The Examiner

Electrical Wiring Jeopardizes Latest Chap Train Station Eatery Plan

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The town-owned building at the Chappaqua train station where New Castle offiials hope to have a restaurant open.
The town-owned building at the Chappaqua train station where New Castle offiials hope to have a restaurant open.

The restaurateur who responded to the latest New Castle bid proposal to bring a food establishment to the Chappaqua train station has informed officials that the building’s electrical capacity may be insufficient to host a commercial entity.

Chappaqua resident Peter Chase, who made a recent presentation about his plan for the 112-year-old town-owned building, said that when he and his wife, Erin, went on a walk-through of the space with officials last month they were concerned about the capability of the electrical system that is in place.

Since then, the Chases have been informed by their electrician that the existing panel is slightly larger than an average residence in town and not conducive for commercial use. Chase explained that the building is serviced by a single-phase cable, and any device that has three phases, which is most restaurant equipment, would threaten to overload the system.

“My electrician explained to me that if everything is on and everything’s working, the wires will start to burn and they will burn out,” said Chase, the only candidate to respond to the latest Request for Proposal, which closed on Oct. 22.

Town officials will now reach out to the municipality’s electrician and hopefully receive direction before the end of this week, said Town Administrator Jill Simon Shapiro.

There have been no firm cost estimates given to the town yet to build a trench and bring in wires, the work Chase said his electrician concluded would be necessary. A rough cost projection from his electrician for that job would be $80,000 to $100,000, Chase said.

Supervisor Robert Greenstein said the latest development came as a surprise to him because the previous candidates that had been in line to move into the space had not raised the electricity issue. However, the town will consider it options to make the space usable.

“It’s in everybody’s best interests to get a restaurant in there, and obviously, the electricity issue is something we now have to address and hopefully we can come to a solution that everybody can live with,” Greenstein said. “It would be a great amenity to have a restaurant in there, and hopefully we can make it happen.”

The electricity issue is the latest stumbling block for the town in its quest to have an attractive eatery at the train station that might help the downtown and also generate revenue for New Castle.

The town had awarded a bid earlier this year to Leslie Lampert, a Mount Kisco restaurateur, but the Chases contended the previous RFP process was flawed and submitted a valid petition forcing a permissive referendum. The town then rescinded its bid award to Lampert.

Chase made a presentation before the town board on Nov. 5, outlining what he and his wife planned to do with the space. The menu would include soups and salads topped with salmon, chicken or beef sourced from local and regional farms that is packaged for commuters on the run.

In the evening, the establishment would focus on small entrees and small plates that could attract families for a meal as well as commuters returning from Manhattan who could sit down for a drink and something to eat or take their food home.

The old ticket window would feature a coffee area in the morning with juices, yogurt and local produce that includes freshly cut fruit.

Chase said that if the electricity doesn’t get upgraded there are alternatives but it does limit the possibilities.

“There are concepts that can be done within that capacity,” Chase said. “They leave very little wiggle room for any enhancements to that concept and I think the town wants more from the operation.”

Councilwoman Lisa Katz said she was a bit skeptical of the concept.

“Not to be negative, but it sort of  sounds like a glorified Starbucks,” Katz said. “People are going to get their food from a refrigerator and just sit like they can at any deli or Starbucks.”

Chase responded that in the morning it would likely resemble Starbucks but the types of fish, meat, cheeses and wines for the lunch and dinner hours, all locally or regionally sourced, would be nothing like the chain coffeehouse.

Chappaqua Crossing Hearing to Resume

Three remaining public hearings on the proposed 120,000 square feet of retail space at Chappaqua Crossing will resume tonight (Tuesday) at Town Hall at 8:30 p.m. Last month, board members were threatened with litigation by an attorney representing developer Summit/Greenfield if they did not vote on the rezone before the end of the year.

Officials have been working on evaluating traffic surrounding the site and different retail configurations to limit impact on nearby roads.

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