by Henry Naccari
When Henry Steiner thinks about the future of housing in the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow region, he sees two villages with tremendous potential for growth.
Steiner, the managing broker at Steiner Real Estate Associates, recently told The Hudson Independent that demand for housing in the region is increasing even though existing housing inventory is relatively low.
The demand, he said, is spurred by proposed and existing riverfront developments and affordable prices.
He also believes that the new developments will have a positive impact on the regional tax base.
“New developments are often sold to communities on the basis of real estate tax relief,” Steiner stated in an e-mail.
“This relief (assuming that it is actually delivered) may come at a price—a local market flooded with inventory.”
In Sleepy Hollow, the tax relief Steiner mentioned has already occurred, thanks to a proposed development that has been discussed for two decades.
Since December 2014, the former General Motors (GM) property, which sits on 95 acres nestled along the Hudson River and Beekman Avenue, has been back on the tax rolls.
Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio said that once SunCal and Diversified Realty Advisors purchased the property from GM the land was immediately placed on the tax rolls.
The village will receive an estimated $750,000 annually in property taxes, and the Tarrytown Union Free School District has seen a large increase as well, since the property returned to the tax rolls, said Giaccio.
Prior to 2014, when General Motors owned the property, the site was generating $200,000 annually under terms of a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with the village.
“The increase has allowed us to lower taxes by three percent,” Giaccio said.
In addition to the property tax benefits, the proposed redevelopment of the GM property will further impact the village by increasing the population and need for services.
Named Edge-On-Hudson by SunCal and Diversified Realty Advisors the proposal includes 1,177 housing units, with condos, town homes, and apartments, along with a hotel, retail and office space, and will create 16 acres of parkland on 67 acres of the property. They will also build a promenade that links the existing RiverWalk to the south and Kingsland Point Park to the north.
The remaining 28 acres are being donated to the Village of Sleepy Hollow Local Development Corporation. The first project phase is expected to get underway this year.
The first phase sees the construction of 306 housing units, which include 40 senior affordable units and 21 affordable workforce units. The developer will build 188 loft style apartments, 46 three and four-story homes, 72 town houses, create green space, and construct a roundabout and village green at the base of Beekman Avenue.
Giaccio said the first phase will have minimal impact on the village; however, the overall project will cause significant changes.
The first, and perhaps most important, is an increase in the village’s population.
Currently, the village has 10,000 residents. According to Giaccio, when the project is completed, there is an expected population increase of 3,000 people. The new residents are expected to be singles, families, and some seniors.
“There will be a steady increase over the years,” said Giaccio. “It’s unprecedented for this area.”
Due to the population increase, and large scale building, the village will also see a need to increase services.
Sanitation, park maintenance, police, village hall staff, and the building department will see staffing increases, said Giaccio, noting the increasing tax base will pay for the new staffers.
In recent years, in preparation for the project, the village has hired four new police officers and added a building inspector.
The staff increases will occur incrementally as the village board sees a need to do so, said Giaccio. The largest staff increase will occur in the building department as the village needs staff to inspect the new structures.
Another impact on the village is the expected increase in foot traffic for businesses along Beekman Avenue.
Currently there are several vacant businesses along Beekman Avenue, said Giaccio. Giaccio said that as the project is built it is expected that construction workers will frequent the restaurants and shops that are open.
The village has already seen a slight uptick in the business district thanks to construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which is projected to be completed in 2018. Those workers are already using business in the area, said Giaccio.
Because there is an expected business increase, the village is planning to make cosmetic improvements to Beekman Avenue to make it more enticing for businesses and consumers.
“We are looking to utilize a portion of the increased taxes to invest in and improve Beekman Avenue,” said Giaccio.
“We are concerned about the business district and the village board is committed to improving the inner village.”
As Edge-On-Hudson develops, said Giaccio, new residents are expected to explore the area and that it should translate into creating a more vibrant business district.
“They’re going to make up a quarter of the population,” said Giaccio. “We expect them to be active in the village.”
Officials from The Greater Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown Chamber of Commerce did not return calls to discuss the development and its impact on the business district.
In addition to projected property tax, staff increases, and an uptick in business, the project will also impact the Tarrytown Union Free School District.
Giaccio said the school district has already seen an economic impact with a net gain of $2 million from school taxes. He said the district is expecting to see an influx of new students as families move into the homes.
Representatives for the Tarrytown Union Free School District did not return calls for comment on the development and its future impact on the school district.
One thing the village does not expect to see is an increase in traffic. Because the development is along the waterfront, and two Metro-North stations are nearby, most new residents will walk to their destinations.
Also, said Giaccio, shuttle buses to mass transit and Beekman Avenue are being planned. Overall, the project is a major win for the village said Giaccio.
“This project has increased the tax base and will increase property values,” said Giaccio. “It’s already benefiting the village.”
SunCal and Diversified Realty Advisors did not comment on the development.
In press materials sent in response to questions, the developer said the village is counting on the project’s hope for success.
“Village officials are counting on Edge-On-Hudson to spur economic development, which lost a source of tax revenue with the GM closure two decades ago,” the company wrote in a press release.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Tarrytown, a recently built development has had little impact on the tiny village.
Hudson Harbor, built along the waterfront by National Re/Sources, has not had an impact on the upper village, said Village Administrator Michael Blau.
Blau said the 238 units that have been completed saw an influx of only 476 new residents, which increased the village population to 11,500 residents. The village recently granted approval for the company to build 129 new units.
Residents who moved in are empty nesters so there has been no impact on schools, said Blau. Since the project is located on the waterfront the village’s two main thoroughfares, Route 9 and Main Street, have not seen significant traffic increases, Blau sid.
Also, the village does not need to increase services or staff. “It’s a win for the village,” said Blau.
Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said the highly priced units on the waterfront are not “vastly out of line” with other development in the village.
“The GM development I expect will have a much bigger impact on Sleepy Hollow than our development will have on Tarrytown,” Fixell said.
National Re/Sources officials did not return calls for comment on the development. Calls to Hudson Harbor’s sales office also were not returned.
The only impact on Tarrytown has been an increase in foot traffic in what is already a bustling business district.
Dotted with busy restaurants and mom and pop businesses, the Tarrytown business district, along Main Street and Broadway (Rt. 9), is filled with new Tappan Zee Bridge workers, new residents, and visitors seeking places to eat.
The Tarrytown Music Hall also remains a key attraction.
“We do see a significant uptick in business,” said Blau. “People are walking up from the waterfront.”
Although Hudson Harbor has not had a significant impact on the village, Blau suggested the neighboring Edge-On-Hudson project will.
He expects to see significant traffic increases, especially during the project’s construction, in traffic, school children, and further positive impact on the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow business districts.
“It’s the largest project ever proposed in this region,” said Blau. “We keep studying it, and we see the larger impacts in Sleepy Hollow. However, we will be impacted by tremendous traffic increases.”
In response, Giaccio said that Tarrytown will also benefit because that village will see an increase in business. “In the end I think there will be very little traffic increases,” said Giaccio.
As for Steiner, he believes that both developments are having positive and negative impacts.
He said that demand for housing in the new developments will depend on pricing, however, the attractive waterfront locations will help spur sales.
The average existing single-family homes, not in Hudson Harbor or the proposed Edge-On-Hudson, are averaging $741,000 and rentals are $3,000, said Steiner.
However, he is concerned that if the new units don’t sell there could be a housing glut.
“Given the number of new units projected here, this is a real possibility,” said Steiner. “These developments will inevitably lead to a dramatic rise in population.”