40 units of affordable senior housing proposed for 495 King Street
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
by Christine Yeres
Immediately following the public hearing session on the Conifer proposal for a 36-unit affordable housing rental building on Hunts Place, representatives of MountCo Construction and Development Corp met with Town Board members in a work session to sound them out on a proposal for a 40-unit affordable housing rental building for seniors at 495 King Street, in the place occupied now by the Chappaqua Animal Hospital on the east side of the Chappaqua Fire Station. The animal hospital building would be removed.
MountCo representatives described their vision for a four-story building that would seem more like three, since the fourth floor is “articulated as a mansard roof.” The .94 acre property (two tax lots) has 164 feet of frontage on King Street and 136 feet of frontage behind, on Memorial Drive, from which cars would access the development.
Plans for the project include 39 one-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom unit for an on-site building superintendent, with 40 on-site parking spaces in back. Units would rent for $600 to $1,000 per month, to seniors making 30% to 60% of Westchester’s average median income or AMI. [100% of AMI for a 1-person household is $75,550, 60% is $45,360 and 30% is $22,650.]
MountCo President Joel B. Mounty told Town Board members that he was unsure what changes to the existing “Business-Retail” zoning would be needed, but felt that multifamily senior housing was an appropriate transition between the fire house to the west and residences to the east. MountCo’s office is located in Scarsdale and Mounty is sole managing partner of the corporation. “I’m here, it’s mine,” Mounty told board members. “I own 100% of everything. I’m local, so there’s always someone to talk to. Everything we develop we also own and manage.”
By agreement with the State, which would help fund the project, Mounty told board members, the units would remain affordable and restricted to seniors 55 and older for a period of at least 30 years.
Under the settlement between HUD and the County, the number of senior “fair and affordable” housing units allowed among the 750 total is limited. MountCo representatives were certain that their project could satisfy the settlement requirements and fairly certain that the County was still looking to approve more senior units as part of the settlement.
“There’s high demand for senior housing, and it’s important for us to move ahead so we can qualify for whatever funding is available,” said Mounty. “We want to get a sense from you [Town Board members] of where we stand. We don’t want to work in communities that don’t want us. If this is not your cup of tea, tell us up front and we’ll move on.”
There are, according to MountCo, two chances to apply for State funding: the end of October and the end of November. “In the best possible world, the zoning would already be in place,” said Mounty. “But at least we would need some indication that you’re interested in having us pursue this. We understand that that’s no commitment that you’ll give us the zoning. We’d start with the State, and then consult your planner. We’d like to come back after you’ve thought about it.” MountCo estimated that construction “would not begin till fall 2013, at best.”
Several residents who had attended the public hearing on Conifer’s proposal asked questions of MountCo’s representatives.
One resident asked how many children might live in senior housing. “We’ve never had that experience,” Mounty responded. “In our 2,000 senior units we don’t have one child.”
Another resident asked whether MountCo could give preference to local seniors. “Under State funding we can’t give local preferences, but we market very aggressively locally, in places like your local senior center. We’ve found that by doing that, 85% or 90% of the tenants are people who live in the community or have a relative in that community. But you can’t exclude anybody. “
A resident who had been critical of Conifer’s proposal during the public hearing immediately before the work session told MountCo reps, “The way your organization has approached the board is a breath of fresh air, the way you stated clearly your funding sources and time frames is refreshing. You’re playing with an open hand.”
MountCo team’s architect wrapped up by telling town board members “We have to embark on a pretty aggressive due diligence phase now. We’ve already spent some money to do this presentation, but now we would engage specialists to do a Phase One report, a site study. So it’s important for us to have a sense of what the community would like—whether or not they’d like this project.”
The building at 495 King Street; Mountco is proposing to build senior affordable units on the site