By Jon Craig
The town of Greenburgh is slowly inching its way toward auctioning off seven acres of property it seized for unpaid taxes in 2011.
Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner said last week that — subject to approval by the Town Board in June — a New York realty company will be hired to oversee the auction of the former Frank’s Nursery, a vacant property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, as early as September.
GA Keen Realty Advisors LLC will net up to 5 percent of the gross sales proceeds as auctioneer if the town approves the firm’s contract. Zoning in the area currently allows for construction of residential homes and assisted living facilities. Feiner said existing zoning would prohibit the site from continued use as a nursery. GA Keen is the real estate division of Great American Group Inc. based in Woodland Hills, California. Feiner said GA Keen’s managing director, Harold Bordwin, is a former Edgemont resident.
“The auction of the Frank’s Nursery property is expected to take place in the fall,” Feiner said on Friday.
Town Attorney Timothy Lewis did not return calls for comment on details.
Feiner said the town chose GA Keen after interviewing several commercial realtors and auctioneers.
The auction of the parcel follows prolonged debate over who should buy the property. Greenburgh moved to auction the property after criticism from town residents and the threat of lawsuits by potential buyers, including Game On 360 and House of Sports of Ardsley. Those possible buyers wanted to convert the property into a sports facility.
The town acquired the land in a 2011 tax foreclosure and received an offer from Game On 365, which proposed to buy it for $1.7 million with the promise of paying another $1.3 million over 13 years. At a press conference 13 months ago, Greenburgh officials announced they had agreed to that deal, spurring some angry taxpayers to cry foul. Critics insisted the fine print of the proposed agreement with Game On didn’t ensure payment of the $1.3 million balance. Others said the town should have considered a heftier $3.5 million cash offer from House of Sports, which proposed buying the property “as is.”
Last June, after announcing the deal with Game On, town officials offered the property to House of Sports. Both companies threatened lawsuits if Greenburgh contracted with the other, prompting the town to delay the property’s sale indefinitely.
Game On project manager Martin Hewitt recently has said that an open bidding process is the fairest option.
Feiner said he hopes the opening bid for the property will be $3.5 million. “We have a whole bunch of assisted living centers interested in the property,” he said.
Apparently Beal Bank, the Las Vegas financial institution that financed the loan on the property has agreed to relinquish its rights to repayment. In 2012, Greenburgh held a town-wide referendum that drew support for a 15-year lease with a sports recreation complex and sports dome planned by Tarrytown’s Game On 365. The lease was not signed since county law required the foreclosed property be sold first. Meanwhile, test wells have detected toxins seeping into the groundwater as the nursery’s former structures continue to degrade.
Game On 365 has since proposed building a golf range adjacent to the Frank’s Nursery property. A zone change would be needed to allow the sports dome.