News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
A buyer has surfaced to purchase and create a subdivision of the Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson property in Pleasantville, the first time in more than three decades the organization’s headquarters has been put on the market.
Cold Spring-based Unicorn Contracting made an offer of $2.3 million for the 1.26-acre property at Great Oak Lane on June 30, according to a listing on the Berkshire Hathaway website. The village’s Planning Commission entertained preliminary discussion about a proposal last Wednesday.
When the offer was accepted, Unicorn asked to meet with the commission for an informal discussion and to receive feedback on the initial plans to build homes on the parcel.
The current plan is to subdivide the current lot into six separate lots and build a pair of two-family houses facing Bedford Road and four one-family homes on Great Oak Lane, said Michael Guillaro, Unicorn’s acquisition and development director.
Guillaro said the developer was unsure of the style but each of the houses would have a unique look.
“We want to add to the variety of the structures but keep the character of Bedford Road for the two-family homes,” Guillaro said. “The single-family homes will look different from one another.”
Under the proposed site plan, the lots are zoning compliant and there are no variances required, he said.
Comments made by the Planning Commission and village planning consultant Sarah Brown Hardesty last week included a concern for the number of trees that would have to be cut down and how much space the driveways with access to Bedford Road would take up.
“We will be looking at the landscaping, the layout of the lots, and the sight distance of the driveways for safety,” Hardesty said.
Mayor Peter Scherer, the village and the Pleasantville School District had considered jointly buying the property at one point and had toured the facility.
“This would have been a joint venture and it would be great to have use of the gym,” Scherer said at last week’s Village Board meeting. “But the building needs a tremendous amount of work. There’s no elevator, no air conditioning and it would cost $8 (million) to $9 million to renovate.”
Pleasantville Superintendent of Schools Tina DeSa wrote in her July newsletter that the district was interested in the building to house potential Universal Pre-Kindergarten classes that the state could make mandatory but “will not be moving forward with purchasing it.” She also wrote that the building could have housed “the district’s special programs physically into district space instead of continuing to rent outside spaces; and to replace the space now used by modular units behind the high school which only have a few years left on them.”
An architect was hired by the district to study the scope of work needed to renovate the building. The study determined that the cost would be “exorbitant.”
Girl Scout Marketing and Communications Director Jennifer Donohue said the current building is still being used by the Girl Scouts even though the contract for the property’s sale has been signed. It is customary for the seller to retain possession of the property after the contract signing but prior to closing.
“Our robotics team is operating out of the gym and we are working to get them set up in another of our Girl Scout houses in Westchester,” she said.
Donohue said they are in the process of seeking other locations in Westchester to serve as the organization’s Westchester headquarters.
“We’re looking at our options to maintain a physical presence in the area to best service our community,” Donohue mentioned. “We might be selling the building but we’re not going anywhere.”
Guillaro said his company has yet to close on the property.
“The process has just started and we intend to do our due diligence,” he said.
Planning Commissioner Chair Russell Klein said that if the proposed subdivision moves forward there would be an opportunity for the public to comment.
He said the commission would conduct site plan review while the Architectural Review Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals would have input.
Unicorn Contracting is also currently looking to develop the former Soundview Preparatory School property in Yorktown, which has been the subject of robust debate.
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/