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Planning Board Approves Chappaqua Crossing Retail Project

The New Castle Planning Board voted to approve the Chappaqua Crossing retail project. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Felix Charney, president of Summit Development, thanks the New Castle Planning Board for granting its approvals for the Chappaqua Crossing retail project. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Capping off months of review work, the New Castle Planning Board gave Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield approvals that it needs for its retail project.

The Wednesday night votes were in favor of the project's site plan - it is the final layout of the buildings - along with a plan to prevention stormwater pollution and permits for tree removal, steep slopes and wetlands.

Getting the board's approvals marks a major milestone for Summit Development President Felix Charney, whose company operates Summit/Greenfield as a joint venture with Greenfield Partners.

Shortly after the vote, Charney thanked the board for approving the project and thanked officials for setting aside their time for the review.

“I think, collectively, we've accomplished something that hopefully we'll all be very proud of," Charney said.

The proposal calls for building 120,000 square feet of retail space on the southern portion of Chappaqua Crossing, which is the former Reader's Digest campus. Tenants announced so far include Whole Foods, which will take up 40,000 square feet; Life Time Fitness, which will lease the same amount in a 2-story structure; Starbucks; and Chase. The retail buildings will have a Georgian architecture style inspired by the historic cupola building that is located on the western end of the campus.

The vote was by 4-0, with board member Greg Sanzari absent.

The approvals are the latest in a string of items granted by town officials for the proposal. The Town Board voted last December to rezone the property for the project and voted in May to approve a draft layout of the retail buildings.

The Planning Board's approvals came less than 24 hours after the Town Board voted to allow 28 affordable-housing units in the cupola building. The Town Board also approved construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Route 117 and Roaring Brook Road, which would replace the current T-shaped intersection that uses traffic lights. The roundabout approval was done by amending the draft retail layout that was granted in May.

The state's Department of Transportation (DOT), which initially suggested that a roundabout be studied, still has to approve a work permit before the retail project can move forward, Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis told Daily Voice. The DOT controls Route 117 and can dictate the final iteration of changes.

John Collins, a traffic consultant for Summit/Greenfield, said at the board meeting that he hopes to meet with the DOT either next week or in the first week of January.

Ward-Willis told the Planning Board that the Town Board will send a memo to the DOT that will include status updates on its end, along with concerns from emergency officials. The correspondence will also include a request for the town to get a licensing agreement to access the roundabout for decorating or maintenance. The land for the roundabout is currently owned by Summit/Greenfield but it would be conveyed to the DOT if it is constructed.

The Planning Board also intends to submit a memo to the Town Board with input on traffic safety for the roundabout area, including a request to re-examine whether a proposed northbound bypass lane is still needed. That feedback, Ward-Willis explained, can be included in the correspondence to the DOT.

Summit/Greenfield will return to the Planning Board at a later date in order to get site plan approval for a 91-unit cluster of townhouses on the property's eastern side. The Town Board voted on Tuesday to change the draft layout of the cluster to 91 units in conjunction with its affordable-housing approval. In 2011, prior Town Board members approved a draft layout that included a 111-unit cluster; 20 of those would have been affordable.

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