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No. Castle Approves Reducing Affordable Units at Old Lumberyard Site

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The Armonk Close development that is still under construction at the site of the old lumberyard officially was allowed to reduce its affordable unit requirement from four to two units last month after the project was deemed to be at least 80 percent complete.

A long-stalled residential project in Armonk was deemed to have made sufficient progress by the North Castle Town Board, which permits the affordable unit requirement to be reduced from 20 to 10 percent.

By a slim 3-2 majority, the board agreed last month that developer Michael Fareri’s Armonk Close, at the site of the old lumberyard, would only need two affordable units rather than four under Westchester County’s definition after surpassing 80 percent completion.

Under a previous agreement between Fareri and the town, the 20-unit condominium project at 156-162 Bedford Rd. needed to be finished by June 30, 2025, in order to receive that reduction.

However, without assurances regarding the number of affordable units, Fareri was unable to submit a draft offering plan to the state attorney general’s office as required by law. The offering plan must be clear, accurate and final for it to be accepted, said Nicole Fareri, who addressed the Town Board last month on behalf of her father.

“Until that time we are at a standstill and we cannot discuss pricing or show the property to any interested party,” Nicole Fareri said. “So it seems that it would be a benefit to everybody, the town, ourselves, potential buyers, that we’re able to market this as soon as possible.”

In a letter from Michael Fareri to the town on May 31, he projected a completion date for the project around Labor Day. His daughter said that if they submit the offering plan to the state and have it approved, then the units can be marketed and shown to the public.

Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto said that she went on a recent tour of the site with Nicole Fareri and was impressed by what she saw.

“You’ve done a great job, and I’ve seen a couple of the units that are staged and (they’re) just lovely, absolutely lovely,” DiGiacinto said.

The town’s building inspector also confirmed to DiGiacinto last month that the project was a least 80 percent done, she said.

As of mid-June, one of the buildings is completely finished while the other structure has five units that need to be painted and another five that were awaiting the delivery and installation of the kitchen cabinets, Fareri said. Each of the two buildings contains 10 units.

Supervisor Joseph Rende said he was satisfied with the progress and didn’t see a reason to stand in the way of the developer being able to submit the offering plan.

“I think it’s pretty obvious to most of us that they’re well-advanced in the overall construction and completion,” Rende said. “I know they landscaped the place now, too, so there’s no question they’ve done a great job in moving this project forward like they promised, and they want to reduce the number (of affordable units) from four to two.”

Councilman Saleem Hussain was hesitant for the town to change the agreement in order for the developer to get an early start on the offering plan. He said it didn’t seem like a reason for the board to act.

However, Town Attorney Roland Baroni said what was being requested of the board was to confirm that the zoning code has been complied in order to reduce the 20 percent affordable requirement to 10 percent.

“That really is what’s being requested, confirmation that the mandate in the zoning code has effectively been met,” Baroni said.

Rende, DiGiacinto and Councilman Matt Milim voted in favor of allowing the reduction to become official while Hussain and Councilman Jose Berra opposed the resolution. Milim said while he doesn’t believe the standard was met since the project wasn’t finished, given the progress it seemed like a reasonable concession.

The looming completion of the project will end a roughly 15-year saga surrounding the project that saw multiple iterations of the plan and extended squabbles between Michael Fareri and the town. The town had imposed a 20 percent affordable unit threshold because it originally had allowed density of as many as 36 units, but agreed to lower it to 10 percent after the project was reduced to 20 units to incentivize completion of the work.

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