After 17 years, Ossining stops project on technicality: lawsuit

Building permit invalidated because subcontractor wasn’t on document

34 State Street in Ossining (Google Maps, iStock)
34 State Street in Ossining (Google Maps, iStock)

A project unfolding for years in Westchester County appears to be in danger, leading to a lawsuit from its would-be developer.

According to the Westchester & Fairfield County Business Journals, Ossining Land LLC, run by Jonathan Kloos of Manhattan-based Metropolis Realty Advisors, is suing the Village of Ossining, alleging the locality’s decision to invalidate a building permit was unlawful. The suit aims to compel an inspector to renew the permit.

At stake is the 5.9-acre Hudson Steppe project at 34 State Street. The site once housed a wallpaper factory and offices, as well as the Smith-Robinson House, a mansion listed on the village’s register of historic places.

Kloos wants to develop three buildings which would include 189 apartments. He also wants to renovate the mansion into office space. The developer is affiliated with North Hill Capital Management, according to WestFair Online.

The developer spent about 17 years obtaining various land-use approvals for the project, its lawsuit says. Last year, a building permit was approved to begin construction, which had to commence by July 19, 2021, per village code.

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A subcontractor began excavation three days ahead of the deadline and the village attorney acknowledged the start of work by the July 19 deadline. But building inspector Joseph Agostinelli notified the developer on Sept. 15 that the permit was closed because work didn’t begin on time, presumably because it wasn’t being done by the permitted contractor.

Ossining Land argued the village code didn’t require a subcontractor to be listed and that the village had acted in bad faith. It also argued the village’s corporate counsel told the developer to take up the issue with a board of appeals that does not exist.

Stuart Kahan, the village’s corporate counsel, told WestFair Online the decision to “revoke the building permit was taken in accord with the village code.” Kahan added that the village had not yet been served with the lawsuit.

Ossining Land, meanwhile, claimed the building permit revocation could lead to a reversal of the land-use approvals, “jeopardizing the revitalization of the dilapidated, run-down parcels of land in the village’s downtown that will provide much needed housing (as well as affordable housing) to the residents of the village.”

[WestFair] — Holden Walter-Warner

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