A plan to build 450 apartments on the Platinum Mile marks the latest plan to knock down and replace one of Harrison’s empty office buildings.
Town of Harrison officials heard the first formal proposal for a residential conversion of 3 Westchester Park Drive on Tuesday at a Planning Board meeting. The proposal, led by Boston-based real estate firm Marcus Partners, would knock down the 160,000-square-foot office building on the 10-acre site and build in its place 450 apartments across two buildings, totaling 560,000 square feet.
Marcus Partners bought the property through an online auction earlier this year for $10.97 million. The firm, which has a regional office in Norwalk, has teamed up on the proposal with the Trammell Crow Residential, an apartment developer based in Dallas.
Built in 1982, the 3 Westchester Park Drive building was described by project attorney Seth Mandelbaum as “functionally obsolete.” The building’s final remaining tenant, Business Journal publisher Westfair Communications Inc., moved earlier this month.
Andy Huntoon, managing director for Trammell Crow in the northeast, said the apartments would be split between two buildings on separate lots, with a central street running between them. One building would be five stories, the other six. Those buildings would house a mix of 33 studios, 152 one-bedroom, 254 two-bedroom and 11 three-bedroom apartments. About two-thirds of the units would offer terraces, while some units would have street-level entrances.
The list of amenities include a swimming pool at each building, a half-mile jogging path and dog runs. Farmhouse-style structures at the front of each building would offer community space for residents.
Huntoon described creating an entrance and “sense of place” for the two buildings through its central entry road. In a video overview, a camera pans down the main road, which is lined with trees and benches. Large windows along first-floor amenity space in the center of the building mimics a village-style retail storefront. The buildings wrap around separate courtyards, with each featuring either swimming pool and barbecue pits or green space.
“We’ve really tried to maximize the amount of outside space to promote the sense of community and make it a beautiful property from all four sides,” Huntoon told the board.
Marcus Partners and Trammell Crow plan to dedicate about 20,000 square feet to indoor amenities, including a library reading room, business center and coffee room.
“We’re starting with a nearly 40-year-old, functionally obsolete building that’s vacant,” Huntoon said. “We want to transform it to something that will provide a lot of value to the resident as a beautiful place to call home.”
The 3 Westchester Park Drive apartments would join the rest of the neighborhood in transforming. The developers grouped their project with the other office teardowns along Harrison’s Westchester Avenue corridor.
Next door is Life Time Fitness, a 200,000-square-foot mega gym built over the site where Gannett Co., publisher of The Journal News, once had offices and a printing plant. One street farther east, on Corporate Park Drive, more apartments and a grocery store are set to rise. National developer Toll Brothers has already started construction on 421 apartments, marketed as The Carraway, on the site where two office buildings once stood. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., meanwhile, is laying the groundwork for its first Westchester County grocery store on the former site of three office buildings.
The apartments would add to a neighborhood built around, as Huntoon described it, a world-class fitness center and world-class grocery store.
Huntoon said his firm and Marcus Partners have met with Life Time and Wegmans officials to discuss ways to create a “better sense of community,” Huntoon said. Wegmans, for example, could send a chef to lead demonstrations on the property for apartment residents.
The new apartment proposal has a letter of support signed by Life Time Fitness, the nearby Hyatt House hotel and Heritage Realty, which operates the two office buildings across the street, Mandelbaum noted. Wegmans has a corporate policy against such declarations, but Mandelbaum said they are “not unsupportive.”
Even Toll Brothers has signed on to show its support for the development. While it may seem counterintuitive for Toll Brothers to want competing apartments next door, Mandelbaum said they “recognize that the idea is to have a vibrant community, and more density only reinforces that.”
Marcus Partners holdings include several office buildings in Fairfield County, including Merrit 7 in Norwalk, the largest in the county. This project represents its first in Westchester. Since 1977, Trammell Crow Residential has developed more than 250,000 units in major markets.
The developers will first require the Harrison Planning Board to sign off an environmental review, site plan approval and other permits.
Correction:November 29, 2018
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to part of the development team. The project’s developers are Marcus Partners and Trammell Crow Residential Co., not Trammell Crow Co., the CBRE affiliate. The two companies are not affiliated.