A new concept for the development of 19 Livingston Avenue, the .92-acre lot that has stood vacant since Rudy’s Beau Rivage, the 1850 mansion-turned-catering hall was torn down in 2012, was presented to the Dobbs Ferry Board of Trustees on May 25.
The proposal, brought before the board by Hastings architect Christina Griffin on behalf of Livingston Development Group (LDG), shows two groups of three attached townhouses fronting Livingston Avenue, and two attached townhouses behind them. The buildings would house a total of eight, 3,200-square-foot three-bedroom units.
The site had been the focus of legal wrangling between the Village and residents versus LDG, which had acquired the then 1.3-acre parcel in 2012 for $1,145,000. In February 2013, LDG proposed a larger project: two 3.5-story buildings, each containing six three-bedroom, 3,100-square-foot condominium units
Ultimately, the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division’s Second Judicial Department ordered on Jan. 16, 2019 that LDG would not be permitted to build its proposed condominiums.
The new project would be townhouses, not condos. Condo owners pay lower property taxes than the owners of single-family homes on individual lots.
On May 25, Griffin presented preliminary architectural and civil engineering drawings; site data to show zoning code compliance (19 Livingston Avenue is in the MDR-1, mixed-density residential zone); the layout of common and individual outdoor areas; floor plans; photos of neighboring houses, and “view platforms,” i.e., views of the river from the vantage points of the sidewalks and traffic island at the Broadway and Livingston intersection.
Trustee Michael Patino remarked that for the previous project, “The biggest issues had to do with view corridors,” but that this time, “The applicant has been conscious of that, and taken that into consideration, which is important. There’s a rhythm on this part of Livingston… large houses with openings in between; you get used to… the views in between.”
The drawings showed “view corridors” between the two front groupings and on either side. On June 1, Griffin told the Enterprise, “By reading the village code, we knew this site is supposed to create view platforms; that’s why we decided to have three groups of buildings with space in between.”
The previous proposed project had created what amounted to a wall of buildings, blocking the river views from residents on the east side of the street and other view platforms.
According to the site data provided, the buildings would be 34 feet tall, and conform to the code’s 20-foot front setback requirement. The sides of the buildings would be set back 14.5 feet; the code requires 10 feet.
The townhouses would sit on individual lots with a two-car garage, exercise room, mudroom, and utility room at basement level; two residential floors above with decks; and a lounge and roof deck on the top floor. Each unit would include an elevator. Griffin considers the townhouses to be 2.5 stories. Half of each garage would be visible aboveground. In addition, there would be a common parking area.
Trustee Donna Cassell asked Griffin, “Have you identified the affordable housing unit yet?”
Griffin replied that they (LDG) had not, adding, “We don’t know if it’s required.”
Cassell stated that it is.
Village Attorney Lori Lee Dickson inquired whether there would be recreational amenities on the property such as tennis or basketball courts. Griffin said “not at this time,” noting that the design intended to preserve the lawn behind the development, and that building anything in that location would be costly because of the steep slope.
Patino suggested, and Griffin agreed, that a 3-D representation of the project would be helpful for the board to study. Griffin noted that the incorporation of “green” features would be discussed at a later date.
To the Enterprise, Griffin described her vision for the townhouses’ exterior: “A modern aesthetic, with dormers. We would like to make them have the kind of massing, the scale of massing that you would see on the older two- and three-family homes in the area, which is why we chose the gabled roof; simple, clean lines, combining materials.”
“We’re just starting the process,” Griffin stressed. “This is a conceptual plan, so we have a lot of work to do.”