The location of a grocery store in the Chappaqua Crossing retail plain could shift to the southern part of the site based on the interest of a prospective tenant.
New Castle Councilman Robin Stout first announced the update at a Tuesday town board meeting, stating that the board had been informed about it by developer Summit/Greenfield. Geoff Thompson, a spokesman for the developer, also confirmed the update in a Wednesday interview.
Thompson explained that Summit/Greenfield has had discussions with multiple possible tenants but is further along in talks with one. For this possible supermarket, the plan could potentially involve a grocery store in the 40,000-square-foot range.
Currently, the town board is considering a proposal to rezone part of Chappaqua Crossing, which is the former Reader's Digest site, to allow for a grocery store of 36,000 to 66,000 square feet. An earlier plan submitted to the town by Summit/Greenfield last year, had the grocery store in the first two floors of what has been referred to as the historic cupola building, along with a replacement of the existing 100 building to the immediate south. Instead, those structures would house ancillary retail, according to Thompson. The overall amount of permitted retail space under the proposed rezoning, which is 120,000 square feet, would stay the same in this scenario.
Thompson also declined to disclose the name of the prospective tenant. He mentioned that there are others who remain interested.
At the board meeting, Stout noted that the new idea is just another concept for the site, and referenced what had already been considered, as well as an alternative layout from Planning Board member Tom Curley, which considers having several buildings lined along a main corridor like in a downtown.
Stout described the new concept as “just a possibility and it will remain just a possibility unless and until Summit Greenfield presents a formal preliminary development concept plan to the town board for consideration.”
The concept plan is for building layout and would have town board approval. Thompson was not sure when it would be submitted.
The grocery store has been intended to serve as the anchor of the proposal. The idea for adding one at Chappaqua Crossing was proposed initially by the town board in March 2012 but was not tied to a specific plan. Summit/Greenfield submitted a specific plan in October 2012. About two months later, both sides agreed to settling a pair of lawsuits that the developer filed over how the town handled the rezoning review process for 199 proposed townhouses and condos for other parts of the property; the town board only approved rezoning for 111 in an April 2011 vote. As part of the settlement, the lawsuits were put on hold and it was agreed that they would be dropped if approval was granted for the retail proposal.
Because of the alternative building arrangement, Stout explained that staff, counsel and consultants were reviewing the project's draft findings statement and its supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to find out whether it changes the environmental review's conclusions. If it is decided that it does not, then an updated findings statement, which is the final document in the review process, could be made public by Friday and the town board could vote on approving it next Tuesday, with votes on rezoning and a concept plan to be held later.
Skepticism, Opposition Remain at Meeting
Residents continued to give their concerns and oppose the project at the board meeting, which was officially for discussion of the draft findings statement.
Jeremy Glantz described the grocery building shift as "a huge red flag." He worried that Summit/Greenfield could then return and request the ability to have more retail.
Several residents expressed concern about traffic impact and safety, including for school buses.
“I'm very concerned for the children. I'm very concerned for the buses,” said Jarret Rackoff.
“I think we need to really think about the dangers,” said Jessica Reinmann.
Several speakers were concerned about the role of the state's Department of Transportation (DOT) in the process, which would need to review any traffic mitigation measures proposed for Route 117 because it controls the road. Some residents felt that its position should be found out sooner.
“Why do we have to rush this through?” asked critic Victor Siber. His concerns include traffic impact, social impact due to the site's proximity to Horace Greeley High School, conformity with the site's surroundings and the relationship with the master plan. The proposal would involve amending the master plan, which Siber blasted, calling the way of handling it “the epitome of arbitrariness.”
Lisa Katz, who lives near the site and is running for a board seat on the Team New Castle ticket, repeated the word "wait" for several of her requests to slow down the process. She called for handling the ongoing broader master plan update first, waiting to see whether the new Walgreen's pharmacy that opened will serve needs. Katz also expressed a range of concerns, including skepticism over the idea of putting in a traffic light at the intersection of Route 117 and the site's entrance, school security at Greeley and of tax impact.
Adam Brodsky, who is also running for a seat as a Team New Castle candidate, felt that taking Chappaqua Crossing out of the master plan process, referencing the general update, “makes no sense.” Both he and Katz feel that the board could do a better job in dealing with constituents.
Rob Fleisher asked about regulation of the site's retail composition. The responses, given from officials, was that usage can be regulated and another reply was that specific stores cannot be decided on.