PB has a latest look at Chappaqua Crossing “Main Street” of retail and residential

PB sees the plan
March 21, 2014
by Christine Yeres

Last Tuesday night Planning Board members viewed the latest re-work of the Chappaqua Crossing site plan that architect and PB member Tom Curley has labored over with the developer.  The re-design is focused along lines of “traditional neighborhood design,” with the retail and residential arranged along the Bedford Road entryway to the cupola building.  This plan will likely replace last year’s submission from Summit Greenfield, and, in Supervisor Rob Greenstein’s words to the League of Women Voters earlier that day, “Now that it’s not a strip mall anymore, everyone previously involved in this process pretty much acknowledges that it was a strip mall before.”

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See Greenstein’s remarks of Tuesday morning at the League of Women Voters’ “Conversation with the Supervisor” by clicking HERE. Greenstein described the Chappaqua Crossing application for a grocery and retail as so close being approved by the previous Town Board that the current Board has little to do but try to make it less “big box,” make sure that a gym takes up 30,0000 square feet of “retail,” and shore up the downtown hamlet by developing the town hall property.  Chappaqua Crossing will figure in the Master Plan review by asking residents what types of retail—besides the grocery—they might like to see there.

See also Tom Curley shows PB latest drawings of “new neighborhood” at Chappaqua Crossing, NCNOW.org, 2/10/14, for the last iteration of the plan.  The residential portion was still in progress at the time.

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According to Curley, Summit Greenfield will very likely submit this latest plan to the Town Board for review, and the Town Board will then pass it to the Planning Board for site plan approval.

The “Main Street” of a new neighborhood

Entering at Bedford Road, two apartment buildings on the right—these would be the 51 condos, 20 of them affordable, in the already-approved residential plan—act as a gateway to the residential townhouses (60 of them, taxed “fee simple”), now stretching north, around the Wallace Auditorium—no longer to be demolished.  The apartment buildings will “really help the retailers and help create a ‘Main Street’ feel there,” said Curley. 

One of the main differences, Curley pointed out, is the disappearance of a retail building at the corner of the grocery’s parking lot.  The grocery is positioned on the far side of that lot, with its back to Roaring Brook Road.  Nothing impedes the view of it from the “Main Street.”

Although Curley felt, he said, that a building on that corner “would have special success and identity” at the crossroads with the apartment buildings, Summit Greenfield’s “prime grocery tenant” felt strongly that it needs a certain number of dedicated parking spaces.  A retail building on that corner would not only take parking spaces with its footprint, but for its own needed parking.  Shoppers would, however, be free to park in the grocery’s lot and “cross shop” elsewhere—“that’s what you want,” observed PB Chair Bob Kirkwood, “in a walking district you want people to park one time.”

Still 120,000 square feet of retail, but other retail buildings are smaller in footprint

The retail building footprints on the right [north] side of the Main Street are no longer of a size that a “junior anchor” would want, said Curley. “The retailing strategy has changed from junior anchor to allow for either a junior anchor or for the spaces to be divided for smaller stores.”  Retail building footprints in the plan range from 7,500 square feet to 25,000 square feet (a two-story gym).  The anchor grocery shows as 40,000 square feet, with a 10,000 square foot building attached to its west side; two buildings—an 18,000 square foot and a 15,500 square foot—are positioned on the far side of the Main Street, facing the grocery parking lot.

“The Crossroads” has one corner empty

But we were still concerned about that one “missing tooth,” said Curley, “that one missing corner. We don’t just want there to be just parking lot there.  So the idea is that we would ask that the applicant actually put in a little pocket park there, with a statute or a fountain.” 

“Now the actual size and configuration—that’s when we get the site plan application to work with them,” said Curley.  When the plan returns to the Planning Board for comment, “there might be something we can do there.  The important thing to remember about this is that this looks very detailed and finite but it’s also a Preliminary Development Concept Plan. There’s still room to move things slightly, especially for the public realm type things such as the streets, sidewalks and parks.” 

“The applicant is completely on board and understands that that’s a legitimate function that the Planning Board has,” said Curley, “and he’s open within his parameters to work with us on it.”

