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Rosehill Project In New Castle Resurfaces With New Iteration

A photo of a rendering that depicts the latest iteration of the Rosehill project for a large property in eastern New Castle. Photo Credit: Screen shot/Soder Real Estate Equities, LLC
A photo of a rendering that shows the rear side of a new building proposed for the Rosehill development in eastern New Castle. Photo Credit: Screen shot/Soder Real Estate Equities, LLC
Stephen Oder Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- After a hiatus of more than a year and half, developer Stephen Oder returned to the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday to present a new and dramatically different version of his Rosehill housing proposal.

The latest plan calls for demolishing an historic mansion, which is located on a roughly 97-acre property at 773 Armonk Road, and replacing it with a larger white structure. 

Oder's previous version of Rosehill, which the board last reviewed in 2014, called for having 60 condominiums, which would have been scattered into new construction and the existing mansion. The latest version calls for 68 latest with 128 bedrooms; most of the units would have two bedrooms plus study rooms, while Oder added that there would be some 1-bedroom and studio units.

A demolition of the mansion's wings was previously eyed, but Oder explained that the main structure could not survive such an operation, which is why he is seeking to tear it down completely.

Previous owners of the property ranged from Broadway producer Billy Rose to the Legionaries of Christ religious order. Oder, through his company, Soder Real Estate Equities, LLC, purchased the site from the Legionaries in March 2015 for $7 million, according to county records. Oder's company also took out a mortgage on the property, records show, which came with a $4.2 million principal balance.

Initially, Oder was in contract to purchase the site from the religious order while he pitched his proposal. 

Soon after Oder's company closed on the sale, it listed it on the market, with the mansion being marketed for single-family usage. At one point, according to reports, the asking price approached $36 million.

It turns out that the sale was more of a trial balloon, however. Oder told the town board that it was listed in conjunction with a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that his company will submit to the town as part of Rosehill's review process. The DEIS includes a look at alternative uses - a single-family residential use of the mansion would be one - and Oder explained that he was trying to gauge interest in acquiring it.

Nobody made an offer to buy the site, Oder added.

Responding, Supervisor Rob Greenstein raised the question of whether it was thought that the price was too high. 

“Anybody can make an offer,” Oder said, reiterating that none was made.

“I mean, it's basically a white elephant, Oder added. "Nobody wants to tackle this.”

The property would have 150 parking spaces, which would be covered by the building. Oder noted that no cars or mechanical objects would be visible outside.

The sizes of the units, which will be marketed towards active empty nesters, will range from 700 to 3,400 square feet, Oder said, with most in the mid-2,000's range. 

Total site coverage for the building would be 135,000 square feet when the parking is included, with 69,000 for residential.

Oder is proposing several amenities, including a farm-to-table garden, a health and fitness center, pools, a yoga studio, spa rooms, a 40-seat theater and a library. 

Oder cautioned that the architectural design, which was meant to be like a French chateau, is subject to change.

Residents who live near the site and expressed concerns about the prior plan were present at the meeting. Among them was Sharon Greene, who called for the town to keep neighbors in the loop during the review process.

The board will next determine whether it it should keep the list of environmental impacts to be studied or to add more.

The project will require a zoning-text change for the site, which is zoned for 2-acre, single-family homes.

The property is located in the Bedford Central School District.

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