GovernmentThe Examiner

Armonk Developer Proposes Reduction for Eagle Ridge Project

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The developer who proposed a hotel, condos and townhouses on land formerly owned by IBM in Armonk will again revise his plans after North Castle Town Board members repeatedly questioned whether the project’s density was sustainable.

Developer Frank Madonna told the board last week he will reduce the scope of the Eagle Ridge project to 82 age-restricted condo townhouses on about 21 acres of the 32-acre site accompanied by a 115-room hotel with amenities on the remaining portion of the parcel.

During multiple appearances before the board by the applicant, the latest being last Wednesday evening, some board members had expressed uneasiness about the density at the North Castle Drive site. In addition to the hotel, Madonna’s most recent iteration had included 59 condominium units and 50 age-restricted townhouses.

Town officials have wanted guarantees that the project would include a hotel, particularly after Madonna last year considered scrapping the facility because financing for new hotels has dried up because of the pandemic, he said. In 2010, the town rezoned the 32 acres to Office Business Hotel (OBH) in order to accommodate a hotel.

The town has been without a lodging facility since La Quinta Inn on Business Park Drive closed last year.

“So, trying to please everybody and also trying to create a project that is going to be viable and affordable, I think this is a discussion I’d like to have and I’d like to have it right now,” Madonna said, “and I would like to move forward with something because if I don’t, we just can’t have (the property) sit there.”

His attorney, Kory Salamone, said while the proposed hotel’s footprint would be slightly larger it would be only three stories and 45 feet tall, compliant with the OBH zone. It would also decrease sewer and water capacity by 6,000 to 7,000 gallons a day, Madonna added.

Madonna would apply the existing multifamily senior housing overlay zone to have the townhouses comply with the town zoning code.

Madonna had originally proposed a 91-room boutique hotel with amenities and 70 rental apartment units on the top two floors of what was then a five-story structure. There were also 94 townhouses in the original plan.

Last week, he pressed the board for an immediate referral to the Planning Board on the latest revision in hopes of receiving feedback and also a recommendation from the planners.

However, Town Board members quickly put the brakes on that request, stating that they hadn’t had time to digest the latest plan. Councilman Jose Berra chided Madonna for trying to pressure the board.

“I’m really starting to resent the notion that being presented with something significantly different than what we have been looking at and not referring it to the Planning Board suggests in any way that we’re impeding this or not acting quickly enough,” Berra said.

Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said it wasn’t reasonable for Madonna to expect an immediate referral. She and Berra also mentioned that 82 units seems to be too large.

Berra said he would be comfortable with about 30 units and didn’t care for the condo taxation.

“In any event, you’ve changed the game, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that, but to me I need some time to think about this and I think that two other people on this board expressed the same opinion,” DiGiacinto said.

Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he was comfortable with condo taxation, which is roughly half of what a similarly-priced single-family home would generate, because Madonna has eliminated the non-age-restricted units.

Schiliro also mentioned that there were still too many townhomes proposed.

“My number isn’t 30 (units) but it should be below 80, and we’d have to figure what that final number should be,” he said.

Madonna said the town should consider a proposal that not only provides them with a hotel, which he and his representatives said they would assure gets built, but also a high-end age-restricted housing project that’s in high demand. He estimated that the units would be between 2,800 and 3,000 square feet and go for between $1.2 million and $1.5 million.

“The longer that this process goes on, the more difficult that becomes,” Madonna said. “It’s very expensive to carry this project. This is a very expensive process. We all know that.”

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