The cogs are slowly turning in the Freightway renovation machine.
Since the ad hoc Freightway Steering Committee wrapped up its work on creating a community vision for the site, the village turned its attention to Request for Expressions of Interest from developers.
A Land Use Committee meeting held Nov. 28 featured visions submitted by the firms who responded to the RFEI.
“We are at the beginning stages of a process that will guide one of the most important and impactful developments in Scarsdale’s recent history,” said Land Use Committee Chairman Trustee Jane Veron.
The village had asked the firms to incorporate the community vision, and then the steering committee, which worked alongside Manhattan-based BFJ Planning, submitted four options to the board of trustees for their consideration.
One option was to repair and refurbish the garage, with some development on the Popham Road side of the site.
In September, BFJ’s Jon Martin said the market for the Freightway site would be residential development. Any retail would be minimal because the driving principle of the project isn’t to compete with the village center, but to complement it.
The second option is similar to the first, but with an additional connection to Scarsdale Avenue over the railroad.
Martin said this option could improve the connection with the village center and create the opportunity to have a small village green space.
The third option doesn’t bridge over the tracks, but it assumes the development would be built as an addition to the parking area. Martin stressed any of the options presented would not result in any lost parking. In fact, there would be a chance for parking to increase.
The fourth option included pieces from the other options. It was similar to the third option with development on the open lot, but with an added proposal of the connection over the tracks from the second option.
Martin said this option would be cumulative, in a way.
The consultants reviewed the costs and impacts associated with each option.
In the first scenario, there would be a total development cost of $52 million to $57 million. The second scenario would cost between $96 million and $105 million. The third scenario would cost between $102 million and $110 million. The last scenario would be the most costly, estimated between $160 and $173 million.
What garnered the most buzz and had the most positive reaction was having a mixed-use plan with commercial and residential space.
Assistant Village Manager Ingrid Richards said the presentation included ideas from seven firms, but many details were not included in the presentation.
Richards said any future development at Freightway should be a signature project that contributes to the vibrancy of the village center, while maintaining its current function as a commuter parking lot.
“When we say we will integrate it with the village center, we want to ensure it won’t pull from the village retail, we want to ensure it’s complementary,” Richards said.
To make sure everyone — residents, village staff and the developers — was on the same page, the developers were asked to read the vision study.
“It’s good to know we can have a development in line with the thoughts of what we had in our … study,” Richards said.
With that, Richards went through each of the design components provided by the firms.
Toll Brothers of Horsham, Pennsylvania, had a plan that incorporates a three-story parking structure with retail and a seven-story garage on the northern part of the site. There would be a two-story parking podium and five-story residential building on the top of the center and southern parts of the site. The sidewalk along the Popham Road bridge would have an urban plaza and retail uses with pedestrian access.
Manhattan-based East End Capital suggested having the building façade include features from the Tudor architectural style, which goes along with the rest of the village center. The plan would also incorporate two publicly accessible plazas, commercial and retail spaces on Scarsdale Avenue and a service drive that segregates service circulation from both commuter and from public parking access and from resident and drop-off circulation. The design also incorporated a community theater and a music school.
Gateway Development Group of Riverside, Connecticut, introduced their plan to have public space at the pedestrian level along Popham Road, which would serve as a plaza that would include retail. Scarsdale Avenue would include a pedestrian walkway and a small park with a rain garden. The plan also considers a vehicular and pedestrian bridge across the Metro-North tracks from Scarsdale Avenue that would arrive at the upper level of the new garage.
Avalon Bay Communities, based in Arlington, Virginia, presented a plan that would incorporate two garages — the first being a six-level commuter and visitor parking garage and the second one used for residential parking located under the five-story residential building, located at the north end of the site. The plan also incorporates 3,500 square feet of retail/residential/work space along the Popham Road Bridge and it includes a village plaza at the corner of Popham Road and Scarsdale Avenue.
LMC, a firm with offices in multiple cities throughout the country, also planned to incorporate Tudor architectural style with contemporary elements. It proposed building a platform for community concerts, seasonal space for movie nights and holiday pop-up stores. A pedestrian plaza would be on Popham Road on the east side of the redevelopment site, and the plan allows for 40,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, which is less than 10 percent of the gross floor area.
Manhattan-based LCOR was another firm that incorporated Tudor design features, including a corner tower inspired by the Harwood building. Townhomes would be located on Scarsdale Avenue and it would have a curb cut on Popham Road to ease congestion on Garth Road.
Finally, Manhattan-based BRP had plans to incorporate a seven-story parking structure and eight stories of residential space with a new pedestrian access bridge connecting the site to Scarsdale Avenue. The public space would be located next to Popham Road and would have a community park, commuter plaza and kiosk.
These were just some of the concepts mentioned in the presentation, and both Veron and Richards said the village is in the preliminary stages of the project.
As of press time, there are no firm plans as to when the village would select a design to put out to bid.