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September 18, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Lawsuit not expected to slow down New Rochelle self-storage project

BlackMountain Partners, a self-storage developer that prides itself on rapid implementation, does not expect a recent lawsuit to slow down its proposed New Rochelle project.

2 Birch St. in New Rochelle. Photo by Bill Heltzel

BlackMountain plans to demolish an industrial building at 2 Birch St. and build a 1,182-unit self-storage facility.

The developer filed a site plan application in March, and the city planning board approved the plan on April 24.

One week later, Parsonage House LLC – the New York-based company that sold the property to BlackMountain’s affiliate, New Rochelle Birch Development LLC – filed notice that it was suing over “goods and merchandise” retained by Birch and valued at $750,000.

“We don’t expect it to hold up development,” said Avi Schwartz, BlackMountain’s director of acquisitions.

The summons, filed in Westchester Supreme Court, did not include a complaint detailing the nature of the dispute, and the lawyer representing Parsonage House declined to discuss the case.

Kanika Dewan, a construction and design entrepreneur in New York, who manages Parsonage House, said she is in the process of negotiating with the developer for time to remove several tons are architectural tiles and materials.

She sold 2 Birch St. to the BlackMountain affiliate for $3.35 million last fall.

BlackMountain’s specialty is identifying markets that have more demand for self-storage and then finding old warehouses or industrial properties that can be adapted for a new facility.

Rotanelli Foods and later Specialty Brands once manufactured pre-packaged frozen foods at Birch Street. It is a vast space inside, architect Robert Stanziale told the planning board, but the developers decided the building is not worth renovating.

It will be replaced with a five-story structure, including one underground level. Pear trees will be planted along Birch Street, and soft lighting will be designed so as not to shine on the houses.

The facility will be run by ExtraSpace Storage, a Salt Lake City-based company that says it is the second-largest self-storage operator in the country.

The space is tight, squeezed in between the Metro-North Railroad tracks on one side and a tidy row of houses on the other side, near busy Main Street.

Self-storage facilities are good matches for places like this, Luiz Aragon, the commissioner of development, told the board. They don’t generate a lot of traffic.

The city also will get a piece of the property for use as a parking lot for the proposed City Yard maintenance facility at Nardozzi Place, on the other side of Main street and across from Home Depot.

Joe Trotta, who lives on Birch Street, said he will be glad when the old Rotanelli plant comes down.

“It’s an eyesore,” he told the board. “The building is rotted and rodent-infested. Every animal you can think of is living in there.”

But he is concerned that demolition and construction equipment will take up the few street parking spaces that residents can use.

The planning board instructed the developer to control traffic and work with the city to help residents find parking.