CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Conifer Realty has heard the complaints about its proposed affordable housing building at Hunts Place and has vowed to "get it right" regardless of the cost.
Many residents have said affordable housing would be beneficial to Chappaqua, but they take issue with the location of the proposal from safety, traffic and aesthetic standpoints.
"We’ve worked diligently to address those comments," said Conifer official Andrew Bodewes. "The hallmark of our company has always been about quality. It’s OK if we spend some extra money; we want to get it right."
Bodewes said he does not want to rush the 36-unit building, and hopes it will "stand the test of time." To work on improving the design, Conifer has hired another architect to work with lead architect Warshauer Mellusi Warshauer.
Last week, federal housing monitor James Johnson challenged Conifer to do better with the exterior design of its building, saying the project, as currently designed, risks significant stigmatization and isolation of the building's residents.
"I’ve had conversations with him after that letter," Bodewes said. "We’re working with him, in fact we plan meeting with him next week. It’s a step that we need to go through."
Tuesday, Conifer presented several exterior changes from the original design to the New Castle Planning Board, in hopes of giving the building more of a residential feel. Among the changes is that the previously proposed brick has been replaced with stone to compliment the look of the new Quaker Street bridge. It also added bay windows and angled roofs. Planning Board Chair Richard Brownell said it is an improvement and the previous design looked like a prison.
Brownell said the site is still too confining and it would be difficult for firetrucks to reach the building. To fight any fires, Conifer said, the department would need to close the southbound Exit 32 ramp on the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Planning Board member Gerrard Curran said Conifer would need approval from the county and the state if it plans to use the ramp. Conifer said it will work on mitigating the issue, as well as addressing other concerns, such as visitor parking, school bus pickup and garbage disposal.