Design & Construction:
Question: How many units are proposed?
Answer: 108 rental apartments plus 1 superintendent apartment.
Question: Will the developers also be the folks managing the building?
Answer: WBP is a fully integrated company with development, construction and management divisions. They own and manage over 3,000 apartments, more than 2,000 of which are affordable / workforce. Their management company, WB Residential, will employ a live-in superintendent and staff an on-site rental office.
- How will you work with what is already here in the area – the rocks and building?
- Will the building be attached to the cliff?
Answer: All existing buildings and structures onsite will be demolished and removed from the site. The entire site will then be remediated to deal with existing contaminated soil from previous historical uses of the site. Surrounding rock outcroppings will, for the most part, be left in place.
The development will be set back from the surrounding ledge to allow room for an accessible fire lane in the rear of the building. This will allow for 360-degree fire company access to the building in the event of an emergency. The construction that is to be tied into the bedrock cliff will be at the sixth floor, where the developer will build an access to Main Street that connects to the sixth story of the building to allow (and encourage) residents to walk to the downtown.
Question: Can we make the developer hire people, for both construction and ongoing operations, from Ossining?
Answer: Due to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (MWBE) requirements on the funding that developers receive to construct affordable housing, Wilder Balter has certain requirements on hiring. Often WBP hires residents of the communities in which they work. Their development in Peekskill has an apprenticeship program component, and they also work closely with the city to fill spots on staff for the building when openings become available. Chapter 77 of the Village Code also allows for construction projects to integrate an apprenticeship program, so long as the projects funding sources do not preclude such a program.
Question: What are some of the features/characteristics of the design to reach LEED Gold?
Answer: Reaching LEED requires completion of a LEED checklist to ensure that a building meets the goals of the program. Items on the checklist include design, construction and management elements of a building that create sustainability and livability, and reduce the carbon footprint and water usage. The building is being designed to LEED Gold standards and among other measures will include: creation of a very tight building envelope (high levels of insulation, high performing windows, air-sealing and testing of the following to ensure performance); energy recovery ventilation system; high efficiency heating and cooling; water efficient (low flow) fixtures; Energy Star Appliances; LED lighting; low VOC and no VOC materials to minimize and eliminate off-gassing; native plantings; on-site solar; and many other features. Location is also critical and in this case we would be remediating a blighted brownfield site that is centrally located close (and walkable) to shopping and transportation.
Question: In regard to recycled/green materials – what is the percentage?
Answer: Material selection will be part of completing the LEED checklist.
Question: Can the building be engineered to accommodate a green roof?
Answer: The proposed plan is to construct a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building—as a component of the LEED Gold certification, the current drawings incorporate a green roof on at least one roof level and possibly two. Additionally, WBP anticipates rooftop solar on the building.
Question: Are there any infrastructure improvements planned during construction as far as fire, water mains?
Answer: This will be studied during the design and local approval process.
Question: Will this building include any units designed specifically for seniors or the differently abled, with safety bars and amenities for people in wheelchairs?
Answer: The proposed building is 100% handicapped accessible and adaptable. In addition, 5 to 10 of the building’s units will be adapted, which means they will include safety bars and amenities for residents in wheelchairs.
Question: In regard to fire – consideration given to people who are disabled – can’t get down stairs (safe zone)?
Answer: The development will be designed to meet all ADA and Fire Code requirements further minimizing the risk of injury to all residents. At this point in design, WBP has not studied, nor determined, if the building will require an Area of Refuge.
Question: To the extent Public Access is encouraged – what about security measures for the residents in the apartments – is there any provision being made for that?
Similar to WBP’s other developments, they plan to incorporate numerous security measures into the public and private areas of the development-- this includes security cameras, resident key card control on all entrances, and an onsite super who will live in the building.
Question: When do you see this project being done?
Answer: Once site plan approval is obtained, 22 - 24 months for construction is to be expected, followed by two to three months of lease up. The Village and agency approval process is expected to be completed in 6-12 months.
Question: Are there going to be amenities in the building?
Answer: Yes, the building will have 2,000 to 3,000 SF of indoor amenity space on the ground floor of the building, outdoor terraces on the fifth and seventh floor, and the park and greenway extension that the developer will build on the property. Off-street parking is also provided at no charge to the tenants. All residents living in the building will have access to these amenities. The indoor amenity spaces will include a gym and a community lounge.
