Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Developer returns with revamped plan for N. Division and Howard project

Developer+returns+with+revamped+plan+for+N.+Division+and+Howard+project

Developer James Guerriero returned to the Common Council with a revamped proposal for his North Division and Howard Street project during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.  Guerriero, who proposes to construct a new, 125-unit mixed-use building at 201 N. Division Street, needs a special permit from the council. Councilman Dwight Douglas was not present at the meeting.

Before Guerriero presented, Director of Planning Jean Friedman gave a brief overview and description of the project to council members. Accompanying her was Carol Samol, the city’s new planning director. Friedman, who is retiring at the end of the month, told council members the project requires a Common Council special permit and the granting of one story of bonus height.

In September, the council adopted a local law local law to amend sections 575-31c, 575-34B (1) and 575-34B (2) of the city code to allow mixed use buildings with bonus height on North Division Street (the C-3 zoning district) by Common Council special permit. 

The city’s objectives for issuing a special permit are as follows: (1) The structure (s) must be readily accessible for fire and police protection. (2) The special use (mid-rise apartment building) shall be in harmony with the orderly development of adjacent properties. (3) The special permit use will not be more objectionable to nearby properties than permitted uses (i.e., retail, restaurants, services, offices, artist lofts, appliance repair, etc.) by reason of noise, fumes and vibration. (4) Parking and loading areas will be of adequate size, properly located and suitably screened from adjoining uses, and the entrance and exit drives shall be laid out so as to achieve adequate safety.

Friedman added the Common Council has the authority to grant an additional one or two stories of bonus height if the project achieves at least six bonus points per floor. For the granting of one story of bonus height, Guerriero is proposing to provide exceptional vegetation and landscaping on the property and vegetate 25 percent of the total roof area and equipping five percent of the required number of parking spaces with electric vehicle charging stations. Both solutions are three points each and meet the six point requirement. 

At the start of Guerriero’s presentation, new updated renderings of the project were shown to council members.  In the new renderings, Peekskill architect Joseph Thompson removed the top cornice from previous iterations. “As stunning as it may have been, I think it really created a top heavy feeling,” said Guerrero.

This image was the first rendering that Guerriero showed the council.

According to the planning department’s memorandum, the building will appear to be six stories along Howard Street and four stories at the north end of the project on North Division Street. The NYS Building Code counts this as a five story building, since the first floor on Howard Street is considered to be below grade and therefore not counted as a story. “Working from Cortlandt Street back to the corner of Howard, there’s a two story building, then a three story building, and then this building would sit right next to it as a four story building. We think that certainly on North Division St, the typology and the context is going to work very well together and the building is not going to appear to just shoot up to the sky out of nowhere.” said Guerriero. 

Guerriero also provided three different exhibits to explain how the project complies with the provision of amenities required by the special permit. The first exhibit/report shown was a shadow study to explore and show the impact of shadows cast by the proposed mixed use development project. The dates selected for the shadow study were March 21st (the vernal equinox), June 21st (the summer solstice), Sept. 22nd (the autumnal equinox), and Dec. 21 (the winter solstice). Also pictured in the report were buildings on Cortlandt and Howard Streets that could be impacted as a result of the new building. The report establishes that there are no adverse impacts caused by shadows cast onto neighboring properties.

The second exhibit/report shown to council members was a“Tall” Building Review which showed buildings in Peekskill that are four stories or greater.

The final exhibit/report involved the Neighborhood Typology which shows the project’s compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood character. The addresses used in Guerriero’s presentation were: 201, 215, 223 N. Division, and 1018-1026 Howard Street. Guerriero showed the conditions of the addresses, almost all deteriorating, some beyond repair. Included was a graph – all buildings within the red dotted line were examined. In addition, Guerriero showed examples of larger buildings abutting buildings that are much smaller in lot size, building height, density, etc. 

Image of a vacant property at 1022 Howard Street on the proposed development site.

“All of the buildings are currently vacant. There are no residential usage which, if we’re talking about community character, is very important. There is zero displacement of any renter. So everything that we’re showing here and proposing in the building is sort of net positive. We’re not losing parking in the street, we’re gaining. We’re not losing retail, we’re gaining. We’re certainly not losing housing or affordable housing which I think is big,” said Guerriero. 

Guerriero added “I think this project perfectly embodies the revitalization component of the DRI, which is that this private investment is going to work quite well to boost the other DRI projects – Puglsey Park probably the most notably because they are directly across the street.”

“This is an area that I think can benefit greatly from this development and I think probably the entire area can shoot up as a result.”

After he finished, council members praised Guerriero for his informative presentation. “Thank you for the shade study – I think that was incredibly helpful. The benefit to that is to see that no one is setting in shade for any large amount of time. I think that is what I was concerned about from the beginning,” said Councilman Brian Fassett.

Image from presentation James Guerriero made to council regarding the height of buildings around his project.  

Mayor Vivian McKenzie asked a question of how much affordable housing the project is bringing, to which Guerrero responded “As of right now it is set up as ten  percent per the ordinance. So 13 units.”

A resolution for the project is being prepared for the December 11 Common Council meeting and if approved, would refer the special permit request to the planning commission for their recommendation. 

 

About the Contributor
Peekskill native Jeffrey Merchan is a 2022 graduate of Peekskill High School. He is the Collegiate Journalist at Peekskill Herald, funded by a grant from the DJ McManus Foundation. He is currently enrolled at Westchester Community College where he is studying journalism. As the inaugural recipient of the McManus grant, he will be covering city government, schools and feature stories with a focus on Peekskill’s growing Hispanic community.