Residential will be constructed by another “development partner”

Town Planner Sabrina Charney noted that although the Wallace Auditorium will remain rather than be demolished, the residential “is still not cemented in its final form,” although it’s “closer to what the Planning Board wanted—there are more actual front doors to the units and parking is behind.”

“There will eventually be a residential development partner,” said Curley, “who will come on board when [Summit Greenfield] it’s time to cut loose on the residential who will have their own idea about unit size and type.  But that partner—whoever it will be—he or she will use this plan as a starting point, which gives the Town Board and Planning Board real leverage when that happens.”

Steps the Town Board still must take to approve the plan

Although at the end of last year the Town Board issued “Findings” based on the environmental review of the project, it stopped short of approving the required change of zoning and did not send Summit Greenfield’s last-minute change in site plan to the Planning Board.  “The Town Board still must still go through a process of amending the legislation that was proposed,” explained Sabrina Charney, “of looking at the Preliminary Development Concept Design.  It still needs to approve those things and a lot of the concepts of ‘traditional neighborhood design’ that this Planning Board has proposed I’m working with the Town Board and its attorneys trying to bring into the legislation.  So when we do have a separate residential developer of that property he will be beholden to the schematic, at least in theory, that has been set forth here.”

“These are fundamentally good ideas,” said PB member Richard Brownell. “We still have a long row to hoe on this thing.”

Curley reiterates: Traffic and other impacts are still issues

“I say this every time,” said Curley, “but it bears repeating:  we still have the responsibility to review the environmental impact statement on this.  And to give a findings statement—either positive or negative, an up or down vote.  The work going on here is not intended to subvert that process or that decision.  I still think there is a legitimate question out there that is going to be put before the Planning Board when site plan application comes back to us.  We need to then open up the EIS and give our own ‘Findings’ statement about the impact of traffic and all the other things we’re talking about.  This work is done in the context of ‘If it’s a go decision that we have the best plan in place so that we’re happy with the consequences of the go-decision’.”

More free-standing retail than in the original plan

“It’s certainly looking far, far different—and far better—than it looked in previous incarnations,” said PB member Sheila Crespi.  ”  But I just wanted to raise an issue about the existing buildings.  We now have 120,000 square feet of free-standing retail, whereas originally about 40,000 square feet of that was to be swapped out with the cupola building.  The other issue is what’s going to happen with that [cupola] building?  Whether it’s office or town hall, that’s going to have additional traffic impacts and implications that have never been looked at yet.” 

“No, that’s been calculated already in the environmental impact statement,” said Curley.

“But aren’t there 40,000 extra square feet more in play here now?” asked Crespi.

Summit Greenfield would make office space “go dark” to maintain parking and development calculations

“No, the applicant has committed to maintaining the square footage allotments for office versus retail,” said Sabrina Charney, “so it means he will make certain portions of his existing buildings ‘go dark,’ take them out of service, there will not be any use of them.”

“There are actually portions of the buildings that—I don’t want to say that ‘the applicant doesn’t know what to do with’” said Curley, “—but that are less valuable and would make a good swap for retail and as a consequence, he has represented that he would close those portions—take them off the books and never be tenanted to keep the parking numbers and the development numbers.”

“They are subject,” said Sabrina Charney, “to the parking analysis that was done for the site—the grandfathered number that was determined by the building inspector—so [the developer] is trying to stay within those limits.”

So, asked Crespi, if there is 120,000 square feet of freestanding retail—and no swapping out 40,000 of office in exchange for it—“does that mean that potentially 40,000 square feet of office space ‘goes dark’ in order to maintain traffic and parking?” 

“Right,” said Curley, ”—or is demolished.”

“It goes to the traffic count more than to the square footage,” observed Brownell, “because [the cupola building that would have been part of the retail total] was multi-story.”

“The applicant is demolishing the 100 building [between the cupola building and Roaring Brook Road],” noted Sabrina Charney, and using it for stormwater management.

“And that has another advantage,” said Brownell, “in that at the entrance, as you’re coming up here, you’re not hit by a building visually.  So you can actually do something more to shape the view coming up so it softens it.”

