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September 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Mack-Cali eyeing apartment development near White Plains train station

1 Water St. at the left, bus depot in the center and parking garage at the White Plains train station at the right. Photo by Peter Katz.

A proposal for a new development in White Plains is being prepared by a related entity of Mack-Cali, the publicly traded real estate investment trust, developer and property manager that recently sold its office and flex space holdings in Westchester and Fairfield to Robert Martin Co. in a deal valued at almost a half-billion dollars.

1 Water Street LLC is proposing a project at 1 Water St., the site of a small office building. The land is at the northeast corner of the intersection of Ferris Avenue and Water Street, diagonally across from the Metro-North train station. Real estate records indicate that the building was constructed in 1978 and that the site has 1.24 acres. On a recent business day, the building appeared to be vacant with no cars in the parking lot and no lights visible inside.

The office building would be demolished and the property redeveloped with a new mixed-use building containing approximately 300 apartments and neighborhood retail space. “Neighborhood retail” is a phrase usually used to describe businesses oriented toward serving the needs of a building’s residents rather than attracting regional shoppers. The project also would contain publicly accessible open space and related parking and infrastructure.

The developer is asking for a land swap between the developer and the city’s Urban Renewal Agency. Approximately 12,328 square feet of an unimproved portion of North Lexington Avenue, which abuts the developer’s property, would be swapped for a 12,610-square-foot portion of the 1 Water St. site fronting on Ferris Avenue. It told the agency  that during meetings with city staff to discuss the proposed project, it was determined that such a swap would be mutually beneficial.

Members of the Urban Renewal Agency voted 4-0 on April 23 to allow the developer to include the agency’s property in the application it submits to the city’s Common Council for site plan approval. The actual transfer of land rights was not covered by the resolution.

A presentation on the development proposal was made at the agency’s meeting by a group described as the 1 Water Street Team, which included: attorney Mark P. Weingarten of the White Plains-based law firm DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr LLP; Jamie Cali of Roseland, a Mack-Cali company; and Chris Boone, an architect from Lessard Design, an international architecture and planning firm.

The resolution stated that the proposed land swap would result in an improved site plan for both the applicant and city and that the city would wind up with a separate development parcel with frontage on Ferris Avenue for potential future use.

The train station area has figured prominently in Mayor Tom Roach’s vision for the future development of the city. His administration undertook a planning study for a White Plains Transit District and has been considering how three city-owned parcels and an Urban Renewal Agency-owned parcel that are in the same vicinity as the Mack-Cali site might be developed.

Directly across Ferris Avenue from the Mack-Cali site is the city-owned “Site 4” at 20 Ferris Ave., where a firehouse is located. On “Site 3” at 16 Ferris Ave. is the city’s train station garage. South of the garage at 10 Ferris Ave. is “Site 2,” the main driveway for the station where taxis wait and some public meter parking is located. Continuing south, across Hamilton Avenue, is “Site 1,” also known as the Bronx Street Lot at 3 Hamilton Ave.

The city has said that all four parcels hold great potential for transit-oriented development and increased connectivity between the White Plains Transit District, adjacent neighborhoods and the rest of downtown White Plains.