Letter to Town Board: TB members should never have suggested retail use at Chappaqua Crossing

May 10, 2013
by Steve Coyle

Editor’s Note: Steve Coyle, who has worked for 25 years in real estate investment, sent the following letter to Town Board members on May 6, 2013   After receiving a response from Supervisor Susan Carpenter, he added a Post Script to his letter, also included below.

May 6, 2013

To:Supervisor Susan Carpenter
  Deputy Supervisor Elise Mottel
  Board Member Jason Chapin
  Board Member Robin Stout
  Board Member John Buckley

cc: Editor NewCastleNow.org

Dear New Castle Town Board:

As you are aware, one of your Planning Board members approached me and
suggested that I apply for the currently vacant position on the Town
Planning Board.  Given my 25+ years of real estate investment
experience, the fact that my wife grew up in Chappaqua and having a
genuine desire to help the town, I applied for the vacant position and
interviewed on March 12, 2013.  As you are likely aware, I have not
heard from you, and according to the town website, this position is
not yet filled.  I hereby remove my name from consideration for this
position.

I would also like to publicly comment on the proposed retail
development at Chappaqua Crossing.  While I did not feel that it was
proper to do so as a potential candidate for the New Castle Planning
Board, now that I have withdrawn my candidacy, I believe that I can
(and should) comment on this proposed project.  As you are aware, I
have worked for the past 25 years as an investor in commercial real
estate.  I am currently the chief investment officer heading private
real estate investments for a large, global owner of properties.  I
have spent my entire career analyzing real estate investments,
performing due diligence studies, and investing in, and managing such
real estate investments.  I have invested in real estate throughout
the United States and much of the world.

In my professional experience, I have never seen an unzoned retail
project in the United States move along as quickly as has the proposed
retail at Chappaqua Crossing.  The Northeast is a notoriously
difficult market from a zoning perspective, and retail zoning is among
the most coveted of the property uses.  The reason why retail zoning
is typically so difficult to obtain is that virtually no other
property type creates as much burden on the surrounding uses, as does
retail.
Retail stresses roadways more than other commercial and
residential uses, utilizes higher parking ratios, generates trash and
noise, and is typically riskier, as the U.S. market is highly
over-retailed.  (Just look at the plethora of vacant strip centers and
malls that dot our highways and byways).

I have reviewed the current Town Development Plan, which is dated
November 1989.  As you are aware, Chappaqua Crossing’s current B-RO-20
(office business, research and industrial development) zoning “does
not allow for the mixture of commercial uses as currently presented in
the Consolidated Proposed Action.”  Chappaqua Crossing has already
received numerous and significant zoning reviews.  First, the site was
rezoned from allowing for a singular office tenant to later allowing
for up to four tenants and to today allowing for an unlimited number
of office tenants.  Later, a 30.6 acre portion of the site was rezoned
to be a Multifamily Planned Development district, which was approved
for 111 units.  I support these uses and these changes; however, I do
not support the current proposal for retail zoning.

The owner/developer of Chappaqua Crossing, Summit Greenfield, has
sought alternate uses for the property, because the existing site is
challenged from a current development standpoint.  Many of the
improvements on the site are antiquated (some of the buildings date to
1939, and many of the buildings have not been renovated in decades).
Further, Westchester County has struggled to attract office users, due
to New York State’s high corporate, individual and property tax rates.
None of these facts surprise me, as a real estate investor.  Nor
should they have been surprising to Summit Greenfield when they
purchased the site.  The downsizing and eventual departure of Reader’s
Digest from the site should have been a consideration of the owner
prior to their having made the initial investment.

