Town Board members debate whether to allow chain restaurants

Saturday, December 6, 2014
by Christine Yeres

In Whole Foods’ conditional lease with Summit Greenfield, the planned 40,000-square-foot grocery requires that no more than 16,000 square feet of the 120,000-square-foot shopping center should be leased for restaurant use.  Whether or not to allow them to be chain restaurants is still a point of disagreement among Town Board members.

Supervisor Rob Greenstein was reluctant to impose a “no chains” requirement for restaurants, since, he reasoned, it would rule out desirable chains as well. He suggested that whether Chappaqua Crossing attracts an Outback or a Smith & Wollensky steakhouse—both are chains—should be left to market forces, “based on the population and what they want.” 

“I disagree,” said Town Board member Lisa Katz. “I think it’s a landlord who has checked the box of the Chipotle and the Five Guys and the restaurants they want in here.  They’re asking for a lot from our town and we have every right to restrict what should go there.  And there are amazing restaurants nearby that are not chain restaurants that do phenomenal business in this area.  I think we would not be losing anything or [prevent] the developer from having a successful business by prohibiting chain restaurants.  I would rather see a really wonderful restaurant that’s a destination—like Stone Barns—than an Outback or TGIF.  I think we have something really special in our community and to allow those types of restaurants to come in and turn us into downtown White Plains or Mt. Kisco—I think we have every right to say we don’t want that. This might make it a little harder, because the developer can’t check its boxes of the retailers that go into every single one of its shopping centers.” 

“I agree that we have something very special here,” said Greenstein, “but we also have 500,000 square feet of office space here and if we want Summit Greenfield to rent their office space—and we would get tax revenues from that—I think it’s also nice for them to have a place for the people who work there to go to lunch like a Chipotle or a Chop’t—“

“—or a Whole Foods,” said Katz, “which has plenty of places to eat—”

“—and there are plenty of non-chain restaurants,” said Town Board member Elise Mottle, “that can provide places for office workers to eat.”

“And if right now [restaurants are] limited to 15,000 square feet out of 120,000 square feet of retail,” said Katz, “I don’t think Summit Greenfield is going to go out of business because we’re not allowing a chain restaurant.”

“Hypothetically,” said Town Board member Jason Chapin, “if this proposal were to be approved then you could have a mix of local restaurants and national-type restaurants.  Or one that’s currently located in New Castle that may want to relocate at Chappaqua Crossing, and bring in another restaurant to the downtown.  So there’s a whole mix of options and opportunities.”

“If you look at Armonk,” said Greenstein, “they have really great restaurants and they also don’t have a restriction on chains, so there is something to be said for market forces.”

“They don’t have a developer like Summit Greenfield coming in,” said Katz, “that has a list of [food establishments] that they like.  They’ve already told us they want a Chipotle and a Panera and a Five Guys.  Armonk does not have that.  Armonk was much more of a free market than this is.  And they have a new restaurant opening up where the garden center used to be, they have all these wonderful restaurants opening up—none of which are chains—I cannot imagine that a valid argument can be made that Summit Greenfield cannot survive without chain restaurants.”

Phillips suggested a middle way: “If want to restrict chains you could say some lesser number—say, no more than 7500 square feet of the 15,000—could be occupied by chains.”

“I agree with Lisa,” said Mottel.  “I look at Chappaqua Crossing as a very special place and it should be treated as a special place and we should look very carefully at the uses.  We want to make it a destination and not just a place where you get restaurants that can be placed in any area in Westchester.” 

“We want it to be successful,” said Greenstein, “but we also want the free market to work, without hindering that.  The reality is that this compromise [7,500 chain, 7,500 non-chain] probably wouldn’t hinder the free market, because it’s probably going to wind up like that anyway.  I know Stone Barns is interested—and [the Chappaqua Crossing 15,000 square feet for restaurant use] will probably end up with half of it a nice restaurant-type place and the other half will be a place where people can get a quick bite—because there is 500,000 square feet of office space.”

“But it depends on what we allow,” said Katz.  “Whole Foods has a huge food court and there’s a cafeteria in the Reader’s Digest property where people can eat.  And we want people to go downtown, too.”

“Maybe we can do a mix-and-match,” suggested Brodsky, “because the more diversity you have—whether it’s food or clothes—it makes it more dynamic and increases the likelihood of success.”

