The Village of Ossining is trying once again to find a developer to turn a Main Street landmark into a dining or entertainment destination that will set the table for its downtown revitalization plans.
In March the village put out a Request for Proposals for the former Ossining Bank for Savings at 200 Main St. near the corner of Route 9, which has been vacant since the bank closed in 1983.
The 5,200-square-foot building, which dates from 1908, is best suited for a dining, entertainment or arts venue because of its uniqueness and rooftop views, according to the RFP. The structure earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places for its Beaux Arts architecture.
No responses from potential buyers were received by an April 22 deadline, probably because of ongoing asbestos and lead remediation taking place inside, said Village Manager Karen D’Attore, so the application period will likely be extended to mid-June.
A previous attempt in 2016 to turn the building into a food hall wound up in state court the following year, when the buyer, Corinthian Group LLC, sued the village after the contract was terminated. The village Board of Trustees unanimously approved $55,000 to settle the lawsuit in February 2020, according to village records.
This time around, the village, which purchased the property in 2003, is hoping the process goes more smoothly, especially after the injection of $500,000 in state funding matched by $100,000 from the village for the remediation work.
The village envisions the property as a landmark destination that highlights Ossining’s uniqueness and brings people into the community, D’Attore said. The property is essentially the gateway to the village’s downtown and fits in with the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Ossining is currently planning.
“I think that some of the issues or challenges to any development have been mitigated by the fact that there has been state investment in the building, which somewhat lessens the burden for the developer,” D’Attore said.
The village would be open to considering a proposal for either one restaurant or a food court, she said. Other commercial uses such as office space are also permitted.
The RFP noted that although the parcel does not have its own parking lot, the village is studying proposals to allow more spots nearby.
Owners of nearby restaurants have not expressed concern about the addition of a food court, D’Attore said.
“We are sensitive that the restaurant business is a tough business so we like to do things that complement ideally,” D’Attore said. “Right now, we have a diverse number of restaurants of varying cuisines and different price points, so I think that by and large people are supportive about getting more activity and bringing in more people to the village, because that ultimately gets more people to try different things when they’re here.”
Gayle Marchica, president of the 150-member town wide Ossining Chamber of Commerce, said she supported turning the building into a destination for visitors as well as a place for residents to enjoy.
“That building obviously has been the big white elephant for so many years,” Marchica said. “It sits at the nexus of a business community that is now growing. The more businesses you have, the more vibrant the community becomes.”
She added: “There are many developers now who are very interested in Ossining, and the village has done a really good job of vetting people. We can’t take the first person that comes along.”
The village is on its way to reimagining its downtown, she said. “I think that we have the right people in place, the right government in place to make that happen.”