WPCNR Main Street Journal. News and Comment by John Bailey. April 18, 2018 UPDATED April 19, 2018 11:15 A.M. EDT:
The Journal News reported yesterday White Plains Planning Commissioner Chris Gomez is proposing a zoning change from 4 to 6 stories, allowing residential apartments in the area around the North White Plains Train Station. The aim, reporter Richard Liebson writes is to open up the area around that train station to more apartments, and stymie commercial/industrial development.
This is interesting because Wednesday morning The Continuum, 55 Bank Street, 12 years in the making, with an unprecedented 20% of its units set aside for those eligible for affordable housing (about $80,000 in salary) staged its grand opening.
The Continuum, first proposed about 12 years ago in the Joseph Delfino administration, where the 20% component of affordable housing was championed by then Planning Commissioner Susan Habel.
The zoning proposal of allowing housing up to 6 stories by Gomez is a continued effort to build up the concentration of apartments, street retail, and pedestrian traffic in the transit hubs in White Plains New York USA.
The White Plains Metro North Train Station, is the first attempt by the city to revitalize its transit district. At that station, with four city parcels up for development there is no detailed information on exactly what the city is looking at for the parcels or what they do not want, and no disclosure what development firms have applied to be considered for proposals ( heretofore loosely defined by the City of White Plains as mixed use, residential, retail and open space)
The North White Plains Station has limited parking and any apartments built alongside it would have to have onsite parking for any such apartments, one would think.
Planning Commissioner Gomez, in Liebson’s article, did not indicate how many residential apartments the area around the North White Plains Train Station area might sustain. Liebson reported Gomez did say there were no proposals as yet.
It also remains to be seen if an attempt will be made to build apartments on the western side of the tracks taking some of the green space away from the Bronx River Parkway, but I may just be alarmist with that supposition.
Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson told WPCNR the proposed zoning for mixed use of the North White Plains Train Station came up approximately 5 years ago when the city was considering rezoning Westmoreland Avenue for mixed use to attract residential projects to make it less industrial. She said it was decided to attempt the rezoning on Westmoreland first, do it “piecemeal” and tackle the North White Plains Station area second. Now that proposal is being brought back. She said she was pleased at the progress the transformation of the WARC building was making, being turned into apartments. She said the Brew-Pub planned for a vacant lot on Westmoreland was proceeding. That Brew-Pub development is planned to include 62 units of market rate housing.
Ginsberg Development has already bought and announced acquisition of the Finance Center on Martine Avenue which they propose to renovate to attract upscale millennials from Manhattan.
The concentration on adding residents who can revive the downtown by their money, by clustering residential around train stations that do not have any commercial complexes appears to missing one big thing: a money-maker- for-the-city enhancement long term.
A money-making enhancement could be a state of the art convention hotel atop the train station (s), in the financial center, a sports arena/hotel, theatres, and restaurants that could take advantage of a train access to and from New York City. That the city, the county and metro North are not thinking this way seems a lack of vision on their parts and their consultants.
I mean Metro North is dropping $92 Million on aesthetics to the train station. You could build a hotel/ convention center/residence for just a tad more. (White Plains does not have a New York City-type Convention Center)
Instead of over the train station, the County Center above could be razed and a modern sports arena, convention center, hotel could be built.
How fast the Continuum fills up will be the first test of the city’s planning dreams.
However, the whole train station development at Hamilton and Main and residential development at North White Plains Train Station will need parking capacity increased substantially. Or, at least a whole lot of Uber, Lyft and Zip Car availability.
If the present scale of residential vision is fulfilled, it will also be very crowded with people and route 119, Main Street, Hamilton, South Lex very crowded. It is very congested now, with lots of promises from task forces on Bus Rapid Transit, Complete Streets advocates fixated on cutting back lanes, adding bus rapid transit lanes, putting in new bus stations, ordering buses. And, those bus rapid transit assets were supposed to running now, coinciding with the opening of the New New York Bridge.
Decisions and locations and plans have to be decided upon and stated clearly to all the villages and cities along Route 119. The County has to approve them. The buses have to be made.
Where are those decisions? Who is making them? Where are our leaders on this massive task force failure to deliver on time and be transparent on where, what, when and how route 119 and the ramp sequencing will be constructed on I-287?