A preliminary plan for an affordable housing project at 150 North Street was presented to the City Council at its December 18 meeting.
By Bill Lawyer
A preliminary plan for an affordable housing project at 150 North Street was presented to the City Council at its December 18 meeting. Westchester County Deputy Planning Commissioner for Housing Norma Drummond and developer Lou Larizza delivered the presentation.
City Manager Scott Pickup has been working with the County and the developer. He provided background on the City’s longtime interest in having the 2.07-acre North Street site used for affordable senior housing. And he reported that the County is now very interested in moving the project forward.
Drummond noted that the County, having recently passed the 350-unit threshold, has made great strides in building 750 federally mandated units. Because of this, Rye will now be able to have the entire site designated for seniors. One-half of the units will count toward the County’s 750-unit quota. “The only issue now is that the site is zoned for commercial development. It needs to be rezoned as RA-5 residential,” she added.
One reason the long-vacant property, once home to a gas station, was not redeveloped earlier is that some of the soil was found to be contaminated. The site has been cleaned up, and the Department of Environmental Conservation has taken soil samples and concluded the property is safe to develop. The County Housing Department had the County Health Department take separate soil tests, which concurred the property was safe, although the benzene level was slightly high. So, the Housing Department decided to go with the Health Department’s recommendation that no enclosed residential units be built on the ground floor. Thus, the units will have open parking under them.
Larizza, who has built a number of affordable housing projects in the County, invited Council members to visit his two projects on Cottage Street, on the Rye/Port Chester border. One consists of nine three-bedroom townhouses, the other is 18 units of affordable apartments and four units of full-price apartments.
He and his architect have put together tentative plans for the North Street project, which he shared at the Council meeting. The entrance to the site will be on Theodore Fremd Avenue.
Larizza proposes to build two three-story buildings, each with at least 27 units, on the rectangular portion of the property. Of these, the majority will be one-bedroom units. Each building will have an elevator. The building height will be 40 feet.The design calls for the buildings to have indented sides, so that the units will have more windows. The complex will have two community rooms and laundry facilities on each floor. A total of 95 parking spaces are planned, well above the number requested.
Drummond said that the units will be available for seniors, 55 and over, and their children, 18 and older. This will require approval from the New York State Human Rights Commission. She adds that they’ve had no problems doing this in other County projects.
Projected monthly rents will be $900 to $1,100 for one-bedroom units, and $1,100 to $1,300 for two-bedroom units.
Larizza and Drummond stressed that the project cannot go forward until the City Council agrees to the zoning change. City Planner Christian Miller said that the Council would declare itself the lead agency and forward the proposal to the Planning Commission to review and report back to the Council. The Council unanimously approved the motion.
The RA-5 zone is designated for senior housing, and was first used nearly 30 years ago to make way for Rye Manor, the 100-unit senior facility on Theall Road. That project was spearheaded by the Rye Interfaith Housing Corporation to provide low-income housing for Rye seniors. A $23 million renovation of Rye Manor, half of which is being paid for by the County, began in November.