3.23.05 The Journal News

St. Agnes Hospital site’s future unfolding
?By SUSAN ELAN??

Former St. Agnes Hospital property
Seven buildings occupy on the 23-acre campus off North Street in White Plains

The new owners are considering medical offices and housing for senior citizens.

WHITE PLAINS — The new owners of the former St. Agnes Hospital property plan to begin discussions next month with city officials and neighborhood groups about a mixed-use development on the 23-acre site that may include medical offices and housing for senior citizens.

“We are still exploring how to reuse the property,” C.J. Follini, managing member of the real estate company North Street Community LLC, said yesterday during a walking tour. “We have plenty of time and resources. We want to develop the property in a careful way for the long term.”

North Street Community LLC, composed of four families of investors with ties to Westchester County, paid $21.4 million in cash for the property it closed on Jan. 13 after winning it at auction in December. St. Agnes had gone bankrupt and closed in October 2003. The North Street site features seven buildings, including the former hospital, the Children’s Rehabilitation Center and two office buildings.

Mayor Joseph Delfino said yesterday that while the land is zoned for single-family residences only, the city would benefit from housing adapted to the needs of senior citizens with access to medical assistance.

“We want to maintain a neighborhood character, but White Plains could use some form of continuing-care facility,” Delfino said. “We don’t want any skyscrapers, but some type of duplex could work.”

Marc Pollitzer, president of the North Street Area Civic Association, said he was encouraged by the new property owners’ willingness to consult with residents. Zoning rules would prohibit corporate offices at the site, but Pollitzer said he could be persuaded to support medical services and senior housing if they generated city tax revenue and did not create heavy traffic.

Pollitzer said he also would like to know whether housing for seniors at the site would serve only the wealthy. “There is a need for this if it is properly priced,” he said.

Follini said the owners have had preliminary discussions with medical professionals from the New York area who have expressed interest in opening oncology, radiology and ambulatory surgical offices in the former hospital building. The bulk of the building — up to 70 percent — could be used for assisted-living or nursing home facilities, he said.

But if White Plains officials and residents decide they want single-family houses on the property, North Street Community LLC is prepared to build them, said Follini, a Manhattan resident who grew up in Pelham.

“It would be a bit of a clash to put in single-family homes, but we are prepared to do whatever the community wants,” he said.

Beyond meeting with city officials in two or three weeks, Follini said, he had no firm development timetable.

The new property owners also are working on a long-term lease agreement that would allow the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, which occupies an $8 million building on the land, to remain.

Center administrator Christopher McKenna said relations with the new property owners are off to a good start. They have donated office furniture and equipment to the center from the former hospital and have added snow removal and landscaping to the services they provide under the lease, McKenna said. “We’re in a holding pattern, but I think their intentions are to keep the center here,” McKenna said.