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Friday, December 2, 2022
Home Government Zoning for Dollars: Will Rye Flip Lesters Building and Allow 60 Apartments?

Zoning for Dollars: Will Rye Flip Lesters Building and Allow 60 Apartments?

Zoning for Dollars.

The top of the agenda for Wednesday's City Council meeting is a change to the zoning district designation of the 1051, 1037, and 1031 Boston Post Road properties from the B-1 Neighborhood Business District to the B-2 Central Business District.

What does that mean?

Rye City bought 1037 Boston Post Road – then the CVS Building, now Lesters – for $6 million during the Steve Otis days and is now thinking of various schemes to unload the property. Re-zoning would make the property more marketable but would also allow much heavier use, including up to 60 apartments, at the busy intersection by Rye City Hall.

From the City Council agenda details (see page 19):

"The proposed local law would allow for multi-family development on all floors. It is estimated that 72,000 square feet in a three-story building could yield approximately 60 units (i.e. 24,000 square feet and 20 units per floor), though the number of units could vary depending on unit size. Under the requirements of the “A” Parking District 68 parking spaces would be required1. Parking would be provided on the lowest level, which would be located under the building but at the same level of the existing grade at the rear of the building2. It is estimated that the maximum number of parking spaces that could be constructed on the site with a building located above is between 65 and 75 spaces."

What do you think of these ideas? Leave a comment below.

  1. Yup, let’s see the old CVS lot re-zoned so that it will support high density housing. That’s what we need. More apartments (maybe condos) that could significantly add to our school enrollment at below-average property tax contributions. Do we want that? Is this really something that would help the City? What about the existing taxpayers?

  2. This is the most ridiculous & ludicrous plan ever. Rye is congested with our largest population to date, and our schools are already bursting at the seams. The last thing we need is more housing AND more housing for lesser-priced apartments?

    Which officials are being compensated for such a plan that hurts our town and its inhabitants so deeply?

  3. Holy Cow ! This is beyond comprehension . Lets absolutely destroy the Rye School system , jam 150 people or so into the most crowded part of Rye and into an area that has flooded 4 times in the last 4 years alone . Then next time Rye floods , the people in those apartmentsd can rightfully sue Rye for $100 million or so for giving their blessing . Actually , i believe those renters should sue the members of the Rye Planning Board for actually giving their approval to this .

    How did this happen ? Who is running the Rye Planning Board to give their approval to such an idea ?

    I surely assume Doug French and all the new GOP team are going to laugh at this idea and file it in the trash can where it belongs .

  4. I agree with all below. But they are in a pickle financially so any less toxic disposal alternatives would be helpful. But first the voters need to know ALL the facts.

    Remember the consultant’s study on this property that was kept secret at Rye City Hall under a “draft” stamp pretext move by Messer’s Otis and Culross in the run up to the last election? Then it was forked over to the public only after the vote and it was incredibly damning?

    What don’t we know – nor will we know – till someone forces it into the sunlight?

  5. Concerns about the impact on the Rye schools are valid as are flooding concerns but potentially both can be addressed. Possibly the housing could be dedicated to older residents (read: no kids)? And since it is a known flood area, could that not be addressed during construction? From an environmental perspective, municipalities need to focus on infill building that enables residents to walk to stores and trains with the potential for increased demand in the commercial district.

  6. Excellent discussion tonight of a proposal to change zoning. This is how it’s supposed to work … except, as Jimmy said so well, this topic was not a surprise. It has been brought up multiple times. But to know about it, you had to have been paying attention to City Council meetings – their e-mailed agenda, on TV or the internet. I know Mitch was. Thanks.

    That said, the City should have done what’s expected of other property owners who want to change zoning or property usage – notify the neighbors, put up a sign, etc.

    And cudos to Peter Jovanovich for stating why he thought the proposal was a good one. He’s right about what’s been the source of enrollment growth, maybe not so much in discounting the contribution a bunch of apartments on the old CVS site would have brought. But this is a flood zone. And after all the time spent on flooding before this topic came up, how could anyone consider more / denser construction on this site without significant allowance / change made to mitigate flooding risk?

