NJ Developer Proposes Redevelopment of Former Kmart-Anchored Center in Yorktown

NJ Developer Proposes Redevelopment of Former Kmart-Anchored Center in Yorktown
A rendering of the mixed-use Yorktown Green project.

YORKTOWN—A New Jersey-based real estate development firm has unveiled plans to reposition a mostly vacant shopping center that was anchored by Kmart and Food Emporium here into a new mixed-use development that will feature 150 rental housing units and ground-floor retail.

The plan by Oster Properties of Englewood Cliffs, NJ was presented for the first time at a Yorktown Town Board meeting on Monday, Jan. 26.

Oster Properties’ concept for the Yorktown Green, which occupies 15 acres in the heart of the Yorktown Heights business district, would demolish the defunct, 90,000-square-foot former Kmart store to make way for a four-story U-shaped building featuring 84 one-bedroom and 66, two-bedroom residences. The project will also include a new supermarket, ground floor retail, and underground resident parking. The total development cost of the venture is estimated at more than $25 million.

“The concept of this is to provide alternatives to empty-nesters or young millennials,” said Oster’s attorney Darius Chafizadeh. “This would allow them to stay in town, or young ones to come back into your town and live here and be able to afford it without having to pay high property taxes.” Price points for the housing are undetermined, according to a spokesman for the developer.

The property at 335 Downing Drive has two empty anchor tenant buildings. The free-standing former Food Emporium supermarket has been vacant for almost 10 years, and Kmart has sat empty since closing two years ago. Oster’s representatives said they have an “exciting” tenant in lease negotiations for a new supermarket.

“Throughout the retail world there’s a rethinking of how retail spaces are designed to service the world,” said Matthew Jarmel, Oster’s architect. “This Kmart is empty because of e-commerce. What we see as architects and as planners is that many retail centers—and some very large shopping malls as well that we’re working on—are being repositioned to mixed use.”

Oster Properties owns more than 2 million square feet of space in northern New Jersey, Rockland County and New York City and manages approximately 500 apartment units. Oster’s retail holdings include the Foster Village Shopping Center in Bergenfield, N.J.

“This proposal recognizes the evolving economy that we are facing, especially e-commerce,” said Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater. “Yorktown Green has languished for too long and I look forward to seeing more details about Oster’s proposal. It is a key property in many ways, not the least of which is its prominent location in the heart of town. The commitment to a complete re-thinking and renewal of the property. This is very welcome news and yet another sign of the economic upswing we are working hard to see in our town.”

“I think this is a smart development both from a commercial and residential point of view,” commented Councilwoman Alice Roker. Councilman Ed Lachterman who owns a business in White Plains where he has seen large mixed-use developments rise, said he liked the concept, and Council members Tom Diana and Vishnu Patel also applauded the approach.

Oster’s representatives said that a formal application is in its final stages and would be submitted to the Planning Board within weeks. The Town Board is in the process of adopting overlay zoning districts including the Yorktown Heights business district including Yorktown Green.

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