YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. -- While groundbreaking could be a few years off, Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace and the Citizens For A Progressive Yorktown are trying to get the ball rolling on new development on the corner of Underhill Avenue and Front Street.
Grace and Citizens Spokesperson Bill Primavera presented several ideas for revitalizing Yorktown Heights Tuesday, including uniform town signage and two new concepts for development at the current site of the town’s highway garage called Depot Square. The developments call for three-story mixed-use residential/commercial buildings that would act as the new unofficial center of Yorktown. One concept was inspired by the 18th century Whitney House hotel that was demolished decades ago.
Grace said he has been looking to kick start new development downtown since January and the two new concepts could pave the way toward that goal.
“There is space that is conducive to being a real town center right there and we haven’t taken advantage of that enough as far as I’m concerned,” Grace said Tuesday during a press conference at the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce. “I think the value of this property would allow us to develop quite a few things. If you take these two concepts and we start to work toward something, we could have an incredible project. This shows that the town is leading toward the proper revitalization of this community.”
Neither proposed concept would take up the entire space on the lot with estimates coming in at around one-and-a-half acres per project. Town officials added that the minimum space required could lend to a faster approval process through the various town committees.
“I was blown away by both (concepts). I’m thrilled to see the vision end up on paper,” Grace said. “I think it’s a great opportunity and I’m hopeful the town board sees it and gives it a little political momentum. … From a fiscal perspective for the town, this is an absolute win.”
Grace and Primavera expressed excitement about the possibility of developing in the area in the next few years, but neither gave a firm timetable or cost estimate to the projects.
“What happens a lot of times with these things is you get a criticism and you don’t get a recommendation,” Grace said. “I’d rather jump and figure out how I’m going to land on the way down than not to jump at all.”
Babette Ballinger, of Yorktown Smart Growth, said she was very excited about the project.
"The thing I like about it as that it’s the beginning of a town center and I want to use the word romantic and it looks upscale to reflect the taxes that we all pay,” she said.
Grace said the next step is a proposed environmental review of the site and the relocation of the town’s highway garage, which could take place within the next few months. Grace later noted that he would like to see the highway garage moved to the town’s sewer treatment plant site within the next year, with design and bidding on the proposed concepts within the next three years.
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