A majority of speakers urged the North Castle Town Board last week to grant a developer a requested zoning reclassification to build 72 age-restricted condominiums on a parcel formerly owned by IBM in Armonk.
The public hearing on Eagle Ridge, which would also include a 115-unit hotel with a restaurant and meeting space on another portion of the land on North Castle Drive, resumed last Wednesday evening after nearly two years.
Developer Frank Madonna is asking the Town Board to rezone 21.9 acres from the Office Business Hotel (OBH) Zoning District to the Residential Multifamily Senior Citizen Housing Zoning District to accommodate the 72 luxury units. Since 2019, he has been tweaking the proposal in hopes of gaining approval for the zoning change from the Town Board. Concerns about density have been repeatedly raised.
The remaining 10-plus acres where the hotel would be built would retain OBH zoning. The hotel would also include a 135-seat restaurant, a 45-seat bar and lounge and an event space for up to 100 people.
Some of the residents who spoke said when many adults become empty-nesters or are ready to retire the choice of living arrangements in town is slim for those who want to remain in town to be close to family. It would also allow younger families to buy existing homes when older adults move out, said 10-year resident Kara Scheisler.
“I just think it’s a win-win to keep our empty-nesters in town and keep our housing market robust with young families, keeping up with the demand of young families who want to be here,” Scheisler said.
Resident Andrew Salow said a key factor for him is that the housing component is age-restricted, which promises to limit impacts on services, most notably the schools. He also believes that it’s a perfect location for a new development, not far from the heart of downtown Armonk, which should help the businesses.
“To me, this is the type of sensible development that the town should be supporting with local developers,” Salow said.
However, there were residents who had concerns. Resident Matthew Milim said he was worried about the impact that several residential projects under consideration or construction could have on the community. In addition to Eagle Ridge, there’s the Summit Club at Armonk, the old lumberyard and the completed Old Mount Kisco Road project.
“I’m just very concerned about the number of housing units that we’re adding in our town in such a short period of time,” Milim said. “I think it’s really important that we take care and not change the character of the community. I think by adding this many in such a short period of time, you risk doing that.”
Resident Jeremy Jacobs said he wanted to ensure that Madonna builds the hotel since it’s sorely needed in town. Jacobs said he has a fear that the town will approve the project and only see the residential
Town officials and the developer have talked about having money set aside that the town would hold until the hotel is developer.
The town’s Open Space Committee and Conservation Board submitted a joint letter to the Town Board expressing dismay at the large number of trees that would need to be removed and the potential impact on sightlines by having large structures looming over downtown Armonk.
In a letter from Kerry Kazak, chair of the North Castle Open Space Committee, said the project and its placement is inappropriate.
“We believe that the height of the project and the proposed placement of the hotel and townhouses will change the skyline of Armonk forever,” she stated.
Madonna has raised balloons to help community members take in the project’s visual impacts.
But another resident, Robert Klein, said not only will the project provide housing for the 55-and-up community but it will also create a nearby place for relatives to stay who are visiting from out of town. North Castle does not have a lodging facility since the closure of La Quinta Inn on Business Park Drive last year.
Furthermore, the concessions agreed to on the part of the developer, such as $500,000 toward parking, are significant and the project is among the least dense proposals in town in recent years, Klein said.
“The objections raised are valid in terms of sightlines and things like that, but it seems to me that if you have a project that’s going to be beneficial for the community, not a drain on the tax base, contributing to local businesses and stores and giving our community a great new space to entertain, that this should be something that we should be encouraging, this type of development in the community and not discouraging,” he said.
The Town Board adjourned the public hearing and will resume hearing comments at its June 9 meeting.