Question: What about temperature in the units – will residents have the ability to control heat and cooling? Will all units have laundry facilities?
Answer: Yes, all units will have climate-controlled heating and cooling that can be controlled by the resident. All apartments will have washer dryer hookups and there will be centralized laundry facilities in the building.
Question: Will there be a jitney service up into the Village?
Answer: A jitney or shuttle is not currently envisioned as a project component. However, the Village is currently engaged in a Mobility and Parking study for downtown that may shed light on how we can help residents get around without use of their personal vehicles. In regards to a trolley or shuttle specifically, the Village is currently researching several vendors who may be able to provide free or inexpensive shuttle services around Ossining in the very near future.
Question: Are you going to buy the property from the Village – does the Village get money?
Answer: The Village is getting value for the property, comprised of the cost of the brownfield remediation; greenway extension; necessary work on the Sing Sing Kill, creation of a linear park, parking construction and ongoing maintenance of publicly available facilities. Additional purchase price beyond the aforementioned benefits will be negotiated between the Village and WBP based on appraisals conducted for the Village and WBP.
Question: Will this project need a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes)?
Answer: A PILOT is anticipated to be necessary for this development to be viable. The terms of the PILOT are to be negotiated with the Village and the Developer based on the needs of this development plan.
Question: Private/Public investment – does the public also reap some of the rewards – some of the profit?
Answer: The DPW site will not only create a much needed affordable residential opportunity for the village, but in doing so will remediate a contaminated and blighted site that is currently underutilized, create a public amenity that facilitates a pedestrian connection between upper Main Street and Station Plaza, create space for retail opportunities, and create over 3,500 square feet of state-of-the-art space for use by the local community groups, including the school district.
Question: What is the impact on taxes for the average homeowner for an affordable development as opposed to a market rate development, like Harbor Square?
Answer: The Harbor Square development also has a PILOT—in addition to 18 affordable units, they also had to remediate a brownfield and contribute towards a public park. Also, like the DPW site, the property that now contains Harbor Square was not on the tax rolls prior to development—even with a PILOT, the Village will be generating revenue we would not otherwise get. The PILOT mechanism is what allows the public amenities included in both projects to be financially feasible for the developer—what we don’t get in revenue, we make up for in site cleanup and amenities (like the extension of the Sing Sing Kill Greenway and the pre-requisite storm water and site improvements) which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for the Village to supply. As more details of this specific project are negotiated, the Village will be able to give more concrete comparisons from a tax dollar standpoint.
Question: This property is waterfront real estate, which would be incredibly valuable once remediated. Why not do something similar to Harbor Square (market rate with an affordable component)?
Answer: The property is a transit-oriented development site, which adds value to the property, but the lack of immediate access to the waterfront and the underinvested nature of the properties immediately adjacent to the site impacts the potential rents of any future development on this site under the current conditions. Currently, the remediation costs of the property and the challenges of obtaining rents high enough to sustain the debt necessary to develop the site as a fully market rate property pose challenges. Providing public amenities such as the Greenway extension and the public parking would further the challenge of developing the site for fully market rate. Financing using federal tax credits enable these projects to be viable, and are tied to the construction of affordable housing, address identified housing and community needs cited in the Village’s RFQ for this project.
Question: Does this development eventually become tax-positive for the community?
Answer: The site is currently generating nothing in tax revenue; even as some of the considerations for the PILOT are still being discussed, it is projected to immediately have a positive effect once a PILOT is in place, and even more so once the PILOT is over and it comes onto the tax roll. The annual amount of the PILOT will require balancing the cost to provide the amenities (the extension of the Sing Sing Kill Greenway and public parking) against the potential revenues by all taxing entities, including the Village, Town, School, Library and County, that will be required to provide service to the site and its residents. The eventual decision on unit mix (how many bedrooms each unit will contain) will be required before a formal assessment of how the school district is affected can be generated, but generally speaking, there should be a positive tax impact for each of the other taxing jurisdictions regardless of unit mix.
Question: Will this development contribute what’s needed to the School District?
