The city of White Plains has approved a development that will add 127 apartments on the eastern edge of downtown at Hale and Maple avenues.
The Common Council gave site plan approval at its Dec. 3 meeting to an estimated $48 million plan from Hale WP Owner LLC. The company is a joint venture led by Martin G. Berger, principal of Armonk-based Saber Real Estate Advisors LLC and Jonathan Stein, who is separately a founding partner of the development team behind Edge on Hudson developer Diversified Realty Advisors LLC.
The plans, drawn by New Jersey architectural firm Minno & Wasko, call for two buildings, split by Hale Avenue. The two lots — 97-111 Hale Ave. and 100-114 Hale Ave. — are paved for parking, though only one is still in operation.
The building on the east lot would be seven stories with 70 apartments. The west building would be eight stories with 57 apartments. Each building would have two levels of basement parking, totaling 170 spaces. Six percent on the units would be offered at rates affordable to residents making between 60 and 79 percent of area median income.
Berger told the Business Journal Dec. 7 that the building will differ slightly from other recent apartment construction in the city. It will offer amenities more appropriate for people downsizing, such as empty nesters, than the millennial demographic, he said. That includes larger overall units than typical apartment sizes, double sink vanities and large closets.
Between the two buildings, the development would add 36 two-bedroom and 80 one-bedroom apartments, along with 11 studio apartments. Some units would include balconies. Shared amenities will include a rooftop lounge, fitness center, indoor lounges and business center.
The blocks surrounding this proposal have drawn steady interest from apartment developers. The property is a block over from DeKalb Avenue, where a six-story, 76-unit apartment building is preparing to open and the five-story, 56-unit La Gianna opened in 2014.
Across Maple Avenue, Lennar Multifamily Communities is seeking approval for the reworking of its mixed-use development plans on the former Westchester Pavilion property. If approved and built, the project would add two, 24-story residential towers with 707 rental apartments and 93,840 square feet of retail near this Hale proposal.
Berger said his firm “believes that the more multifamily you have in a downtown, that equates to a more vibrant city. It brings restaurants and shops busy with people walking around in the evening hours.”
The two lots his firm’s proposal targets have sat vacant for decades. The city approved a 12-story apartment tower on the building 15 years ago for a developer, which was never built.
The apartments offer a chance to “finish off the street,” Berger said, adding apartment buildings that create a better streetscape than the vacant lots.
The proposal brings together two developers who have led other recent major real estate projects in Westchester County. Berger’s Saber was the co-developer of Rivertowns Square in Dobbs Ferry, a 450,000-square-foot development that includes a movie theater, apartments, restaurants and retail. The property was bought for $69 million in April by Regency Centers, a Florida retail manager. Saber developed the project with Chauncey Station Partners.
Saber and Chauncey also teamed up for The Collection, a mixed-use project the city of White Plains approved in the spring that will add shops and apartments along Westchester Avenue. Berger said Friday that his company hopes to start construction on The Collection early next year.
And while Stein’s interest in the project is through a separate entity, he is a founding partner in Diversified Realty. Diversified’s Edge-on-Hudson project in Sleepy Hollow will redevelop the former General Motors assembly plant with 1,177 units of condominiums, townhouses and rental apartments; a 140-room boutique hotel; 135,000 square feet of retail space and 35,000 square feet of office space.
As project attorney Mark Weingarten told the city Planning Board in August, “this is a real team, they have their financing ready and are very excited about getting this project underway.”
As part of the city approval, the developers will pay the city a $393,500 fee in lieu of providing adequate land for park and recreation space. The city charges the fees on a sliding scale, based on units and bedrooms, to residential developments that do not provide what the city deems enough open public space to mitigate the increase in residents.
The team still plans to bring the project before the county Industrial Development Agency, Berger said, for potential tax incentives. The plan is to start construction early in 2019, with a 18-to-24-month time frame to build and lease the building.