Slow to get off the ground, the urban renewal planned for the Village of Brewster could soon get a jumpstart with development being proposed to boost home ownership.
During a meeting last Wednesday, village trustees and a healthy handful of residents listened to a presentation from Sun Homes representative Bob McGuinness about homes that could be built for the southeast side of Main Street, east of Marvin Avenue to the river and particularly the 208 Main Street property.
McGuinness said some of the housing built would be townhouses for purchase, in which each household would have their own garage and be one, two or three bedrooms. A linear park is also being suggested by Sun Homes between the townhouses and Main Street that could be used by the public.
At 208 Main Street, McGuinness said the location is a “diamond in the rough” because it is riverfront property. Condos geared toward artists could be built along the water with a patio overlooking the river, McGuinness said. The site would have 18-20 units and three units can be built per month, he noted.
“It really is a pretty little site when you get down near the water,” he said. “It’s setting the tone for envision Brewster, it’s the first step in the selling of the Main Street and downtown of Brewster where you’d want to buy a home.”
There were some questions from residents including whether the units would be sold at market rate and if they would be affordable or workforce housing with McGuinness suggesting market rate being the better option.
Village board members, including Mayor Jim Schoenig, seemed please with the proposal.
In an interview, Schoenig stressed he’s happy the townhouses and other homes proposed would be for sale and not for rent. One focus of the revitalization project is to push for more home ownership in the village.
When a person owns a home, they take more pride in where they live, Schoenig argued, while many of the landlords that rent places in Brewster don’t even live in the village. As a result, those landlords don’t care as much, he said.
Schoenig said the objective is to get the project off the ground and underway.
One of the main reasons the phase 1 project near the train station behind Bob’s Diner has stalled is because the village needs the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to sign off on some the plans, including the new parking garage the village would like to construct near the station.
“Everybody thought it was going to be quicker, but obviously it hasn’t been as quick as we thought,” Schoenig said. “I guess maybe we should’ve started it a little earlier with them, but I didn’t think it take as long as it’s doing.”
But DEP agrees with the phase 1 concept, Schoenig said, so it’s more of a matter of going through the technical hurdles, which can take between a year and 16 months. He noted there are many layers that the DEP needs to work through before an approval is granted.
In order to keep the momentum going with the urban renewal, the development team believes they can start on the other side of Main Street with the homes first, Schoenig said. (The principal developer, Harold Lepler, is working with two separate companies, on different parts of the project.)
“They’re actually hoping to get that project done by the time the DEP signs off on the other part,” Schoenig said. “We’re kind of looking for (Sun Homes) to start sooner than later on that project.”