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Development Pressure Ramps Up In Town Of Clarkstown
By Tina Traster
The bucolic site that has been home to Peter X Kelly’s iconic Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar is for sale. Celeb chef Kelly, who is mired in a slew of financial problems, is asking $2.5 million for the 5.3-acre property at 117 North Route 303 in Congers. The restaurant is still operating.
Although Kelly’s upscale and special occasion restaurant has been a hot spot for years — and the site of a restaurant for at least six decades — it is more likely a potential buyer for the site will raze the restaurant and seek zoning changes or a special permit to develop housing on the property.
Development pressure is ramping up in the Town of Clarkstown as developers, and even the town itself, considers senior housing and multi-family projects on several parcels. Sites ripe for redevelopment include former schools, day camps, country clubs, former farms, and open space.
Clarkstown is contemplating housing for both its recently purchased properties at the former Rockland Country Day School and the Grace Baptist Church. The town is not held to zoning codes per se — it can build what it sees fit on land it owns.
But privately held parcels are subject to codes. Rockland County developer Gabe (Gavriel) Alexander, who is under contract to buy a 9-acre parcel in New City that houses Camp Merockdim, an Orthodox Jewish day camp, will likely build market-rate housing. Recently, the owners of the Paramount Country Club, citing a decline in membership, expressed an interest to build five single-family homes and 200 town homes on 36 acres of vacant land on its 217-acre site. The land is zoned for R-160 or conservation.
Senior housing projects are marching forward. The Clarkstown Planning Board has granted preliminary approval for a special permit to a developer who intends to build a senior housing complex on the former Schimpf Farm in West Nyack The Apfelbaum Family Ltd Partnership (AFLP), which for years has met with resistance to developing Buckley Farm on North Main Street in New City, is trying to build senior housing plus 22 single-family homes. The developer is seeking approval to subdivide the 30-acre site into 22 single-family building lots, and for a separate lot to develop six buildings with 195 senior housing units.
Another project snaking its way through the approvals process is Vanderbilt Grande, which proposes a senior housing development of four buildings with 100 two-bedroom units and a community center on five acres of land on the east side of Route 304 near Congers Road in New City.
Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar sits on a site zoned CS (commercial shopping), which allows for a broad variety of uses including professional offices, retail stores, churches, schools, even public parks. To build housing a developer would need to get the land rezoned or acquire a special permit for senior housing.
The property, owned by Kelly’s entity PXK Sources Inc, and brokered by Rushmore Realty, is an existing 21,000 square-foot complex that includes a 250-seat restaurant, and a two-family house.
“Housing is a use that’s being considered by several developers,” for the restaurant site, said Scott Ugell, who is brokering the property. Ugell said developers have met with town officials more than once to discuss the site.
The entity that owns the restaurant is in arrears for its 2020-21 property taxes for more than $91,000 plus interest and penalties. It also owes taxes from prior years.
Kelly has fought hard over the years to save Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar and X2O Xaviars in Yonkers. In 2017, PXK Sources sold the building at 506 Piermont Avenue in Piermont that housed Xaviars and Piermont Freelance Café & Wine Bar for $960,000 to 506 Piermont Avenue Holding Corp.
In 2019 Kelly filed three bankruptcy cases seeking reorganization for his restaurants and for himself. He remains a trustee of his own property as a debtor in possession, which means he has not been required to relinquish control of his properties to a court-appointed trustee.
The Chapter 11 petitions filed Sept. 12, 2019 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, include HCC Caterers Inc. of Yonkers, Ripe Inc., as Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar in Congers, and for Peter X. Kelly, of Blauvelt.
All three petitions appear to have assets of no more than $50,000 and liabilities from $1 million to $10 million. The petitions list more than $7 million in debt to the top 20 unsecured creditors, including nearly $5 million for state and federal tax and payroll obligations.
They include $2.3 million to the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, $1.9 million to the IRS and $746,313 to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.
The IRS has filed claims for more than $3.5 million in back taxes, nearly twice as much as listed on the bankruptcy petitions.
Kelly bought the Bully Boy in 1997 and renamed the restaurant Restaurant X and the Bully Boy Bar as a homage to his friend, Tom McQuade, his mentor. McQuade, beloved restaurateur and the original owner of the Bully Boy Chop House in Congers, died last year. McQuade opened his restaurant in 1961 with his first wife, Judith Davis-Socolow. The location was formerly the Iron Skillet, a restaurant her father had owned, which had closed.
For nearly three decades Kelly has been Rockland County’s most notable celebrity chef. His Xaviars Restaurant Group which have included Xaviars at Garrison, Xaviar’s at Piermont, The Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar, Restaurant X & The Bully Boy Bar, and X2O Xaviars on the Hudson gained the attention of restaurant critics and media coverage in New York Magazine, Esquire Magazine, Crain’s, USA Today, W Magazine, Food Arts, Gourmet Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit.
In 2007 Peter appeared on the Food Networks Iron Chef America and beat Bobby Flay in Battle “Cowboy Rib Eye”, he also played host to Anthony Bourdain on his “No Reservations” program, introducing Tony to the beauty of the Hudson Valley.