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Long Dormant, Swiss Benevolent Site Overhaul Returns

New proposal for senior housing calls for 129 units in a smaller building. Plus: the demolition deadline for the old colonial would be extended.

After more than three years, a large proposed senior housing building on the former Swiss Benevolent property in Mount Kisco is set to return tonight to the planning board.

A new proposal submitted for the plan, which was titled Westchester Residence & Club in the mid to late 2000s during village review, retains 129 housing units but has a reduction in square footage.

Village Attorney Whitney Singleton, who discussed details of the proposal, described the building as having less mass, going from a consistently 3-story dimension to a portion that is only about a story and a half.

The massing drop is major, according to Singleton, with a decline from about 291,000 square feet in the old proposal to roughly 179,000 in the new one. The revised building accomodates fewer people, 152 versus 163 previously, he said.

The development would have an entrance and exit roadway on a hill going down to Kisco Avenue.

The original proposal was introduced in the mid 2000s by developer Robert Mishkin, who owned the Town & Country senior housing complex on Mountain Avenue.

The white colonial where he based his previous business—the site is roughly four acres—was also formerly owned by the Swiss Benevolent Society but was split up. He took it over in the early 1990s. Mishkin tried for years, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to expand Town & Country to accomodate 46 more residents, in addition to 44 already allowed. Mishkin failed to get approval and his plan was met with criticism from residents of the surrounding Captain Merritt's Hill neighborhood. 

The dispute led to litigation. In 2002, Mishkin filed a federal lawsuit against the village, claiming that its zoning discriminated against disabled people and that Mount Kisco was against senior citizens living in the area.

The lawsuit was settled in 2005 with a complex deal: Mishkin and the village would swap land, with Mount Kisco getting the Mountain Avenue property in exchange for the developer buying nearly 18 acres of former Swiss Benevolent land that the village acquired in 2000 to settle a similar land use lawsuit with the society.

The village possesses about 50 acres it obtained from the group, most of which will remain open space, along with the Mountain Avenue property.

The Planning Board, from 2006 to 2009, conducted an environmental review of Mishkin's senior housing plan, and the Village Board of Trustees voted to rezone the property in 2009. Tuesday's slated Planning Board appearance is the first significant step in the process since then.

The 2005 settlement also calls for Mishkin to demolish buildings on the Mountain Avenue site, which is now being done. A deadline of Oct. 30 was given, based on an an August amendment to the deal, but the Village Board of Trustees, at its Monday night meeting, extended it to Dec. 7 after learning that asbestos abatement was taking longer than expected.

Another big change is that Mishkin has a joint venture partner, known as The Hearth, which according to its website, focuses on "premiere senior living." The Hearth and its affiliate company, Fortus Management, have been dealing with the village regarding the site.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. tonight at Village Hall, and will get a presentation on the updated plan, according to the board's agenda.

Nora Mackenzie October 23, 2012 at 01:41 PM
what is the "mid 2000s". If I said in the "mid 1900s" it would mean about 1950.
Tom Auchterlonie (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Nora, the first decade has the same name as the century.

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