Trustees Consider Pending Lawsuits Regarding Scarsdale Properties

marxThe Scarsdale Board of Trustees are in discussion about two lawsuits that have been filed pertaining to Scarsdale real estate. The first involves the original home on the former Marx Estate at 15 Gatehouse Road, now owned by Anthony Scarcella. The mansion was built in 1904 and has nine fireplaces and 14 bathrooms. The property was owned by Louis Marx, sometimes called “The Toy King of America,” who died in 1982 at the age of 85. Upon Marx’s death, Anthony Scarcella, a New Rochelle developer, bought the original estate and subdivided the property to build 29 homes on the land.  He built the development and in 1985 he sold the large brick mansion and 1.75 acres of property to Alexander Raydon, who kept it until October 2007.  When Raydon died, Scarcella re-purchased the house, for $2,500,000, which was more than the sale price of the entire estate in 1982. Scarcella then attempted to gain approval to tear down the mansion and build three more new homes on the property. However, this time he received far more resistance from the Board of Architectural Review and ultimately the Scarsdale Board of Trustees.  He was denied a demolition permit to tear down the home because it was found to be a structure of substantial historic importance.  The Village found that the mansion met three of the four criteria for preservation and that its demolition would be detrimental to the public interest.

Unhappy with that decision, Scarcella spent the next three years trying to appeal it. In June, 2009, the case was heard in State Supreme Court and Scarcella challenged the Village on two counts: one for denying him the certificate of appropriateness to demolish the home and another for their rejection of his plea of hardship.  At that time, Judge Rory Bellantoni returned the case to the Village and ordered the Scarsdale Board of Trustees to hold a de novo hearing on the hardship issue only.

Rather than return to Village Hall for the hearing, Scarcella spent two years challenging the de novo order, but his request to appeal to the Appelate Division and the Court of Appeals were rejected. Now, two and a half years later, having exhausted all avenues for appeal, Scarcella has filed a request for a de novo hearing on the hardship claim.

He contends that for a multitude of reasons he cannot make a reasonable return by renovating and selling the home:

Among his claims are:

The Scarsdale Board of Trustees and the Village Attorney are now evaluating the data Scarcella has provided and doing due diligence on the matter.

Boulder Brook Riding Academy

In addition, the Board is considering a matter involving the Boulder Brook Riding Academy on Mamaroneck Road.  The current owners of the property, 291 Mamaroneck Road Realty, are seeking to declare certain restrictive covenants on the property null and void to allow them to modernize the stables and improve the property. At the time they purchased the property the deed restricted use to an equestrian facility and named a “strike price” or a value for the property at that time.  According to the deed, if the covenant was breached, the Village could repurchase the property at that value.

Since that time, real estate values have escalated dramatically. The property owners wish to borrow funds to improve the property, but the reduced “strike price” is preventing them from getting financing.  Therefore, the Village is in negotiation with the owners to alter the deed, while still reserving the right of first refusal if the current owners ever wish to sell the property.

The current owners will continue to lease the property to the riding academy.  Though the Boulder Brook property is in a residential zone, it cannot be developed for residential homes because it has no street frontage.

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