Letter to the Editor

November 21, 2008

Letter To the Editor: Summit Greenfield responds to Nov. 14 letter by Lee Bowen
Geoffrey Thompson

“For the sake of accuracy and to prevent the spread of misinformation, we offer the following facts:”

Dear Editor,

We would like to respond to the November 14 Letter to the Editor from Lee Bowen that questions the number of tenants occupying space in the former Reader’s Digest headquarters building at our Chappaqua Crossing property. For the sake of accuracy and to prevent the spread of misinformation, we offer the following facts:

The office building is comprised of 671,000 square feet of space. (There is an additional 29,000 square feet in ancillary buildings on the property.) 

Under current zoning, we are permitted to have a maximum of four tenants.

We currently have signed leases with the following three tenants:

        Reader’s Digest Association – 296,000 square feet

        Fiber Media – 35,000 square feet

        Mount Kisco Medical Group – 20,000 square feet

We are in negotiations with other prospective tenants and we hope to sign a fourth tenant, as permitted under current zoning, in the near future. Frankly, the fact that we have strong interest from prospective tenants in today’s market is in itself very fortunate for both us and the town’s taxpayers.

We have submitted a petition to the New Castle Zoning Board of Appeals to have the restriction on the number of tenants lifted so that we can fully utilize the vacant space. The ZBA has tabled the petition pending the outcome of the review of our Environmental Impact Statement for our proposal to include residential development on the property. That application is currently under review by the Town Board.

Further, we would like to correct the misstatement contained in the Bowen letter indicating that “several years ago” we were “caught” renting to more than one tenant at a time when only a single tenant was permitted. This is untrue. When we took title to the property in December 2004, an affiliate of Reader’s Digest and a small film company were in the building. Both have since relocated and the zoning law was subsequently amended to permit up to four tenants including Reader’s Digest.

In light of the state’s deteriorating financial condition and the severe impacts this poses—for example, the Chappaqua Central School District is projecting a $540,000 loss in state aid, and the Town of New Castle is struggling to avoid large tax increases—we strongly urge New Castle residents to carefully consider the positive benefits of having our existing office space fully occupied.  Our site generates more tax dollars than any individual property in the town and is one of the town’s few significant commercial properties.

To artificially keep the existing office space from being fully occupied defies common sense. This is particularly true when realizing that a single entity or tenant, i.e., Reader’s Digest, has the right to fully re-occupy the building without town approval. Further, forcing us to keep the building partially occupied necessitates our filing of proceedings to reduce the taxes. We are put in this position because the cap on tenants makes it impossible to get a full financial return from the building.

As the Town Board continues its thorough review of our proposal to add age-restricted and affordable workforce and senior housing to the Chappaqua Crossing site while maintaining more than 50 acres of permanent green-space, all New Castle residents will clearly benefit from having the existing office space fully occupied and paying full taxes.

Geoffrey Thompson

S/G Chappaqua LLC