Build Up New York Activists Urge Port Chester to Get Community Benefits Agreement on Starwood Project

Build Up New York activists told Port Chester Board of Trustees members this week that the village should not amend its zoning for a proposed redevelopment project before getting ironclad Community Benefits commitments from its proponent, Startwood Capital Group.

The board had discussed behind closed doors correspondence from Starwood Capital Group, one of the nation’s the largest private equity real estate investors, about Community Benefits Agreements and the zoning approval it wanted.

Board members did not share with the public what Starwood said in the letter or their deliberation in the executive session discussion about it before inviting comments from the public on Monday night.

Anthony Castiglione of 32BJ and Robert Monti of the Carpenters gave two very well received testimonies.

“I am a carpenter with over 30 years’ experience working in this area and, like me, we have many good quality people, a skilled workforce right here in the village that could get the job done,” Monti said. “To avoid some of the problems that Starwood has had on its projects in New York City, with accidents, violations and stop-work orders at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1 project, for instance, I want to ask you to insist in writing, in a legally enforceable document, that the developer do this project with responsible employers.”

Castiglione said the board should insist on a concrete, verifiable and actionable Community Benefits Agreement what improvements Starwood plans to make.

“Besides specifying what exactly Starwood is going to build,” he said, “whether it is sidewalks, parks, public spaces, or affordable housing, support for the school system, or the kinds of jobs that they create, the Community Benefits Agreement must clarify those obligations before any zoning laws are changed.”