I am shocked that the Town Board of New Castle introduced the concept
of retail at Chappaqua Crossing prior to Summit Greenfield requesting
retail use on a portion of the site.  In my opinion, this was a
reckless decision by the Town Board.  The Town Board’s February 2,
2013 draft of New Castle/Reader Digest Rezoning III – Retail Uses –
Revised Draft Local Law report, states that “the commercial real
estate market is not supporting large scale office and research
facilities and that to retain those existing facilities as part of a
viable community and real estate tax base, those existing facilities
may need to be adaptively reused and/or augmented by retail uses,
which support the continuing office and research uses …”  In my
professional experience, I have never witnessed an office or research
use that necessitates or even supports a supermarket/grocery.  Such a
use is highly inconsistent with commercial office and research uses.
The two uses tend to compete against each other as it pertains to
parking and other issues.  Instead, the only retail uses that
typically benefit office development are restaurants, sundry shops and
the like.

I am also amazed at the lack of due diligence that the town of New
Castle has apparently done as it pertains to the proposed retail use.
As far as I am aware, no traffic study has yet been released publicly
as it pertains to current (and anticipated) traffic along the
surrounding roadways.  Typically, traffic surveys would be first
performed on all of the adjacent roadways.  If this has been done, it
has not been publicly released. [* See Post Script, below] Following such a study, the town
planning and zoning boards would review this data as it pertains to
the current (and anticipated) infrastructure.  Finally, the town (and
the developer) would hire consultants to determine what the future
impacts on traffic would be from the proposed use(s).

I have done some simple analysis to show the impact that a 120,000
square foot (sf) retail center would have on our current roadways.
Successful neighborhood centers typically have a 1:1 ratio of anchor
space to in-line shop space.  Thus, this would suggest that the
proposed center would have a 60,000 sf supermarket anchor and 60,000
sf of in-line space.  A supermarket anchor in an affluent submarket
the Northeast would typically underwrite a store doing $650 per square
foot in annual sales.  Thus, such a store would gross $39MM in annual
sales.  If we assume that the center will be active 360 days per year
and that the average grocery bill per trip is $75, then the
supermarket anchor would generate 1,444 additional car round trips per
day
.  Additionally, if we estimate that the in-line stores generate
$350 per square foot in annual sales and that the average shopping
bill at those stores average $35, then those stores would generate
1,667 round trips daily.  Of course, some of the inline sales will be
tied to sales at the supermarket anchor and to the other in-line
tenants.  If we estimate that half of the in-line sales are
independent, then the proposed center would generate more than 2,275
additional round trips daily.  This will severely tax the existing
infrastructure of our already crowded roadways and will result in
severe gridlock from 2:35, when Greeley High School ends until well
past 6:30pm.

In my professional opinion, the proposed site at Chappaqua Crossing is
not well suited for retail development.  Proposed tenants typically
require excellent visibility from highways and thoroughfares and seek
high-profile signage.  Chappaqua Crossing is on a sloped site that is
problematic for retail development.  Poor sight lines will not only
limit tenant interest in the site, but they will likely result in
changes to the proposed site design if this proposed development
progresses.  The result will likely be that the retail development
will eventually move closer to the intersection of Roaring Brook and
Bedford roads.  Also, the proposed parking ratio for the current
project is 5 spaces per 1,000 sf.  Most successful shopping centers
utilize parking ratios of 6/1,000 sf or greater.  Since the site has
no existing pedestrian access, I would anticipate that the site would
need at least 6 spaces per 1,000 sf.  Also, with single-family
residential uses abutting the site on three of the four sides, the
impacts from the proposed center would be disproportionately faced by
the neighboring homes.

Finally, I believe that the town board has not properly considered
whether Summit Greenfield has the means to complete this proposed
project.  With a loan that is soon coming due, a project that has
failed to reach its net operating income projections from early on,
and a muddled future as it pertains to potential new tenants and uses,
the Town of New Castle risks setting a dangerous precedent as it
pertains to rezoning the site.  If Summit Greenfield were to prove
unable to complete, fully lease and operate the site as retail, then
New Castle would not only lose the potential tax revenues associated
with the site, but they would also put themselves at risk of having
the next owner request even more zoning changes.