Mottel announced that she was “very interested” in having restaurants come to Chappaqua Crossing, “because I think it’s a use the town needs and I think it will create a destination and will be a use that will not have as great an impact on traffic as some of the other uses. So I would welcome restaurants at Chappaqua Crossing,” said Mottel, “as long as it’s the right mix.”“

Chapin pointed out that the town’s AKRF study found that New Castle satisfies only 15% of residents’ demand for for full-service restaurants and only 38% for limited-service restaurants.  “So this report tells me that there’s plenty of room for restaurants in New Castle without threatening existing restaurants.  And I do think that restaurants do attract residents from other towns and also our New Castle residents who are spending their restaurant dollars elsewhere.”

“That depends on what restaurants and who we want to attract,” said Katz.

“And I can envision,” said Mottel, “with those beautiful restaurants, getting people to actually spend time at Chappaqua Crossing and enjoy the grounds.”

“—former grounds,” added Katz.

Board members were taking pains to tie down the chains/no-chains issue in the draft zoning because, as they explained, the 15,000-square-foot restriction on restaurants is part of Whole Foods’ lease. If Whole Foods were to leave the development, the restriction would disappear.  New Castle’s zoning laws do not currently ban chain restaurants in the town; a ban at Chappaqua Crossing would apply only to the retail zoned segment of Chappaqua Crossing.

Board members determined that they needed to discuss the matter further.  The public hearing reopens on Tuesday, December 9.

Town Board Work Session/Public Hearing 12/2/14 from New Castle Media Center on Vimeo.

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

Lisa Katz is an impediment to all progress. Her intent is to make this as difficult and as drawn out as possible. She plainly states when expressing her opposition to chain restaurants her disdain for Summit Greenfield. It be better to work with the developer and find a solution than antagonize them at every turn. Now Katz is an expert on chain restaraunts and she is adamantly opposed.
The Palm, Smith and Wollensky, BLT Steak, and Legal Seafood are chain restaraunts and they would be fantastic at CC! In the ” fast casual” department Panera and Chipolte run excellent high quality clean establishments. I think we can agree that we will not embrace McDonalds or Burger King but a ” no chain restaraunt” rule is damaging to the developers ability to attract the right mix of occupants. I tend to agree with Greenstein and his let the market forces determine attitude. The Whole Food shopper and Gym/ Soul Cycle customer is not going to grab a Whopper at McDonald’s. SG knows this and Whole Foods knows this. Too bad Lisa Katz doesn’t know it.

By Resident on 12/06/2014 at 7:59 am

My favorite lunch spot near my office in NYC is CHOP’T. It is a chain restaraunt specializing in salads , sandwiches and wraps. They use only fresh natural organic ingredients and you instruct them as they make the salad in front of you. It is a fast growing chain because they run a great operation. It would be GREAT at Chapp Crossing.
For the carnivores, Elevation Burgers is a great chain offering high quality grass fed hamburgers and quality ingredients. These are not $1 or $2 hamburgers like Wendy’s or McDonald’s. Elevation is a chain. It would be GREAT at CC.
Board member Katz continues to throw every obstacle in the path of progress. A no chain rule imposed on the developer is counterproductive.
Would she allow Starbucks? It’s a chain and just because they are already in downtown doesn’t mean they might not like a location at CC.

By Dan on 12/06/2014 at 8:16 am

Ms. Mottel, what “beautiful” restaurants will come to a shopping center with a Chipotle, Panera and Five Guys?  If Summit Greenfield has told you Stone Barns is interested, I seriously doubt it is true.  THe fastest and easiest thing for Summit Greenfield to do is to follow its proven pattern:  fill SummitGreenfieldville with Petco, Staples, Chipotle, Panera and Five Guys. You town board members are giving us an 80’s style middling shopping center.  And none of you will have any control over what beautiful or ugly things go into it.

By “Beautiful”? on 12/06/2014 at 8:44 am

No matter what shopping stuff you put at Chappqua Crossing, they won’t rent that office space. Or they’ll rent it so discounted (to fill it) that you’ll need fast food restaurants to feed the employees on a budget.
Summit Greenfield has sold you guys a big fat bill of goods. You’re all talking like Summit Greenfield now, except for Lisa Katz. She’s the only sane one. Lululemon?  Like hell. You’ll have Petco Five Guys etc.

By Here comes Petco on 12/06/2014 at 9:01 am

Elise, you can forget “beautiful” – you and your colleagues are settling for “whatever” – whatever this developer feels like sticking int here and moving on. You are selling out this town. Jason, that report you read from also says we fail to “capture” 100% of residents automotive needs. Why not add a car dealership? You are turning the brand of this town on its head and all you taxpayers who think you’re going to get a break? You’re digging us into a hole that will leak out and away the value of this town. That’s much more important “leakage” than your AKRF “retail dollars leakage”.