  7. >

    NONSENSE! The entire Rye School system had no clue this was going on . The Rye Planning Board hid this from the school system knowing it would be a disaster for a town whose schools are nothing but temporary trailers these days . The public had no clue ….hell , the head of the Rye Library next store stood up to say she never got a call .

    We elect officials we expect to be looking out for our interests , not people who push forward their own agendas in secrecy behind closed doors who act shocked when the community expresses outrage at what is being done behind closed doors .

    Steve Otis was wrong to buy the CVS building when he did and French and his team are equally guilty of quietly floating a scheme to bail out the town with a project you would not find 10% in Rye supporting .

    Mr Jovanivich needs to step down from the Planning Board immediately . His vision for Rye is to speed us up into becoming the next New Rochelle and his willingness to push this without calling the school systrem or posting signs on the site to openly warn the public says he knew it would N OT be received well if exposed to the public .

    Shame on the GOP team on the Rye Council . We though we had elected adults to stop the small town politics insanity .

  8. Divman I suspect you don’t know the half of it about the secrets buried in this City Hall. Or maybe you do – since you use a screen name and could in fact be a member of the defeated Otis Slate. Either way, half truths are as good as a lies and there is a long running pattern locally of hiding sins of commission against residents by Rye City officials. A number of high profile local environmental cases here come immediately to mind.

    But in the matter of Peter Jovanovich being somehow sly, cunning or unethical I think you’re wrong. He was in fact the only official to explain in detail his personal thought process and opinions. The others remained remarkably quiet don’t you think – and when many of them spoke, soapy political correctness and contrition laced their words. I’m a supporter of unpopular speech, the unvarnished truth and of Rye City managerial and professional practice reform. You can’t get anywhere on the road to reform with some of the safe platitudes and strategic silences you witnessed last night. I don’t always agree with Peter, but he had the cohones and decency to tell us what he really thought. We certainly wouldn’t own “The Otis Building” today if others had done likewise in the past.

  9. tedc

    riddle me this . if Jovanivich is such a fine upstanding Planning Head , why is it virtually nobody in town knew of this til the day before it was up for a vote ? who runs planning board ? who kept this under wraps ( very well i might add ) and may have pushed it over the finish line save word leaked out at last minute ? surely you jest . you can’t find 5% of Rye who would support his .

    Otis friend ? how do you think this nightmare started ? French and his team didn’t buy the disaster and thus when it sells for huge loss , it will be the Otis folks who should and will get the blame .

  10. @Divman – until you use your real name, all your posts have little credibility w/ me. You presume a level of active intent that has not been demonstrated as sustainable by the current administration. And to assume that the Council is responsible for briefing the entire Rye Schools about a potential zoning change is absurd.

    This was a bad proposal. It got too far. Why? Because the Council does not have to comply with the same notification requirements of a property owner. That’s wrong. Fixing that little problem by enacting appropriate legislation would seem to me to be the right way for the council to prevent a similar problem in the future.

    But thanks, again, to Mitch for speaking at the Council meeting in August and asking for the hearing to be kept open. AND thanks to Doug for agreeing. IF there had been a real intention to ram the change through, would Doug have done that? I think not. Let’s be constructive in our comments and fix the future.

  11. From the video, late in the evening of August 10th, to an almost empty room –

    Mitchell Palais: “Ask yourself, why aren’t there a lot of other people sitting here tonight asking these questions?”

    a reply from the bench –

    “I’m not sure that the questions raised this evening (by Mr. Palais) will have any better answers in September. The only thing this does is delay our process.”

  12. > As Laura Slack stated for the record the other night , this insane move to slip 60 possibly low-income apaprtments into down town Rye could result in a student population boom that would cost Rye tax payers an additional $2+ million . As Laura Slack additionally stated , her office and the town council and the Planning Board have had regualr and open conversations over the years on topics with only barely an impact on the School system . Now they are cut off completely from a development that would lead to one of the largest student population growth spurts in Rye history and it does not even warrant a single call ? The school system is already struggling with the current record population of students and at a time when they may well see their tax revenue GO DOWN . You can make all tjhe excuses you weant but sane people in Rye know this project was hidden from all and want to know WHY.

