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Greenburgh Hopes To Complete Search For WestHELP Tenant

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, second from left, hopes to choose a tenant for the old WestHELP site in the next few weeks.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, second from left, hopes to choose a tenant for the old WestHELP site in the next few weeks. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — The Greenburgh Town Board will again take up the search for a tenant for the county-owned WestHELP property when it meets Tuesday.

In September, the Westchester County Board of Legislators rejected Greenburgh's proposal to lease the 108-unit property to Ferncliff Manor, insisting that the new tenant must provide affordable housing. Yonkers-based Ferncliff is looking for a facility that would provide schooling and housing for children with developmental disabilities.

At Tuesday's session, the Town Board will review a second round of tenant proposals for the six-acre site, which sits at the Knollwood Gate entrance to Westchester Community College. The new proposals are due Monday. The WestHELP buildings formerly provided transitional housing for homeless families. Under terms of an agreement with the county, the new tenant must provide affordable housing.

But Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said he'd rather find a  use for a site that will earn the town more revenue. Ferncliff Manor could have brought in half a million a year, Feiner said, and he's worried that tenants offering lower incomes could affect taxes. While no new bids are promising as much income as Ferncliff's, they are offering to pay for renovations to the buildings.

"It doesn't seem like we'll have to spend anything on renovations, which was one of the issues that came up in budget," Feiner said. He added that revenue could exceed the $100,000 he's estimated for income in the tentative 2013 budget. "My concern is really revenue."

Feiner would not name any of the potential tenants, saying he wants to wait until all bids are in. The formal request for proposals (RFPs) are the second set issued in just over a year.

Feiner did not say whether tenants who had previously expressed interest in the site had re-applied.

Feiner has invited county legislators to Tuesday's meeting to offer input about potential tenants, but County Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh) said the meeting's timing was inconvenient — right in the middle of budget season.

Williams and other legislators, however, do plan to look over the tenants who answered the RFPs when Feiner posts their proposals to the Greenburgh town website. Williams added she's glad Feiner has finally moved off from Ferncliff and is looking into more suitable tenants to provide affordable housing.

"I appreciate that he's now looking at RFPs in line with our agreement," she said. "I'm delighted he finally decided to abide by the terms."

While the county has been in talks with Ferncliff Manor representatives over the past few months, they have not yet found a place for a facility.  Feiner said the board hopes to choose a tenant for the site as early as mid-December.

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