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Adams-Bernstein House Sold, to be Restored for Affordable Housing

Mark Franzoso of Franzoso Contracting purchased the Adams-Bernstein House for $170,000 on Wednesday.

The town of Yorktown sold the deteriorating Adams-Bernstein House, which has been the center of some controversy over the last two decades, on Wednesday to a buyer who plans on restoring it as an affordable housing unit.

Mark Franzoso, whose Franzoso Contracting company is located in Croton-on-Hudson, accepted the keys to the home in a ceremonial tradition immediately after the closing. He purchased the house for $170,000.

"My plan is to completely restore the house, and I hope to make it available for affordable housing," Franzoso said. "My plan also includes restoring the barn and making it available for public use, possibly as an entertainment space as it was in the 1940s."

Franzoso would restore the barn and the house, using "green materials." The restored barn would be then made available to small theatre groups, seniors citizens, Yorktown schools for events and other non-profit groups for meetings, fundraisers and entertainment. 

In addition, the property would be subdivided to allow the contractor to build a second house on the site and either sell it at market value or make it available for rent.

"This represents the best kind of scenario when private enterprise works with government to get things done," Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace said.

The home, an 1840s farmhouse named for the tenant farmers who built it and the couple who once lived there, is located at 3147 Old Yorktown Road. Yorktown realtor William Primavera brokered the deal on behalf of the town.

"This was more a labor of love on my part to find the perfect buyer," Primavera said. "I have been personally dedicated over the past nine years to make sure that the house was saved and restored for adaptive use like this."

Yorktown town board members agreed in May to let Primavera be the listing realtor for the the property, which had fallen into disrepair in the 20 years since it was bequeathed to the town of Yorktown in the will of Helen Bernstein.

Read more about the home's history and the real estate deal by clicking here.

