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Mount Kisco Planning Board OK's Modell's Permit

Members of the Mount Kisco Planning Board, pictured at a previous meeting.
Members of the Mount Kisco Planning Board, pictured at a previous meeting. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
The former Borders site in Mount Kisco.
The former Borders site in Mount Kisco. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie (File Photo)

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- The former Borders bookstore site, one of Mount Kisco's most prominent downtown storefronts, is poised to be occupied again after more than four years of vacancy.

The Mount Kisco Planning Board voted on Tuesday to approve a special permit for Modell's Sporting Goods, Village Attorney Whitney Singleton confirmed through his secretary.

The board's approval comes roughly three months after it initial its review of the sporting-goods chain's application. Village law requires a special permit for any new retail space that is over 8,000 square feet. Modell's is proposing to take up roughly 12,794 square feet in the northern section's of the 2-story building.

The former Borders site, vacant since 2011 due to the chain's bankruptcy, totals roughly 22,400 square feet. The southern spaces on both floors, which combined are just under 8,000 square feet, remain vacant and are meant for a future second tenant.

A restructuring of the building's floor plans calls for common areas on both floors, which total roughly 1,420 square feet. The common space will include Borders' former main entrance on the lower floor; the former main elevator; and a back-room corridor meant to moving goods among the tenants.

A second elevator will be constructed for the future Modell's space, while the existing main staircase that faces east and west will be replaced with a new one facing north and south.

Modell's expects to open next spring, according to The Examiner.

The board's approval came after Modell's revised its proposal by downsizing the square footage, which was previously in the 16,000-square-foot range. Board members panned the previous iteration at their October meeting, expressing concerns about its window aesthetics and scale.

Modell's will feature display mannequins and merchandise in its second-floor windows, which will face the street level on East Main Street (Route 117). The first floor connects to a parking lot and is adjacent to Green Street.

Modell's has garnered the support of several merchants with shops along the East Main Street corridor, who view the proposal as a way to mitigate the loss of business they endured following the loss of Borders.

In contrast, Robert and Tina Bernstein, the owners of Mount Kisco Sports, voiced opposition to the proposal at previous board meetings. Mount Kisco Sports is slated to have a new location in downtown Mount Kisco, a development that preceded the proposal for Modell's.

The impending occupancy of Modell's also marks the end of a convoluted saga for the property, one that saw several changes of ownership.

The property is currently owned by the Modell family, real-estate businessman Stephan Lerner, who founded Lerner Properties; and Lerner's cousin, Richard Grobman. The trio, who purchased the property this past summer, have respective stakes in the site of 50 percent, 25 percent and 25 percent.

The buyers acquired the property for $6.25 million, according to county records. The purchase did not include a mortgage.

The previous owner was an entity called GCCFC 2007-GG11 Kisco Retail, LLC, which acquired the property out of an August 2014 foreclosure auction by making a $6.5 million credit bid. The entity was the holder of a $6.3 million mortgage taken out in 2007 by prior owner, Mt. Kisco Associates, LP, which defaulted on the debt.

The earlier owner acknowledged defaulting on the mortgage as part of a May 2014 settlement with the entity , which paved the way for the foreclosure auction. The entity filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the previous owner in February 2013.

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