Tuckahoe historic preservation board rules against Ward House developer

The first round of the application was only to demonstrate whether leaving the structure as is poses an imminent health and safety risk to the public.

Jonathan Gordon

Jul 21, 2023, 12:18 AM

Updated 308 days ago

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The Tuckahoe Historic Preservation Commission unanimously denied a developer’s application for a Certificate of Appropriateness that would allow him to demolish a home in the village built in the 1700s.
The first round of the application was only to demonstrate whether leaving the structure as is poses an imminent health and safety risk to the public.
The developer argued the house is in disrepair, but the board disagreed.
“No credible information was presented to the Tuckahoe Historic Preservation Commission to substantiate claims that the structure...presents an imminent and unavoidable threat,” said Peggy Belles, Tuckahoe Historic Preservation Commission member.
The certificate is required to do construction on a building designated as historic or within a historic district.
For years, 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 home located at 230 White Plains Road.
On Thursday, they celebrated a mini victory in their fight to protect the historic integrity of the property.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity now for us to really take the Ward House and to give it back to the community,” said Sal Provenzano, Friends of the Ward House president.
By law, the developer had to 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.
He plans to reapply that claim in the coming months, according to his attorney Lee Lefkowitz.
“This was a step that we had to complete to get that denial so we can make what we believe is our strongest argument,” said Lefkowitz, attorney for the developer.
The developer bought the property from the former Concordia College in 2021 when the school was shutting down.
The village board marked the Ward House as a historic landmark within a year of that purchase.
There has been an ongoing battle since between the village, community members, and the developer.
Lefkowitz said a resident wrote a letter to the village expressing interest in buying the property from the developer to preserve it.
The attorney said he had not received any formal letters or calls but said “All options are on the table.”
There is also a lawsuit brought by the developer against the village and Friends of the Ward House asking a judge to overturn the historical designation.
The board did not determine its next meeting but those involved expect it to take place sometime in September.


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