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Yorktowner October 19, 2012 at 09:36 PM
"This represents the best kind of scenario when private enterprise works with government to get things done," Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace said. Excuse me?? The town was given an historic home to protect and it let it rot and go to ruin and then decided to wash their hands of the mess they had created and sell the sucker to the highest bidder. They lucked out and found someone interested in restoring it--and trust me, it was nothing more than luck. There were no stipulations on the sale when the town approved putting it on the market. There was no attempt to find groups or oganizations that might restore the structure. The town simply said "sell it to whoever wants it." And that is what Grace calls "the best kind of scenario"! When government completely ignores its basic responsibilties and duties to the taxpayers it represents and simply decides to do anything for a few bucks. I am disgusted.
NorthCountyHound October 20, 2012 at 01:05 PM
"affordable housing" is a big red flag.
Martin October 20, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Yorktowner, Your remarks are way off base. I suggest you review the full story by going to this site www.progressiveyorktown.com
Yorktowner October 20, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Martin, I've read all about it already. Which of my comments were "way off base?" Did the town set up stipulations that the seller had to restore the property? No. There were two bids, fortunately the taxpayers got lucky and the higher bidder wanted to restore the property (and build a new house on it, too, of course!). As I said, it was luck. Did the town make a call for proposals to organizations to save the property? No. Primavera says he did, but not the town. This is not a scenario of the town working with the private sector, this is a scenario of the town ignoring its duties to the taxpayers and ignoring the public good in order to get 170K! I pay taxes to the government and I expect them to do some very basic things in return. One of which is to maintain what makes this a special place to live.
Martin October 20, 2012 at 10:27 PM
“Did the town set up stipulations that the seller had to restore the property? No.” Answer: I do believe they did in lieu of subdividing the property. “Did the town make a call for proposals to organizations to save the property?” Answer: Former administrations went down that road to no avail. Example the old railroad station at Railroad Park one gentleman has been trying to raise money for a few years now in order to restore the building. “This is not a scenario of the town working with the private sector, this is a scenario of the town ignoring its duties to the taxpayers and ignoring the public good in order to get 170K!” Answer: If I am not mistaken Mr. Primavera is the private sector. “I pay taxes to the government and I expect them to do some very basic things in return.” I to pay taxes and believe we have a special place to live. I also know that putting this property BACK on the tax rolls is and preserving the history of the old building is extremely beneficial and good government at work. I think we can agree that government shouldn’t be given building, homes, lakes, and pools for a tax write off so that the rest of us have to maintain and pay for it.
Bob Rohr October 21, 2012 at 12:55 AM
There have been too many instances that beautiful and historic Homes have been bulldozed. No one knows how much history was flattened during the building frenzy of the 1960's. The Farmhouse on 202 at the edge of the High School property is a prime example of what I will call early apathy and then late over reaction. The building could no longer house the District offices, the place was built like a tank, but an increasing number of filing cabinets and office machinery could no longer handle the stresses. Word went out that the building would be available for a suitable use. It was sound and had parking. Money was not the issue, while legally it could not be given away, it could be leased for a very nominal sum. The silence was deafening and it rotted away. When word went out over 10 years later that it was coming down the crowds showed up. Where were these crowds when it could have been preserved and been an asset to the community. Maybe people finally woke up or more concerned people moved in. The existing structures should be identified and steps be taken to protect them. Late concern is of very little use.
Yorktowner October 21, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Martin: 1. At no point did the town say that any buyer had to promise to restore the property. That should have been a basic requirement to any sale. 2. The town never made a decent effort to reach out to organizations to find ways to save the building. The fact that they made a little noise about it on other projects and failed is irrelevant. 3. The town did not "work with" Mr. Primavera to save the house. The town gave him the listing to sell to the highest bidder. That is no way a case of the town collaborating with the private sector to find a way to save the property. 4. The town was given a historic property to protect and save for the good of the entire community and you think that it's number one goal should be to put that property back on the tax roles?? That is, excuse me, beyond absurd. As a taxpayer I expect the town government to do what is best for the entire community in the long run. The town was given this property 20 years ago and let it rot. The bare minimum that the town owed the community was to do everything possible to save the property and restore it to benefit us all. Bob: I couldn't agree more. All the more reason for us to not let Grace and the town try to spin their pathetic failures to protect the taxpayer's property as some kind of accomplishment.
Martin October 21, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Mr. Rohr you are 100% correct with your remark “Late concern is very little use.” Government should not be in the business of accepting properties (buildings) with historical value. History has been proven time and time again. Whether it is an historical building or not, if it’s not being used by the masses (public) and can sustain somewhat of itself, the build will fall in disarray. No one wants to spend the taxpayer’s money on the up keeping of these buildings. There a plenty of examples of this going on right now.
Martin October 21, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Yorktown, again you are wrong. Mr. Primavera is not an employee of the town so in fact he is a private sector. Also you are wrong about town boards looking to outside organizations, Town boards going back to Mrs. Cooper’s administration look to organizations to take it over. Unless your definition of organization is different from mine, Chamber of Commerce, Lions, Boy Scots are just a few organizations that had been canvassed. I don’t think saving the historic value (the house/barn) and putting it back on the tax rolls is absurd. Yorktown unless you’ve read the contract and witnessed it being signed how do you know the restoring of the property isn’t in there? I was at the press conference and witnessed along with reporters from all the papers and websites, when the now new owner plans to “restore the barn first for a staging area then get to work on the main house restoration”. I am sure if you call the office of Supervisor Grace he will answer your questions.
Yorktowner October 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Martin, So, you're trying to say that hiring a realtor to sell the property constitutes "working with the private sector"? I am well aware that Primavera is a private realtor with no interest other than making his commission. That is, in fact, my point. Hiring him does not count as collaborating with the private sector. It only counts as hiring a realtor to sell the property. The town government actually reached out to the town chamber of commerce!! And the local scouts and lions! That is so impressive!! Imagine what they might have accomplished if they had talked to someone outside of the hamlet! The mind boggles. As for the fact that there was no stipulation to the sale, that was well reported when the house went on the market. Also reported was the fact that the other offer was rejected because it was for less cash--not because it failed to save the building. Saving the building was never a requisite to a sale.
