The courthouse lease calls for $40.4 million in rent over 30 years, plus $15.1 million in “additional rent,” for a total of $55.5 million. The additional rent covers $7 million to build the court facilities, common area charges, management fee and other costs.
The rent schedule begins at $40.39 per square foot and culminates in year 30 at $70.25 per square foot.
The property is classified as a brownfield site that is potentially contaminated with hazardous substances. The deal requires the developer to clean up any residual contamination before beginning construction.
If the developers are unable to deliver the office space before July 2021, Westchester will be entitled to damages of $4,000 a day. If the deadline is missed by 90 days, the county may terminate the lease.
Twenty-five sites were considered for the courthouse.
The court is one of three family courts in Westchester, with Yonkers and White Plains, that handle adoptions, child custody, child support, domestic violence, guardianships and paternity issues. Divorces, annulments and separations are brought before Supreme Court.
Last year, Westchester announced plans to relocate family court to a vacant building at 366 Pelham Road in New Rochelle, but Mayor Noam Bramson and others objected to the location as inconvenient and inaccessible.
The Garden Street lots had been considered, but County Executive George Latimer noted last year, according to the Journal News, that developing an empty parcel is not as time effective or cost effective as moving into an existing building.
Latimer issued a press release on July 15 noting that 26 Garden St. is close to the New Rochelle transit center and presents the ability to create a state-of-the-art facility.
“This is the best option,” he said, “for the taxpayers, the courts and the community.”