CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. - The New Castle Town Board enlisted the help of an outside consultant on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of bringing a supermarket back to Chappaqua.
“Before everybody says ‘I know, let’s go get a John Doe,’ let’s have a realistic idea of how we can get John Doe and a realistic sense of what John Doe wants,” said Town Counsel Clinton Smith. “If we’re going to sell the town to somebody, we have to know the right things to offer.”
Business developer Albert Krull told town officials that "John Doe" in Chappaqua’s case would likely not be an A&P, Whole Foods or any major store that he would classify as a supermarket.
"You’re not looking at a 50,000 to 70,000 (square) foot supermarket," said Krull. "It’s not going to happen."
While Krull said Chappaqua has desirable demographics with plenty of disposable income, he believes it lacks ideal space and population to support a supermarket.
"There’s not enough people. In a five-mile radius there’s under 100,000 people," said Krull. "It’s not going to support that kind of use."
Krull said supermarkets typically require 100,000 people in a three-mile radius. Instead of a supermarket, he recommended the town target what he called "neighborhood grocers," which would require between 12,000 and 25,000 square feet.
Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter said the vacancy left by D'Agostino's, which Krull estimated is a 24,000 square foot property, received no interest from other grocers.
"We found grocers weren’t interested in that site, that it was too small," said Carpenter. "Maybe it was that we didn’t have the right people looking, but that was the message we were getting."
Krull said the town was not targeting the right companies and that he knew of several grocery stores interested in the space. Examples Krull gave of grocers willing to work with a smaller space were Balducci's and Kings Super Markets.
"There's a lot of interest in our hamlet. If you call and we didn't get interest from a specific use group, we're calling the wrong people," said Krull. “It’s a limited target audience to go after, but it’s up to the town to help sell it to that user.”
While Tuesday night's discussion centered around working with the properties Chappaqua already has, resident and former town council candidate Rob Greenstein asked town officials to look into other areas of development.
Greenstein suggested Chappaqua Crossing or the train station parking lot as areas that could potentially support a supermarket. He said parking could be kept intact with parking garages or underground parking.
"Having five acres of a parking lot when you're downtown is so limited is not the best long-term plan for expanding the commercial tax base," said Greenstein.
Carpenter said the town would explore developing on the lot, but expressed doubt that Chappaqua commuters would support losing parking spaces for an extended period of time for construction.
"Even if we could build a garage, I have my doubts that anybody in town would support losing 250 spots out of our parking for a year-and-a-half," said Carpenter. "This town was built around the Metro-North. I don't know how a lot of people in this town would function if they couldn't take the train to work."
Discussion on the town's business development will continue at future work sessions.