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Developer looking to turn old Westchester Kmart into apartment community

New Jersey-based Oster Properties is looking to turn an old Westchester Kmart into a 150-unit apartment community.

The Englewood Cliffs company, which owns more than two million square feet of tri-state real estate, said it is ready to file plans to transform the vacant shopping center at 335 Downing Drive in Yorktown Heights  with a mixed-use property featuring 150 apartments, ground-level retail shops and a new supermarket.

Oster unveiled its Yorktown Green concept at a Town Board meeting on Tuesday saying it would demolish the defunct, 90,000 s/f former Kmart store to make way for a four-story U-shaped building featuring 84 one-bedroom and 66 two-bedroom residences, ground floor retail, underground parking and a park.

“The concept of this is to provide alternatives to empty-nesters or young millennials,” said Oster’s attorney Darius Chafizadeh. “This would allow them to stay in town, or young ones to come back into your town and live here and be able to afford it without having to pay high property taxes.” Price points for the housing are undetermined.

Kmart has been closed for two years.

The 15-acre site has two empty anchor tenant buildings. The free-standing former Food Emporium supermarket has been vacant for almost 10 years, and Kmart has sat empty since closing two years ago. Oster’s representatives said they have an “exciting” tenant in lease negotiations for a new supermarket.

“Throughout the retail world there’s a rethinking of how retail spaces are designed to service the world,” said Matthew Jarmel, Oster’s architect. “This Kmart is empty because of e-commerce. What we see as architects and as planners is that many retail centers—and some very large shopping malls as well that we’re working on—are being repositioned to mixed use.”

Oster Properties, based in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, owns more than two million square feet in northern New Jersey, Rockland County and New York City including and manages about 500 apartment units. Oster’s retail holdings include the Foster Village Shopping Center in Bergenfield, N.J.

“This proposal recognizes the evolving economy that we are facing, especially e-commerce,” said Supervisor Matt Slater. “Yorktown Green has languished for too long and I look forward to seeing more details about Oster’s proposal. It is a key property in many ways, not the least of which is its prominent location in the heart of town. The commitment to a complete re-thinking and renewal of the property. This is very welcome news and yet another sign of the economic upswing we are working hard to see in our town.”

“I think this is a smart development both from a commercial and residential point of view,” commented Councilwoman Alice Roker.

Councilman Ed Lachterman who owns a business in White Plains where he has seen large mixed-use developments rise, said he liked the concept, and Council members Tom Diana and Vishnu Patel also applauded the approach.

Oster’s representatives said that a formal application is in its final stages and would be submitted to the Planning Board within weeks.  The Town Board is in the process of adopting overlay zoning districts including the Yorktown Heights business district including Yorktown Green.

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