YONKERS, N.Y. – A portion of a former Yonkers landfill may be on its way to becoming a large retail space.
Morris Industrial Builders of Rutherford, N.J., has begun planning a nearly half-million-square-foot retail space and parking lot at Austin Avenue and Prior Place. The tract is part of the city's former Austin Avenue landfill.
The developers say the location is ideal for a large-scale retail operation, thanks to neighboring businesses like Stew Leonard's, Home Depot and Costco, and that they may soon being looking for tenants.
The end plan, they say, includes a 475,000-square-foot retail facility with landscaped areas and an adjacent parking area that could hold more than 800 vehicles.
But to secure tenants the builders must first assure potential partners that the former landfill is cleared of its trashy past.
The currently vacant seven-acre site near I-87 once was part of a landfill operated by the City of Yonkers until 1979. Left behind are remnants of the ash, glass, brick, metallic parts and municipal waste that were stored there for years.
The developers originally feared the potential contamination would would complicate the project. But they changed their minds.
“Based on proximity to other developments, this makes it an ideal location,” they wrote in a Brownfield Cleanup application to the state. “However, we not likely to move forward until we know the level of contamination and cleanup.”
After testing of the site, it was determined the waste did not pose a significant health risk to the public, the Department of Environmental Conservation wrote in a remediation plan earlier this month.
As a result, the developers have proposed covering the waste with building foundations and parking lot areas. The remediation plan is currently open to public comment.
In addition, since the site is not zoned for retail use, the developers will require variances and a zone change from the city. They say they will begin to work on that in the near future.