By You’re beggaring the brand on 12/06/2014 at 9:06 am

This is beyond you five guys. Adam, you were supposed to help them. Are you kidding about this chain, not chain thing? You’re about to give Summit Greenfield the keys to the town. This retail shopping center will take its place high end-low end wherever it will do Summit Greenfield most good. And you guys have zero idea of whther that’s high end or low end or the meh-middle.

By Above your pay grade on 12/06/2014 at 9:10 am

No one wants chains in this development.  The board should ensure that this does not turn into Mt Kisco or White Plains.  I think downtown would be better off if there wasn’t a Starbucks, but rather a more local, independent type of coffee shop (think of what Philz started as in San Francisco).  The TB should support local entrepreneurs and use this as an opportunity to develop our community with more restaurants like Local, not to put in a Legal Seafood (I can eat there at Logan Airport) or BLT Steak (I can eat there in White Plains).

By Don on 12/06/2014 at 9:11 am

I hope you all intend to stay here and see what you have done to New Castle. Greedy greedy. Instead of what we really need, you decide we need money – and you sell the town to get it. I’ve never seen anything so clueless and harmful that what you’re doing and how you did it.

By Shame on you all on 12/06/2014 at 9:37 am

What about the tiny “high-end” stores we were supposed to see there? Now it’s Petco too? How many “high-end” stores do YOU see at Petco shopping centers?

By So now it’s low-end? on 12/06/2014 at 10:23 am

Visitors flock to Nantucket, and the town does not permit chain stores and franchises. Please Town Board members – you can do this too.

By Nantucket, MA on 12/06/2014 at 10:55 am

to Shame on you all and the others in opposition-
This is not about greed and wanting money. Our town ( and by that I mean all of us in this community) are in need of amenities and conviences that improve our quality of life. It’s absurd that anyone could argue that a town like ours is not at a disadvantage not having a supermarket , a gym and more restaraunts. You already killed the possibility of age restricted town houses suitable for empty nesters looking to down size. Young families are typically the buyers of homes when Chapp houses come in the market and not having important staples is a detriment. Our schools used to stand alone in the region but now many other communities can brag about their schools too.
Developing CC will address this critical issue and if building retail at CC also brings in additional tax revenue that’s a bonus. It’s not about money and greed. It’s about improving our town. Improving downtown will also improve quality of life and also generate more tax dollars.
The NIMBY position has been debunked and exposed as pure fiction. A bit more traffic is nothing and will likely result in the same type congestion we had when Readers Digest was operating with thousands of employees.

By 10514 on 12/06/2014 at 12:03 pm

You people are so emotionally tied to stopping retail at CC that you are not thinking clearly. Whole Foods will not come to CC if Taco Bell or McDonald’s is their neighbor. The developer wants this NEEDs this to be successful. They are not going to bring in sub par low end restaurants. They will match high end with high end , otherwise it won’t work. There is nothing wrong with Panera or Cosi. Certainly nothing wrong with chains like the aforementioned Palm, BLT or Legal Seafood.
Instead of expecting the worst you should imagine the likely outcome. CC will be the home to Whole Foods a gym and great stores and restaurants. The town square design set back and not seen from 117 will be a model of a multi-use facility that has acres of grass rolling hills and walking paths. The iconic cupola building and legacy brick buildings will frame this complex. The developer is not looking to fail here. They have a significant investment of time and money and are motivated to get this right.
I am encouraged by the dialogue and direction of our board members are taking. Lisa Katz is voting against this as we know. Her constant interruptions and continued negative interjections are slowing the process.

By Enuf already on 12/06/2014 at 12:14 pm

We should not forget that there will be a good number of new residents within the CC community. The food solution should support the needs of those and others in the larger community as a first priority.

By Food should support the local residents on 12/06/2014 at 12:31 pm

No Chains, Lisa?  Isn’t Whole Foods a chain? and by extension wouldn’t that make their “huge food court” you speak positively about as a place where people (at the Readers Digest property) can eat,” a chain?  If it’s ok to have a Whole Foods Food Court chain outlet, then what’s wrong with a Chipotle? Let the free market prevail.

Editor’s Note: I don’t think it has escaped Lisa Katz’s notice that WF is a chain.  Any supermarket the last Town Board envisioned when this path was taken would have been a chain.  And Summit Greenfield is free to invite other chain stores it wishes.  The question the TB is asking itself is: Given the condition imposed by WF that other food-providers than itself be limited occupy a total of 15,000 SF, does the TB want those food-providers to be chains or not?  If WF were to leave CC, the 15,000 SF restriction would leave with it.

