Ossining Exploring Market Square Development

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A downtown design view of DRG’s first proposed development scenario for the Village of Ossining’s Market Square and parking lots at the intersection of Main and Spring Streets Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kelly Lee
A downtown design view of DRG’s second proposed development scenario for the Village of Ossining’s Market Square and parking lots at the intersection of Main and Spring Streets Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kelly Lee

OSSINING, N.Y. -- The revitalization of the Village of Ossining is continuing.

At a recent meeting, a consulting firm hired by the village proposed two developments of the 1.5 acre Market Square in downtown Ossining.

Both proposals by the Downtown Revitalization Group involve significant residential and retail space as well as a new major public space for the community to gather.

Village officials are looking at a fully functioning downtown economic environment. The space would include a pavilion, kiosks, plaza area and lawn and could accommodate a farmer’s market, music concerts, festivals and other events.

“The future development of these properties will create a new village green, a place for all people to meet, for all downtown roads to cross, and continue our successful provision of housing for residents of all financial means and businesses to service the entire community,” said Mayor Bill Hanauer.

The Downtown Revitalization Group has been studying the area for 11 months and made an initial presentation in June.

The first scenario includes around 22,000 square feet of retail and almost 92,000 square feet of residential with 62 parking spaces, with two four-story buildings.

The 70 residential units would be comprised of 26 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom apartments as well as eight private townhouses. About 14,600 square feet is devoted to the public space at the intersection of Main and Spring Streets. Total development costs are estimated to be $23 million.

The second scenario would cost $3 million more and  offer greater height and floor area as well as an additional 14 residential units and 21 parking spaces. The two four-story buildings proposed in the first scenario would become a five-story and seven-story building.

As a result, there would be more retail and residential space. Residential units would include 40 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom, and two three-bedroom apartments as well as eight private townhouses.The second scenario would have more public space. 

“Urban renewal did only half of its job, tearing down derelict buildings, but leaving us with parking lots, not the highest and best use of the properties,” said Hanauer. “Now is the time to complete our village's core. Ossining’s renaissance continues.”

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Ossining’s “top-down” planning approach for developing Downtown Ossining runs counter to the needed revitalization of this neighborhood. A venture like this requires that the Ossining community buy into it at the very beginning and not later. While it is true that the community has been presented with several alternatives, all of them support the Village Administration’s vision of a densely built, out of scale city. Despite their protestations that the massive block representations of the structures are not final and that there will be later consultations with relevant community boards like the Historic Preservation Commission and others, the fact remains that the major decisions have already been made and anything after that is literally window-dressing.
Regardless of what the buildings will actually look like, they will be massive, block-out light and air and overwhelm the immediate surrounding neighborhood. Two of the most negatively impacted buildings will be the one story commercial building on Spring Street just to the south of the parking lot. Another is the Calvary Baptist Church on St Paul’s Place. This building dates back to 1834 and is on the National and Village Historic Registers. (Incidentally, this building was damaged during the construction of the nearby Post Office several years ago and given its great age, the chances for further harm should not be lightly dismissed.)
During the recent public presentation the consultant group made reference to the idea that in order to attract developers the project would have to be large enough to turn a profit. This is true. The more rentable space there is the more developers like it but the reference is to major developers and the fact is that there are smaller developers that are ready, willing and capable to take on smaller-sized projects, under the right conditions.
I suggest that the Village give away its parking lots to those developers who will build a smaller-scaled, less dense projects that are in general sync with the architecture of the near-by historic district. Further, these developers should get a five-year tax holiday. The fact is that these lots have not produced tax revenue for 50 years and a few more years of no taxes is not going to make up for all that time. Furthermore ownership of buildings and rental tenancy in them should be conditioned on membership fees of a Business Improvement District in order to finance maintenance security and other quality of life projects commercial Additionally, some of the lost revenue will come from the sales taxes that the new stores will generate and we should not discount that existing neighboring business will see a surge in sales as well. In addition, the State of New York has a number of tax and other incentives to bring business into Downtown Ossining as this area meets all the criteria of the State’s various economic development programs.


Ossining needs to push hard and renew it's downtown areas quickly. The reality is, caring about a village requires money. Tear down residential buildings that are unfit for living and have stricter rental codes. A house or unit that's meant for a family of 4-5 does not fare well when 10 people live there. If people don't care, the village will stall and fall. If it was up to me, promote high rent units and market them in Brooklyn. Present Ossining as a Brooklyn alternative with much better scenery.
High rents contrasted with affordable homes is a great start. It brings people with more economic means to rent while allowing families to purchase a home. Home ownership is a far stronger investment in the village than renting, people stay longer and simply care more. Combine the city and village and restructure property tax to further support home ownership.

Or some people with lesser morals could simply cleanse with fire.

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