Mount Kisco officials are on the verge of signing a 99-year lease with a developer to build a mixed-use development on two downtown municipal parking lots, a project they hope will invigorate the downtown.
Mayor Gina Picinich said last week that the village expects to soon come to terms with developers Gotham Organization, Inc. of Manhattan and Charter Realty & Development of Greenwich, Conn. that would see the construction of 229 apartments and about 40,000 square feet of retail space on the South Moger and North Moger parking lots.
There would also be more than 900 parking spaces in structures built on a portion of each lot, many of which will replace the spaces lost in the current lots, and a community room in the North Moger building that would be used by the Mount Kisco Arts Council.
While Picinich didn’t provide an exact timeframe for the contract’s signing, she said she was looking forward to finalizing the deal.
“We need to finish up this contract agreement and I do believe we’re just about there,” Picinich said. “I think everything has been negotiated out as much and as far as we can.”
Last year, the developer received preliminary approval for a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program from the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency for the $130 million project.
During a presentation at last Thursday’s Village Board meeting, Picinich said that the PILOT would pay $35 million to the village, Bedford School District and Westchester County over the first 30 years of the contract. The entities would receive money on a proportional basis that coincides with how property taxes are divvied up.
During each of the first 10 years, those three entities would divide $200,000, followed by an escalator that increases the PILOT revenue to a combined $3,065,000 in its final year.
For the remainder of the lease, Gotham and Charter would pay full property taxes on the two sites, Picinich said.
The village would also receive an upfront $8 million land lease payment that would be rolled over to help pay for the construction of the two parking structures. She said the village would need to find another $4 million in grants or other sources to fully fund the parking.
Other revenue for Mount Kisco is a $100,000 parking maintenance fee adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index, estimated to reach $4 million by the end of the 30-year PILOT. The village would retain the parking revenue.
The South Moger garage, with four levels, would be located underneath and alongside the building and contain 363 spaces – 120 for the yet-to-be-determined anchor retail tenant, 179 spaces for the 119 apartments and visitors and 64 metered spaces.
The five-level North Moger structure would have 564 parking spaces, including 336 for commuters, 152 for the residents and visitors for the 110-unit residential, 69 metered spots and seven for retail.
Mount Kisco must convince New York State to clear title for a portion of the North Moger property in order to build something other than parking at the site. A portion of the building would sit in an area where any use other than parking is prohibited.
Picinich said she has “every confidence” that the village will be successful in getting that clause lifted.
“If we enter into this contract and for any reason we cannot clear that title, there is no negative impact to the village,” she said. “What I mean by that is that there’s no penalty.”
Other village responsibilities are improvements to the Main Street and North Moger Avenue intersection estimated at $200,000 and $2 million for a pedestrian connection from the Metro-North station over Route 133 to the commuter parking at the North Moger tructure.
The developers have agreed to supply 15 units of workforce housing eligible to those earning up to 90 percent of adjusted median income.
Trustee Peter Grunthal was bullish on the project, saying it would represent a major revitalization for the downtown. He said communities’ success has always revolved around trade and creating new and exciting opportunities.
“I have no doubt that a couple of years from now we will have broad economic activity, we’ll have people who want to live in Mount Kisco, people who will want to occupy these apartments and to use the commercial space,” Grunthal said.
However, Trustee Karen Schleimer recited a laundry list of potential pitfalls that she said the village is looking past.
Schleimer said she is uneasy that people would gravitate to Mount Kisco to live in studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Since the onset of the pandemic many people want more space and Schleimer said she isn’t convinced that people will return to hour-long five-day-a-week commutes into Manhattan.
She also said there was inadequate green space, commuters would not want to walk from the North Moger lot to the train station and that the 30-year PILOT would provide far less tax revenue to the village because of the PILOT.
“The mayor and I do not see eye to eye on this project for a lot of reasons,” Schleimer said. “I’m not comfortable that my questions have been answered to my satisfaction, so I can’t say we’re on the verge of going ahead and signing this. I still think we have questions that need to be answered.”
Grunthal said while the world has changed because of COVID-19, it is still a temporary change and that a developer such as Gotham would not be entering the lease to fail.
The original proposal unveiled in November 2019 had 217 units, which included three-bedroom apartments but have since been eliminated, and the reduction of about 10,000 square feet of retail space. There are also 35 parking spaces that have been added.
Once a lease is signed, the developers can move to the Planning Board for site plan review.