Chappaqua Crossing plan is structured to become something else again

“These things have a life to them,” said Curley, “and it might happen that one day this corner [the “missing-tooth” corner], for example, might become a prime development site.  In other words, the infrastructure is sort of set up so that it can be built on to enrich the structure that’s already here.  Not that we want to propose that now, but there could be an even better future for the site as a consequence of the structure that’s in place.  And the developer will be delighted and happy to sit down with all of us when we get to site plan application,” said Curley, “to make it better for the town.  And he realizes that if it’s better for the town it’s essentially better for him, too.”

“Great job, Sabrina and Thomas,” said Brownell.
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Photos of the site plan are below.

In the following video, the PB discussion of the site plan for Chappaqua Crossing begins at the 44-minute mark and runs for about 20 minutes:

Town of New Castle Planning Board Meeting 3/18/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

close up
Close in of the Main Street between Bedford Road and cupola building.


 


Comments(38):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

“I say this every time,” said Curley, “but it bears repeating:  we still have the responsibility to review the environmental impact statement on this.  And to give a findings statement—either positive or negative, an up or down vote.  The work going on here is not intended to subvert that process or that decision.  I still think there is a legitimate question out there that is going to be put before the Planning Board when site plan application comes back to us.  We need to then open up the EIS and give our own ‘Findings’ statement about the impact of traffic and all the other things we’re talking about.  This work is done in the context of ‘If it’s a go decision that we have the best plan in place so that we’re happy with the consequences of the go-decision’.”

Sorry, of course it subverts the process.  Who do they think that they are fooling ?

By Harry on 03/21/2014 at 10:20 am

Well, there you have it, a third hamlet.

By disgusted resident on 03/21/2014 at 10:22 am

Curley was working on this last year so don’t give total claim or credit, depending on your take, on Greenstein’s efforts. At the League talk he appeared to be “claiming” credit in my opinion.

By for the record on 03/21/2014 at 1:25 pm

Seems like we are getting way too pregnant with all of this without any indication of how the traffic concerns will be addressed.  Looks like a fine project, but if I lived in this neighborhood, I would be extremely concerned with the self congratulatory tone regarding what is on the table.

Starting to think the goal is not to address traffic concerns, but to come up with a proposal that is so compelling that those concerns are ultimately trumped by the broad community support.

By Agree Harry on 03/21/2014 at 2:05 pm

I might as move there it’s closer to the city.. We are losing our small town feel at the whim of a Dictator and his minion who happens to be a developer.. Where’s the master planning that you ran on… Or was that all smoke so we would vote for you

By Scarsdale he we come on 03/21/2014 at 2:21 pm

What happened to all of the school safety concerns that Lisa Katz used to try and block the “strip mall”?

By flip-flop on 03/21/2014 at 4:24 pm

It never was going to look like a strip mall.  The A&P shopping center in Millwood is a true strip mall.  It was never going to look like that.  People go back and look at the original drawings.  Robert Greenstein stop your tales .  It will catch up with you. You are not the first to suggest a gym and pool.  Come on.

By true definition of a strip mall on 03/21/2014 at 6:26 pm

He takes credit for everything like when he said We will be paving 117 in June.. What he meant to say was the STATE will be paving 117 not New Castle.. FYI Lisa only cares about Chappaqua Xing

By Greenstein invented the internet on 03/21/2014 at 9:31 pm

The last Town Board reported that 117 would be paved this Spring.  If you are going to pick on what you think they did wrong, at least give them credit for their initiatives.

By Give credit where it is due on 03/22/2014 at 12:51 am

Please don’t allow another nail salon. King street that runs one way is a true nightmare for our town with three all cloistered together. It shows no character and I truly wonder if the powers that be can see that!

By less or more on 03/22/2014 at 7:33 am

Mr Supervisor,
What assurances are you providing our downturn merchants that they will not be harmed (and have tumble weeds
or “death squads” roaming outside downtown storefronts) by your now endorsed cc hamlet?  I vividly recall you asking this of Carpenter and crew.

Benedict Arnold mean anything to you and your team new castle gang?

By B.Arnold on 03/22/2014 at 10:17 am

Dear Team NC,

Can’t wait for the TNC family pics with your kids in front of the new “Main Street” Chappaqua Crossing shopping hamlet saying: C’mon down, were open with 120000 sq ft of business!