In my personal and professional opinion, Chappaqua Crossing is ill
equipped for neighborhood or strip retail zoning.  The site is less
than ideal from an anchor tenant’s perspective, the existing uses of
the site will be negatively impacted by such a use, and the
surrounding infrastructure cannot support the additional traffic,
signage or environmental impacts associated with such a development.

I am not anti-development, nor do I believe that Chappaqua Crossing
could not be rezoned to other, less intrusive uses.  However, I
believe that the Town Board has done a disservice to its residents by
advancing the concept of retail at Chappaqua Crossing.  I would highly
encourage the Board to carefully reconsider this use and to ultimately
reject it.  Further, the Town Board should delay any further rezoning
requests at Chappaqua Crossing until it has completed the update of
the Town’s Master Plan.

Sincerely Yours,

Steve Coyle

* P.S.  On March 8, 2013, I received the following response from the Town of New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter:

“Mr. Coyle,  I will forward your comment to the applicant for their consideration as required by SEQRA.  However, both the applicant and the Town did hire traffic consultants very early on in the process, as you suggest we should have done. I will have someone check to make sure the traffic studies are on the web site. If for some reason those studies were not scanned to the web site I will make sure they are. Susan Carpenter”

Based on the response from Supervisor Carpenter, I would like to redact paragraph 7 of my letter.  However, I stand by all of the other statements in my original letter to the Town Board, and would like to add a few concluding thoughts:

Subsequent to receiving Supervisor Carpenter’s response, I have fully reviewed the traffic studies that were dated November 25, 2012 and the DSEIS study dated April 13, 2013.  After reviewing these documents, I would like to state that I believe that the current traffic study fails to properly account for the traffic increase that will be generated by the proposed retail at Chappaqua Crossing.  As my analysis shows, there will be an increase of more than 2,275 ROUND TRIPS PER DAY. 

The traffic study, which was commissioned by Summit Greenfield and performed by John Collins Engineers P.C. does not give a per day count of traffic related from retail zoning, rather it only gives the increases for five different periods of time.  These are: (1) Weekdays from 7-8am, (2) Weekdays from 8-9am, (3) Weekdays from 2:30 to 3:30pm, (4) Weekdays from 4:30-5:30pm, and (5) Saturdays from 12-1pm.  The Summit Greenfield/Collins study estimates that weekday trips during periods (1) through (4) will increase by an average of 1,641 total entries and exits (i.e., one-way trips).  My analysis suggests that daily volume will increase by more than 4,550 trips over the shopping day.  Further, my analysis does not examine the resulting truck and employee traffic, which will further stress our roadways.  Thus, I think our roadways will become very overburdened by the proposed center.

I would also like to note that currently Town Zoning Ordinances require 6.67 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space.  In my analysis, I used a 6 per 1,000 sf ratio.  Summit Greenfield and the Town are suggesting a parking ratio of 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet in a DRAFT Local Law.  (One that would require yet another zoning change). The Summit Greenfield/Collins parking study is based on a 5/1,000 sf ratio.  My professional experience suggests that 6 spaces per 1,000 sf is the minimum amount that would be viably necessary, and I would argue that 6.67 is an even better ratio for most shopping center owner/operators.

Finally, no developer in his right mind would have ever underwritten getting retail zoning as his base case on this site. Why our Town leaders suggested this as a use is beyond me.

UPDATE 5:30 a.m. Friday, May 10, 2013

Editor’s Note: Steve Coyle received the following email from Town Board member Jason Chapin:

From: Jason Chapin

Date: May 9, 2013, 9:20:07 PM EDT
To: Steve Coyle

Subject: RE: Chappaqua Crossing Proposed Retail Use

Dear Mr. Coyle,

I’m sorry you did not hear back from the Town about the Planning Board position. We are still considering candidates.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Chappaqua Crossing proposal. As I have stated, I’m most interested in issues related to the neighborhood, traffic and the hamlets. The project requires and will follow a comprehensive review process. Input from citizens, the town planner, town counsel, the Planning Board, the developer and other interested and involved agencies are core elements of the review process.