By If you permit retail, then enable success on 12/06/2014 at 1:02 pm

it is clear that some people have no idea what they are talking about. The nimby position continues to distract and obfuscate.
Summit Greenfield needs Whole Foods they are the lynchpin. Whole Foods only agrees to set up shop when certain of their conditions are met. Whole Foods is in high demand and dictates terms. They have standards and requirements conducive to their high quality reputation. They will not come to CC unless they are assured that the complex has other quality high end merchants. All this debate about Burger King or 5 Guys Hamburgers is a waste of time. Rest assured SG must guarantee Whole Foods that Jack in The Box, Taco Bell and Family dollar stores will not be their neighbor.
Greenstein is correct. Market forces should be in effect and in this case the market will require and command high end eating establishments and stores. It should not matter if the restaurant is part of a chain. It will be high end. It won’t be McDonalds.

By OpenTable on 12/06/2014 at 3:52 pm

Please place a McDonald’s on the site of the Rt.100 / Taconic State Parkway D.O.T yard, along with a nice coffee and bagel store and affordable housing on top. Or build a Wendy’s in the A&P parking lot. Cut Chase Bank in half and place a Dunkin Donuts in the newly created space! Allow Grandma’s Pies or Krisby Kreme to come into New Castle. YES, YES, YES, Town Hall don’t blow this, we need these kinds of establishments to come into New Castle , we NEED TO STABILIZE THE ESCALATION OF RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAXES. YES, OH GOD YES……………DO THIS !!!!!!!!!!!Bring in RED LOBSTER, COZI, and whoever else will help us keep residential taxes down and frozen. YES do this – YES YES YES !!!!!!!!!!!!!

By YES on 12/06/2014 at 5:40 pm


Sure, go ahead and try and project your nightmares on the West End of town. The problem is, we already have everything that you NIMBYs fear will destroy the “rural feel” of Chappaqua.

By my count, we have three of the dreaded strip malls. While we don’t have any real estate offices (I suppose having a “Millwood” address doesn’t have the same cachet as “Chappaqua”), we have nail salons, dry cleaners, a bank, drugstore, wine store, post office, cafe, restaurant, specialty foods, jewelry store, pizza place, restaurant, hardware store, veterinarian, church and two gas stations (including one with a large mini-mart). We have a deli that all of your kids like so much that they hang out here on weekend nights instead of your lovely hamlet over there in Chappaqua. We also have a supermarket.

Besides the strip malls, we have a lumber yard, construction equipment yard, a nursery and garden center, limo service, and some light industry where they warehouse the fancy tile for your bathroom remodeling jobs and fabricate the stone countertops for your kitchens. We’re building a state-of-the-art new firehouse for our volunteer fire company. There are apartments above and behind retail spaces and some honest to goodness affordable housing (Stone Creek).

We’d love to get some more development over here, but we can’t because of what we don’t have: sewers. The reason we don’t have sewers, by the way, is that the folks on the receiving end of the sewer line in Yonkers object to having the “affluent effluent” from your wealthy toilets in Chappaqua sent down to their community.

Just south of the town line, the Village of Briarcliff Manor is trying to annex part of the Town of Ossining to gain the tax revenue from the commercial district on North State Road. It’s nothing but strip malls, but Briarcliff would love to have it. (continues…)

By West Ender on 12/07/2014 at 8:44 am

@YES (continued)

We’re doing all we can to keep the tax revenue flowing to the town from over here in the West End. We can’t help you with your school taxes, however, because most of our children go to school in Ossining or Yorktown. We do, however, continue to pay for the soccer fields (and deal with the traffic) that your kids use over on the Amsterdam property.

Why don’t you stop whining so much and acting so entitled? Maybe a little humility from the folks in Chappaqua will help us get the sewer lines we need built. Then we can build that Krispy Kreme for you and your kids can bring hot donuts home for you early Sunday mornings. They’re already over here at Rocky’s.

By West Ender on 12/07/2014 at 8:45 am

Some of the chains sound yummy to me.

