February 10, 2019 | By Ryan Deffenbaugh | Westchester Business Journal
News in Detail
Toll Brothers uses virtual reality to sell Edge-on-Hudson condos
Envisioning your future million-dollar home within a former industrial site is no easy task. Toll Brothers is trying to make it easier through the use of virtual reality.
In the sales office for its upcoming Edge-on-Hudson townhomes and condominiums in Sleepy Hollow, the Fortune 500 national homebuilding company is offering virtual reality tours of two of its home models. The company started sales last fall for its planned home development on the former General Motors plant site near the Hudson River.
Outside the sales office in January snow pelted an image of kayakers launching into the Hudson, a promotional rendering Toll Brothers printed along the property’s fencing. The grounds were barren but for construction crews moving earth and laying concrete.
But within the confines of the VR headset, the sun is shining, flowers are in bloom and a neighborhood of brick townhomes has sprouted from the ground through realistic 3-D visuals. In this virtual world people can walk up staircases and into bathrooms of the model homes, designed to every small detail. There is a Kitchen Aid mixer on the counter and bottles in the wine cooler.
“Through virtual reality we are able to provide something tangible to show the community we are building,” said Toll Brothers division president James Fitzpatrick.
Toll Brothers bought the first phase of the estimated billion-dollar Edge-on-Hudson development, a venture led by SunCal and Diversified Realty Advisors. The plan from Toll Brothers includes 46 flats-style condos and 72 brownstone-style townhomes. The company’s multifamily division will also build 188 apartments across three separate buildings.
The brownstones will be three and four stories ranging from 2,300 square feet to 3,000 square feet with rooftop terraces and customizable floor plans. Prices start at $989,000. The condos range from 800 square feet to 1,800 square feet though they have yet to be priced. Condo sales are expected to start in the spring.
The home sales represent the most significant movement in the more than two decades of redevelopment efforts at the roughly 70-acre property where 2,100 GM employees once arrived daily. More than 22 years have passed since GM assembled its last vehicle there but the massive undertaking to find a new use for the property was delayed, in part, by shifts in the economy and a drawn-out review that had to be settled in state courts.
Master developers SunCal and Diversified Realty Advisors celebrated a groundbreaking for the site in 2016 and have spent the time since prepping the site for construction. The full plan for the site includes 1,177 residential units, a 140-room hotel, 135,000 square feet of retail space, about 35,000 square feet of office space and more than 16 acres of parkland that will be donated to the village.
“Our development represents a chance for the village of Sleepy Hollow to have a waterfront,” said Peter Chavkin, the project’s lead development consultant with SunCal. “The village never had a waterfront before because almost everything west of the train tracks was industrial.”
Across the Metro-North tracks from the Edge-on-Hudson site, there’s a 28-acre property where hourly employees at the GM plant formerly parked. That property was donated to the village, which is planning to use it to create a community center. Plans include an outdoor amphitheater, recreational facilities, green space and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks to better connect the central village to the waterfront development.
The village also plans to connect its new park to trails in the 1,700-acre Rockefeller State Park Preserve. There are additional efforts to connect village trails to the new Mario Cuomo Bridge walking path, expected to open sometime this year. If all goes to plan, the developers estimate residents and visitors to Edge-on-Hudson and Sleepy Hollow will have access to about 3,000 acres of trails.
That type of access, particularly along the waterfront, is a major selling point for this first round of homes. “You’re in a neighborhood where the identity and gathering point is focused on the riverfront,” Fitzpatrick said.
The homes are also within walking distance of the Tarrytown train station.
“This is the premier piece of waterfront development along the Hudson in Westchester. There is not going to be another one at this scale,” Fitzpatrick added. “Once this job really starts to take shape and buildings start going vertical the community will check a lot of boxes.”
Toll Brothers hopes to have the first residents for its townhomes move in this fall with the condo residents following six months later. The second phase of Edge-on-Hudson will add more apartments and condos to the waterfront along with about 7,000 square feet of retail, which Chavkin said will likely host a farm-to-table style restaurant. SunCal and Diversified Realty have started infrastructure work for that phase.