Summit/Greenfield announced Friday that it has filed amended lawsuits against New Castle over Chappaqua Crossing, acknowledging to give limited residential rezoning and lifting the commercial tenant cap.
The developer, which filed its initial federal and state suits in late February, claims that the approvals do not change the underlying nature of their complaints.
"These sham "approvals" merely perpetuate the Town Board's intention to ensure that the property remains undeveloped for the benefit of the Town's wealthy residents," the state complaint reads, in reaction to the April 11 votes.
In the state suit, filed in state Supreme Court in White Plains, Summit/Greenfield reiterates its claim that New Castle has conducted a "sham" process for the last six years, since it bought the 120-acre property from Reader's Digest, and continues to argue that the town has made a de facto "taking" of its property by unfairly limiting development and acting with economic deprivation. The developer claims that the town's deprivation is to help support the property values of neighboring residents, and is renewing its call for New Castle to take over the property, in exchange for montary compensation. It also seeks monetary damages in court.
In the federal suit, which also names Supervisor Barbara Gerrard and Councilmen Robin Stout and Michael Wolfensohn as co-defendents, Summit/Greenfield reiterates its claims that the Fair Housing Act has been violated, and that the town is obstructing the building of affordable housing. In its April 11 vote for approve 111 residential units - the area that was proposed by the developer to be the "East Village" - the Town Board included the proposed affordable housing units in the mix, which the developer intended to satisfy the town's building mandate under Westchester County's housing settlement with the federal government. A violation of due process is also alleged again, with Summit/Greenfield reiterating its claim that New Castle has unfairly dragged out the process.
Despite the Town Board's concession of lifting a cap on the number of commercial tenants for the site - it was previously four, with one having to occupy roughly 200,000 square feet - Summit/Greenfield states that "the Town Board's intentional and unlawful delay in removing these irrational and baseless restrictions - coming only after the litigation was filed - has denied Plaintiff any commercial use of the property."
In addition, Summit/Greenfield argues that only permitting 111 units, versus the 199 that it requested, undermine the economic viability of the overall mixed-use project.
In the federal suit, the complaint states that the 111 units "do not and cannot cover the costs associated with repositioning the commercial space for multi-tenant use."
The complaint continues, "In addition, without additional residential units, there would be an insufficient number of tenants to support the commercial space."
In a press release announcing the lawsuits, Summit/Greenfield also cites a weak office market in Westchester as making it difficult to lease the commercial space.
In an interview, Gerrard said that she wasn't surprised by the new developments.
"It's a legal maneuver," she said.
Copies of both suits can be viewed here as PDF files.