I will consider all of the input, issues and available information before voting on the proposal. 

Sincerely,

Jason Chapin
Town Board


Comments(29):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

I am delighted that Steve Coyle has presented a thorough view of the SG proposal.  I am further pleased that his viewpoints are in keeping with my relatively unsophisticated concerns.  As has been pointed out, the ramifications of inserting retail structures at Chappaqua Crossing can, and would, be enormous…and very negative.

I hope that the residents of New Castle pay particular attention to the points above and, if not in line with their desire for a supermarket, give this a little more thought.  The desire for (presumably) easier shopping is a bit selfish when considered in light of the wider effects we may see.

By Les Himel on 05/10/2013 at 7:37 am

Until I read this series of letters, I had been on the fence about Chappaqua Crossing.  I live in a part of town that would not be directly negatively impacted by retail development there, and it would be quite convenient for me to have a grocery store at that location (although I have been concerned about the traffic relating to the high school).  But having read this well reasoned, thoughtful letter by someone who obviously has relevant experience, and having seen the town’s curt response—a response that in no way tries to grapple with the issues raised (it is as though the supervisor does not even understand the issues raised), I am now thoroughly opposed to the project.  On a different note,  I am shocked that the town did not have the courtesy over a two month period to respond to Mr. Coyle after he interviewed for the planning board position.  The town should be delighted to have residents with his expertise and experience care enough to volunteer to work with and for the town.  At the very least,  if he is not the person they are looking for, they owe him the courtesy of a prompt reply.  It does feel as if the people who run the town have no respect for the residents.

By No longer on the fence on 05/10/2013 at 7:55 am

This short clip by the Sustainable Man website is worth 4 minutes of your time. The RD property doesn’t have to be retail OR residential.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzOhBu-q6BU

By food for thought for NC residents on 05/10/2013 at 8:35 am

Mr. Coyle, thank you so much for the professional and intelligent analysis which many of us feel has been sorely lacking regarding this project.  I’m urging all my friends and neighbors to read your post. 
One question I’d love your feedback on:  The rumor floated by Summit is that the grocery store will be a Whole Foods.  Given WF’s stated demographic needs of 200,000 population within a 20 minute drive, this feels like a bluff to many of us.  What do you think—truth or very clever move by Summit to win hearts and minds before pulling a bait & switch to Shop Rite?

By Dawn Greenberg on 05/10/2013 at 8:38 am

P.S.  it seems like you’d be a great addition to the planning board!

By Dawn Greenberg on 05/10/2013 at 8:39 am

The intelligent analysis has been going on also among planning board members.  The town board made a mistake in suggesting this use of Chappaqua Crossing. I suppose they have to go through the environmental review now, but in no way should they approve this transfer of wealth from every member in our town to Summit Greenfield. Let some sensible use take place by having our town board maintain the business-office-research zoning. 

This is the same Summit Greenfield that told our town board when this first began that they had Pepsi on the hook to lease a large space.  Based on that, the town board first began the zoning changes.  Pepsi never materialized.

By Stick with the B-R-O zoning on 05/10/2013 at 9:17 am

I have tried my whole life to get on the Planning Board, and I am a life long resident of the area. The power brokers that you do not see or know, stop these types of applicants. As a matter of fact, the town will never respond, or perhaps, only now, due to the exposure that this website has given it. It will be interesting to see what unfolds. It will be even more interesting to see if Mr. Coyle is appointed, and then to see his slow transformation to doing what the power brokers want him to do. If anyone notices, Planning Board members only behave in a normal and reasonable fashion towards applicants when their tenure of serving is coming to an end. To know this, you have to have more then 35 years under your belt at being a hawk on these types of matters.

By My whole life! on 05/10/2013 at 9:28 am

Bravo! What a well-written and articulate letter that covered most all of the issues. I believe his letter speaks on behalf of the majority of the residents of Chappaqua-

Amy Pappas

By Amy Pappas on 05/10/2013 at 10:44 am

I prefer a Shop Rite over the overpriced pretentious Whole Foods, but the actual tenant should not be relevant in this discussion.  Even if it started as a WF, it can easily be changed to any grocery store in the future.  The zoning would simply allow for a grocery, not which one.