By What downtown hamlet? on 03/22/2014 at 10:32 am

As a community we must wake up ... Every thing that is happening falls neating under the heading of: ABUSE of POWER

By Heretofore anynomous on 03/22/2014 at 11:12 am

Did you forget us now that you got elected?

By support of the merchants on 03/22/2014 at 8:06 pm

Interesting that B.Arnold, Whatdowntown hamlet, and Heretofore all replied within one hour of one another….hmmmm….could it be the same person?

Downtown merchants have to realize that their long term reality has to do with the value they bring as opposed to hoping someone else will bring it to them? Competition is something we all have to deal with.

Downtown merchants should have nothing to worry about as long as they are selling a product that consumers are willing to buy.

By wierd timing on 03/22/2014 at 10:21 pm

To Wierd Timing,

No I am not B.Arnold nor Heretofore, and conspiracy theories aside, the simply fact of the matter is TNC ran on a belligerent and scolding platform that retail (especially 120000 sq ft) at cc is bad for many reasons and the existing town board was incompetent and derelict in their duties for supporting it.  Fast forward three months, now that they got elected based upon their campaign platform, it’s like it never existed and all is good now since CC retail will not be a strip mall (which it never was) but rather (and amazingly so) a 120000 sq ft town center shopping hamlet. So again, how is TNC protecting our downtown hamlet they promised they will do? The TNC bullies now have control of the playground at everyone’s expense . . . .

By What downtown hamlet on 03/23/2014 at 11:49 am

You got that right. The downtown merchants want the town residents to assure that they make a living, sufficient enough to pay for their children’s college educations. We paid for our children without any guarantees, the merchants do not deserve special treatment. That is to say, they are not to be disrespected or deliberately slighted. But they are free to close shop and open up somewhere else. We, on the other hand, live here.

The merchants dream of “trap money” as that term is used at arena events. Defeating Chappaqua Crossing is a wishful ‘trap’ thought. Chappaqua is no trap. We vote with our cars….most of us have 2, if not 3 and run away from downtown for economical and better choices. We crave the parking that downtown lacks. If Chappaqua Crossing gives us what downtown does not or cannot, well….this is America, not NIMBY LAND. (sorry NIMBYS, all your arguments have been vetted and shown to be non-stoppers)

By Hey Weird Timing on 03/23/2014 at 1:37 pm

YOu all are saying or arguing nothing new. But keep the arguments coming…NONE are show stoppers. Taking the wind out of the sails of opponents, one at a time, is a good thing.

By Bored on 03/23/2014 at 1:40 pm

Team NC, So now that it won’t _LOOK_ like a strip mall it won’t be one?  No more worries about the potential negative impact that putting chain stores and restaurants in Chappaqua Crossing will have on the downtown business districts? No more safety issues from having retail across from the high school?  Welcome PetCo, Staples, Chipotle and FiveGuys! Oh, and be sure to send out a newsletter on how it is all working out, because I won’t be able to pull out of my neighborhood to check it out.

By stuck in LFE on 03/24/2014 at 11:16 am

The merchants are not looking for a handout. We all understand that the economy may be such that we have to close up our shops and move. We are not seeking guarantees from Town Hall. All we are saying to an authority that collects our property tax money, whether it be indirectly through our landlords, or our Sales Tax that we generate. That somewhere in the “mix” of everything that is being consider by Town Hall, that they also make decisions for a downtown Chappaqua to exist and economically thrive. We all believe in free markets, but if you are going to slam the area with a a third hamlet, you must plan to allow the existing hamlets to co-exist with such planning that is slated to be approved. Town Hall should place into Muncipal Law, that all existing commercial properties outside of CC have a “Right” to become residential. Perhaps the main strip in downtown Chappaqua should become affordable housing and move away from being shops, Banks, and what exist today. Not to plan at the same time, is to doom the downtown area, and turn it into the ever revolving businesses to open and then shutter, until Town Hall sees what they did over the next 10 years. How nice would it be for the area to visually see a financially dying downtown due to the current efforts of our Planning Board. Does Mr. Curly really care about any of the merchants in downtown Chappaqua? You tell me?