Jean-Francois de Laperouse October 21, 2012 at 04:50 PM
If the Adams-Bernstein house and barn are renovated in a way that maintains their character and the new construction on the site is made of quality materials and is sympathetic to the style of the existing house, then this is the best solution one can hope for in this case. Admittedly, this probably not what the Bernsteins had in mind when they bequeathed their property to the town. Martin be right that private individual/organizations are the only ones who will maintain historic structures. But since no one is doing this in Yorktown today. will we continue to lose buildings that add character to our town? I have found out the hard way in my attempts raise support for moving or dismantling the Knapp House that will be demolished for the Compond Corners development across from the Staples Shopping Center (search "Knapp House: on the Patch or google "Preserve Yorktown's Knapp House" on the web) that there is just not enough support from Individuals or, so far, from local government to take action. Times are tough but are we really that poor of a community that we can't work together to find solutions even if there is no profit to be made? A house with a very interesting history beginning with a Revolutionary War veteran goes into a dumpster? If anyone reading this post is interested in helping to document/salvage the Knapp House please contact me at j-f.delaperouse@metmuseum.org
Yorktowner October 21, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Jean-Francois, Yes I totally agree. IF the house and barn are renovated correctly it will be a good outcome. And IF the town government had not completely abdicated it's responsibilities to protect the taxpayers' property and the community's interests, then we would not be dependent on the kindness of contractors. The difference between the Adams-Bernstein house and the Knapp house or the Melbourne house is that it was actually owned by the town. It was left to the taxpayers of Yorktown as a gift--and our government let it rot and then sold it for a pittance without any protections. But IF things work out and we luck out, it may be okay in the end. We would not be in this position IF Grace and the town had done their job.
Jean-Francois de Laperouse October 21, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Yorktowner, I know this it's a big "if" but given that Mr. Grace and Mr. Primavera are publicly touting this deal as an example of the private sector's role in preservation, they had better make sure that it happens. To be fair, neither are responsible for the current condition of this property. Mr. Primavera published a proposal in a local paper some time ago with a good plan to use the use the house as a heritage center to develop local tourism and the property's deterioration predates Mr. Grace's tenure as supervisor. In fact, the house was sold at auction under the previous supervisor with no provisions but that sale fell through. Yorktown's commitment to preservation if terrible. But words are cheap. Won't you join with me in taking an active role?
Martin October 21, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Thank you Jean-Francois de Laperouse. It’s easy to blame people for something they inherited, but I guess that’s to be anticipated by people that don’t know the full history.
Yorktowner October 21, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Martin, Would you at least read my posts before attacking them? If you did you would see that A) I clearly do know the full history and B) the only thing I am blaming Grace for is what happened on his watch--namely putting the house back on the market with no stipulation that it be saved or renovated and making no new attempt to find alternative solutions. The fact that previous supervisors did the same does not absolve Grace of guilt for his failure to protect the taxpayers' property and his abdication of responsibility. And only Grace is holding press conferences trying to hail his complete failure as some kind of accomplishment. Shame on him for that. Jean-Francois, I'd be happy to join in an active role, depending of course on the organization and its goals. Salvaging the Knapp house isn't of interest to me, sorry. But I'd be happy to actively participate in any effort to maintain and preserve Yorktown's natural and built heritage and the taxpayer's legacy.
Jean-Francois de Laperouse October 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I agree that salvage by itself can be a meaningless gesture. That's why I have been working to get the Knapp House accurately recorded by outside experts since so few in Yorktown seem to care. This house, which stood for over two hundred years and has an extraordinarily well-documented history, would have been demolished with absolutely no notice unless I had raised the issue. Perhaps my biggest victory here was tracking down two early photos that show the house and the surrounding landscape as they appeared in Yorktown's early days. You simply can't expect the town to do step up. Look at Bedford. Their historic society maintains several historic buildings with no governmental support. The only solution is to build community support- both moral and financial- for preservation. For my part, I plan to research and publicize the history of as many extant old structures as I can. If you wait for a perfect situation before becoming involved, there will be nothing left and no worthwhile history uncovered.
Martin October 22, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Yorktowner, attacking wasn’t the attended gesture; also don’t misunderstand my views when it comes to the preservation of the history of Yorktown and its old buildings. Which many were lost in the late 60’s early 70’s through urban renewal. I do believe buildings with historical value should be preserved, through a historic society or private ownership. Even buildings that have been acquired from donations, the town should sell off to buyer that will safeguard the building and the history it holds. Knowing the work of Mr. Franzoso and his reputation he has as a builder; he is a buyer that will comply with this ideologies. There are houses/buildings that are on the US and County Historical register in Yorktown owned by private owners or religious organizations, and they are well maintained. Jean-Francois summed it up best,” You simply can't expect the town to do step up.” Trust me you don’t want me to start listing the houses and building that the town has destroyed in the past, by letting it go in disarray. Or one’s that are on their way. I feel the Grace administration went about it the right way, in order to preserve the Adams-Bernstein House. On this I will safely say “we can both agree to disagree”. Thank you for doing what you do, keep up the good work.
Jean-Francois de Laperouse October 22, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I would add one comment about this particular case. it appears that the Bernstein's loved their property and hoped that it would be used to foster an appreciation of Yorktown's heritage. Their will stipulated that their property be used by the Yorktown Museum for at least 10 years. Now that that time has passed, the town claims that the revenue from its sale can go into the general pot. While technically permissible, this use of the revenue clearly goes against the intention of the gift. All or at least a good portion of it should be set aside for purpose it was intended. The museum needs an overall and is closed most of the time. As far as I can see our schools never take students there. Websites should be developed to get our history out on the internet. It may be politically difficult these days to spend tax revenues non-essential projects but this would seem to be an ideal way to secure funds and make progress in an area that Grace and others on the town board claim to care about.

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