SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY-General Motors is now searching for a new developer to build its Lighthouse Landing at Sleepy Hollow project after Roseland Property Group withdrew from the venture earlier this month. Village of Sleepy Hollow officials and a representative from GM say the mixed-use project for the former minivan assembly plant is “still very viable.”

While GM and Sleepy Hollow may agree the project will move forward, the development already nearly six years in the making has suffered a number of recent setbacks not the least of which is a lawsuit filed by GM against the Village of Sleepy Hollow for its recent reductions in the scope of the project.

On Dec. 21, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Philip Zegarelli staged a press conference to update the media on the latest developments surrounding the troubled project and said that the village has granted GM an adjournment of special permit proceedings until Jan. 15, 2008 when the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss and likely approve a Special Permit and Concept Development Plan for the Lighthouse Landing project. Two days earlier, the Village of Sleepy Hollow and General Motors confirmed reports that Roseland Property Group of Short Hills, NJ had withdrawn from the project.

While Mayor Zegarelli is giving General Motors a little time to deal with the Roseland departure, he stressed “we intend to keep their (GM’s) feet to the fire.” In a letter the mayor wrote to General Motors, he granted the short adjournment until the Jan. 15 meeting, but stated that the village expects GM to submit any comments on its revised Concept Development Plan by Jan. 7. In the letter he also stated “although we sincerely welcome GM’s comments on technical and policy issues, pleased be advised that the village is not in a position to engage in renegotiations of the points which have been extensively discussed at public meetings between Roseland and the Village of Sleepy Hollow for these several years.”

The mayor concluded his letter by stating “we believe that the litigation commenced by GM against the village should be either withdrawn without prejudice or put on an indefinite hold as the village and GM jointly seek to address our mutual needs and concerns.” Mayor Zegarelli said at the press conference that GM had advised him that a number of developers have expressed interest in the Lighthouse Landing venture and that several other firms had contacted him directly about the project.

Janine Fruehan, a spokesperson for GM, tells that “there are numerous developers that have reached out to GM. In addition we also have a network of developers we work with.” She had no comment on the mayor’s call for GM to drop the lawsuit or put it on hold. She was also unaware of any timetable on when a developer would be named to replace Roseland. When asked whether Roseland might be brought back to the project, she responded, “that is highly unlikely.” Roseland Property Co. released a statement last week that said “the recent terms imposed by the village during the final stage of the environmental review process scaled back the project to the point where it became economically unviable for our company.”

The controversy over the scope of the project and the recent changes made by the Village of Sleepy Hollow in the Seqra process led to GM filing a legal action in New York State Supreme Court in White Plains on Nov. 21. The original Lighthouse Landing development plan filed in February 2003 called for a mixed-use project of 1,562 residential units; 185,000 sf of retail space, 95,000 sf of office space, a 150-room hotel or inn and open space.

According to GM’s court papers, the Final Environmental Impact Statement reduced the residential units to 1,250, the retail component to 132,000 sf, the office space to 35,000 sf, the ratio of residential units was cut from 72% to 51% and the overall open space and public area was increased from 26 acres to 39 acres. In addition, GM contends in court papers that the village’s Findings Statement further reduced the density to 1,177 residential units and also provides for the Village Board “to retain the authority to change the use of one of the proposed buildings, which would have the effect of further reducing the residential density by an additional 131 units.”

Mayor Zegarelli said that while the village is disappointed with the withdrawal of Roseland from the venture, the village believes ground can be broken on Lighthouse Landing by the second or third quarter of 2008.

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