By Re: Hey Weird Timing on 03/24/2014 at 11:55 am

Re: Hey Weird Timing,

Very good points all.  A third hamlet will be a mistake for the downtown hamlet and as such a mistake for the community as a whole. 
Those who bemoan a “where is our community spirit”  will surely not find it at CC,  no matter how pretty.
I do not see a way that this project will not go forward.  Gereenstein has told the town that it will.  Do not count on the planning board, they are moving forward with it as well, their feeble protestations notwithstanding.

By Jane P. on 03/24/2014 at 2:44 pm

Your opinion is just that, namely just your own opinion, one person. The downtown hamlet, as you call it, is in an irreversible decline…THAT hurts the town as a whole. Having a new, third vibrant hamlet: CC, will be a fresh, new lively injection of life.

The help of the downtown must include making another entrance to the hidden parking area behind the stores, lowering rents so that the merchants stop crying.

O how I yearn for the return of Likety Split, and the Ocean HOuse. Gristedes.they were all displaced for higher rent paying tenants.

I don’t criticize those decisions but now, 20 years later, the loss of charm and its shopper attraction resulted in a quality of life loss to us while enriching the landlords.

I don’t criticize the landlords, but things are what they are.
Don’t waste time with silly “shop local ” signs. Replace them with “parking is convenient here” signs (which is currently not true)
and “our stores are competitively priced” (which is also not true)

Will CC be a success partly because there are a couple of chain stores and will be more than ample parking? You bet.

The downtown must affirmatively compete, their team owners are the landlords. Well….?

 

By Deat Jane P on 03/26/2014 at 9:10 pm

After CC is up and running and the population of the town increases by 130 families including conifer (ugh), and the shake out of the downtown, then we can focus on vitalizing it or revitalizing it.

The merchants want communal help? Well….the hallmark of communalism (sp) is “one step back, two steps forward”.

Step back to develop CC and we get two steps forward into the reality of our times…part of the “back” is downtown readjustment

By Pick up the pieces later on 03/27/2014 at 4:16 am

You make sense, unfortunately

By Dear dear Jane person on 03/27/2014 at 9:26 am

As an individual who woke up for over a decade and made my way down to Lehman Brothers, paid my taxes, and what have you. When the greatest economic downturn in American history hit our industry, I was greatly appreciative of all the efforts that the Government had put into action to save the Banking industry. I understand and accept that millions of taxpaying individuals were and are responsible for the bailout that took place. On a lesser level, but on a home town level, the landlords of Chappaqua need to have their property taxes reduced so that they can provide lower rents. Even with lower property taxes being provided to these landlords, most of all I talk to still would not be making money on an annual basis. Most should know that the only way most downtown Chappaqua landlords make money off of their tenants is by mortgaging their properties over and over again. This happens to be the first sign of an economic failing zone. This is why most landlords in Chappaqua are against the creation of a third Hamlet. This is why we are calling for the resignations of any Planning Board member who is advancing the approvals of CC or contributing towards a plan that they would suggest that the Board move to approve.

By Help for all on 03/27/2014 at 11:14 am

Greenstein has said he and Brodsky have been meeting with the SG developers. We already know where Chapin stands and Mottel is recused. I do not think Katz is standing with her Team New Castle mates on this one. I heard her say at the Board meeting tonight and last week that she is about planning before developing which is consistent with what she has always said. I think she will fight the good fight for the community as she said she would. But I don’t think there is much she can do right now. I also think Katz will fight against the spa. Just my thoughts.  She is a good egg.

By Don't lump them together on 03/27/2014 at 2:21 pm

This plan is ridiculous. How can anyone in the right mind approve such a plan? I agree with the prior posters about the significant traffic problems both ways on Rt. 117. It is already so bad during rush hour (morning and evening). Unfortunately, I know because I drive that route 2x/daily!

I also worry about the children who walk across the road to school. God forbid there be an accident because of the increased and reckless traffic that is bound to congest the area. And think about the litigation to the town then!

Also, the plan completely changes the flavor of the community. Many people moved here for a neighborhood feel. Not for a commercial property smack in the center of the community.

