Tuckahoe historic house owner takes second crack at development application

The owner of a historic home in Tuckahoe went back before the village's Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday night seeking an application to begin redevelopment on the property.

Jonathan Gordon

Oct 26, 2023, 2:13 AM

Updated 231 days ago

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The owner of a historic home in Tuckahoe went back before the village's Historic Preservation Commission on Wednesday night seeking an application to begin redevelopment on the property.
This time the developer is seeking a Certificate of Hardship, which is required to do construction on a building designated as historic or within a historic district, on the basis that the current redevelopment moratorium presents economic suffering.
There are eight standards that must be met in the Tuckahoe Historic Preservation law to prove hardship.
Section 9. Hardship Criteria for Demolition, Removal, Relocation, or Alterations.       (a) An applicant whose certificate of appropriateness for a proposed demolition, removal, relocation, or alteration of a landmark, resource, or property has been denied may apply for relief on the grounds of economic hardship. In order to prove the existence of economic hardship, the applicant shall document each of the following:           (1) The landmarks is in a serious state of disrepair, which is not due to the waste or neglect of the property owner;       (2) The alleged hardship is not self-created (a hardship is self-created when the applicant acquires the property subject to the restrictions from which the applicant seeks relief), which factor alone shall not preclude the approval of a certificate of appropriateness;       (3) The local landmark, and the lot upon which it was situated at the time of designation, is incapable of earning a reasonable return as demonstrated by competent financial evidence;       (4) The landmark cannot be adapted for any other use, whether by the current owner or by a purchaser, that could earn a reasonable return;       (5) The alleged hardship is unique and does not apply to other landmarks;       (6) That demonstrated efforts to find a purchaser interested in acquiring the property have failed, including: (a) Any listing of property for sale or rent, price asked, and offers received within the previous two years; and (b) Testimony and relevant documents regarding: any real estate broker or firm engaged to sell or lease the property, reasonableness of price or rent sought by the applicant, or any advertisements placed for the sale or rent of the property;       (7) Cost estimates for the proposed construction, alteration, demolition, or removal, and an estimate of any additional cost that would be incurred to comply with the requirements for a certificate of appropriateness;       (8) Demonstrated attempts to apply for or be qualified for economic incentives and/or funding available to the applicant through federal, state, city, or private programs. In late May 2023, the developer argued the home needed to be demolished because it was beyond repair due to major structural issues. Two months later, the village commission unanimously ruled against the developer.
By law, the developer had to first present his case that the house posed an immediate threat but can now argue his inability to do work on the property is causing economic hardship.
Community members backed by the non-profit group, Friends of the Ward House, have been advocating for the developer to reverse plans to demolish the 1700s home located at 230 White Plains Road.
The group recently made an offer to purchase the house and site from the developer to preserve it, but the offer was rejected due to concerns by the owner about the legitimacy of it and the ability to close the deal. The owner kept the door open for selling the home to the non-profit group but many factors including the possibility of an inspection, how many lots to sell, and whether they have enough cash on hand could make it difficult.
The developer bought the property from the former Concordia College in 2021 when the school was shutting down.
The village marked the Ward House as a historic landmark within a year of that purchase which set up this now years-long battle over the property.
Members of the commission asked dozens of questions on Wednesday night and appeared to air on the side of the village's historic laws, but no decision was made. Ultimately, the board requested more information on the efforts to sell the house and the cost estimate to restore the house within the laws.
The next meeting is scheduled for November, but no date was set. The public comment period is expected to continue next month.
There is still a separate and ongoing lawsuit brought by the developer against the village and Friends of the Ward House asking a judge to overturn the historical designation.


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