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Adding Density and Mixed Use to One of New York City’s Outer Suburbs

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By the end of 2019, the first families will move into new, million-dollar townhouses at Edge-on-Hudson, a $1 billion development that will eventually bring more than a thousand new luxury apartments, condominiums, and townhouses to Sleepy Hollow, New York.

“We expect—not just hope—but we expect this to be wildly successful,” says Mayor Ken Wray, speaking at a tour of the development held by ULI Westchester/ Fairfield in October. “For the village, this is incredibly important.”

Edge-on-Hudson should give the Village of Sleepy Hollow millions in annual tax revenue. It should also provide the energy and interest to redevelop crumbling buildings and pay for several new parks. Mayor Wray also hopes to build another bridge to the development—to better link the poor, immigrant neighborhood around Sleepy Hollow’s existing downtown with the luxury condos on its revitalized waterfront.

Developers Plan Shops, Offices, Hotel Rooms, a Kayak Landing

The master plan for Edge-on-Hudson includes 1,177 condominiums, townhouses, and rental apartments—plus a new, miniature downtown next to a new traffic circle with 35,000 square feet (3,300 sq m) of office space and 135,000 square feet (12,500 sq m) of retail space for restaurants and a specialty grocer.

“I think it is going to appeal to just about everybody,” says Jonathan Stein, founding and managing partner at Diversified Realty Advisors, based in Montville, New Jersey. Diversified partnered with SunCal, headquartered in Irvine, California, as the master developers of Edge-on-Hudson. “It’s live/work/play with waterfront access.”

Toll Brothers is building 306 units of housing in the first phase at Edge-on-Hudson—including 118 townhouses and “loft” condominiums. The first phase will also include 188 rental apartments. About a third of those (61 units) will be workforce housing and senior housing. Several have already sold at prices from $499,000 to $1.2 million, according to Toll Brothers.

Later phases will bring a new 140-room hotel to the river’s edge with another restaurant, a rooftop bar, and a waterfront promenade in a new, 16-acre park (6.5 ha) with a playground and a kayak landing. The developers also promise to carefully renovate Sleepy Hollow’s lighthouse, built in 1883.

Sleepy Hollow is best known as the haunted village in a famous ghost story. The grave of the author, Washington Irving, is a 20-minute walk from Edge-on-Hudson. It also has a gritty industrial past. Factories once lined the Hudson River. In Sleepy Hollow, workers assembled cars for General Motors.

“There was a time when the tax revenue from this plant was 50 percent of the village tax revenue,” says Mayor Wray. It closed in 1996 and the factory buildings stood empty for years.

“It pretty much looked like the dark side of the moon,” says Diversified’s Stein. The producers of the post-apocalyptic movie I Am Legend and the TV series The Sopranos both asked to film at the spooky, abandoned factory.

In the very first year after the developers purchased the 68-acre (27.5 ha) site in 2014, they contributed $900,000 in property taxes. “We are projecting several million a year in tax revenue,” says Mayor Wray.

Village officials hope to use the income from taxes to help prepare several more old properties for redevelopment. For example, the 10-minute walk from the new traffic circle to the Tarrytown train station passes the tired buildings of Sleepy Hollow’s Department of Public Works. “We have already rezoned this for mixed use, with retail on the first floor and residential above,” says Mayor Wray.

New residential developments already crowd the waterfront around Edge-on-Hudson. The walk to the Tarrytown train station also passes 44 luxury townhouses at Ichabod’s Landing, built by Ginsburg Development Companies, based in Valhalla, New York, along with roughly 200 new condominiums and townhouses at Hud­son Har­bor, built by National Resources, a developer based in Green­wich, Connecticut, prices start around $1.2 million for a two-bedroom unit.

The developers of Edge-on-Hudson are expected to run a tram at peak hours from Edge-on-Hudson to the Tarrytown train station. Residents who live at the northern edge of Edge-on-Hudson will also be able to walk in the other direction to the next MetroNorth station at Philipse Manor. The 15-minute walk passes under the century-old trees of Kingsland Point Park.

Building Bridges

The luxury condominiums along the waterfront are divided from the rest of Sleepy Hollow by the train tracks of the MetroNorth commuter rail line. A few footbridges and a single bridge for cars cross the train tracks.

Across the train tracks, the layers of Sleepy Hollow’s history jumble together—from the empty United Auto Workers union hall, which the village is preparing for redevelopment as workforce housing, to the Sweet Ambateño Bakery, named after a city in Ecuador.

“We are a proud immigrant community,” says Mayor Wray. “More than half of the people who live in this village speak Spanish at home.”

Sleepy Hollow’s existing downtown is crowded with historic buildings, a few vacant lots, and houses often owned by absentee landlords, where renters often double and triple up. “It shows more harmony with a challenged city neighborhood than with a stereotypical suburb,” according to A Vision for Sleepy Hollow: Managing Change and Building for Diversity, a report created by ULI. The census tract around downtown has an unemployment rate higher than the average for Westchester County (7.4 percent) and the average income for these workers is lower (44 percent earn less than $50,000 a year).

To connect Sleepy Hollow’s existing neighborhoods to the waterfront, the village should consider ideas including bus lines, bike lanes, and programs to help property owners renovate—particularly along Beekman Avenue, the commercial street leading over the bridge and into Edge-on-Hudson, according to the ULI report, which is based on a ULI technical assistance panel held in November 2017.

The village is also planning to open another bridge that would link the north end of Edge-on-Hudson with the street grid of the neighborhood on the other side, including another new park planned by the village and the planned new location of its public works department. “That provides two-way access for emergency vehicles, obviously other vehicles as well and pedestrian access,” said Mayor Wray. The new bridge appears on several of the maps in the ULI report, though the developers have not yet added it to the map of their master plan.