Column: Moving forward on Kensington Road

Mayor-MarvinThis past week, on behalf of the Village of Bronxville, I officially signed the agreement to develop the Kensington Road property by Fareri Associates of Greenwich, Conn.

Believe it or not, development of this property has been 30 years in the making with several false starts.

Probably the last blighted piece of property in the village due to its former uses as a gas station and a power plant, Fareri will start the project by removing more than 20,000 cubic yards of polluted soil.

In addition to cleaning the property at a cost of $7 to $10 million, the village will be receiving a $3.85 million check to turn over the title to Fareri, $500,000 of which was received upon contract signing.

Due to recent stricter rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the village, going forward, would have been required to clean the property for the same cost and pay for it via village taxes, so this agreement has a huge financial benefit as one of its many positive components.

In addition, all of the utilities on Kensington Road up to Beechtree Lane will be buried underground by Fareri, enhancing the look of the road as well as benefitting nearby homeowners during storms.

Fareri will landscape the property and lay new sidewalks the same length of Kensington Road. The contractor is also adding a drainage system/retention basin below the newly enclosed parking garage, further benefitting storm drainage in the area.

Not only will we recoup all of our present open air parking spaces, 18 new spots for residents will be added to the inventory, no small amount
given the needs of our residents. The same residents whose cars are parked out in the elements today will automatically receive a covered spot in a clean, secure and camera-monitored garage.

Fareri has also reached an agreement with the MTA—Metropolitan Transit Authority—to have the platform extended on the rear of the new structure for easy access from the garage.

Fareri Associates have been working very collegially with the MTA, United Water and most importantly, our own Christ Church. They are fully aware and respectful of the church’s unique artifacts as well as the very valuable organ.

The concerns of the residents of Kensington Terrace will also be paramount as Fareri rolls out the clean-up and construction schedule. We know the disruption will be major and we will work as a team with the neighbors to mitigate the consequences whenever possible.

When completed, the project will generate more than $600,000 in new village taxes on a lot, which is currently producing none, as well as an additional $350,000 in taxes to the county, town and fire district.

This project is the same one approved by the Zoning and Planning boards during an extensive two-year review back in 2007 and 2008 where every detail was discussed including the type and quality of the stucco surface.

The units will all be for sale to own and are designed to attract the empty nester with formal dining rooms for family holidays as well as small office alcoves. There will also be 24-hour concierge services.

The design has already generated great interest from village empty nesters who no longer need their multi-bedroom homes but want to stay in Bronxville. Based on the design, amenities and pricing, studies estimate the project could generate four to six school age children.

Thanks to a very strong and professional negotiating team led by Deputy Mayor Underhill and Trustee Longobardo and aided by Village Administrator Harry Porr as well as the business expertise of village residents Charles J. Urstadt and Frank Sica, we all feel we have a very beneficial deal for the village with a partnership with a very reputable, quality and community-minded developer.

Mr. Fareri, who endowed the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at the Westchester Medical Center, grew up in Yonkers and knows our village well. As he said to me when he toured our village and visited some of the 100-plus-year-old co-ops, “I want my project to be as well-built and attractive to stand the same test of time.”

We have been burnt before, so we all are headed into this project with eyes wide open and are a tad jaded, but I truly believe we have picked the right man and the right company for our village.

Added to the hospital project, the school auditorium and the dispute regarding the Parkway Road Bridge, the Kensington Road project will contribute to the state of flux and lack of calm in the village in the near future, but I believe it is our duty as elected officials to look long term and I truly believe these very demonstrative short term inconveniences will put the village in the best possible position for our future and hopefully our children’s return.

Please contact me directly if any of the above causes undue and unforeseen disruptions. We are in this together.