Thirty years after Seaside was built in Florida’s Panhandle and the notion of a walkable village with mixed-use components took hold, variations have sprouted nationwide. But building such a project in the Northeast wasn’t viable because of zoning restrictions and high land costs. Until now. Brooklyn, N.Y.–based developer Forest City Ratner Cos. decided the timing was finally right to test the New Urbanist concept, with an 81-acre, 1.3 million-square-foot mixed-use village in suburban Yonkers, the state’s fourth-largest city and one undergoing revitalization. The site, now dubbed Westchester’s Ridge Hill, sits just 18 miles north of New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
For the project’s residential component, Forest City tapped Yonkers-based developer The Horizon Group. Horizon purchased 7.2 acres and envisioned a mix of empty-nesters as well as young singles and couples seeking a more affordable option than Manhattan, says principal Eldad Blaustein, whose company named its part of the venture Monarch at Ridge Hill. Because of the modestly sized lot and slope, Horizon decided to go vertical with four 12-story towers comprising rentals and condos, the highest-priced being $800,000, three-bedroom duplexes. By the time ground was broken for the first tower in 2008, however, the market had deteriorated, and the firm changed its program to 500 one- and two-bedroom condos and no rentals. The one-bedrooms range from the mid-$300s to the $700s; the two-bedrooms, from the mid-$400s to $1 million.
Architecture firm David Lawrence Mammina PC designed glass towers to nestle into the slope and face scenic views of the Empire State Building and The Palisades, and hid a parking garage on the lowest levels. The firm also designed a 25,000-square-foot, two-story “atrium” to house amenities such as a gym and pool. Because sustainability was a project objective, landscape architect Ziv Lavi of TURF Landscape Design built green roofs atop the garage; mitigated water flow through proper grading, permeable paving, and native plants; and planned for a porous walking track. Interior design firm Andres Escobar and Associates introduced more green choices, such as bamboo flooring, in each condo. As a result of all the sustainable efforts, the developer has applied for LEED Silver certification.
Since sales started last December, 20 of the 162 units in the first tower have been purchased. Ground will be broken on the next three towers once 70 percent of the first units are sold. The entire Ridge Hill development is expected to give Yonkers a huge economic boost, says city council president Chuck Lesnick. “When everything is built out, we expect it will generate more than $20 million in taxes,” he says.