“What’s missing currently in the offerings to Westchester in general, but specifically in Mount Vernon, is the affordability aspect of assisted living,” developer Eric Newhouse told the Business Journal a few days before the May 1 continued public hearing by the Mount Vernon Planning Board on his proposal to build The Sentinel of Mount Vernon.
“There are lots of options available on the high end of the market, but what we provide is a high-end product at affordable rates.”
Newhouse, principal of 1 North Fulton Realty LLC, d/b/a/ The Sentinel of Mount Vernon, can point to a track record of building and operating assisted living facilities including The Sentinel at Amsterdam and The Sentinel at Port Jervis. In addition, applications were filed for The Sentinel of Mohegan Lake and The Sentinel of Rockland County, to be built in Montebello. Newhouse also heads Casper Development LLC.
The entity 1 North Fulton Realty LLC originally petitioned the Mount Vernon City Council for a rezoning of the 1.46-acre property at 1 North Fulton Ave. It had been in the RMF-15 Multi-Family Residence District and, as requested, the city council amended the zoning map to place the Senior Citizen Housing Floating Overlay (RMF-SC) onto the site. It also decided that the project would not have a significant adverse environmental impact, obviating the need for a full round of State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) environmental studies.
The original application described the project as being eight stories plus a basement. It would house six floors of assisted living and two floors of independent living. The assisted living facility would accommodate 200 people while 40 would be in the independent living units. While the original application called for 70 parking spaces to be provided, the Planning Board now shows the number of spaces at 63. Newhouse indicated there may be additional tweaks to the proposal.
“It’s probably one of the largest vacant land sites in Mount Vernon,” Newhouse said of the land, which was bought about a year ago for the project. “I think we’ve had a great reception so far at various levels of city government in Mount Vernon and we’ve held public comment events and it’s all been very enthusiastic.” Newhouse said he hopes to break ground within a year and that construction would take approximately 18 to 24 months.
Newhouse said the independent living would be geared toward affordability and the assisted living care would be offered at about half existing commercial rates. He pointed out that New York state has the Assisted Living Program (ALP) whereby people whose incomes and health care needs qualify them for participation can have the assisted living component of their health care costs covered.
“It’s a large facility and being that it’s large, we can keep the costs down for the people,” Newhouse told the Business Journal.
The project application included data from the state Department of Health indicating there were 3,548 assisted living beds in Westchester County and only 275 of them were used for people receiving assistance from the ALP. Mount Vernon had three assisted living facilities with none of them licensed for ALP beds. The data estimated that the county’s population was 980,224 and that 158,799 residents, about 16.2% of the population, were age 65 or older.