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September 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Hotels, apartments proposed on former MBIA, IBM sites

As Westchester Avenue continues its transformation from a corporate corridor to a home for apartments, grocery stores and mega gyms, the repurposing trend appears to be spreading north up Interstate 684.

The town of North Castle is weighing two proposals that would add apartments and hotels to land once held by major companies in the hamlet of Armonk.

One plan calls for a mix of townhomes, apartments and a hotel on the Armonk campus formerly owned and occupied by MBIA Inc. financial services company. The other calls for a hybrid hotel and apartment building, along with townhomes, on an undeveloped parcel that was formerly part of IBM Corp.’s global headquarters.

A team led by Stamford developer Steven Wise presented plans to the North Castle Town Board at the end of May for the MBIA site, now referred to as the Airport Campus, at 113 King St. 

A conceptual rendering of plans at a former IBM parcel in Armonk from architecture firm DeAngelis Architectural Services LLC.

MBIA sold the property in 2015 for $23 million to a joint venture of Steven Wise Associates LLC in Stamford and Pound Ridge-based affiliates of the Manocherian family, a prominent family in Manhattan residential and commercial real estate.

MBIA vacated the property in 2014 when it moved its global headquarters and about 245 employees to an 85,000-square-foot lease at The Centre at Purchase office campus. The new owners have marketed the space, but have struggled to fill the close to 300,000 square feet.

“As the market has evolved, as the economy has evolved, they’ve noticed interest in other uses,” Anthony Veneziano, an attorney representing the property’s ownership, told the board. “And they’re following the trend that’s been happening in adjacent communities … dealing with the repositioning of office campus pieces.”

Veneziano cited the Westchester Avenue corridor and a proposal to convert 900 King St. in Rye Brook to senior housing as representative of that trend.

The plan from the Airport Campus team would provide a mix of office and residential uses to a site Veneziano described as “drop dead gorgeous, developed in the days when there was no budget.”

The Airport Campus team would keep a 100,000-square-foot office building at the southern end of the property and market it to smaller tenants. A 160,000-square-foot office building in the center of the campus would be repurposed as a 125-room hotel.

Veneziano said there has been significant interest in a hotel for that area, particularly for its proximity to the Westchester County Airport.

On the north end of the property, a separate 180,000-square-foot building would host 151 apartments, a mix of 39 one-bedroom units and 112 two-bedrooms. The building would rise in an area where the town has previously approved a plan from MBIA in 2003 to construct a 165,000-square-foot office building and 1,000-space parking garage that was never built.

On a separate section of the property known as Cooney Hill, the developer has proposed 22 townhouses, about 3,000 square feet each.

Airport Campus is asking the town board to amend the zoning in the area to allow special-permit uses for hotel and multifamily residential development along with the office space already permitted.

Wise told the town board that his company would continue marketing the property for office users, but adding more potential uses would help the ownership adjust to future market demands.

Meanwhile at a parcel once held by IBM,  the town is reviewing a proposal from a developer that would add a five-floor hybrid hotel and apartment building, featuring 97 hotels rooms on the lower levels and 69 rental apartments on the upper floors. The plan also calls for 94 semi-attached townhomes.

The proposal comes from MADDD Madonna Armonk LLC, which bought  the 32-acre property, off North Castle Drive, from IBM for $13.5 million in August 2017.

The lot was initially part of IBM’s 367 acres in the hamlet. The North Castle board approved a plan from IBM in 1996 to divide the property into four lots. The property was then further subdivided in 2010, when IBM split a lot containing its former headquarters building into an 81-acre parcel hosting the office building and an undeveloped 32.5 acre parcel. 

North Castle has also rezoned the property to allow for office and hotel uses, up to 300 rooms.

The proposal calls for dividing the 32-acre property into two lots. The 26-acre parcel will include 94 townhomes, which will be three bedrooms each and reach between 2,600 and 2,800 square feet with two-car garages.

The 6-acre parcel would include the hotel and apartment building. The hotel would feature a café, bar, ballroom, banquet and conference rooms and a restaurant.

The apartments would be a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. The mixed-use building would be built on top of a partially enclosed parking structure with 321 spaces.

The developer has requested the town add multifamily residential units as an approved use in the office-hotel zoning for the property. It also requests a separate multifamily residence district be created for the lot where the townhomes would be built.

The North Castle Town Board opened a public scoping session for the draft environmental impact statement on the project in May and is taking written comments from the public.

For the Airport Campus project, the town board acknowledged receipt of a formal zoning petition at its last meeting and made itself lead agency in the review.

North Castle recently passed the first update to its comprehensive plan since 1996. The plan encourages town officials to consider ways to diversify North Castle’s housing stock, which consists mostly of single-family homes. The plan also names the former MBIA site among locations the town should consider allowing a wider range of commercial and residential uses.

Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro told the Business Journal that while nothing has been approved yet and the town will give each project a thorough review, he’s happy to see the interest in investing in the town.

“These are the type of projects that are going up. There’s an opportunity, if we think it makes sense, to increase our assessables and have additional commerce,” Schiliro said. “But if they’re not built, if we determine it’s not in the best interest of the town, they will be built somewhere else in the county because there is a need for these units. That’s a good thing for the economy in Westchester County.”