Lastly, I bet my last dollar that many of these businesses will have difficulty maintaining profitability in the long-term. The plan basically wants to compete with Mt. Kisco/Bedford Hills shopping area. But potential consumers for the retail area is really residents from Chappaqua. Is there enough demand to support the retail space?

Bad idea all around!!!!

By Also a very disgusted resident! on 03/27/2014 at 4:37 pm

Anyway in the bylaws to overthrow TNC? A COUP D’ETAT!

By also disgusted resident! on 03/27/2014 at 4:43 pm

What Mrs. Katz says and how she votes will tell us if she is a good egg or not.  It’s that simple.

By she how she votes on 03/27/2014 at 8:38 pm

Message received, but, you overpaid for your buildings which are now overvalued. If they are underwater, then, you, like everyone else must take the hit. Unless you feel exempt from the rigors of society

By Dear landlord poster on 03/27/2014 at 8:46 pm

Re evaluating the entire picture means just that, everything . Rents, building values, taxes, etc.  please lay out for us all to see including real estate balance sheets. If a real estate owner pulls out cash on a refinance, which is used for something other than the particular parcel, his complaint about a high mortgage payment should not be considered as a financial hardship , in context of our discussions.

If he made money on his leveraged purchase, or paid off other obligations , that it good for him . If he is borrowing from one source to pay another, sounds like a plain vanilla economic problem that WE ALL have. No special treatment please.

By Everything is negotiable on 03/28/2014 at 8:56 am

Helping no one is helping everyone. That is , no one group or set of residents will be favored over another. Help , sure. From the county level and higher. The town is too small a political subdivision to be involved.  Real estate tax reductions are elastic , lowered assessments can be raised on the future. 

Upgrading downtown without increasing assessments is a subsidy to owners and merchant tenants. Usually those improvements generally result in increased assessments.

By No favoritism on 03/28/2014 at 9:09 am

That is why we have taxpayer funded bankruptcy laws. I guess you are advocating for a taxpayer solution.

By Re: Dear landlord poster on 03/28/2014 at 9:55 am

Anything a government pays for is taxpayer funded. My point is that our town government should not be the lead “funder” of merchant woes. Everyone’s woes are of equal weight.

If tax assessments are reduced, in the normal course, that is a tax payer subsidy of the merchants and landlords. That is part of the normal process. I advocate normal processes, not specialized, tailored help of some at the expense of others.

By the way, I have yet to see landlord financials.

Hey Christine, monitor last year’s and this coming years tax grievance petitions for all commercial properties. They are public records. Lets just see what is going on.

By Dear landlord poster on 03/29/2014 at 8:50 am

What net annual income are merchants making and, what do they expect to earn?

Do they expect to make $250k per year, 100k 50? Do they feel entitled to earn as much as their customers?

I am not picking on them, but they are directly or indirectly making noises and asking for help. Just what are the numbers that we/they are talking about?

By 800 pound gorilla questions on 03/29/2014 at 2:33 pm

Where is that traffic report that the planning board promised ?

By traffic report ? on 03/29/2014 at 2:43 pm

I would like to know what we are talking about also

By Numbers woman on 03/29/2014 at 7:22 pm

Say hi to that guy in the restaurant, say hi to that lady in the donut shop, say hi to the owner in that shop over there, say hi to the one who hands you your coffee, your sandwich, your shirt - pants, say hi to the one who shakes your paint, say hi to the one who shows you this or that, serves you this or that. Say hi to all the people who are not the shop owners, not the business owners, not the landlords. Say hi to all these many people that work in downtown Chappaqua. These are the people who get impacted by the trickle down of very high property taxes. To continue forward with an abusive level of property tax on downtown Chaapaqua along with the creation of a third hamlet is not economically healthy for the area. Bring in another 5 Deli’s, which current Deli will go out of business? Bring in another 5 Drug Stores, which current drug store will close up shop? Bring in another 5 hardware stores, who will not survive? Bring in a third Hamlet, what is the impact - DON"T EVEN TELL ME NOTHING!! Dear merchants and the landlords of Chappaqua, I can no longer meet you all for coffee. We have lost the fight, brace yourself for the arrival of CC!

By Pay the rent on 04/04/2014 at 11:49 am


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