Your Name: Matthew G. Anderson
Your Role: President and CEO, The Osborn
MyRye.com: For people that may not know, what is The Osborn & how long has it been in Rye?
Anderson: Let me begin by thanking MyRye.com for the opportunity to discuss The Osborn’s Envision initiative. The Osborn has a special relationship with the City of Rye going back over 100 years. In 1908, the first residents moved into The Osborn. Today, The Osborn is home to over 400 residents, many hailing from Rye and Westchester County. The Osborn community is vibrant with musicians, artists, engineers, lawyers, authors, physicians, educators — people with a passion for life and all its possibilities.
One reason residents choose The Osborn is for our continuum of care – all levels of care services are available in one place, a beautiful 56-acre campus in the heart of Rye. People are often surprised to learn that The Osborn is a not-for-profit, and has provided more than $3.3 million towards charity care last year between the campus and the community. We employ a diverse workforce of over 750 employees comprised of nurses, therapists, dietitians, engineers, home care staff, food service workers, and social workers, to name just a few.
What is Osborn Envision Initiative?
Anderson: Our Envision Initiative started with the filing of our “senior living” zoning text amendment application for consideration by the City of Rye in 2018. This is the first of two phases. This first phase is securing City approval of our “senior living” zoning text amendment, which includes a lot of technical terminology. As a result, we’ve launched an Envision website where we break down the technical details, as well as present the human story behind The Osborn, which is the driving force behind our Envision efforts.
Why is Osborn Envision important to the future of the Osborn?
Anderson: The Envision initiative is imperative to The Osborn’s future for several reasons. First and foremost, we want to be able to continue to offer our current and future residents state-of-the-art living spaces and health care services.
Second, we operate in a very competitive market for senior living in Westchester County and surrounding areas. With so many new senior communities opening nearby, we must evolve, expand some of our residences, and offer new amenities in order to compete, or we run the risk of falling behind.
Why is Osborn Envision important now?
The Envision initiative is important now because the best time to plan is before things become critical. It has been more than 20 years since The Osborn completed any major building on campus. During this time, a lot of change has occurred in the senior living market. For this reason, the time has come for us to prepare for our next chapter.
From what is known now, what does The Osborn look like before and after Envision?
Anderson: The purpose of our “senior living” zoning text amendment is to secure a framework of certainty on how we may grow into the future. As I mentioned, there are two phases to Envision. The “senior living” zoning text amendment is phase one. If it’s approved by the City of Rye, then we can proceed into the design of a proposed site plan for City review and public input, which would be phase two.
At this stage, we don’t know what “after Envision” would look like, but if and when the zoning is established, we’ll continue to work with the City to generate a plan with input from all stakeholders.
Explain the zoning change you are requesting from the City of Rye.
Anderson: The Osborn’s current zoning does not allow the flexibility to be able to evolve to meet the future needs of older adults. To address this, The Osborn’s “senior living” zoning text amendment proposal seeks the establishment of land use and dimensional requirements for “Senior Living Facilities” within the R-2 Zoning District.
The Osborn’s proposed zoning text amendment has developed after significant input from the Rye Planning Commission, the Rye City Council, and Rye neighbors. The proposed amendment will provide us with greater certainty in future planning and ensuring harmony with the character of the surrounding community.
It’s important to note that our amendment proposes greater setbacks and limitations on building heights than allowed under the current zoning.
Explain what FAR is, the change being requested and what this will allow in regards to Envision.
Anderson: In the simplest terms, FAR (Floor Area Ratio) is the measurement of a building’s floor area in relation to the size of the property that the building is located on. The Osborn has requested an increase in FAR from its current .30 to a .45 which would allow for some new residences and expanded amenity spaces such as a clubhouse for residents and members of the greater community, while allowing for preservation of green spaces.
Neighbors of The Osborn have expressed concerns about The Osborn’s Envision project including setback rules, sightlines and the height of the proposed buildings, and increased traffic. What are the leading concerns you have heard from neighbors and the City, and how are you addressing these concerns?
Anderson: In our over 100-year history, The Osborn has lived in harmony with our neighbors. Throughout this zoning process, The Osborn has engaged with neighbors and the City. In the past month alone, we have held five community tours of our campus for area residents. We have heard their concerns, such as setbacks, sightlines, traffic, and storm water management. The Osborn has endeavored to address each of the comments and questions we have received. To the extent that some of these questions deal with planning (rather than zoning) issues, The Osborn will continue to engage with neighbors and the City throughout a future site planning process. For further details, I would encourage your readers to review The Osborn’s materials that are published on the City of Rye website.
Envision has been explained as a two-phase process – first the zoning and second looking at particular and specific plans. Explain this two-phase process more.
Anderson: There continues to be confusion about this in the community, and I want to make sure Rye residents have the correct information. If the zoning text amendment is approved by the City Council, this will only be the first step of a two-step process.
The next step would be for The Osborn to develop a detailed site plan. Once the site plan is drafted, The Osborn would submit it for Rye Planning Commission review. As part of the process, there will continue to be public input and discussion, updating the plan as needed, and eventually a vote. During the site planning process, The Osborn will continue to work with interested stakeholders – like our neighbors – to address construction-related questions and concerns, such as vehicle parking, noise abatement, waste water management, and conservation of green space and trees on our arboretum campus.
The Osborn loves its trees. Just recently, you celebrated the 1,008th tree on your nationally recognized 56-acre arboretum campus. How will this collection of trees be impacted by Envision, and how will you mitigate any negative impacts?
The Osborn campus is 56 acres and in 2019 was designated as a Level-1 Arboretum by AborNet, a nationally recognized accreditation agency. As it has been throughout its century-long history, The Osborn is committed to the health and maintenance of its trees. Yes, for Arbor Day we planted our 1008th tree on campus. There are 116 species here and we will continue to plant and maintain these species in the future. We are committed to replacing trees that may have to be removed for future building and maintaining our arboretum status in the future, as it is one of our finest hallmarks, appreciated by our residents and neighbors alike.
Describe The Osborn as you imagine it in the second half of the 21st century.
The Osborn’s Board of Trustees, our staff, our residents, and I all believe the best days of The Osborn are still ahead. We want to see The Osborn continue to be a vibrant part of the Rye community, as it has been for the past 114 years. I see it as an unsurpassed place for our residents to live a happy, safe, and engaged life.
I also see The Osborn continuing to be a great place to work in Rye, as well as a great place for care for those who may need it. The Osborn will continue its legacy as one of Rye’s most important non-profits, an integral part of the community’s fabric.
I truly believe a better and stronger Osborn helps make Rye a better and stronger place.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our Envision initiative. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about our initiative or The Osborn to visit www.TheOsborn.org/ENVISION.