The Examiner

Chappaqua Architect’s Development Plan Faces Complex Legal Issues

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An ambitious mixed-use development proposal for downtown Chappaqua will require the resolution of complicated legal issues and easements from multiple property owners before New Castle officials will decide whether to support the plan.

Chappaqua architect Chuck Napoli returned to the town board last week with a tweaked conceptual plan of his proposal to add roughly 100 apartments, senior independent living, a memory care unit facility, a parking structure topped with an athletic field, retail, a food market and a performing arts center to help remake the downtown.

“The whole idea, obviously, is to revitalize the hamlet and provide all the necessary needs and interests of the people,” Napoli said at the town board’s July 15 work session. “We’re still working on that and sooner or later I think you’re going to get a feel for what it is.”

However, whether the concept has a chance for consideration apparently hinges on Napoli and his development team receiving at least a dozen easements from downtown property owners. They would need those easements to build the structures that would house the ground-floor retail and second- and third-floor residential units behind the stores on South Greeley Avenue on the side closest to Robert E. Bell Middle School.

He would also require an agreement with the Chappaqua School District to build the parking structure on what is now the existing athletic field and an easement from the town to access a small strip of municipal land near the senior center. Furthermore, he would need town permission to dissolve the current parking district to have the space to build as well as an agreement between the school district and the municipality, which may not be permissible.

Whether or not Napoli, who last appeared formally before the town in late 2012, can make all the moving parts work, is open to question. Last week he said he was looking for direction and encouragement from the town board before continuing to pursue the project.

Napoli listed about 10 property owners who have interest in granting easements, including the school district, although none have been formally finalized. While Napoli said he wasn’t looking for officials to endorse the plan, he noted that he wanted to be “invited” to work with officials.

“We’re really looking to hear somebody say play ball,” Napoli told the board. “We’re ready to hit a home run.”

But board members were cautious because of the complex set of  hurdles Napoli faces. Supervisor Robert Greenstein said the next move is for Napoli to make sure he has agreements in place with the other property owners before returning to the town.

“You need all of them to be on board with easements, obviously you need the school district to be on board,” Greenstein said. “Once you have every single person on board, you will then come before the town board with an application. You’d be the one who starts off and says play ball.”

Councilman Adam Brodsky said he’s a big proponent of revitalizing downtown but told Napoli he has lots of work ahead of him before officials can be more definitive.

“That’s a big undertaking,” he said. “I’m not minimizing it at all, but I think it certainly seems an ambitious way to revitalize downtown, and as you know, I’m all about that.”

Napoli revealed that he has put together an “all-star” team of development partners including Covington Development, a Brewster-based company, Kensington Senior Development, LLC and Armonk Square developers John and Dominick Dioguardi. However, those alliances depend on him receiving a greater level of interest to the town.

“But none of the developers want to go any further without the town being more on board,” Napoli said.



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