Eight years after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority first sought a partner to turn a commuter parking lot into a transit-oriented development, officials broke ground June 5 on Avalon Harrison.
The development, a partnership with developer AvalonBay Communities, the town of Harrison and the MTA, will feature 143 units in three separate residential buildings. There will be 76 one-bedroom apartments, 59 two-bedroom apartments and eight three-bedroom apartments. It will have approximately 5,000 square feet of interior amenities including a fitness center, community room, game room, lounge and lobby. Two landscaped public plazas will connect to the Metro-North Railroad station. A new 27,000-square-foot parking garage will almost double the commuter parking holding roughly 751 total spaces, 475 for commuters, 90 spots for commercial spaces and 186 for residential. In return for building the garage, the railroad will deed the land to Harrison.
The estimated cost of the project is $76.8 million. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment will be $2,455, for a two-bedroom $3,650 and for a three-bedroom $5,300.
Christopher Reynolds, director of development for AvalonBay, said there will be up to 13 individual retail tenant spaces. In addition, “The development will create about eight full-time equivalent property management jobs associated with the operation with the residential component of the development.”
AvalonBay anticipates that the opening of the first two residential buildings to be January 2021. The commuter parking garage is expected to be complete by December 2020. The third residential building and retail/commercial space will follow a year later.
Catherine Rinaldi, president of Metro-North Railroad, said “We are delighted to be proceeding with what promises to be a transformative project for Metro-North commuters and Harrison. When it’s completed, this green project will create a vibrant, walkable community, both reducing reliance on cars and enhancing the existing village hub, and our customers will certainly have a much easier time finding parking at the station. We hope this type of suburban transit-oriented development becomes a model for communities throughout the MTA region.”
Transit-oriented development is a rapidly growing trend in producing vibrant and sustainable communities, according to Janno Lieber, chief development officer of the MTA.
“Mass transit combined with rational community development is a sure way to protect a community’s future,”Lieber said.
The goal is to keep older residents in town while attracting newcomers, he said.
Matt Whalen, senior vice president of AvalonBay, said “After 20 years at Avalon these are things you look forward to going to in the morning.” He commended how “rock-solid” Mayor Ron Belmont has been in supporting the project.
The project will draw critics, Whalen told those attending the groundbreaking, but “If you just keep saying, you know that it’s going to be great, it’s going to be great – you are going to be right.”
To Belmont, this redevelopment means a renaissance for downtown and even the Sound Shore area. “It’s been a labor of love and I thank God that it’s finally here,” Belmont said.
The past seven years have been a challenge for Harrison, he said, but the groundbreaking represents the next chapter.
“Three-hundred and twenty-three years ago this June the Town Charter was signed. It was the most important day in Harrison. The second most important day is today,” Belmont said of the groundbreaking.
The mayor requested that one of the development’s plazas be named after Joe Cannella, who died in December 2016. Belmont and Cannella took the first train ride into Manhattan seven years ago to start the project. Cannella served as town justice, chairman of the planning board, town board member and deputy mayor.
Whalen promises one of his last official acts before he retires shortly is to grant the plaza naming.