Application Does Not Specify Intentions For 66 Percent Of Square Footage
Village Of South Nyack To Consider Hiring Outside Counsel For Land-Use Issues
By Tina Traster
The Village of South Nyack is holding a special meeting Thursday morning by teleconference to discuss hiring outside legal counsel for land use matters. The discussion is likely triggered by a possible sale of portions of the 107-acre Nyack College Campus, which might involve at least two buyers.
The college has already signaled its intention to go to contract with a single “for-profit buyer for the entire campus” but has not revealed who the buyer is. Nyack College, which has been selling the land for more than a year, is seeking a special permit from the Village of South Nyack to allow for residential use of some of the existing buildings on nonconforming lots. The application requests a special permit for 22 of the 42 buildings. That represents 157,274 square feet, or only 33 percent, of the total square footage (467,666 square feet).
It is unclear what is planned for the additional 310,292 square feet of building, which includes the Boon Campus Center, Bowman Gymnasium, the Fieldhouse, Mosley Halls South and North, Bell Tower House, Bailey Library, Simpson Hall and other non-residential and educational buildings.
Nyack College has represented that the prospective buyer would potentially sell off single-family houses on the campus and re-purpose dormitories and existing buildings into multi-family housing on nearly 50 acres where some 38 college buildings are located.
In a Zoom meeting last week, Nyack College Executive V.P. David Jennings told 100 people participating in the meeting the buyer would be revealed by May 15th but that date has passed without any revelation.
Residents have demanded to know who the buyer is but have not received answers. However, two sources have told RCBJ there is a good likelihood that local developer Gabe Alexander is eyeing a possible purchase of houses and dormitories buildings to convert to residential use.
Alexander is the developer of Pavion, a rental housing development in Nyack. Last October Alexander Property Holdings bought the Spring Valley Marketplace for $59.3 million. The shopping center plans to allocate nearly 100,000 square feet to house a Bingo Wholesale, a kosher superstore that is a joint venture between the Brooklyn-based Marav USA and Osher Ad, a grocery chain with 20 stores in Israel.
Alexander said he had no comment at the moment.
Meanwhile several national builders, including Toll Brothers, are eyeing undeveloped parcels to build high density multi-family housing.
County legislators, planners, and citizens have shown an intense interest in the future of Nyack College’s campus. But South Nyack, which hosts the lion’s share of the college campus, has the power to wield significant influence over the outcome of the sale, and the future of the property because it is the zoning authority for the bulk of the campus.
The four-year, private Nyack College is moving its students to its Manhattan location.
It is unclear whether or not the contract to purchase the land is contingent upon a special permit. The college has an existing special permit for its use as a residential college. However a new or amended special permit is needed to alter that use to allow for anything other than what it’s been used for.
The application says “there are no plans to alter the exterior of any of the existing buildings or expand the footprint.” The application also says “this special permit amendment does not require any site plan development.”
Nyack College did not respond to several calls and emails seeking comment.
Technically, the college campus is two parcels. The main parcel houses 38 campus buildings, but there’s a 22-acre portion of land, ripe for development, in the northwestern corner located in Orangetown. This site, which is being eyed by national housing developers, is undeveloped except for the 1774 Bradley Estate, which housed the college president. It’s zoned R-80, which permits single-family detached residences on 80,000 square foot lots, as well as churches, libraries, schools and limited agricultural use, requiring five-acre lots.
Nyack College has a “nonconforming use permit” to occupy the bucolic land that is zoned for 18,000-square-foot residential lots. According to the village code, the buyer of the land has a one-year window from the day Nyack College shut down its operation to preserve the right to continue its nonconforming use and operate an educational campus. Once the year mark passes, the land reverts back to R-18, or residential zoning.
If the land does revert back to R-18, a prospective developer could propose single-family housing but multi-family housing with density would require a zoning variance, or a change of the zoning code by Village trustees.
The zoning code also says the new owner must re-apply for a non-conforming use permit within 90 days of the closing, which would likely be granted unless the Village Board enacts legislation to phase out the use.
Nyack College took out a $38.5 million loan against its South Nyack campus from 100 Mile Fund LLC, owned by Procida Funding & Advisors, a non-bank lender.