  13. >

    renters don’t pay taxes . Apartment buildings pay next to nothing in taxes on a per person basis .

    Stick in 60 apartmentrs and assume 2+ people per appartment and you have say 150 new resident of Rye in a singel complex . The complex pays something like $250,000 a year in property taxes . As Laura Slack pointed out , the cost to her school system would go up over $2 million alone . Everybody else has to have their taxes jacked to cover the short fall . Oh , but wait , it gets better . The school have no space for another 25-50 children that would wash up in Rye . So that means probably a $5-10mm addition at Midland and another addition at the middle school and high school as they are bursting at the seams ( their words ) with record numbers of students . Who do you think pays that extra $5-10 million in school additions ?

    Oh but wait …. sanitation now has the garbage of another 60 families from a single building it has to pick up and pay to take somewhere . More tax dollars needed . My guess is police would say another jolt of 1900+ residents requires another cop to be hired ( yup , raise taxes more ) .

    The reality is apartment / multi-family buildings are NOT taxed at the actual additional cost to communities . The property taxes of everybody else goes higher when a big new blast of apartments gets built since they are taxed at a fractiomn of why Rye home owners pay and of course the cost per child in school is massive .

  14. >

    Average Citizen : Tax revenues don’t drop . They in fact would likely increase some from whatevere they would collect on current building to a 72,000 square foot mixed use / 60 apartments building . The problem is the increase in costs to the town and schools would be multiples of what the apartment complex would bring in . Its just a well established fact that apartment building tax revenue for Rye per family is a fraction of what it is for a mid sized house on an average sized lot in Rye . The vast majority of the cost to Rye is the additional students and another poster did mention if there was a way to limit the apartments to only families or people without children it might mitigate the problem but the problem is i’m not sure it can legally be done ( kind of discriminatory to say familes without kids are loved and wanted and those with kids can go to hell …ya know ? )

  15. Div, not disagreeing with your math, just the statement you made that stated: “The school system is already struggling with the current record population of students and at a time when they may well see their tax revenue GO DOWN.”

  16. Laura Slack said $22k/student is the current per student cost in the Rye City Schools. She never named a total cost. Nancy Pasquale postulated 100 students would generate a cost of $2+million.

    The point that that apartments, condos, etc., don’t carry their individual full cost of the local tax burden is right. This is because the assessment rules from the state of NY are tilted in favor of apartments and against private home owners. That’s a great example of social engineering.

    TedC – Agree with your assessment that the current Council would not have bought the old CVS building. Luckily, this Council has also shown common sense about the need to liquidate the property, get it back on the tax rolls, etc. The real question is how much of a bath we, tax payers, are going to take when the property is sold.

  17. I love how the School board member and PTO member complain about taxes.

    I guess that 20mil addition for science labs will have no bearing on our taxes?

    We need to stop pumping money into the schools and pump it into our infrastructure!

  18. Zoning For Dollars – Election Eve Update – From today’s Journal News.

    One only needs to visit the superheated online “comments section” of this breaking story about the affordable housing issue and then imagine how much in legal fees Rye City taxpayers would have paid if Rye City had been forced to fight essentially backwards after having quietly approved a zoning change for residential apartments on the land they’ve offered for sale right next to city hall.

    Plunkett apparently thinks Rye City is a stupid cow to be milked forever.

    “…when an Obama administration official recently toured new apartments in Rye — part of a controversial housing desegregation settlement — he characterized the site as a “missed opportunity.” The 18 homes are just yards away from the middle-class and racially diverse community of Port Chester. It doesn’t feel like part of more upscale Rye, said John Trasvina, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “For all intents and purposes, you’re in Port Chester,” he said. “We can do better.””


  19. Ted – Not sure where Plunkett comes into this. The comment you referenced comes from HUD – the organization which appears to be the source of the attempts to expand the “affordable housing” aka “integration” agreement. Bob.

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