The Examiner

Conifer Realty Submits Plan for 36 Affordable Units in Chappaqua

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Drawing of the proposed Chappaqua Station Development
Drawing of the proposed Chappaqua Station Development

By Martin Wilbur

The New Castle Town Board referred an application last week from a developer of affordable housing to the planning board and board of architectural review to begin evaluation of a proposed 36-unit building on Hunts Lane.

Conifer Realty of Rochester, LLC, the 16th largest owner of affordable units in the United States, formally submitted plans earlier this month for the workforce housing project referred to as Chappaqua Station. There would be 24 one-bedroom units and 12 two-bedroom apartments in a five-story building at 54 Hunts Lane. All of the residences would be rentals.

Its location, within walking distance to downtown Chappaqua and the Metro-North train station, would count toward the development of the 750 affordable units that must be built in the county by 2016 to comply with the settlement between Westchester and the federal government.

The applicant’s attorney, Alfred DelBello, stated that the developer would be satisfying a pressing housing need for both New Castle and the county should the project come to fruition.

“The proposed workforce housing development serves a community need; the project is a unique opportunity for the development in the town of transit-oriented ‘affordable housing’ that responds to the needs of Town and the County of Westchester,” to meet the needs of the agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, DelBello’s Feb. 7 letter to the town board stated.

In addition to approvals from the planning board and board of architectural review, the town board must grant a special use permit. Under New Castle’s zoning code, workforce housing is permitted 1-G zone in lots within 500 feet of the train station with a special permit, DelBello said.

Conifer Realty, a for-profit company that owns and manages more than 11,000 housing units mostly in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, would build the project while A-Home, a Pleasantville-based non-profit organization that advocates for affordable housing in Westchester, would sponsor the project.

Supervisor Susan Carpenter said there are challenges facing the applicant, including the construction of the building and 40 parking spaces into a very tight site. The property is less than a half acre. The applicant is also looking for town board approval for a 12-space parking reduction from the required 52 spaces.

Carpenter said she is looking forward to the other boards’ input.  So far, she hasn’t heard any feedback from residents or other stakeholders.

“I hope people in town support it,” Carpenter said. “We have  a lot of people who need it, who have to travel long distances to get to work in the area.”

A-Home Executive Director Joan Arnold also acknowledged the challenges of building on a property that is just over 16,000 square feet but said the developer has a good track record in building affordable units, something the county desperately needs. Although the settlement with HUD has focused on how to build 750 units by the 2016 deadline, Arnold said studies have shown Westchester really needs about 10,000 units to satisfy demand.

Thus far, A-Home has received no feedback from the public.

“I think it’s a great project,” Arnold said. “I think the developer has done a really great job with the plans.”

According to the proposal, the apartments would range from 669 square feet for the smallest single-bedroom unit to 975 square feet for a corner two-bedroom apartment and use public water and sewers. The request for a reduction in parking spaces was triggered because the project was in such close proximity to the train station and downtown. There are also eight bicycle spaces that are included in the plans.

The applicant has also been working with the MTA to obtain easements to allow for pedestrian access to the building and for utility installation on adjacent MTA land.

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