On April 7, the Harrison Town Board approved the zoning change that will permit Normandy Partners and Toll Brothers to construct a 421-unit multifamily residential development to be known as The Residences at Corporate Park Drive.This represents a continuation of the important repurposing of Westchester’s office stock. Two obsolete office buildings, totaling approximately 200,000 square feet of space will be demolished to make way for this project. One of these buildings has literally been boarded up for about 10 years. The other has only one tenant in it. Both are long past their useful lives.
Pending final approvals, a sleek, mid-rise apartment complex will rise on the site. The project will be lushly landscaped and will include covered parking — completely hidden from view and allowing tenants to literally drive up to their apartment doors — a pool, a barbeque area and a 5,000-sqaure-foot restaurant space with outdoor dining. It will be within a stone’s throw of the 210,000-sqaure-foot Life Time Fitness health club on adjacent Westchester Park Drive, which contains all types of fitness facilities, including indoor and outdoor pools and tennis courts.
This attractive development will attract millennials and empty nesters alike. What was literally the first office park developed on the Platinum Mile in the 1970s will be Westchester’s first true live-work-play community. It will be in a suburban setting, with workplaces, a major recreation venue and the restaurants of White Plains all just minutes away.
Almost all multifamily development to date has been primarily TOD — transit-oriented development, defined as being within walking distance to a train station. This will be the first project that will attract those who want a green, suburban setting. It remains to be seen whether this model will be as attractive to prospective tenants as TOD developments, but I believe it will.
In my mind, this demolition of an old office building and construction of a new product type represents the next chapter in Westchester’s evolution to a new commercial real estate model. In an example on the other side of the county, Mack-Cali Realty Corp. recently demolished 101 Executive Drive in Elmsford, a 60,000-square-foot office building that had been mothballed many years ago due to asbestos and lack of demand for this older building. They will replace it with a high-ceiling warehouse building, which I believe will be fully leased at a high rent before it is even finished.
Even though these office buildings have effectively been off the market for years, it is important that their sites are being repurposed to better and higher uses. Next in the sequence is the approval for the community of free-standing homes that is proposed for part of the site of Reckson Executive Park in Rye Brook. This is vacant land that was approved many years ago for 350,000 square feet of office space. No developer would build it in a market with a 20 percent office vacancy rate, as Westchester has. Reckson previously sought approval to build a hockey rink for use by schools and leagues but was turned back by vehement opposition by local residents for the traffic they anticipated it would cause. Hopefully they will be in favor of this latest idea, which is a viable one for Reckson to monetize this site.
There will be, and should be, more of this type of real estate activity in Westchester. Stay tuned for updates as it occurs.
Howard Properties, Ltd. was founded in 1998 by veteran real estate broker Howard E. Greenberg. The firm specializes in tenant representation and real estate consulting, and has served clients in twenty states. Mr. Greenberg can be reached at (914) 997-0300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.