Lighthouse Celebration Focuses on Coming Riverfront Development
| by Robert Kimmel |
“It is a beacon that signals a new beginning here,” Mayor Ken Wray asserted during a June ceremony that celebrated the newly lit Lighthouse on Sleepy Hollow’s Hudson River shoreline.
The occasion served not only to herald the restoration of the Lighthouse’s lens following more than five decades of darkness, but also to focus on the waterfront development that will occur on the adjacent acreage, still desolate following General Motor’s departure almost 20 years ago.
The 1883 Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1961 when lights from the Tappan Zee Bridge, completed only six years earlier, served to guide boats navigating the Hudson River. The Village of Sleepy Hollow and the Westchester Department of Parks collaborated, using $35,000 in grant money and private funds, to have a replica of the original Fresnel lens made and then installed last month in the Lighthouse.
Wray sees the new beacon as an iconic symbol of the village. “Everyone coming over the Tappan Zee Bridge, the old bridge and the new one, will say, “That is Sleepy Hollow,” he remarked. He noted that the Lighthouse, “which was put out of business by the old bridge, will actually outlive that bridge.”
Future plans call for a complete restoration of the Lighthouse; however, that project is on hold until sufficient funds are secured to meet the cost, which could exceed $1 million.
As for the project planned for the adjacent site, Wray said, “This is a once-in-a-100-year opportunity for the Village, and we’re confident the development will benefit Sleepy Hollow and surrounding communities for years to come.”
Among the speakers at the ceremony, County Executive Rob Astorino noted that the development of the former GM site also will, “give access to the public so they can enjoy this beautiful shoreline.” He referred to a “renewal” of the area with residences, shops, and a lighthouse that everyone can get to. It will be wonderful for everyone.”
The development of the site, a joint venture of SunCal, headquartered in California, and Diversified Realty Advisors, a New Jersey firm, calls for the construction of 1,177 condominiums, townhouses, and apartments, a 140-room hotel, retail space of 135,000 square feet, and 35,000 square feet of loft office space. It will also feature 24 acres of parks and gardens, along with the RiverWalk near the Hudson’s bank.
Peter Johnson, representing SunCal, and speaking in behalf of the venture, now named Edge-on-Hudson, said he was very grateful for the cooperation of the village and that the firms are very excited about getting the development started.
That enthusiasm was shared by Jonathan Stein, Managing Partner of Diversified Realty Advisors. Stein had been an executive with Roseland Property which exited a deal with GM for the development in 2007, because of litigation by Tarrytown over the then existing scope of the project.
“We have an application before the Planning Board now for a site plan and sub-division for the initial stage which will be heard over the next several months,” Stein said. “If all goes well through that process, we will be able to get some of the infrastructure work done, I hope, before the end of the year,” he told The Hudson Independent. “Our schedule will be affected by weather conditions,” he noted. Stein also emphasized that the development will adhere to the Special Permit, “our guiding force,” that was approved in 2011 by the Village.
Stein explained that “The infrastructure work here is quite extensive,” adding that it would consist of work on a “Beekman Avenue bridge, and a road built in, sewers and sidewalks. That is about 18 months of work.” He estimated that it would be “…two years before we start going vertical with buildings. The first buildings, realistically, could be up in three to four years,” he said.
Of the 96 acres vacated by GM, the development will utilize 65, with much of the remaining acreage, on the East Parcel, going to Sleepy Hollow’s Local Development Corporation, formed last year. The Village benefits financially with that arrangement, and the LDC would be responsible for building new athletic facilities and a public works building without having to comply with a New York State law prohibiting the selection of a single contractor to oversee all the work.