Trump representative suggests interest in Chappaqua Crossing property
Monday, November 1, 2010
by Christine Yeres and Susie Pender
Last week, Hal Goldman, the Trump Organization’s regional vice president for development for the Hudson Valley, appeared before the Bedford Planning Board to report on the Trump Organization’s proposed Seven Springs development on property situated in Bedford, North Castle, Mt. Kisco and New Castle. At the conclusion of the meeting, Goldman spoke to reporters about Chappaqua Crossing.
“The Trump Organization is very enthusiastic about the idea of stepping in should Summit Greenfield fail in their attempt to rezone and develop the property,” Goldman confirmed in a telephone interview Friday morning.
“I had a conversation with Mr. Trump and frankly we think the Summit Greenfield project is appalling,” Goldman said. “In our developments we have respect for context. If Summit Greenfield fails to get approval, the land might be available for less.”
Vision for use of former Reader’s Digest property
Goldman described his vision for the reuse of the former Reader’s Digest property as “a Museum of American Business and Commerce, a new home for the Trump Education Center for Continuing Education, and now, in this terrible economy, for helping with career transitioning. It would preserve one of our historic icons and at the same time give Chappaqua and its high school a benevolent neighbor and not a traffic nightmare.” Goldman added that his group might even coax Reader’s Digest back to its old headquarters. He was aware that Reader’s Digest has nearly completed its move out of Chappaqua Crossing, “but everything bad can be turned into something good,” he said.
“And from the government point of view,” Goldman continued, “it would add a significant tax payer who would not require services in return.”
Official reaction to Goldman’s overtures
As lead agency for the SEQRA process concerning the proposed Chappaqua Crossing development, the New Castle Town Board has neither the obligation to engage in nor is it restricted from dialogue with a developer with an alternative interest in Chappaqua Crossing. Had the Trump Organization approached the town board during the scoping sessions conducted three years ago, this alternative could possibly have been included in the original draft environmental statement for examination.
Goldman has placed several calls to Supervisor Barbara Gerrard and Town Administrator Jerry Faiella to discuss his idea over the last few months.
“So this is what we thought of and Mr. Trump was very enthusiastic about the idea and if there’s some interest on [New Castle’s] part, we’re definitely interested in seeing where this can lead,” explained Goldman.
The one time Goldman spoke with Supervisor Gerrard about his idea, she recalled that her response was: “You must be mistaken. We don’t own the property. Talk to Summit Greenfield.”
Goldman, now a resident of Katonah, lived briefly in Chappaqua, serving for a time on its architectural review board.
It will be very interesting to see where this leads. I can only hope to see better use of this beautiful property and building. It’s a gorgeous building that deserves a wonderful future. Reader’s Digest has had such an impressive history, with major paintings displayed and excellent employee-employer relations when the original owners were alive. It’s been such a shame, to have all this negativity about the property. It will be wonderful to see something good come out of this that everyone will appreciate.
Is anybody surprised that Supervisor Gerard’s response was to flip off Goldman of the Trump Organization. Rather than say as she did “You must be mistaken – we dont own the property, talk to Summit Greenfield” wouldn’t it have been in New Castle’s best interest that Gerard be more accommodating? Shouldn’t she have been an introducing party or done what she could to facilitate discussions. This may present another player in this controversy and if I had to bet I would say that Trump might be the party that gets this thing going. This is a commercial parcel of land and if the Trump organization is committed to keeping it that way while Summit Greenfield is intent on changing zoning to residential than we should be listening very carefully. AND SO should the Supervisor Gerard that allegedly represents our interests.
I agree and hope too that something good comes out of this, but somehow I am skeptical (and I’m an optimist compared to most regarding this property!). The idea that the Trump company puts down the developer for doing a “non-contextual” project on this property is humorous when you look at what they have done in other communities. Skyscrapers in Manhattan blocking long-standing views of others, condo and housing developments with huge environmental impacts and traffic loads, etc. We should not expect benevolence here. Put another way, as with the Chappaqua Crossing team, we should be confident in a “trust but verify” approach. Let’s engage with them (both parties) and see where the discussions lead.
I think we should do nothing until we hear what West Ender has to say! Maybe Trump will improve the Ossining schools to boot.
While I am highly skeptical of the Trump group, we have to listen to all possibilities. Right now, I fall on the side of “it sounds too good to be true,” but I will listen.
Sounds like Trump is trying to get the town to turn down Summit Greenfield so that they can get the land cheap. Then we’ll see what they really want to do with the property. It’ll probably include one of those giant TRUMP signs.
Not a huge fan of giant Trump signs either personally, BUT I trust many of us will very gladly adjust to any such cosmetic change over more students / more traffic (accidents) / lower home values / possibly higher crime rate etc etc anyday. Seems to me no reason why we don’t keep our ears open.
Yes, Donald Trump is disruptive and self-interested. But his self-interest here may be to burnish his image as he does from time to time—maybe this is a Wollman Rink moment for him.
But, his motives aside, the town should be primarily (only?) interested in the disposition of this property as it regards the tax revenues it might receive versus the drain on local resources. If the town is in a position to control that outcome so that it maximizes returns it must do so.
Denying a proposal when it’s the only proposal around may be risky. But now, maybe there isn’t only one. That changes everything.
Our town should be _soliciting_ interest, not vetting a single proposal that the single most interested party—the school district—says is a terrible idea. They should ask for a meeting with Trump and settle for his right-hand person and get a letter of intent.