Building on a City’s History

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“Across from Philipse Manor Hall, a landmark from the city’s 17th-century Dutch settlement, a row of 19th century buildings will be restored against a backdrop of towering new construction, as public and private partners continue to add workforce housing in a delicate balance with historic preservation in downtown Yonkers.

L+M Development Partners Inc., a Larchmont-based developer of affordable housing, plans to create 10 loft-style apartments and more than 9,000 square feet of storefront retail space in five buildings at 44-50 Warburton Ave., an d54 Warburton Ave. Tenants at Warburton Lofts must show household income that does not exceed 80percent of the median income in Westchester County.

Construction on the $10 million Warburton Lofts project will take 12 to 15 months, Ron Moelis, L+M’s co-founder and CEO, said at a recent groundbreaking ceremony.

Behind the row of gutted two-to four-story buildings, L+M and its local development partner, the nonprofit Greyston Foundation, expect this fall to complete 92 units of affordable rental housing in a 12-story tower at 49 N. Broadway. That project follows L+M’s completion last year of a $54.4 million affordable housing project at 330 Riverdale, a 137-unit apartment building on the city’s southwest site.

The Larchmont developer in December paid $1.3 million to acquire the Warburton Avenue assemblage from Greyston. Greyston’s initial plans to raze the buildings and erect a mid-rise apartment tower were thwarted when a group of local residents in 2008 gained City Council support for the creation of a 13-building Philipse Manor Historic District across from the state-operated landmark. One of the properties to be renovated, 50 Warburton Ave., was designed by Edwin A. Quick, the architect of Yonkers City Hall and 25 other buildings in the city.

The restoration project’s design team includes Stephen Tilly, Architect, of Dobbs Ferry, and Old Structures Engineering of New York City. The development will be backed by $3.4 million in private financing, including $1.8 million from L+M Development Partners.

The Empire State Development Corp. awarded the city $3.5 million in Restore NY funding for the Philipse Manor district, $2.9 million of which city officials have allocated to the Warburton Lofts development. The city, in its third affordable-housing partnership with L+M Development since 2008, also pumped $1 million of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds into the mixed-use restoration.

The city also will provide Restore NY funds to assist adjacent private property owners in restoring 40 and 42 Warburton Ave.

The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency approved exemptions on mortgage recording, sales and use taxes, and a structured property tax agreement for the Warburton Lofts developer.

Citi Community Capital is a $2.7 million equity investor in Warburton Lofts through the U.S. Treasury Department’s New Markets Tax Credit program, which provides a 39 percent credit on investments in low-income communities. City received its tax credit program allocation from Greenline Ventures L.L.C., a minority-owned finance company based in Denver that specializes in community development projects.

Kermit Billups, executive vice president of Greenline Ventures, called his company’s new working partners at L+M “a very visionary team. Most developers know their projects. Very few know their communities like L+M.”

“Fifty years from now, I hope we can all come back and see the product of our investment,” Billups said.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who also serves as a chairman of the city’s IDA, called the project “a wonderful opportunity to turn buildings that have been symbols of urban decay into vibrant active spaces, creating quality affordable housing for Yonkers families and viable retail opportunities for small businesses.” M. Scott Allen of GAR Associates, Inc. completed an appraisal and market study on this project in 2011.

Westchester County Business Journal
March 2012


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