Answer: The objective is to minimize the impact on the school district as much as is possible; the school will receive a portion of the PILOT to offset the children who would be added to the District, and the unit mix will impact the amount of the eventual PILOT agreement. The Village Administration has been regularly in touch with the School District Administration about this proposed development, and also the quality of housing in Ossining. It has become evident throughout the pandemic that families in some parts of Ossining have difficulty with internet connectivity or are living under conditions that do not facilitate remote learning. We plan to work with the school district to ensure that the community space in the building will be configured to alleviate the some of the challenges with distance learning as well as home and afterschool learning.
Question: How long will the units remain affordable?
Answer: Westchester County requires 50 years, but the developer has indicated that they would likely hold affordability for 99 years, as they have in their other sites.
Question: What will the highest paying tenants pay for rent (including tenants who are paying 100% of the market rate)? What will the lowest paying tenants pay for rent? At Saturday's forum, the developers mentioned a maximum income but not a minimum income amount.
Answer: There are no market rate units. The most expensive three bedroom unit, based on the federally mandated HUD affordable rent guidelines for 2020 AMI, is $2,503, including heat and hot water.
Question: What is the AMI for the average Village resident?
Answer: AMI is determined by a federal process and sets the guidelines for the income criteria to be used for the renting of any affordable housing that receives federal funding, including tax credits. The federal government sets the AMI numbers at the County level in New York State, which means that the income criteria for AMI in Ossining is actually based on the Median Income for all of Westchester County rather than for only Ossining. Moreover, AMI is also based on household size and therefore is different for a single person than it is for a household of 3, 4, or 5 people. In Westchester County, the 2020 AMI for a 4 person household is $125,800. American Community Survey five-year estimate for 2015-2019 median household income for the Village of Ossining is $70,177 (Census). As the Westchester County AMI is actually $75,500, a 60% AMI building in Westchester County would likely accommodate families earning slightly more than the Median Income in Ossining.
Question: How much of our community is cost burdened?
Answer: If a household spends greater than 30% of their income on housing, they are considered to be “cost burdened”. According to the Village’s 2017 Housing Needs Assessment, over 59% of renters (or 2414 Ossining households) are cost-burdened. Further, 33% of those renters (1417 households) are considered to be “severely cost burdened”, meaning they spend greater than 50% of their income on rent.
Question: Do market fluctuations impact the tenants paying rent at this development? If so, how is Ossining going to ensure that as housing markets fluctuate, tenants who are lower income are not pushed out due to rent increases?
Answer: No. The rent is restricted by HUD guidelines-- the rent cannot go up unless the AMI goes up.
Question: Does affordable housing have a negative impact on schools?
Answer: Affordable housing creates housing opportunities that allows people to live in decent, quality housing. Many of the residents in affordable housing developments work in or near their communities. School district employees and employees of companies that serve the school district need affordable housing. In this sense, affordable housing helps the local community, including the school district. From a fiscal impact standpoint, any affordable housing development has lower taxable values than market rate housing and therefore reduces the net fiscal benefit.
Question: Mixed income housing functions differently depending on the community and the market rate in that area. How is it going to function at this specific development?
Answer: The proposed development is projected to have a range of affordability, with all units paying between 30% and 80% of the Westchester County Area Median Income (“AMI”). This will be enforced by a deed restriction that keeps the housing affordable for 99 years. The current projected rents, including heat and hot water, are reflected below (approximate figures).
The housing will be advertised as per a Marketing Plan approved by Westchester County Department of Planning and New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
Question: How many of the 109 units will include affordable housing? Will there be strategic planning in terms of which housing will be affordable based on value (i.e. will the more expensive housing have a better view etc.)?
Answer: 100% of the housing will be income-restricted and affordable per the criteria above. Generally speaking, the housing is evenly distributed throughout the building. There is an even distribution on one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and unit distribution is similar among the varying income levels. For example, there are an equal number of three-bedroom units at every income level.
Question: A 30% AMI is quite low. What are the impacts of that? If the threshold was raised to 60% AMI, would that help the financial viability of the development?
