Unicorn Contracting Corporation
SBL: 37.18-2-73, 74, 85, 86
355 Kear Street
Contact: Ciarcia Engineering, P.C.
Description: Proposal to demolish the existing restaurant and construct a 40,000 sf building with a mix of retail and office uses. A new 2,925 sf bank building is also proposed.
Planning Board, 9-25-2017
Phil Grealy, the applicant’s traffic engineer, went over a series of “first flush” conceptual recommendations for handling traffic, including signal adjustments, clearing some vegetation along Kear Street, and some realignment of Kear Street. The traffic study includes potential traffic from developing the small parcel at the corner of Kear and Route 118 although the original plan to build a bank building on the site has been dropp3ed from the plan.
Dan Ciarcia has adjusted some lot lines to avoid creating a hardship and the need for variances; the only possible variance needed may be for the Markatos Building, but that may be covered by the building’s non conforming use. The footprint of the building has been changed slightly to meet requirements of the Fire Bureau. Mr. Ciarcia showed a simple drawing of how parapets along the roof line would hide the roof mechanicals but Mr. Tegeder asked for more formal drawing.
In anticipation that the applicant will have some preliminary stormwater plans available after a meeting next week with the DEP, a public hearing was scheduled for October 16.
Planning Board, 9-11-2017
Dan Ciarcia advised the board that the survey that included topographic information had been done. He reviewed fire truck access and turnaround issues that had been discussed with the fire commissioners. The roof design has been changed to incorporate a mansard roof which will allow more use of the third floor. Mr. Tegeder expressed concern over where the rooftop mechanical equipment would be located and asked the applicant to show the location on the plans and not leave the location to an afterthought once the site plan was approved. There was some discussion about possible changes to the size of the building and whether variances will be needed; the applicant expects to have more definitive plans by the September 25th meeting which will determine whether variances will be needed. There was a discussion of how much larger the proposed building is than the existing Murphy’s Restaurant but the observer could not hear the answer after the square footage was calculated. The sense, however, was that the proposed building was much larger.
Also, it remains to be decided what will be the best way to merge the different parcels. Options include a lot line adjustment or a more formal subdivision process.
Planning Board, 8-14-2017
Engineer Dan Ciarcia advised the board that the project’s traffic study was completed and that he looked forward to the board’s review of the plan at its September meeting.
Dan Ciarcia reviewed the plan. He explained that a bank was no longer being considered for the vacant parcel at the corner of Route 118 and Kear Street; he indicated that it would be developed for a retail use but no specific plans were identified. Mr. Ciarcia explained that the main reason for being at the meeting was to get input from the board on the issues it wanted covered in the EAF. In response, Mr. Tegeder said that traffic was the major issue; he advised that traffic impact analysis at the intersections of Kear & 118, Underhill and 118, and Kear and Commerce were the critical locations. The board also wants renderings of the proposed building from different vantage points. Mr. Ciarcia advised the board that the applicant is now the owner of the Coldwell Banker property and also has a lease for a portion of the Grace property. Eventually, the three parcels: Murphy’s Restaurant, Coldwell site and a portion of the Grace property will be combined into one lot; the combination could be achieved by a lot line adjustment or a formal subdivision. Cross easements will also be needed.
Planning Board, 6-26-2017
Dan Ciarcia reviewed the plan. He explained that a bank was no longer being considered for the vacant parcel at the corner of Route 118 and Kear Street; he indicated that it would be developed for a retail use but no specific plans were identified. Mr. Ciarcia explained that the main reason for being at the meeting was to get input from the board on the issues it wanted covered in the EAF. In response, Mr. Tegeder said that traffic was the major issue; he advised that traffic impact analysis at the intersections of Kear & 118, Underhill and 118, and Kear and Commerce were the critical locations. The board also wants renderings of the proposed building from different vantage points.
Mr. Ciarcia advised the board that the applicant is now the owner of the Coldwell Banker property and also has a lease for a portion of the Grace property. Eventually, the three parcels: Murphy’s Restaurant, Coldwell site and a portion of the Grace property will be combined into one lot; the combination could be achieved by a lot line adjustment or a formal subdivision. Cross easements will also be needed.
Dan Ciarcia presented a brief overview of the project, highlighting the interior sidewalks and the connectivity to off-site existing sidewalks.
Citing existing vacant retail space, Mara Ziedins questioned the need for additional retail space and suggested that the project be all office space. In response, Tony Grasso, speaking for the Chamber of Commerce explained that either poor management or a change in where residents were shopping was causing the vacancies. He said the Chamber sees the building as a great improvement for the area. The hearing was closed.
