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June 8, 2006

School for the Deaf puts land on market

From: The Journal, NY - Jun 8, 2006

(Original publication: June 8, 2006)

The New York School for the Deaf is offering to sell 40 acres of property at its Greenburgh site, a deal that is expected to draw interest from residential developers looking for scarce land in central Westchester.

The grassy and wooded parcel, separate from the campus, accounts for more than half of the 77 acres at the school at 555 Knollwood Road. The broker, CB Richard Ellis, said it is zoned for residential development. A buyer would need town approval to subdivide.

John P. Tiffany, headmaster at the school, said the property was put up for sale in 2003 and received several offers. The school's board took the parcel off the market because they lacked a survey of the land, he said.

The school was founded in 1817. It bought the Greenburgh land in 1936 and opened the school two years later, Tiffany said.

He declined to say what price the parcel might fetch.

William Cuddy, a CB Richard Ellis broker, said portions of the irregularly shaped property had steep slopes and wetlands. He couldn't say how much of the land is suitable for construction, but he expects a good response when the agency formally seeks bids in 45 days.

"There are so few (suitable parcels) left," Cuddy said. "Every one is unique and commands strong interest."

The buyer would work closely with the school to obtain subdivision approval from the town, he said.

A public hearing is scheduled at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14, before the Town Board on a separate issue involving the school. It is seeking site plan approval from the town for two new parking areas, renovation of a third parking area, and the construction of structures connecting four free-standing buildings on the campus.

Planning Commissioner Mark Stellato was surprised at yesterday's news that the school had put 40 acres back on the market. The planning board must evaluate the cumulative impact of proximate projects and may need to consider the parking lot proposals in light of the land sale, he said.

"We can't segment our approvals here," Stellato said. "It's something the board may consider."

The school's board is trying to increase its endowment. Tiffany declined to say how much the school has but said "it's not adequate to do what we need to do to maintain this campus."

The School for the Deaf has 150 students and programs for infants and young children.

© 2006 The Journal News, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper serving Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties in New York.