CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – A survey commissioned by Chappaqua Crossing’s ownership and recently announced shows that a majority of New Castle residents support having a Whole Foods at the site.
The survey showed 67 percent in favor (328), to 26 percent (126) who had concerns, which included traffic and location. Just eight percent (37) had no opinion.
The survey included interviews with 580 New Castle residents conducted between June 28 and July 13, according to a press release on behalf of Summit/Greenfield, the site’s owner and developer. Summit Development and Greenfield Partners own the site. Their involvement with the site is through joint venture Summit/Greenfield.
Market research firm rkl3D, which is headed by Larchmont’s Robin Liebowitz, conducted the survey. Interviews were done in person at several locations, according to the presentation, which included Chappaqua Crossing, the train station and farmers’ market.
The survey found that 84 percent (489) were aware of Whole Foods possibility moving into Chappaqua Crossing. Also asked was a question about preference for retail alongside of Whole Foods. The results were that 74 percent favored small stores, with Panera Bread and Starbucks as examples, 20 percent answered none, while just six percent supported large stores, with Petco and Staples being examples.
"We were interested in ascertaining the thinking of town residents regarding the plan for Whole Foods and ancillary retail at Chappaqua Crossing,” Felix Charney, a principal with Summit Development, said in a press release. “The best way to move beyond the anecdotal was to commission a professional survey.”
Reacting to the results, Charney then stated: “The results demonstrate that New Castle residents recognize and support having a first-class local supermarket and additional shopping and dining opportunities at Chappaqua Crossing. The need for a supermarket in Chappaqua is clear, and having Whole Foods Market at Chappaqua Crossing along with high-quality small retailers and restaurants in an attractive traditional neighborhood style development is an excellent adaptive reuse of a part of the former Reader;s Digest site."
Andrew Tung, a planner who is working for the ownership, presented the results at the New Castle Town Board’s July 22 meeting, as seen in this video.
At another point in the video, John Marwell, an attorney for Summit/Greenfield, explained the rationale for the survey, with a difference between blog commentary and public meeting feedback being a reason. Marwell then addressed the supportive blog commenting and called the people making them “intimidated,” adding that they don’t want to speak at hearings because they will be insulted.
At one point in the video, Betty Weitz, one of several residents who spoke, blasted Marwell’s characterization
“We do not insult each other,” she said. "We are very civil.”
Some Town Board members, in the video, mentioned erroneous information about people being told that it was a town survey. Marwell, who called the study a “Summit/Greenfield sponsored survey,” noted that this was corrected.
Councilman Adam Brodsky, at another point in the video, was critical of the survey’s handling, mentioning an anecdote where he was on a train platform was sitting next to a person taking the survey. He then argued that people asking questions were trying to get the answer that they wanted.
Liebowitz, in a letter published in New Castle NOW, defended the survey. The letter can be read here.
The July 22 meeting, the video shows, also included several public hearings pertaining to the retail proposal, which includes 120,000 square feet of retail space. Whole Foods would take up 40,000 of that amount. Several residents, according to the video, voiced concerns about traffic.
The New Castle Town Board will continue its public hearings on Tuesday, Aug. 12, according to the video and its agenda.