Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Developers seek to turn Peekskill land into new homes

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The neighborhood off Frost Lane still has vestiges of its roots as farmland. (Photo by Jim Roberts)

Buy land. They ain’t making any more of the stuff.

                                                                        – Will Rogers, American humorist

Developers are finding a limited amount of ripe territory for potential projects in Peekskill. With scarce empty land still available, homebuilders are tackling the extended, costly and sometimes laborious process of winning approvals and meeting the vocal objections of residents to try and make their investments pay off.

Jim Zappi, the principal of Zappico Real Estate Development in Hawthorne, entered the Peekskill market at the end of 2022 and early 2023 with the purchase of two houses and undeveloped land on Mountain View Road off Franklin Street.

The firm bought the properties from Warren D. Dyckman and is currently building a two-family townhouse on an empty lot between the two existing homes.

Mountain View Road borders Rt. 9. (Photo by Jim Roberts)

Zappi has been designing and constructing neighborhoods in Westchester for over 30 years, according to his website. “He purchases raw land and works with local towns to develop communities that recreate each unique sense of place. His subdivisions boost affordable housing, conservation easements and parks and are designed to be neighbor friendly.”

The firm lists 13 projects scattered throughout Westchester  County, including Mohegan Commons in Mohegan Lake and a planned development of nine luxury homes in Yorktown called “Orchard View.” Many of the Zappi homes sell for a million dollars or more.

In 2019, a different developer drew up plans to develop the Mountain View land with eight homes on the site. The plan then was called “The Enclave at Mountain View.” Several of those houses were planned for the steep sloping woods at the end of Mountain View Road. A new road would have been built to open onto Lower South Street.

Zappi has been pursuing approvals in Mount Pleasant for several years to build a total of 31 million-dollar homes in a project called Meadows at Briarcliff Manor. Fierce opposition has stalled the plan, claiming environmental damage if the property located near Lake Pocantico is developed.

Zappi did not return a call for comment regarding his plans for the Peekskill property.

Mountain View Estates off Highland Park

Another project, Mountain View Estates off Lockwood Road near the Hat Factory, is a proposed housing development of five single-family homes and 41 condominiums on 16.4 wooded acres near the Highland Park neighborhood. The builder in that project is Giordano Builders of Yorktown. Approximately 700 trees would be removed.

Significant opposition to that project exists from residents.

Area in red is the Mt. View Estates property off Lockwood Drive.

“If this massive project is allowed to front on Lockwood Drive, it has the potential to forever change the character of our family-oriented neighborhood and affect the value of our homes,” wrote one. “I hope the Planning Commission will bear our concerns in mind as it reviews this project.”

Mark Giordano of Giordano Builders in Yorktown did not return a call for comment.

Frost Lane townhouse plans winding through approval process

One project seeking approvals is finding a not-unexpected push back from neighbors on Frost Lane and Pataki Farm Drive.

In August of 2021, the Steven Borbely family sold their 13.774 acres of undeveloped land off of Frost Lane to Peekskill Views LLC, based in Spring Valley, NY for $1.1 million.

Representatives for developer Sunrise Development and Management have attended several months of Planning Commission meetings and public hearings in a public review process that started in March 2023. The current plan calls for 28 residential units, six of them single-story attached ranch style houses and 22 two-and-a-half story townhomes with garages underneath. The original proposal had 31 units. All the units are condominiums.

The developer has stated they could have sought approvals for up to 45 units on the site, under the current zoning. Building single-family houses would also have produced 28 homes.

The developer says they are continuing discussions with the Westchester Land Trust to set aside nine acres of preservation land. By clustering homes in townhouses, the developer can afford to keep that land undeveloped.

The city’s Planning Commission is reviewing the Frost Lane application for site plan and subdivision and will continue discussion and public hearing on Jan. 24, according to Peekskill Director of Planning Carol Samol. The meeting, originally scheduled for Jan. 9, was postponed due to inclement weather.

Frost Lane residents created this flyer to inform neighbors of the project.

