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September 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

NJ developer plans townhouses at former Elmwood Country Club

The new owner of the former Elmwood Country Club in Greenburgh plans to convert the property to a townhouse community for people 55 and older. But the developer may have to do so under a new structure that could mean higher taxes, as the company was warned in a recent meeting with the town board.

The clubhouse at the former country club.

The proposal, from Ridgewood Real Estate Partners, would add 175 two-story townhomes to parts of the 106-acre club property off Dobbs Ferry Road between the Saw Mill River and Sprain Brook parkways. The club and golf course closed last summer.

Ridgewood presented plans for the redevelopment of the property to the Greenburgh Town Board on Jan. 23. The company would transfer 14 acres of land to the town to expand its Rumbrook Park.

Ridgewood bought the Elmwood Country Club for $13 million last summer. The deal closed two months after the golf course filed a notice with the state Department of Labor that it would be closing down and laying off 76 employees.

Jonathan S. Grebow, president and CEO of Ridgewood, said in a phone interview that the golf course represented “a great location in the heart of southern Westchester. The property already has residential zoning, so we saw the opportunity to be able to do something innovative on this site to meet a need for the active adult townhouses not currently available in the market.”

Based in Florham Park, New Jersey, Ridgewood was founded in 2008 and specializes in buying and repurposing large pieces of land, such as golf courses. The company has pursued or completed real estate development projects in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Nevada.

The type of age-restricted “active adult” community Ridgewood plans in Greenburgh is still relatively rare in Westchester. Grebow said it’s more commonly found in other parts of the country where Ridgewood operates, such as New Jersey, Philadelphia’s suburbs, Orlando and Las Vegas.

The homes can be used either as a primary or part-time residence, Grebow said. “They may want to be in Westchester and want to be in Florida, or that type of situation. And people have more and more been seeking these types of communities.”

The community would include amenities such as a new clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts for residents. The developer would also add a pedestrian trail open to the public that would connect with the potential extension of Rumbrook Park.

The townhomes would have a style of ownership similar to that of condominium developments, Grebow said.

The site is zoned for up to 119 single-family homes, but would require a zoning amendment to allow for the denser townhome development. Ridgewood has not yet filed plans and is expected to meet again with the town board in the next few weeks for a work session.

Grebow said in an email that the active adult community would “preserve substantial areas of open space, create buffers, walking trails and recreational opportunities,” while also creating less traffic than a single-family development option.

Before the development team could present its preliminary plans last month, the Greenburgh Town Board warned that it will pursue legislation that would tax new condo and townhouse developments at the higher rate applied to single-family homes.

Town Supervisor Paul Feiner told the Business Journal in a phone interview after the meeting that the town will soon ask state lawmakers for legislation to create an additional tax class for new townhomes and condominium developments.

Feiner said taxes on condominium properties already built in the town would not change. “We’re not going to pursue the Homestead,” he said, referring to the state law that allows for a reevaluation of properties to equalize those of single-family homes and condominium properties. “But we are going to ask for all new development to be taxed at the same rate as residential.”

Feiner told Ridgewood representatives that the town wants to make sure it gets “maximum revenue from all developments.”

Grebow said the meeting was the first time he had heard of the potential tax changes. “It’s definitely concerning; we need to learn more about what their thinking is and how it would affect our property,” he said.

Ridgewood also last year bought the former Philips research campus in Briarcliff Manor. The company is planning to pursue a residential conversion there as well, but has not yet filed official plans.

The Elmwood Country Club property is across Dobbs Ferry Road from the 7-acre site that was the former home of Frank’s Nursery & Craft’s. The property was sold by the town in December to Capitol Seniors Housing, which plans to build a 101-unit assisted living and memory care facility there after completing an environmental cleanup.