There is no doubt the Town owed Mr. Coyle a prompt reply even if it was to say, as Mr. Chapin finally did, we have not yet selected someone.  But that too is not relevant to this discussion. I happen to think Mr. Coyle will be more effective from the outside than he would having to live under the legal and political constraints of being on the Planning Board.

Sadly, Supervisor Carpenter’s response was appropriate.  It is not her role at this point in the process to respond to every letter, every point made and every comment.  In fact, it is her job to simply consider them all now and at a later point when making a decision regarding her vote, to voice her reasoning behind that decision.

Having said that, Mr. Coyle, clearly someone with superior knowledge on the issue, has brought up some very good points that need to be addressed in the response to the DSEIS by both the developer and the Town. 

Mr. Coyle is the first person who has used actual facts and figures to support his opinion rather than the shrill whining of most commenters here on this site and at the public meetings.  Simply signing your name or repeating over and over your points does not make them any more relevant than they might be based on the facts.

I hope now the Town and developer are listening.

By User #4,112 on 05/10/2013 at 10:48 am

Summit Development was involved in a successful development in CT called Kings Crossing.  In 2003, they bought a contaminated 11-acre piece of property for 8M.  In 2012, it was sold for 60M. 
http://www.summitdevelopment.com/kings-crossing-shopping-complex-sold-for-nearly-60m/.  The stores at Kings Crossing are a Home Depot, Whole Foods, Petco, CVS, Chipotle & Five Guys.  Sounds good for Summit Greenfield, and Fairfield, CT.

The problem is that Summit Greenfield wants to turn Chappaqua Crossing into the next Kings Crossing.  Consider this………..On December 4, 2012, Engineer and Planner for Summit Greenfield, Andy Tung, walked Planning Board members through the proposal for a grocery and retail shopping center at Chappaqua Crossing.  When discussing possible tenants, Tung stated “there would likely be a sit-down restaurant, probably two. Most likely national chains in the 5,000-SF-plus category. A Chipotle’s or a Five-Guys. There could be what we call a “junior anchor” a store of 15,000 SF that might e a Petco or Staples. Not a department store, but a store you might go to for daily or weekly needs. Then a smaller store something like a Sylvan Learning Center. As I’ve learned, each grocery store has a group of smaller tenants that kind of follow it around.”
http://www.newcastlenow.org/index.php/article/index/new_planning_board_drills_down_on_crossing_plan_for_grocery_and_retail

The big difference is that Chappaqua Crossing is not a contaminated 11-acre piece of property.  It sits across from our high school, creating a dangerous situation for our children.  The problem is that this strip mall is being built in a residential area.  The problem is that it will destroy our two existing hamlets, and be a nightmare for traffic.

The problem is that our Town Board is pressing ahead with this project regardless of the very legitimate concerns raised by rhe residents, and those clearly set forth by Mr. Coyle.

By Rob Greenstein on 05/10/2013 at 12:13 pm

Jason Chapin is apparently sending the same response to everyone.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Chappaqua Crossing proposal. As I have stated, I’m most interested in issues related to the neighborhood, traffic and the hamlets. The project requires and will follow a comprehensive review process. Input from citizens, the town planner, town counsel, the Planning Board, the developer and other interested and involved agencies are core elements of the review process.

I will consider all of the input, issues and available information before voting on the proposal. 

By Auto Reply on 05/10/2013 at 1:07 pm

to: Dawn Greenberg in reference to Whole Foods/Shop Rite….. “What do you think—truth or very clever move by Summit to win hearts and minds before pulling a bait & switch to Shop Rite?” Here is your answer:
Years ago when Summit Greenfield first proposed housing at the Readers Digest property,
they invited members of the nearby community to an information session in one of the offices at Readers Digest. At that meeting they had all the drawings and renderings showing us what it would look like.
We were also told that most of the housing was already sold and that they had deposits.
If anyone thinks that Summit Greenfield would not just make “stuff” up to get their re-zoning approvals, then I hope that my experience will inform you that you are mistaken.