Answer: Several years ago, the Federal government (and some states) created a program called “income averaging”, wherein developers are allowed to average 60% of AMI—prior to this change, developers of affordable housing could not go above 60% AMI. This change has allowed communities to reach a broader range of families—this development ranges from 30% to 80% AMI, roughly averaging 60% AMI.
Questions: Will this project do anything to help us lower density of houses in this Village that are overcrowded?
Answer: Adding multifamily affordable rental developments in Ossining and elsewhere will help to alleviate overcrowding. In the Hudson Valley and Long Island, Wilder Balter Partners (WBP) has completed about 2,000 workforce / affordable apartments. In Westchester, WBP has completed for-sale and rental affordable / workforce communities in:
- New Castle (Stone Creek and Chappaqua Crossing Apartments);
- Cortlandt (Jacobs Hill and Cross Creek);
- Montrose (Roundtop);
- North Salem (Bridleside);
- and has two under construction in:
- Peekskill (645 Main) and
- New Rochelle (14 LeCount);
- and is commencing construction on one in Lewisboro in the spring of 2021.
In Putnam County, WBP has completed three affordable rental communities totaling another 370 affordable rental apartments.
As with the proposed DPW development, all of WBP’s apartments (and other developers’ affordable and workforce apartments with a current regulatory agreement) are available to all Ossining and other residents. Collectively, these developments help to alleviate people living in substandard and overcrowded housing across the County, including in Ossining.
Question: Who will the building be marketed to?
Answer: As required by Westchester County, we will broadly market the development and work closely with Housing Action Council and Ossining’s IFCA.
Question: Where are our residents likely to come from? How many people in Ossining might be here?
Answer: Based on a marketing plan that complies with fair housing requirements, the developer will advertise in Westchester County and the surrounding counties. While the outreach will be wide and they anticipate that residents will come from many areas, based on their experience and the experience of Housing Action Council and IFCA, it is expected that a great deal of the tenants who live in the development will have a connection to Ossining-- they currently live in or around Ossining, they work in Ossining or the surrounding communities and / or they are a son, daughter, sibling, parent or other relation of a current Ossining resident.
Question: Is there a formula that includes a minimum number of people that have to live in the units?
Answer: Yes, Westchester County and NYS Homes and Community Renewal regulate the minimum number of residents in each apartment type: one-bedroom minimum is one person; two-bedroom minimum is two persons and the three-bedroom is three persons.
Question: Why does this housing development require the application process to be lottery based? Does this have to do with where the funding is coming from for the development? Does it have to do with the developers chosen?
Answer: The lottery-based application process is a requirement through Westchester County for all affordable developments in which the County has an interest. Additionally, since the units will be renting at below market rents, there will always be more interested renters than apartments; a lottery can help to ensure a fair approach.
Question: With the lottery, is there no set aside for local residents?
Answer: Correct, there is no set aside. The lottery-based application process is a requirement for developments funded by Westchester County and New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The funding does not allow a set aside for local residents. While our focus is always to make life better for those living in Ossining, there are fair housing rules that prohibit reserving housing units for residents of the community. This is meant to combat discrimination in communities that may mean to keep others out. However, since the proposed development has been designed to fill the needs of Ossining residents (shaped by the developer concept, by Ossining’s Housing Needs Assessment and by the public engagement process), we expect that many families who apply to live in the building will be from Ossining, and in turn we anticipate that many units will be offered to current Ossining residents as a result. This is typically true of both the initial lottery/ lease up and the waiting list as new units become available. This also underscores the need for all communities to build affordable housing—increasing the overall affordable housing inventory throughout Westchester will organically assist in solving this problem.
Question: Do you believe this housing development contributes to the gentrification of Ossining?
Question: What are we doing to encourage more market-rate housing in Ossining, particularly those which can accommodate seniors?
Answer: In the past 5-8 years, there have been a number of Market Rate developments of meaningful scope and size that have produced market rate rentals in the Village, there are more in the pipeline as well.
- In 10 years, when there is a hurricane and the train station floods – this floods, are you going to raise the buildings?
- You account for Floodplain – how about storm surges? Why won’t it flood the first floor?
- In regard to the long-term projection studies Columbia/Cornell – would like to get some clarification in terms of the design of the first floor – have you considered that in terms of those particular studies?
