Town Board Considers Apartments at Elide Plaza
February 16, 2015
At the North Castle Town Board’s February 11 Work Session, Director of Planning Adam Kaufman discussed a plan to alter the commercial business zone of Elide Plaza on Bedford Road. The plan is to add 20 or more multi-family rental apartments on a second floor and third floor of the building.
Elide Plaza is in the Central Business (CB) Zone which cannot accommodate the mixed development of commercial space on the first floor and residents above. “In order for that to happen,” said Kaufman, “you’d have to make some changes to the zoning.” But before the Town Board considers any new zoning for this property, a zoning change would be required as an amendment to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.
The zoning for Armonk Square was changed from a CB district to a Central Business Armonk (CB-A) district to accommodate the mixed development of commercial property and 10 second-floor, one-bedroom apartments that overlook the pedestrian promenade. The CB-A zone was specifically created for Armonk Square, with its provisions that can’t translate outside of that district, said Kaufman.
Therefore, Kaufman continued, a new Commercial Business Armonk - Overlay (CB-A-O) Zone in North Castle “would lead to additional commercial density, new downtown housing and the construction of new downtown parking. The overlay would only apply to CB Zoning District and could lead to the desired redevelopment of the west side of Main Street, Armonk and redevelopment along North Broadway in North White Plains, added Kaufman.
But the size of the lots to be redeveloped into the a future CB-A-O Zone should be reviewed to see if the needs of a new zoning district would be applied to a minimum lot size. Elide Plaza is one acre.
The members of the Town Board agree that the impacts of creating a new district such as the CB-A-O in the town's hamlets should be studied. Ideally, this study would be done while revising the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, which is now in the early stages of preparation.
Town Attorney Roland Baroni said from his experience, the implementation of rewriting the Town’s master plan could take years.
Changes to the Comprehensive Plan involve thorough discussions and recommendations by professionals. This lengthy process presents a predicament for Elide Plaza’s application and any other new application for mixed commercial and residential use that are currently in the CB district.
At this time, Elide Plaza’s residential plans are only in the conceptual phase and without detailed plans; everything is abstract, said Kaufman. But he said he wants to gauge the level of the Town Board’s interest in pursuing this application now.
Seth Mandelbaum, a partner at McCullough, Goldberger & Staudt that is representing the owner of Elide Plaza, said the architecture of the current Elide Plaza building and its height would be consistent with the adjacent building, which is also three stories. The front of the building would be updated and remain at one level. He said there would be an addition in the rear of the building that would extend the footprint 20 feet back. They intend to add one and two stories to accommodate the apartments in the rear of the building that would be near Route 22; it would be cantilevered over the present building and extend over the current parking at the rear of the building.
An important consideration is that there must sufficient space for emergency vehicles to have complete access to the building, especially in the back where residences would be.
"Since we have a developer ready to discuss this plan," said Baroni, "and we are just commencing the update of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, could the newly formed Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee look at this application and the zoning independently of the Comprehensive Plan update--perhaps as an amendment to the existing Comprehensive Plan, simply because of a timing issue?"
Since the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee is not up and running yet, as they were just formed, Kaufman said, Baroni’s suggestion would require a more traditional process to be reviewed by the Town Board and Planning Board.
If timing is an issue, another alternative is to create a new zoning district, said Kaufman, such a district would just be for this property or other nearby properties. But if that is done, Kaufman said, "we might have an issue with spot zoning." He added that a overlay zone could provide benefits for the entire town.
There are a few possibilities of commercial properties along Main Street (a state-owned road) that might be considered for a new CB-A-O zone. These property sizes have not been confirmed, nor have they been determined to qualify as CB-A-O zoned; Town Center, Armonk Shopping Center (CVS Pharmacy), CitiBank, and the town-owned vacant lot at the intersection of Old Route 22 and Main Street.
Supervisor Michael Schiliro said that more housing downtown is an attractive feature. One of the positives of such development is more pedestrian traffic, he added; however, at the same time, he had some concerns with respect to this project because the Town Board is in the early process of revising the Comprehensive Plan. Schiliro said, “I want to be careful about zoning changes we would make” with this project and others to enhance the hamlet.
The applicant would have to do a study of the site to determine the parking demands. Kaufman said that they can never go below what the demand would be at peak times.
Town Board member Barbara DiGiacinto referred to a memo from Kaufman. A parking waiver for a 20% reduction applies to redevelopment as a blended rate with a combination of commercial and housing mixed use. Based upon the limited amount of information received, Kaufman said, the applicant would be short 9 to 13 parking spaces with a 20% reduction. DiGiacinto said, “I would be uncomfortable making the recommendation of reducing the parking requirements.”
An alternative for Elide Plaza parking might be for the property owner to build off-site parking on Town property. Another option could be to create a parking district where the applicant pays a fee in lieu of parking for its intended revised structure. In this instance, the Town can use the funds to construct parking on town owned property at Wampus Brook Park South, or at other locations that have been identified for future public parking.Comment