By M.Harris on 05/10/2013 at 1:47 pm

Thank you for writing this letter Mr. Coyle - I only wish that you were on either the Planning Board, or better yet, the Town Board.  I honestly cannot figure out why the Town Board proposed the idea of retail at Chappaqua Crossing, or why it is going ahead with this concept.  To date, I have heard no good reason articulated.  If this project goes through I will definitely be seeking a reduction in my taxes because it will significantly devalue my property.  Lawrence Farms East will no longer be the highly sought after neighborhood it was when my family relocated here from another house in Chappaqua.  With children at Greeley, Bell and Grafflin and driving to sports fields, I cannot avoid driving through Chappaqua, but in all other instances, I will not want to drive there.  This development will make it too difficult and dangerous to take a left onto 117 from Annandale or Kittle Road and our neighborhood will essentially be cut off from the town we live in.

By Barbara Satow on 05/10/2013 at 2:09 pm

@ user #  4,112,

Every point that Mr. Coyle has brought up has been talked about by our Planning Board at their meetings, all available to view on video or to read right here on NCNow.  Since you are interested to join the conversation, do your homework.

Susan Carpenter wrote this zoning change to satisfy the developer.  She is not as you suggest, considering the hundreds of residents objections to this ill advised retail development.  She is going thru the motions. 

I find your characterization of posters on these threads arrogant, insulting and erroneous.

By do your homework on 05/10/2013 at 2:55 pm

Thank you Mr Doyle for the details on the true vehicular traffic that Chappaqua Crossing is going to bring to our lovely town. Most of us moved to Chappaqua to get away from the traffic,congestion and noise—that is what makes Chappaqua so special. 
Additionally, what about the safety of both our high school kids as well as all the children getting on and off the buses. People are going to be rushing to get in and out of the supermarket.  This is a real safety concern.  I am hoping the board changes their minds once they have read Mr. Doyle’s comments

By Hedy Simpson on 05/10/2013 at 7:07 pm

Mr. Coyle is spot on with the traffic issues.  Without major road widening (including shoulders) for 117, turning lanes, and, frankly, an overpass for Roaring Brook Road over the Saw Mill and train tracks, as well as widening of Roaring Brook Road west of the Saw Mill, a retail development at Chappaqua Crossing would be a disaster for our town and would detract from Horace Greeley HS.  Why on earth would anyone conceive of putting something like this here?  When you step back from the emotion of it, you really have to ask yourself why would you do this here?  Just Google Earth the address (480 Bedford Road) and look at that aerial image (zoom out and in) and you just can’t help but scratch your head.

Addressing SG’s ability to finance a project, any project, at Chappaqua Crossing, well the Town Board should be doing its due diligence on this front.  Has the Town Board reviewed the financial statements of the fund vehicle that owns Chappaqua Crossing?  Does it have additional equity available to build out the site?  For a deal originated in 2005, this is highly doubtful.  The more likely scenario is that upon getting the zoning changes SG will flip the site to a new developer and recoup some of its upside down investment.

Let’s clear up one thing, there is no lender anymore.  SG has lowered its basis by purchasing the $31 million note for $17,227,841.  This was a securitization (split into an A, B and C notes) so there would have been an appraisal showing the C piece completely out of the money (holders of the C piece lost $12.1 million), which left the B piece holders as the controlling party, and they determined to sell to SG.  The Town Board should get a copy of that appraisal as part of their due diligence.  The A note got 100% and the B Note got about $1.2 million of recovery.  So SG effectively lowered its basis by the amount of the discount on the purchase ($13,772,159).

