Statement by Rob Greenstein at Second Public Hearing on Chappaqua Crossing

May 3, 2013

Editor’s Note: Below is the complete statement read by Rob Greenstein on Monday, April 29, 2013, during the public hearing on Chappaqua Crossing.  In it, he invites Summit Greenfield to work with the New Castle community to explore swap possibilities—town hall property for the cupola building—and suggests that Summit Greenfield develop downtown Chappaqua with housing, retail and a grocery store.

Statement by Rob Greenstein—Public Hearing on grocery-retail zoning for Chappaqua Crossing—May 2013

My name is Rob Greenstein. I may go slightly over my time – please bear with me. I’m here to speak on behalf of the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce, and our 166 merchant members.  Many of who are here today. 

Unlike last Tuesday’s meeting, I won’t discuss illegal spot zoning, or boring subjects like amending our master plan.  There are lots of business owners here.  Mr. Marwell, you are a business owner, as am I.  Let’s talk business.

All around us, Towns are moving forward with creative, smart and sustainable development.  And Summit Development has been involved in many of these successful projects….........

Summit Development was involved in Maritime Yards project in South Norwalk, CT.  That project consists of 197 housing units, including affordable housing and 40,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial space.

Summit Development was also involved in another successful development in CT.  Kings Crossing is a great example of turning a negative into a positive.  In 2003, they bought a contaminated 11-acre piece of property for $8M.  In 2012, it was sold for $60M.  The new shopping center is located close to the Fairfield Metro train station.

Armonk Square is currently being developed.  It’s a 3.5 acre lot in downtown Armonk.  It include a new supermarket and a pedestrian mall, and 10 second story apartments.

In Scarsdale, Christie Place has added an > 55 community, retail and commuter parking for their Metro-North station in the village of Scarsdale, just footsteps from the quaint shopping district.

The Village of Harrison is working with the MTA on a transit oriented development.  The goal is a vibrant downtown development with potential residential, retail, municipal uses, pedestrian plazas and a new parking structure.

All are great examples of smart growth and sustainable development in DOWNTOWN BUSINESS DISTRICTS! 

We all realize that we will have development.  And there is no doubt that people want a supermarket.  And it should be abundantly clear, at this point, that people care very much about preserving our historic downtown business districts.  After, a downtown is the heart and soul of a community.  So, let’s be smart like other communities – let’s develop our downtown.

Our downtown is limited by a challenging topography.  Greeley Avenue & North Bedford Road are separated by a steep hill on King Street.  On Greeley Avenue,  we have a VERY inefficient 10 acre commuter parking lot.  Some describe our downtown as quaint.  There is nothing quaint about a 10 acre parking lot.  There is nothing quaint about a dying downtown.  And there would certainly be nothing quaint about a ghost town, if this project is approved.

Let Summit Greenfield develop our 10-acre parking lot – build a parking structure – like they have in Scarsdale and will have in Harrison.  Let’s develop where our police station / Town Hall is.  We can even develop where our library is.  This would be good for Summit Greenfield.  Downtown Chappaqua is valuable real estate.  We can have a supermarket – like Trader Joe’s, senior living and some affordable housing.  This would add critical mass to our downtown.  And, YES, lets add traffic lights to deal with any increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic.  Put safety first!

At Chappaqua Crossing, we could have our Town Hall and police department in the historic main cupola building.  We can use another building for our library.  We can build a Town pool there.  This is something residents would rally around.  Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?

This is not a crazy idea.  Mr. Chapin said he is open to moving Town Hall and the police department to Chappaqua Crossing down the road if the costs aren’t prohibitive, a fair transaction could be worked out and it created better opportunities for the hamlet.

This would! 

Just the other day, a Westchester County Legislator proposed swapping properties with a developer to build a home for developmentally disabled residents.  These swaps happen.

This would be a win-win—a win for Summit Greenfield and a win for our community.  You can recoup your investment, and it would not involve a bail-out.

We just need to be smart about it!

Work with our residents, like you did with Kings Crossing.  Work with the community and an economic development committee.  Many of our residents are developers and real estate investors themselves.  We have an incredible pool of talent.  We can create an advisory board made up of people in town that have relevant professional expertise in retail and commercial real estate, public relations and advertising.  There is a lot of experience in town – people who love our town and our community – and willing to help to preserve it.

Let’s work together.

Thank you!

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