- By increasing the height of the Kill, isn’t that pushing the water/storm surge back into all the other businesses -- that would be increasing the negative impact by doing it?
- How is Ossining planning to protect current residents in this area not living in this development? How will raising the land impact current residents?
The buildings will not be raised in 10 years. The buildings will be designed and built to be sustainable for anticipated sea level rise and changes in flood plains. As the DPW site is already 12 feet higher than the mean water level of the Hudson River, and 6 feet higher than the Harbor Square property, the DPW property is in a good long-term position in terms of sea level rise and anticipated future flood plain levels anticipated to 2050 and beyond. This is substantiated by preliminary FEMA Floodplain Maps and a Columbia / Cornell study which demonstrates that there is minimal to no change to the floodplain upstream of Water Street, even at the projected 30 inch rise in sea level level (The “High” projection for 2050 in the New York City/Lower Hudson region https://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/102559.html).
In addition to local, county and NYS review of our building design, short- and long-term flood plain compliance, and appropriateness for anticipated sea level rise, Wilder Balter will also have to procure flood insurance-- that process will require them to demonstrate the long-term sustainability of improvements in terms of flooding from storm surge and sea level rise.
The development will not be increasing the mean water level of the Sing Sing Kill. The project engineer will prepare a flood map study to ensure that no work on our site has negative flooding impacts to the floodplain or on downstream properties, which will be rigorously reviewed by the Village Planning Board, Planning Department and Village Engineer, as well as outside expert consultants hired by the Village prior to obtaining local approval to redeveloping the site.
Question: What does the choke point mean?
Answer: “Choke point” refers to the point at which the open channel of the Sing Sing Kill goes into a walled channel leading to a culvert and continues below Water Street.
Question: The DPW site has flooded in big storms before. Have the results from the Cornell Cooperative Design Studio been considered? (Higher water levels from the Hudson)
Answer: Wilder Balter has the models used by the CCDS project, as well as models used by Scenic Hudson, to look at sea level rise. They are looking at this to make sure the development is sustainable for not just current flood maps but for future flood mapping. Site is 5 to 7ft higher than pre-construction Harbor Square site. Building plan elevations take the current and proposed flood maps into consideration.
Question: The level for retail – is that first floor, above the Floodplain – or that the ground floor in the Floodplain?
Answer: The retail component will be located on the ground floor. The building will be designed so that each use will be located above the floodplain as required by local law.
Question: What are different levels of Brownfield Remediation?
Answer: When remediating a brownfield site, there are different levels of remediation the applicant can receive (Track 1, 2, 3 or 4).The track assigned to the site is based on the characteristics and nature of the site, the proposed use (residential, commercial) and the extent of contamination.
Question: What materials make this a brownfield? What material will be cleaned from the site?
Answer: The site is a former cold tar plant that was eventually purchased by Con Edison. As a result of the cold tar operations, a byproduct of DNAPL (Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid) was detected on the site. Those same contaminants were remediated at Harbor Square. Residential construction requires the highest level of remediation-- at the DPW site may largely be “in situ” remediation, where the contaminants are solidified in place and regularly monitored via wells, also similar to how the Harbor Square site was remediated. Con Ed’s requirement to clean up the site would not result in a clean enough site to situate residential housing—having the developer undertake the highest level of site remediation is what will allow for not only housing, but also the commercial and community space and the linear park, to be built. *Based on test borings at the site, there are remains from the gas plant due to underground tanks that contain the cold tar remain.
Question: Who will be involved in the clean-up effort?
Answer: Currently it is Con Ed’s responsibility to remediate the property. It is anticipated that the level of remediation that the DEC will require from Con Ed will not allow the property to be built-on with a mixed use development. As a result, the Developer is working to enter into an agreement with Con Ed whereby the Developer will apply for acceptance into the NYS Brownfield Cleanup Program (“BCP”) through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The BCP is specifically designed for cases like the DPW site where remediation would be too costly redevelopment of the site to be financially viable. The Developer will do the cleanup, Con Ed will contribute an amount roughly equivalent to what their limited cleanup would have cost, and the Developer in the program with receive tax credits as an incentive to perform the cleanup operations. Similarly, Harbor Square was enrolled into the BCP program after that developer entered into an agreement with Con Ed and the DEC.