By Real Estate Finance 101 on 05/10/2013 at 11:31 pm

The DPO price was probably close to the appraised value.  If a new party had bought the note at $17.2 million and foreclosed out SG, they probably could make a decent return by building out site with the multifamily and single family homes as per current zoning as well as providing TIs (tenant improvements) for the useable office space in order to lease up the useable space (some of the office building(s) would inevitably be torn down or otherwise repurposed given functional obsolescence).  The appraisal, if SG would disclose it, would probably show projections for such a scenario. 

Remember that number, $17.2 million.  $17.2 million is a proxy for the current market value of the property as currently zoned.  $17.2 million is the number that C-III, the special servicer for the loan, sold the $31 million loan to SG for.  C-III would not have been able to sell to the borrower (SG) at that price if $17.2 million was not within striking distance of the actual market value for the property.  $17.2 million is a number that works as a cost basis for someone to come in and develop/redevelop the property according to existing zoning.  With the C Piece of the $31 million loan wiped out, so too is SG’s original investment effectively wiped out.  That’s $59 million paid in 2005 plus whatever has been spent in carrying costs and legal fees minus the $31 million it originally borrowed.  Everyone should be looking at this as if that money is flamed, vanished, gone.  But SG is not, and the only way they can hope to recover a meaningful portion of that nut (the amount of the original investment, plus carrying/legal costs, minus the $31 million of debt, plus the $17.2 million paid to purchase the debt at a discount), is through this massive “zoning grab” that they are attempting to pull off.  And it is not even clear that the project, as improved, will be successful or that it will generate tax revenues that would be remotely worth the sacrifice.

By Real Estate Finance 101 on 05/10/2013 at 11:43 pm

To finish off these thoughts, again, just take a look at the property and the area on Google Earth and ask yourself, what could the Town Board possibly be thinking?  Why is this even a discussion?  Why should we bail out Summit Greenfield?  There is likely a perfectly viable strategy for the property at the current basis of $17.2 million with the existing zoning, which will have density and impact that everyone can live with.  New Castle could wish for 700,000 sq. ft. of fully tenanted office space and a great tax payer; it’s never going to happen.  SG could wish for this zoning gift and that it will thereby get all its money back; definitely never should happen.  What should happen is that SG should finally take its lumps and either build out the property as it is currently zoned and provide enough TIs and marketing $ to make an honest attempt to lease up the useable office space (the office building is presently what we like to refer to in the real estate world a “zombie building”) or sell the property at a market-clearing price, which is what would have ultimately happened if C-III (the special servicer) had taken the note sale to market instead of doing a DPO with SG.  Unless SG overpaid again, there is almost certainly a developer out there that will make the bet on the current zoning for $17.2 million.

By Real Estate Finance 101 on 05/10/2013 at 11:49 pm

If Mr. Coyle and Real Estate Finance 101 know what their talking about, and to my untrained eye they appeared to, the the town board’s public approach to the   strip mall zoning request is difficult to understand. The best face that I can put on it is that they are pressing ahead because they are overly wishful for the promise of future tax revenues, not themselves experts in large scale commercial redevelopment, finance or related land planning matters and not properly advised by professionals who are.There is however too much at stake to permit anything less than a fully informed and properly structured decision making process.  I submit that the responsible next step is for town board to turn this matter back to the planning board for a very thorough and professional review.

By Don't Compromise Process on 05/11/2013 at 8:28 am

Given all the information beginning with our own Planning Board that continues to surface,
when will Supervisor Susan Carpenter tell us why she wrote this legislation to change the zoning and bring retail to CC.  What in the world made her think that this was the right thing to do ?  She owes us a full explanation.

By Carpenter owes us an explanation on 05/11/2013 at 9:31 am

Excellent three-part analysis by “Real Estate Finance 101”. 

It’s clear that SG’s original purchase price (of the property), in combination with the economy, set in motion a PR effort by SG.  Not inherently evil, but certainly something we residents should consider seriously.  The property already has the zoning necessary to benefit our town long-term.  We now have here two strong analyses to point out the realities of SG’s probable goal and how it should be considered in view of our (the town’s) own goals.

