BY ROBERT KNIGHT
Pearl River will soon get 16 new senior citizen apartment units in its downtown business district if Orangetown officials approve a request to permit the project to proceed with less than the required number of parking spaces.
Attorney Brian Quinn said his client will make a formal application for a zone change as soon as possible following receipt of a green light for the project which he obtained from the Town Board last week.
Quinn is representing the owner of the building, Joyce Realty, which is seeking to add two floors of apartments above their already existing realty offi
c e on North William Street, midway between Central Avenue and West Washington Avenue. Kevin Joyce, head of Joyce Realty, said the one-story masonry structure was originally built in the 1940’s as a Grand Union Supermarket.
When the Grand Union closed two decades later after it moved to nearby Montvale, N.J. the building was acquired by James Aamon who converted it into a sporting goods shop and warehouse. Aamon later consolidated his business to the rear basement portion of the structure and rented out two retail store spaces along North William Street, one of which was Joyce Realty, which eventually acquired the property.
Joyce now wants to expand the building, in much the same manner that the owner did with the closed Pearl River Theater next door. That three-story structure was converted to retail stores on the ground level and senior citizen apartments on two upper floors which were created from the cavernous space within the vacant 95-year-old theater.
In the case of Joyce’s building, it is only one story high. Joyce plans to construct two upper floors on the existing building, with each floor containing eight apartments. The apartments will include four one-bedroom units on each floor, of about 500 square feet, and four two-bedroom units with about 800 square feet of space.
In both the theater and Joyce’s cases, less parking is being provided than is required by Orangetown zoning and building regulations.
In the case of the theater no spaces were provided on site, but the developer sought permission from the town to use vacant spaces in a public parking lot the town owns next door to the Joyce building. The town reluctantly granted permission for that variance but the results have apparently been favorable, with few if any complaints about a lack of parking in the area. Attorney Donald Brenner predicted at the time that this would occur because few if any of the senior tenants in the building had their own cars, and depended instead on taxis and buses for transportation.
In the case of the Joyce building, Joyce and Quinn both noted that they already have 40 parking spaces on their site, which should satisfy all 16 residents and the retail tenants who will be on the rear of the ground level. If there should ever be an overflow, the additional cars can park on the street or share the same lot between the building and Washington Avenue already used by theater tenants and local shoppers.
Neither Joyce, Quinn nor project architect Robert Hoene indicated at the board meeting what anticipated rents would be for the 16 senior citizen apartments in the building, nor the amount of taxes the owner will play in town, county and school taxes.
All three men indicated however that there is a great need for more housing in downtown Pearl River, particularly for senior citizens who tend to have fewer cars and tend to shop and seek services strictly locally.
The project will be a boost for the Pearl River business district, they predicted, and many if not most of the tenants will be Pearl River residents seeking to downsize their housing and yet remain an integral part of the community.
Orangetown Town Board members indicated
informal support for the three men to proceed with their proposal, and to submit an official request for a zone change, which will allow them to restrict their housing units to senior citizens, rather than the general public. The zone change request will have to go through the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and other town agencies and departments for final approval before any construction can begin.
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