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Redesigned Plans Offered for Crestwood Station Residential Project

Published by: bronxville.patch.com Link to article
Written by: Janie Rosman
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September 21, 2011

There were surprises abound at Tuesday night’s Tuckahoe Planning Board meeting held at Village Hall, as developers for the Crestwood Station project – now over a year in the works – learned much to their surprise that they were expected to submit materials for the Planning Board to consider two weeks earlier at the September 6 Work Session.

“So this will be a learning experience,” Tuckahoe Planning Board Chair Ann Marie Ciaramella told Richard Heapes of Street-Works Development LLC, which has contracted to buy the 300-308 Columbus Avenue property from Crestwood Station Plaza, LLC, at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting.

“They missed the September 6 meeting, and that’s the missing piece,” Ciaramella reiterated afterward.

The oversight by developer John Meyer Consulting, PC wasn’t the only issue that raised eyebrows Tuesday, however, as it was revealed during a talk by Robert F. Davis, an attorney for Street-Works Development LLC, that a change had occured in the proposed number and size of the units involved in the project. This alteration came up while Davis was was addressing concerns pertaining to school populations, traffic and parking, and taxes related to the project, and took the unexpecting Planning Board members by surprise.

“The prior plan had 47 units of 750 to 900 square feet each, and the new plan has 49 loft units of 456 to 620 square feet with no bedrooms,” said Davis, who added that he did not believe that future tenants would add children to the school district and therefore not affect traffic in the Village in any major way.

The new plans raised an important red flag with Commissioner Clare Gorman in particular, who cited the Village’s requirement for two parking spaces per unit. Davis answered by saying that although some units will require more parking, other occupants will most likely not have cars, and that according to JMC’s initial criteria, the project would in fact call for less than one space per unit and require a variance.

“We approached the current owner in May knowing he was in the middle of site plan approval,” Heapes said. “We changed it (from 47 to 49 bedrooms) and figure 85 to 90 percent of the occupants will be singles, and there will be no school-age children based on our track record with the same housing type in different places.”

Heapes described in detail how his company researched the project’s neighborhood and area, emphasizing how his company has in the past “created new main streets” and adding that the proposed housing project “is the type of housing for the person you might not think” would be living in a small village like Tuckahoe. In other words, Heapes said the units would mostly attract high-income transitional occupants who want to live in a loft setting and be near a train station.

“They tend not to have children or cars so there would be low traffic,” he said. “The amenity that makes them (the buildings) great is that they’re in Crestwood.”

Tuckahoe’s morphing scenery has been a hotbed issue among community members for a number of years now, including last year when scores of residents attended meetings to voice their opinions about changing 300-308 Columbus Avenue from a business zone to a business-residential zone, allowing for the property’s owner to build a business/residential development.

Eventually, finances forced the Village’s hand, said then-mayor John Fitzpatrick, who told the The New York Times: “We have no choice but to find a way to strike a balance in our little village.”
One year earlier, however, Fitzpatrick had written: “Retaining our ‘village’ feel and balance is paramount in our decision-making process.”

In response to the Village’s handling of the project – which originally called for a two-story building of 21 two-bedroom and two-bathroom units, and five single-bedroom units above a ground floor of storefronts and 73 allotted parking spaces – residents said concern for the village’s historical and architectural integrity, sense of balance and space had been discounted.

The next Tuckahoe Planning Board Work Session will be held October 4 at 7 p.m., two weeks prior to the October 18 regular Board meeting.

“We need time to absorb this information as well as the changes and impact on property,” Ciaramella said.