By Tom Bartley
Scarsdale’s Andrew Economos has purchased Pleasantville’s iconic stone railroad station from the village for $650,000.
Home for more than 15 years to a popular local restaurant, the Iron Horse Grill, the building is a Wheeler Avenue landmark. Under the terms of its sale, the structure’s distinctive façade, down to “Pleasantville” destination signs at either end of the roof, must be retained.
“I am very optimistic that this [sale] will maintain the great momentum of the Iron Horse Grill going into the future,” Mayor Peter Scherer said.
The change in ownership will not only give the village an immediate cash infusion but—with the move from municipal books to private ledger sheet—also provide an ongoing downtown assessable, paying annual property taxes. The move represents a second major accounting shift. In the early 1960s, as the New York Central lowered its commuter railroad tracks in the village, the venerable structure made its first move.
Built in 1905, it had sheltered Pleasantville commuters through two World Wars and the Great Depression. By midcentury, however, Pleasantville’s tracks were bound up in an ambitious effort to eliminate commuter-rail grade crossings. In a dramatic change, starting in 1958 and running into the 60s, the tracks moved below street level, far from the station, into the cut they occupy today.
During the rail relocation, the building itself also moved, from its original site near Manville Road to what is today the municipal parking lot behind today’s Dunkin’ Donuts. Later, it moved back across Manville, settling into today’s 20 Wheeler locations, slightly farther south than its original site
At the same time these maneuvers were under way, the Central was also trying to pull back from is commuter rail holdings. In 1964 it sold three properties to the village. For $27,000, Pleasantville acquired the “Dunkin’ donuts” lot, another small parcel near Memorial Plaza and the station building itself, located at 20 Wheeler Road.
“It served various uses over time,” Scherer said of the depot as village trustees prepared to vote Sept. 30 on the building’s sale. Before its incarnation as the Iron Horse Grill, the station building was home to the Village Bookstore as well as a handicapped-accessible meeting room “with god-awful pink vertical blinds,” the mayor said.
“Something like 15 years ago, [Iron Horse proprietor] Phil McGrath came to the village and proposed to lease that building,” Scherer recalled. He planned to renovate it and establish his restaurant. “The Iron Horse grill has been our tenant in that building under a long-term lease ever since,” the mayor said.
He said the sale agreement contains language “that protects that building from any significant changes on the outside.”
Note: An earlier version of this article listed the wrong sale price for the building. It has been corrected.