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December 24, 2010
by Kevin J. Shaw
As a 12-year Chappaqua resident and commercial property developer for 20 years, I’d like to add my own two cents. Plain and simple, it’s development 101, no savvy real estate developer buys a property without a profitable business plan based on the current “as is” zoning configuration. While SG’s “as is” plan may not be as profitable as the residential proposal, it’s inconceivable they don’t have an all-commercial back-up plan in case the residential plan fails public approval.
With property values down, town tax revenues falling, and the number of residential properties on the market up for the foreseeable future, it’s unclear to me whether the town really needs luxury condo housing. But what is clear is that the town needs to derive commercial tax revenue from the RD property. My advice: the town board should inform SG to move forward with an all-commercial plan that benefits the town. The only zoning change the town should agree to is an increase in the number of tenants permitted on the property, which apparently is limiting how they can market the property to potential tenants.
Considering the iconic RD building is both visible and accessable from the Saw Mill River Parkway (approximately 35,000 cars per day) in a highly desirable market, I believe there are a number of commercial users who would consider the location extremely desirable. SG just needs to get out there and find them. The key from my perspective is to compel SG to “turn the buildings around,” by designating the gate off the Saw Mill River Parkway as the main entrance point, closing or minimizing the Route 117 gate (maybe exit-only), and perhaps using the Roaring Brook Road gate (near the Greeley HS entrance) as an exit-only access point or limited-hours entrance gate.
The success of any future project at the RD site must be based on two criteria: 1) truly increasing tax revenues to the town, and 2) minimizing the traffic impact along 117 and near the entrance to Greeley. The town must communicate clearly with the developer what is acceptable on the property. Until that happens, SG will lose money and the town will miss out on tax revenues.
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