On Wednesday, October 5th about 40 people attended a meeting at the Community Center in Briarcliff Manor hosted by the Mayor and Board of Trustees. Attending were residents, business owners and their landlords. They were there to listen to and comment about what the Village government sees as the potential to make its streetscape more appealing and to consider new building over the existing one-story business district along Pleasantville Road. Briarcliff has hired BFJ planners from New York City for $25,000 to do an initial assessment of what exists in the Village Business District and what can be done to make the District better.
That assessment is taking place on Pleasantville Road from the Post Office to North State Road on both the east and west sides of the street.
The interest in making the downtown business district more vital is not a new idea per se. The idea has floated for 10-15 years but has not gotten any traction until recently. The Mayor and Board of Trustees have actively involved residents, the Chamber of Commerce, merchants and landlords. Approximately two years ago the Village upzoned the District’s permitted uses to include one and two-bedroom apartments above the existing retail stores for a total of 3 stories. This is in keeping with the current trend of residential use over retail stores which had been a staple many, many years ago when shop owners lived over their stores.
As with all things Briarcliff, committees are needed, and the Board is taking into consideration the makeup of such a committee or committees. For now it’s a slow and steady process.
In addition to the Business District, the Board is reviewing the Business Zone and specifically what can be done with large corporate properties such as the Mearl Building on Old Briarcliff Road, the Sony Corporation on Route 9, the Phillips Laboratories on Scarborough Road and 555 Pleasantville Road opposite the High School. The properties are either vacant or underutilized and once again Briarcliff’s government is involved in reviewing its Master Plan to assess what other types of zoning would accommodate new ownership and new uses. The thinking is that the Business Zone should parallel the efforts of the Business District in keeping all properties vital while contributing to the economic strength and esthetic appeal that residents expect.