July 30, 2007
After 50 Years, Scarsdale Gets a New Address
By John Golden
Real estate broker Jonathan Gordon plays a role in a new act in commercial history in the village of Scarsdale.
“There hasn’t been new construction in Scarsdale in the last 50 years,” he said over the hectic din of construction at 7 Popham Road, a two-story, 31,000-square-foot office and retail building nearing an August completion in downtown Scarsdale. Gordon, a partner with his wife, Jessica Munzel, in Admiral Real Estate Services Corp. in Bronxville, seeks tenants for about 15,000 square feet of second-floor office space there beside the Metro-North Railroad Station.
For commercial developers considering Scarsdale, “I think maybe the economics up until now didn’t make sense to do new construction,” he said.
Village of Scarsdale engineer and building inspector Nunzil Pietrosanti said that 50-year hiatus cited by Gordon “is pretty much correct.” The reason? “Lack of space, I think, more than anything else.”
Of the three commercial developments under construction in the last year, “All of them took a fairly lengthy time to get approvals” from municipal officials, Pietrosanti said.
Those projects include 51 East Parkway, where a Starbucks Coffee cafe and a Webster Bank satellite already are tenants at a site nearing completion by developer Robert M. Kligerman, and Christie Place, a mixed-use, older-adult condominium community developed by Martin Ginsburg and his Ginsburg Development Cos. of Valhalla. Construction work on the latter project began several months ago after about a 10-year review and approval process, Pietrosanti said.
At 7 Popham Road, the former owner, Kligerman, already had obtained site approval for construction on the vacant parcel when Manhattan developer and real estate attorney Mark S. Fawer and his investment partners in F&R Popham purchased the property nearly two years ago. Fawer also bought adjacent retail buildings formerly owned by Kligerman at 13-17 Popham Road and 2-12 Depot Place.
“The owners of this building, when they decided to buy the property and develop it, saw a demand in Scarsdale for real top-of-the-line class-A office space,” Gordon said. “Its viability is enhanced by its proximity to the train station.”
“The village was very hospitable and amenable to this project and they’ve been good to work with,” he said. “They have their rules you have to work with but they’re also open to an entrepreneurial venture like this.”
Regarding 7 Popham Road, “I think it’s a beautiful building whose design is very much consistent with the architectural vernacular of the village,” Fawer said.
In mid-September, CVS Pharmacy will relocate its Garth Road store in Scarsdale to the new downtown building. The chain drug store will occupy the entire 15,500-square-foot first floor.
Gordon said the first office tenant is expected to move into the building in August. Neither he nor Fawer would identify any prospective tenants.
Regarding interested prospects, “We’re getting top-tier business offices and medical,” Gordon said. “We’re getting people who want the cachet of being in the center of Scarsdale.” The downtown village “has got everything employees need for a nice way of life.”
“We’re also seeing a lot of executives who have businesses or offices in New York City who want a satellite office closer to their houses or nearer to their summer homes.”
Gordon said he hopes to lease the largest second-floor space of 10,000 to 11,000 square feet to a medical user, such as a plastic surgeon, or a hedge fund.
“We’re seeing a lot of action from hedge funds” who want to use the Scarsdale building as a principal or secondary business location, Gordon said. “Hedge funds and law firms see this as an amenity for employees” who are spared the commute into New York City.
The asking rent at 7 Popham Road is $42 per square foot.