Planning Board, 5-22-2017
Engineer Dan Ciarcia displayed a site plan that showed an internal sidewalk network that was in response to earlier comments about the need for pedestrian connectivity. The plan includes one sidewalk that would link to the stairs leading to Kear Street as well as one to the existing sidewalk along Route 118. Mr. Kincart questioned whether the one that was parallel to the Route 118 sidewalk was needed, but other board members felt that the public might feel safer with an internal sidewalk. Mr. Ciarcia also discussed plans for additional screening of the parking lot from Route 118. He will refine the plan that is ready for a Public Informational Hearing. No date was set. The stormwater plan is still being worked on. (Mr. Savoca recused himself from the discussion.)
8. The Weyant, Route 202
On a referral from the Town Board, the Planning Board did a brief review of both plans, although Mr. Riina indicated that the DOT prefers the plan with access from Hamblyn. There was some discussion about how the use of heightened curb cuts and road widening could control (and limit) the use of Hamblyn Street.
Although the Town Board will be the approval authority for the site plan and rezoning and the Planning Board’s role will only be advisory, the Planning Board will send a memo to the Town Board noting that it wants more time to work on site plan issues before the application returns to the Town Board.
Planning Board, 5-8-2017
The applicant showed the board an architectural rendering of the proposed building that would house 6-7 retail spaces on the first floor and office space on the second floor. The front of the building would face Route 118. The board appeared pleased with the design. (Note: because members of the public were not permitted to stand on the dais, the CIY observer was not able to view the rendering.) The applicant said he hoped to work with the DOT to be able to preserve much of the existing green area along the state’s right of way.
The main reason why the applicant was before the board was to start the SEQRA process. The board voted to declare its intention to be lead agency for the project which starts the referral process.
Town Board, 4-4-2017
During Courtesy of the Floor, Paul Moskowitz was critical of the proposed plan saying that it would reinforce the old stereotype of the Heights hamlet. He hoped that since two of the involved property owners were elected officials, that they would propose something better for Yorktown. Tony Grasso said that it was not up to the town to tell a property owner what to do with his property as long as the property owner’s plan could be developed “as of right.”
Town Board, 3-21-2017
During Courtesey of the Floor Dan Strauss and Paul Moskowitz both commented on the proposed plan to demolish the restaurant and in its place erect a 40,000 sf office/retail building. Citing the current vacancies, Mr. Strauss suggested that instead of more retail space, Messrs. Murphy and Grace might consider an apartment or condo complex. Mr. Moskowitz suggested something that would attract people to Yorktown, like another restaurant or other small businesses, and how the proposed new building could connect to existing uses and be an example for a future Depot Square project. In response, Supervisor Grace said he expected the project to be a great enhancement to the town and that the Planning Board will be the one reviewing the project. He said that as a result of the regulatory reforms advanced by the board, the town was starting to see new investment and removal of 1970s architecture that he called “garbage.”
Planning Board, 3-13-2017
Dan Ciarcia, the applicant’s engineer, presented a pre-preliminary plan for the redevelopment of four abutting lots, three of which are currently developed: Murphy’s Restaurant, the Coldwell Banker Building on Underhill Ave (owned by Peter Markatos) and the Grace Building, also on Underhill Ave, owned by Supervisor Grace. The fourth parcel, located at the corner of Route 118 and Kear Street, is vacant.
The proposal calls for demolishing the restaurant and in its place, erecting a 3-story, 40,000 square foot office/retail building that would be partially on the Grace property and partially on the Murphy property. The existing access from Kear Street would remain, but the main entrance to the new building would be from two existing curb cuts on the Grace property. The access to the Coldwell Banker building would be closed off. The existing parking for the three properties would be reconfigured, but the major parking area would be alongside Route 118. The future ownership of the redeveloped site, including possible cross easements, has yet to be worked out.
No proposed tenants were identified. And although a bank building was mentioned for the vacant parcel, the applicant, Paul Guillaro, said there were no firm plans for this site. (The applicant also built the Caremount building on Hill Boulevard.)
The general purpose of the discussion was for the board to identify potential issues with the plan that the applicant can work out prior to the submission of a formal application. Issues identified by the board included traffic, stormwater and the need for landscaping along Route 118 to screen the cars in the parking lot but leave the building and its signage visible.
In response to a question from the public, Mr. Fon said that once a formal application is submitted and the board reviews it at a few more work sessions, a Public Informational Hearing would be held.