AvalonBay Communities In Talks With Town, Land Owner
By Tina Traster
A national developer is in talks with both a landowner and the Town of Clarkstown to build 225 rental units in the newly zoned “Transit Oriented Development” in Nanuet.
AvalonBay Communities, Inc. an equity REIT, is the first major developer to express serious interest in building a significant portion of the housing allotment in the TOD, which is located in the vicinity of Nanuet’s train station, according to several sources.
In June, Clarkstown voted to rezone the heart of Nanuet’s business district into a cluster of dense residential housing and light commercial that is designed for walkability and train use. The 37-acre TOD, which is divided in three parts, caps housing units at 500. The original plan called for 750 housing units but was downsized to satisfy New York State Department of Transportation’s traffic concerns on state roads.
Avalon has not submitted plans to the town but several officials say the developer has had preliminary talks with Clarkstown officials to vet the proposal. The proposed housing would straddles TOD 1 and TOD 2, land owned by the Cohen family. The units will most likely be built in and around the industrial buildings (the former site of Azar Display) and near the train station.
Avalon has been building residential and commercial projects for two decades, with projects located throughout the country. The company’s website says it has 22 rental communities in New York, including Bronxville, Elmsford, Mamaroneck, Ossining, Somers, White Plains and Yonkers.
The company’s website says “Avalon offers New York apartments for rent with beautiful floor plans, luxury amenities and a friendly staff that continually strives to meet your every request.” Rents in Avalon’s Westchester communities start at $1,945 a month in Yonkers to $2,910 a month in Bronxville.
An Avalon spokesman said the company has no comment at this time.
AvalonBay Communities built the 54-acre development at 100 Avalon Gardens Drive in 1998. The property was sold to Harbor Group International LLC and Azure Partners LLC in 2016 for $147 million and rebranded the Peaks of Nanuet.
Last month, the development, which has one, two, and three-bedroom apartments with rents ranging from $1,850 to $3,050, was snapped up by Mill Creek Residential Trust LLC for $180 million, and renamed “Alister Nanuet.”
Over the years, AvalonBay Communities filed multiple tax challenges on the property. In 2009, the company sued Clarkstown for the complex’s assessment from 2003 to 2009. The town settled the lawsuit by paying Avalon $338,335 in tax refunds and lowering the assessment by 12.7 percent. Avalon had also filed a tax grievance for 2016.
AvalonBay says “consumers are showing a growing desire to live in walkable work-play communities. The town is hoping the mixed-use development will attract millennials and empty nesters.
The goal of the Nanuet TOD, which situates housing close to transit, is to replace commercial uses with a vibrant “downtown” community adjacent to a single-family subdivision, Nanuet’s Main Street, and the Shops at Nanuet to the north. However, existing businesses in commercial buildings are grandfathered as pre-existing nonconforming uses for as long as they operate. A non-conforming use cannot alter its footprint without a variance.
Some of the commercial uses in the district include bank, laundromat, pet and veterinary services, personal care, light repair and maintenance. Interestingly, the zone allows for Bed & Breakfast or an Inn, which do not exist in Clarkstown. The zone also permits bars, restaurants, clubs and gyms, but no drive-throughs. A special permit would be needed for several uses including senior citizen housing, child day-care and funeral homes.
Zoning Law Explained
TOD 1. The purpose of the Transit Oriented Development 1 district is to provide a residential buffer between single-family residential neighborhoods and limited mixed-use developments within proximity to the Nanuet Train Station. The primary use is intended to be multifamily residential uses in the form of 2- and 3-story walk-up residential attached townhouses or condominiums.
TOD 2. The purpose of the Transit Oriented Development 2 district is to function as a transition district between single-family and townhouse-style residential neighborhoods and higher density mixed-use developments located to the east of the railroad tracks and along Main Street. The primary use is principally 3- and 4-story residential apartments, with limited ground floor commercial uses that cater to local residents and train station commuters.
TOD 3. The purpose of Transit Oriented Development 3 district is to function as a mixed-use commercial area adjacent to the Nanuet Train Station and Hamlet Commercial – Nanuet district. Zoning specifications would allow for 3- and 4-story mixed-use buildings, consisting primarily of studio and one-bedroom apartments on upper floors and commercial uses or parking exclusively on the first floor of each building.
Hamlet Commercial Nanuet District is intended to promote development and redevelopment along the Main Street (Middletown Road) corridor in the Hamlet of Nanuet and enhance the public streetscape and pedestrian environment. New development and buildings in this district are encouraged to be mixed-use with residential over retail/commercial uses that promote an active streetscape.