Bakery Corner Bakery Cafe, Panera, Aux Delices, The Kneaded Bread, Sono Baking Company, Chipotle, Noodles & Co, Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, Chopt’, Just Salad, Peet’s Coffee, Joe The Art of Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Del Friscos, Batali, Fortina, Stone Barn

By Yum on 12/07/2014 at 7:26 pm

Listen, we all like to eat our lettuce, carrots, and parsley with green apple. But if we all had to raise our hands at Town Hall showing that we eat at McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s; not one person would raise their hand. Go hang out at Burger King in Mt. Kisco, or McDonalds, and even ride down to Elmsford to Wendy’s, then come back and tell me that almost every Chappaqua Mom is not inside enjoying a meal, or a Whopper, or a beautiful BIG MAC, or that DELICIOUS CHILI from Wendy’s, or those chicken nuggets with their kids. Please, stop the baloney , and be real. Their exist among us all a huge population of residents that will say OH NO, when they are caught in Connecticut enjoying a BIG MAC. Lets concentrate on getting revenue into Town Hall. Ride around the roads of Chappaqua and look at your neighbors exterior paint, windows, doors, landscaping, and tell me that we do not need to stabilize the residential tax base by bringing in more commercial type operations. How many dollars are owed to New Castle in non-payment of property taxes? We need to design relief into the way we approve and reject applications or deny and restrict businesses from coming into New Castle. The above it all attitude needs to move to Scarsdale or Greenwich, Ct. New Castle is still failing! I promise not to discuss KFC – boy oh boy would that be great in Chappaqua! Not kidding, let the free market come into Chappaqua before we get a Federal Mandate mandating that we bring in Chick filet – this would work too!

By Closet Whopper on 12/08/2014 at 9:42 pm

I agree with the commenter ‘Yes’.  More fast food chains will lower residential property values, which will in turn lower our property taxes.

By Yes is right on 12/09/2014 at 5:04 pm

I would encourage our Town Board Members to take a trip to Yonkers. RIDGE HILL and look at all the Great Restaurants there. Mostly higher end…no Junk Food.  And there is a Whole Foods there!!
  As well as Lord and Taylor and other high end stores…No junk shops!
Greenstein is Right..the Market will dictate.
If it can work in Yonkers it most certainly can work in Upscale New Castle(Chappaqua).  Lisa Katz you and you Nimbys need to consider what is best for the greater Majority of the Tax Paying Residents of our Town!
Town Board…just get this done already.  Every other Town village and City in Westchester is progressing Forward to enhance the viability of their community and those around them.  We have become( New Castle ) a Do Nothing Town.
Times change.  Remember New Castle used to be a Farming Town.  The NIMBY’S
would not be living here if Zoning etc were not changed 100+ years ago and the THEN NINBY’S had their way!

By Take a look at Ridge Hill on 12/10/2014 at 10:35 am

We knew all along Rob wanted to turn this town into Yonkers, thanks for verifying it, Take a look.

By @ Take a look or…? on 12/11/2014 at 7:50 pm

Man, someone is busy.  Wonder who it is pushing the chains??!

By Can’t imagine who on 12/11/2014 at 8:07 pm

I personally don’t eat at fast food restaurants, however, why is the TB involved in allowing these establishments. If they can make a profit, let them. If not, they will be gone. Our government shouldn’t be involved.

By Jelmd on 12/13/2014 at 5:11 pm

Leave Chappaqua alone and keep it intact the way we already love it. CC will have to be approved, and all previous administrations lost their biggest opportunity to show our community that government really does work. The fact is that “business didn’t build it” is correct, because without government approval, the private sector can’t get anything done. We now live in a time where the statement of “I can’t breath” is just not only about clear and visible abuse, but also about getting stuff done like CC. “I can’t breath” is the statement that profoundly describes all areas of our society. It is for this reason, that we should not reject, deny, or prevent, chain stores from coming into New Castle. Let the free market determine if the Kittle House will be around for the next 10 years, or if McDonalds if allowed into New Castle will be around for the next 100 years. And, I disagree with my friend from the West End, the residents of Chappaqua proper have every right to demand from town hall that they look at your part of town for better ways to collect more revenue into our town hall. CC will greatly benefit all who live on the West End, and like wise, the West End should do their part to contribute more taxes being paid into town hall. For far too long you on the West End have been complaing about not having the attention of town hall, and I do not believe that your opinion would ring true among the many West Enders. I believe that town hall has been trying to get the sewer line into your part of our Municipality. Downtown Chappaqua needs KFC, needs McDonalds, needs Burger King, needs Wendy’s, needs Chick filet, needs IHOP, needs Buffalo Wings. And, whatever the market place states will not work, that space will become vacant. New Castle should not restrict or constrain the tax revnue that they need for our Schools, programs, and economic vitality. McDonalds located right across the street from a gas staion on Rt.100 on the site of the D.O.T property (Great idea)

By Leave Chappaqua alone on 12/14/2014 at 12:34 am

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