“The site plan includes a request for clustering and steep slope review,” Samol said. “If the Planning Commission approves the application, the applicant must finalize the conservation easement documentation before revising the building permit applications. There are likely to be more rounds of review before any determination by the Planning Commission,” Samol said.

Jody Cross, an attorney with Zarin and Steinmetz LLP representing the developer, said the project will benefit the community and is being revised to address concerns expressed through the approval process.

“In response to public comments, the density of the project has been reduced further to 28 units and redesigned the internal roadway to preserve a lot of the steep slopes on the property,” Cross said

“We’re developing this property in an environmentally conscious manner and providing housing when clearly there’s a housing shortage. We take the concerns seriously so we’re addressing them appropriately with the board,” she said.

Frost Lane developer faces neighborhood opposition

An aroused collective of neighbors in the homes surrounding the Peekskill Views property on Frost Lane has turned out in force at Planning Commission meetings to challenge the project.

Besides losing the 13 acres of undisturbed woodlands they’ve enjoyed for years, the opponents express disbelief at the minimal traffic impact the developer’s expert forecasts.

The site is particularly challenging for traffic because of the bottlenecks created at a stop sign parallel to a traffic light at the intersection with the Bear Mountain Parkway.

“The traffic study supplied by the developer only addresses the number of trips in and out of the development using national data. It does not consider the unique situation of the extremely problematic intersections at Pataki Farm Drive and the Bear Mountain Parkway, or at Frost Lane and Division Street. It also does not address the very dangerous blind curve right before the intersection at Pataki Farm. They are using a generic ‘one size fits most’ approach that is not realistic or accurate,” opponents wrote in their submission to the Planning Commission.

View from intersection of Frost Lane and Pataki Farm Drive with Bear Mt. Parkway, subject of neighbor’s traffic concerns. (Photo by Jim Roberts)

“There are already infrastructure issues on Frost Lane concerning water runoff and flooding, narrow streets with no sidewalks, no space for the people who already live there to park, the speed and stop signs are not obeyed, the intersections at both ends are very dangerous, etc. etc. Besides traffic, there are also concerns about the effects on water and sewer capacity, noise during construction,” they concluded.

Connections to Rockland County, New Jersey and Connecticut

That land purchase by Sunrise from the Borbely family was partially financed by a $700,000 mortgage that Peekskill Views borrowed from Ditmas Park Capital L.P., a lender based in Lakewood, N.J.

Ditmas Park Capital is headed by Barry Hertz. His brother, Rabbi Meir Hertz, is a controversial figure who has headed Lakewood Tenants Organization in Lakewood for several decades. Rabbi Hertz runs the Section 8 program in Lakewood, paying himself several hundred thousand dollars a year, according to tax returns. He also runs a boys’ school, Tashbar of Lakewood. The brothers have developed luxury homes in New Jersey, according to published reports.

On that mortgage, the borrower signing the document was Nathan Kahn, a managing member of Sunrise Development and Management LLC for Peekskill Views LLC.

According to information from Sunrise, the firm develops single-family and townhome communities. Between 1995 and 2015 Sunrises’ development activities were exclusively in Connecticut. Sunrise was one of the first developers of active adult communities (55+) and obtained approvals for and built six such projects, the company says.

Completed Connecticut projects include 395 units in Glastonbury; 65 units in New Fairfield; 69 units in Gramby; 55 units in Hebron; and 165 units in Berlin.

Now targeting development in the northern New York suburbs, Sunrise is pursuing three projects: Kent Hills is a 113-acre site in Kent, New York, that will become a 150-unit active adult townhome community; Beacon Views, with 37 market rate townhomes; and the Peekskill site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Contributor
Jim Roberts has been in this business for more than 35 years (hard to believe) and still learning every day. A third-generation Peekskill resident, he started as a lowly researcher at the Westchester Business Journal in 1986 and learned how to be a reporter from many veterans in the field. He’s worked in private companies, Connecticut state government and wrote for the Co-op City Times for 10 years before retiring from full-time work in 2019. Roberts wants to contribute to building the Herald into a news website for residents who care about what’s happening in Peekskill.