It’s a shame that masked man (Real Estate Finance 101) rode off into the sunset without giving his name.  I didn’t get to thank him…

By Les Himel on 05/11/2013 at 10:39 am

Great thoughtful and factual analysis Mr. Coyle.  Thank you.  And great to see all the relevant comments.  Also relevant are the Planning Board’s comments.  Here is the link for all those interested.  NewCastleNOW does a fine job presenting their discussion. 

http://www.newcastlenow.org/index.php/article/new_planning_board_questions_eis_assumptions_asks_again_for_more_info_and_s

By What the Planning Board says on 05/11/2013 at 5:26 pm

@ Do your homework:  I have watched the videos. I have read the summaries on this site. Your presumptuous response is exactly the type of hastily written emotional speculative comment to which I refer. The lady doth protest too much.

By User # 4,112 on 05/12/2013 at 1:40 am

User #  4,112,

I disagree with you that this is not the time for Carpenter to be responsive to the resident’s concerns.  You say that her response was appropriate, exactly to what ‘response ’ do you refer ? 

It is she who conjured up and wrote the zoning legislation to plop a retail strip mall in the middle of a residential community.  She owes the town an explanation why she decided that that was the right thing to do.  Why would you imagine that she has not made up her mind, it was her idea.

There was a very lengthly and detailed discussion on the traffic study submitted by Summit Greenfield and other points in Coyle’s letter at last week’s Planning Board meeting.  Maybe you missed that.

By we disagree on 05/12/2013 at 12:03 pm

@ We disagree: I am not so sure we disagree, but, if we do, that is part of being a member of a community.

The response to which I refer from Sprvsr Carpenter, is actually the lack of response.  Saying nothing is a response. I do not think the time for a response to every letter, every speech, every comment is now. I do agree with you that when this was first proposed BY THE TOWN that it should have been accompanied by some sort of reasoning on why this is an appropriate proposal and why it makes sense for New Castle. However, now, during a public comment period, before the DSEIS is complete, she and the other Town council members should be listening not making their own comments that may tamper community input.

As for making up her mind in advance, maybe I am giving her the benefit of the doubt, but I do think that ideas are floated regularly by politicians, businessmen, students, academics, etc that are just that, ideas that need vetting before they are accepted. That is exactly what they are enduring right now, a public vetting of the idea.

I am not so naive as to think that Ms. Carpenter is not predisposed to approving this, but I am not so cynical as to think that she will not consider the community input, the studies and the expert and legal opinions. It is quite possible Ms. Carpenter misjudged the community’s reaction to this proposal and now simply has to complete the process.

I did not miss the lengthy and detailed discussion regarding the traffic study submitted by SG.

Before I support or oppose this zoning change, I would like to read and consider a completed DSEIS and FEIS. I think there have been a lot of good and bad arguments made for and against this change. I am pretty sure the answer will never be black or white. There is risk to this decision.  My overriding fear is that 100% of the risk appears to be being borne by the residents with little risk to either SG or the Town Council.

By User #4,112 on 05/13/2013 at 11:26 am

I believe that Ms. Carpenter and the Town Board came up with the current proposed zoning legislation and retail development plan for SG in order to settle—conditionally—the lawsuits brought against the Town by SG.  Unfortunately, having made this proposal to SG and causing it to incur what must be considerable expense in preparing its studies and environmental impact statements, it is hard to believe that the Board will listen to anything the Town residents and experts have to say and deny the application.

Charles Poret

By Charles Poret on 05/15/2013 at 9:28 am

Perhaps it was the vehement opposition by nearby neighbors to the original
plan for 55 and older housing that led to this idea.
Be careful what you wish for.

By Anon on 05/15/2013 at 4:45 pm

Charles Poret,

You are correct, and not only are they not listening to the Town residents, they are not listening to the Town Planning Board.

By Bob on 05/16/2013 at 11:35 am

Charles Poret,

What about what this will cost the Town ?

By Bob on 05/16/2013 at 11:39 am


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