- How do you go through the selection process for retail space?
- Would you consider partnering with existing businesses for satellite locations?
Answer: The goal of the retail space is to create a space / spaces that will be utilized by both building residents and by the public who will be walking through the linear park and greenway or otherwise going onto or past the development. Ideally, WBP hopes to find a current Ossining business owner(s) that wishes to either relocate to this building or open a second location.
Question: With integrating with Main Street – would hate to see redundancy with the businesses – would you accept input from the businesses?
Answer: Yes. WBP seeks a collaborative process involving the surrounding community, as their goal is to complement and integrate Main Street.
WBP is open to any opportunity that will best utilize the available retail space while providing the most benefit to the surrounding community.
Question: How many parking spaces in the garage?
Answer: At present, the estimates are about 159 spots for residents. If the Village decides it wishes for WBP to build a public parking level on the proposed garage, it will have approximately 48 spaces for the public. The developer anticipates that resident parking will be segregated from the municipal parking but that residents will not have specific assigned parking spaces because un-assigned creates a need for less on-site parking as some families will have 2 vehicles and others have zero.
Question: Will there be free parking for the public?
Answer: Parking will be at no cost to building residents. If public parking is included in the final proposed development, the Village will determine parking rates.
Question: Will there be a way for tenants to charge electric vehicles?
Answer: Wilder Balter embraces green technology in their other developments and would plan to incorporate EV charging stations, as well as chargers for electric bicycles, in the parking garage of the DPW site as well.
Question: It will be important that families in this development have access to public transportation nearby. Aside from the train station, have any other options (like a new bus stop) been considered?
Answer: The Village has been in discussion with Bee Line buses and Westchester County about transportation needs within the Village. While this development was not specifically mentioned, Westchester County is open to hearing from us about our community’s needs; if this development goes forward, the Village can re-engage in that dialogue with the County about the viability of a new bus stop.
Question: Aside from the above questions overall we all had a concern about how & when the community was being engaged. Please let us know how everyone involved in the development will be ensuring the full community is not only heard, but has all their ideas implemented in a development that will directly impact their lives.
Answer: Both the Village of Ossining and Wilder Balter recognize the importance of engaging the community. This process leads to a better development that creates a win-win for WBP, the community and the future residents who will live here.
Question: What is being done to involve more people in the conversation about this site?
Answer: The Village is looking for as much input as possible on this proposal. All meetings (including the October 24th, 2020 site visit and all six scheduled public engagement sessions) have been or will be recorded and available through the Village’s website, on which content can be translated into over 100 languages. All meetings are advertised via social media (English and Spanish language), the Village’s weekly web blast and station Plaza neighborhood flyering. The Village also has staff and Trustees who are fluent in Spanish and can engage with our Spanish speaking community on this issue and every issue. Residents are encouraged to share information and invite friends and neighbors to continue to ask questions and give feedback; Plan@villageofossining.org will reach the Board of Trustees and the Village Administration. Socially-distant walking tours of the site can also be accommodated for small groups.
Question: If smaller developers have shown interest in developing the Station Plaza area, has the Village considered an Economic Development Plan for the neighborhood to make sure the community gets the kind of retail and development that we want?
Answer: The Village is undergoing a Comprehensive Plan, which will address waterfront development—this area is a key asset for the community as it is not only beautiful and boasts a lot of green space, it also offers opportunities for transit-oriented development (TOD). In addition, we are having conversations with the local business community and developing a more broad economic development plan and strategy to address the entire Village as a whole. Business owners need to feel confident that their investment will not be wasted—a development such as that proposed for the DPW site will help to instill the confidence that local entrepreneurs need to open businesses in our community.
Question: Are board of trustee members and other folks supervising this development aware that in 2011 Wilder Balter Partners (the developers on this housing development) were involved in an illegal attempt to buy an apartment building, with elderly and disabled tenants who receive federal assistance, in Newburgh, NY?
Answer: There is nothing to support the allegation that Wilder Balter was involved in an illegal scheme. The records regarding this particular development have been reviewed, including contemporaneous news articles and, in the opinion of the Village’s Corporation Counsel, the allegation is without substance.