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Lawsuit Dismissed Over $60M Westchester Affordable Housing Development

La Porte in Mount Vernon.
La Porte in Mount Vernon. Photo Credit: Contributed

The City of Mount Vernon and the developer of a multi-million dollar, 159-unit affordable housing complex have reached a settlement that will clear the way for the La Porte development in the heart of the city.

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas announced the dismissal of a lawsuit by developer Peter Fine of Manhattan-based Blue Rio LLC, who agreed to pay the city $300,000 and issued a public apology to Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas.

The lawsuit alleged that the mayor and an unnamed adviser met with Fine in March 2016, but when the adviser was later turned down for a consulting job, the city started to issue stop-work orders, bringing work on the La Porte site to a grinding halt.

Such orders are generally issued when inspectors uncover violations of local construction, or zoning, regulations, or when work is being done in an unsafe manner. They can also be used when contractual disagreements arise.

“Community redevelopment is a hard business, and it requires cooperation, coordination, and teamwork,“ Fine stated.

“Although I previously criticized the City, we have now succeeded in bridging the disagreements and misunderstandings between us and understand where the other was coming from. I want to thank and congratulate Mayor Thomas for his leadership and vision in getting this project done. His commitment to building up the community, rather than being mired in the past, deserves enormous praise. Mr. Mayor, we couldn’t have done it without you.”

Thomas said the $300,000 in settlement money will go toward the restoration of neighboring Hartley Park and local development activities. Fine also noted that construction of the La Porte project at 203 Gramatan Avenue provided over $10 million in economic benefits to Mount Vernon contractors and suppliers and employed 47 Mount Vernon residents.

Once completed, the La Porte development will feature 159 units for rent, 19,500-square feet of retail space and a municipal parking garage. The project has been in the works for more than five years, but developers have had difficulty locking down funds from certain parties. This is part of the initial phase of the city’s master plan that is designed to revitalize downtown Mount Vernon with $300 million in developments planned.

Thomas stated that "the La Porte project, and the public-private partnership behind it between the city and Blue Rio, were more evidence of Mount Vernon’s economic growth, which includes the opening of The Modern, a new 81-unit housing development; four new market-rate housing developments under construction by major developers, which will add 888 units and $300 million in new investment to the city; the redevelopment around the Mount Vernon West Metro-North train station, and the announcement by the Wartburg that it will construct a new luxury retirement community in Mount Vernon."

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