The former Wells Fargo property in downtown Briarcliff Manor could become home to a new police and court building, under a proposal that could also include developing retail, offices and housing on an adjacent village-owned parcel.
The village formally closed on the $2 million purchase of the 2.41-acre former bank property at 1050 Pleasantville Road on May 31 and officials have been considering options to accommodate space needs for village departments. Although it’s not final, topping the list are the Police Department, which currently has no holding cell, and village court, which lacks proper security screening facilities.
Mayor Steven Vescio and Deputy Mayor Peter Chatzky said the village could potentially hire one developer to construct a new municipal building, as well as build a separate commercial project on part of a 3.69-acre parcel just south of 1050 Pleasantville Road. Some parking spots left over from the Wells Fargo days would be left for use by visitors.
Consolidating the different projects under one developer would create cost efficiencies for the village, they said. “This may in fact be the most cost-effective way for us to get the additional resources we need,” Chatzky said.
Although the village officials have been discussing possible uses for the property since the sale was announced last winter, no plans have been formally approved and no cost estimates have been made. The public will have a chance to weigh in on any proposals via a survey and public meetings before a Request for Proposals would be issued. Vescio said he hoped the process, which includes demolishing the existing bank building, could move forward in about six months.
A new public safety building would help alleviate some of the long-term space needs at Village Hall, which dates from the mid-1960s. In lieu of a police holding cell, detainees are handcuffed to a bar attached to a cement wall. Locker rooms need to be expanded, and space needs to be created for processing juveniles. Moving cops and courts across the street would allow some services on the Village Hall’s second floor to move downstairs where they would be more accessible.
“This checks a lot of boxes for the village … and lets the residents really be in control of the future of this property,” Vescio said. “It’s not that someone’s going to come in and say, ‘This is what I’m going to do here.’ As a community we can decide, ‘This is what we want to have here, this is how we want our downtown to be expanded, what we want it to look like.’ ”
The mayor added: “For the amount of money that taxpayers are investing to acquire this property, it’s going to be money well spent when the final product is a larger tax roll with a lively and vibrant downtown, and several municipal issues being resolved at the same time.”
Besides the $2 million purchase price of the former Wells Fargo parcel, Briarcliff will spend an additional $450,000 for demolishing the bank building, temporary site reconfiguration, land use planning services and other related costs.
“This was a once-in-lifetime opportunity to acquire land that’s as close to Village Hall as you could imagine, and it’s abutting land that the village already owned,” Chatzky said. Village officials “hopped on this” once they heard the bank was closing, in part because it could have fallen into the hands of a private developer.
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While I understand the reasons laid out to justify a new police/court building, I thought the idea of buying the bank property was to expand the business district and create revenue producing space as opposed to building more non-revenue space. In fact, as a public building, it will add to the the Village overhead. I hope there is a bigger picture here that will more than offset not only the upfront costs, but also the added long term operating costs.
I think a multi-story building with retail on the bottom to generate revenue and village use on upper floors is a great idea. If the upper floors have more office space than the village needs initially, that too can be rented out.