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September 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Plan would convert former WestHELP shelter into senior housing

An abandoned homeless shelter in Greenburgh would be transformed into 74 units of affordable housing for seniors under the terms of an agreement reached by town, county and development officials.

The land, located next to Westchester Community College’s Knollwood Road entrance, is owned by the county and leased to Greenburgh. As part of the deal, Marathon Development Group would lease the property from the county for 65 years and pay $1.5 million to develop the site.

Of that figure, $900,000 would go to the county and $600,000 would go to Greenburgh in exchange for the town relinquishing all rights to the property. The site would feature 60 one-bedroom, eight two-bedroom and six studio apartments.

There will also be a range of rents, starting “as low as $750 per apartment,” Mark Soja, president of Marathon, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“It’s a spectacular site,” Soja said. “The location is great. It’s secluded and removed from everything else.”

Soja said the site’s administration building would be converted into space for shared services, including a computer-learning center or an exercise room. Tenants would be chosen by a lottery. Applicants must be at least 62-years-old and meet income criteria.

The number of units on the property has been increased from initial plans of 54 units announced in October.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer announces the plans for senior housing on the site of the former shelter in Greenburgh off Knollwood Road. Photo by Aleesia Forni

“Senior housing is a tremendous open-ended need,” County Executive George Latimer said at the press conference. “That portion of the Westchester population is graying before us, and there’s an additional need for this type of housing.”

The 6-acre site is on property formerly occupied by WestHELP, an organization that offers housing for homeless families. WestHELP operated 108 studio apartments on the property for more than two decades before leaving the facility in 2008. The property has sat vacant since that time.

“Seeing this as an abandoned building really broke my heart, because senior housing is a need,” Margaret Cunzio, a Mount Pleasant Conservative and member of the Board of Legislators, said.

Cunzio added that the redeveloped site would have “no impact on the Valhalla Central School District,” something that was critical for town officials and residents.

The lease agreement will now be sent to the county Board of Legislators. Pending approval by the Legislature, Soja said his Peekskill-based company would apply to the state for a financing program.

“We should be planning to start construction within a year,” Soja said, adding that “I think our construction process is 18 months, from breaking ground to tenants in the building.”

The agreement follows years of negotiations between the town, the county and the developer. Soja said he was first made aware of the project following a request for proposals issued by the town six years ago.

“It’s been a long six years,” he said.

Latimer agreed that this project is “many years in the making.”

“What we’re trying to do with our new administration is to work cooperatively with everybody, both sides of the aisle, work with municipal governments, and solve problems to try to get to closure,” he added. “What we have today is closure and progress.”