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September 22, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

$100M-plus project proposed by Southern Land Co. for site of YMCA in White Plains

A proposal to replace the building owned by the YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester at 250 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains with an 8-story mixed-use structure is expected to cost “north of $100 million,” Joe Rossi of developer Southern Land Co. told the Business Journal during an interview.

The building on Mamaroneck Avenue was built in 1927. Photo by Aleesia Forni

Rossi is the Northeast director of acquisitions for the Nashville-based company, which also has offices in Denver, Dallas and at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.

The proposal calls for the existing building, dating from the late 1920s, to be replaced with a structure containing 170 apartments and about 2,000 square feet of retail space. There would be parking for 265 vehicles on three or four levels.

Southern Land Co. is the contract vendee for the YMCA property. The closing would take place after necessary approvals for the project have been received from the city. The price to be paid to the nonprofit YMCA was not disclosed. The parcel covers a little more than an acre.

An application has been submitted to the city, but Rossi did not have a timeline regarding when it might be taken up by the planning board, common council or other boards and commissions. He anticipated that it would take from 18 to 24 months from the time of approval until residents could begin moving in.

The YMCA has been having trouble managing the costs of maintaining its aging building. CEO and President Cynthia Rubino had previously expressed the opinion that it would be better to cash in, relocate to another facility and use residual funds for operations.

“We went down the road of trying to save the structure itself, or parts of it,” Rossi told the Business Journal. He said that the bottom line was, “The building is made of wood frame construction and has been very poorly maintained.” Rossi said it wasn’t just Southern Land that determined demolition would be a necessity. “Cindy Rubino tried to get it back in order and it would have cost $28 million to renovate. They could never generate that kind of money to save the building,” he said.

Rossi said that Southern Land has agreed to help the YMCA financially while the company is obtaining approvals for the development.

Rossi said that the company intends to create a structure that will pay homage to the history of the building to be torn down.

“What was submitted to the city is not necessarily what the facade of the building is going to look like,” he said. “The design that was handed in to the city was for ‘massing’ purposes only.”

Southern Land arranged for the Housing Action Council in Tarrytown help handle the relocation of those people who have been living at the Y. Rossi said that Southern Land has paid more than $200,000 in the relocation campaign. “We’re helping in a very positive way to improve people’s lives and get them into very safe locations,” Rossi said. He also said that he speaks to Rubino almost every day.

The White Plains project is small compared with some others by Southern Land. Examples of projects it has under construction include: a 19-story 310 unit building in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood of Dallas; a mixed-use project on six acres in Boulder, Colorado, with 242 apartments, 120,000 square feet of offices and 24,500 square feet of retail space; and Westhaven, a planned community in Franklin, Tennessee.

Rossi said the company is very upbeat about White Plains.

“We see job growth happening and a vibrant downtown that’s going to continue to evolve and get better. We like the real estate. We like the location of the YMCA because it’s kind of on the cusp of where urban housing meets very nice residential.”