Reconstructing Westchester's Rivertowns

Developers are changing the makeup of these once-blue-collar towns with amenity-filled rentals and condos

May.May 20, 2019 10:00 AM

The Hudson Harbor development

The massive Edge-on-Hudson project that’s transforming Sleepy Hollow isn’t the only development along the Hudson River.

A slew of new projects in the area are either under construction, being planned or have launched in the past few years and are remaking the once-industrial waterfront into a hub of activity.

But getting projects out of the ground — particularly in central business districts — is not easy.

“The approval process was tedious and long,” said Bart Blatt, the developer of the Print House Lofts in Dobbs Ferry, noting that it took nearly two years and involved about 50 meetings with city officials and town boards. “People don’t like change — that’s the biggest thing here,” he said.

And not everyone makes it to the finish line. In March, Coco Management and Kaufman Tarrytown Company abandoned a proposal for a 225-unit project in downtown Tarrytown amid community opposition.

Below is a look at some of the developments along the Hudson that have moved forward.

Rivertowns Square, Dobbs Ferry

The 450,000-square-foot mixed-use Rivertowns Square — which includes a residential tower, a hotel, a high-end movie theater, restaurants, markets and other retail — was developed by Marty Berger’s Saber Real Estate Advisors in 2017.

Saber then sold most of the site to Jacksonville, Florida-based Regency Centers last spring for $69 million.

Fronting the Saw Mill Expressway, the project has been credited with revitalizing this once-blighted area.

The 202-unit rental — which the Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. developed and owns — began leasing units in 2017 and is more than 97 percent occupied, according to on-site business manager Victoria Milmore. Monthly rents at the building, dubbed Danforth Apartments, range from $2,620 to $4,350.

Meanwhile, a 138-room Garden Inn by Hilton Hotels opened in September, and the retail is 92 percent leased to such tenants as iPic Theater, Chop’t, Ulta Beauty, Chipotle, the Learning Experience and others. The California-based Burgerim, which is known for its sliders, is also reportedly opening there.

But it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing.

In January, anchor tenant Brooklyn Market — the trendy grocery store — closed its 18,000-square-foot outpost after less than a year. Jack deVilliers, vice president of investments at Regency, declined to comment on a replacement, saying only, “We’ve got a couple of irons in the fire.”

DeVilliers said the company has four remaining retail spaces, with a total of about 8,000 square feet, though that does not include Brooklyn Market’s space.

“We’re in lease negotiations on two of the units, so we should be 94 or 95 percent leased in the next 60 days,” he said.

Print House Lofts, Dobbs Ferry

The Print House Lofts project is small but luxe.

It includes 16 condos in a 1896 building that was most recently home to a legal publisher, plus a repurposed warehouse.

Rivertowns Square development

The project, which is in downtown Dobbs Ferry, was developed by Blatt’s BRB Construction and is being marketed by Compass’ Francie Malina, a top-producing agent in the Rivertowns.

So far, six units have sold and another six are in contract, according to Malina. Those units range in price from $757,000 to $2.15 million. So far, nine of the units have fetched more than $1 million, according to the project’s website, which shows sleek modern interiors with exposed brick and giant wooden beams.

“All sold at asking, in the $680- to $700-square-foot range,” said Malina.

Three of the 12 buyers are younger couples or families, Malina said.

“The others are empty nesters looking for cool condos,” she said. “Some are from the city, and some are from Westchester.”

Malina said that the walkability — the buildings are right near the Dobbs Ferry train station — has been key in wooing millennials, Gen Xers and empty nesters.

“They want more low key, and they want cool restaurants they can walk to,” she said. “People don’t want to eat dinner in a shopping center. There are so few hip places to eat in Westchester — we have that here.”

For his part, Blatt locked in a $10.8 million first mortgage from Boston-based UC Funds in 2017 and said the aim is to wrap construction on the final three units this summer.

The project also has two retailers: At Land, a high-end boutique, and Barre3, an exercise studio. They pay $40 a square foot, Blatt said.

Hudson Harbor, Tarrytown

Hudson Harbor, a 24-acre project that will ultimately have 250 condos and townhouses, is scheduled to begin construction and pre-sales of its final building next spring.

The project — which started construction more than a decade ago and has already sold more than 200 market-rate units — sits right on the Tarrytown waterfront.

But it hasn’t been without controversy.

The Conn.-based developer, National Resources, had been locked in a dispute with the village and refused to comply with its affordability requirements. That dispute was settled a few months ago, according to the firm, which noted that the affordable component has now been handed over to the village.

This last phase will complete the transformation of the site, which was once home to an asphalt plant.

The final building, dubbed the Gatehouse, will include 60 units, with prices ranging from $600,000 to $1 million, said sales director Alicia Goldman of National Resources.

National Resources is currently selling the 43-unit One Lighthouse Way condo building, which has 12 apartments priced from $1.3 to $2.3 million on the market. Twenty-six condos have closed, and five are in contract, Goldman said.

“The view changes the price more than the size of the unit,” she said, explaining the price difference.

The buyer demographic has shifted somewhat since sales were launched nine years ago, Goldman said. Initially, it was mostly empty nesters from Westchester, but “now it’s younger couples from the city,” she said.

The retail at Hudson Harbor includes RiverMarket Bar and Kitchen and Lighthouse Ice Cream & Coffee, as well as Riverstone Yoga in the Lodge clubhouse.

Greystone on Hudson, Tarrytown

The 21-mansion Greystone on Hudson development is located on what was known as Millionaire’s Row during the Gilded Age — home to the likes of the Astors, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers.

One of 21 mansions in the Greystone on Hudson development

Housed in a gated development with swimming pools and tennis courts, the homes — which sit on two- to five-acre plots — start at $3.5 million and go up from there.

Since sales first began in 2015, 11 have either sold or gone into contract, said Andy Todd, president of the Greystone Mansion Group, the developer.

According to Todd, five of the homes sold in 2018, and three have sold so far this year, including two that are in contract. Those eight properties range in price from $5 to $13 million. Sales are being handled by Houlihan Lawrence. 

One house, at 6 Carriage Trail, is on the market for $12.95 million, and two more are under construction.

“We’ve had Wall Street bankers, tech guys, celebrities and athletes,” Todd said of the buyers.

“We’re really the only game in town if you want to buy at this level,” he said. “It’s sort of an aha moment for people when they find us. Most of the inventory at this level is super-old houses that are in bad shape.”

Fort Hill Apartments at the Abbey Inn, Peekskill

While the southern Rivertowns often get the press attention, developers are inching further north.

The Martin Ginsburg-led Ginsburg Development Companies, which is based in Valhalla and one of Westchester’s biggest builders, launched the 178-unit rental Fort Hill at the Abbey Inn in September. It’s now 55 percent leased up, said Jim Surdoval, the firm’s marketing consultant.

The $64.5 million mixed-use project — which is located on a spot named for a Revolutionary War lookout that was later home to a religious order — also has a 42-room inn with a spa, an event hall and a restaurant with outdoor dining. The inn, located in the former convent and chapel, is slated to be completed in late fall.

Rents in the three buildings, which are arranged in a quad, range from $2,175 to $3,350. The developer, Martin Ginsburg, has offered one month free on one-year leases and two months on two-year leases to unload them.

Ginsburg said he was confident in his bet on Peekskill. “They’re developing restaurants there, they’re getting breweries and they have this tremendous riverfront park,” he said.

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