Summit/Greenfield, developer of the Chappaqua Crossing property at the former Reader’s Digest site in New Castle, has reached a settlement with the town, dropping its federal and state lawsuits in exchange for approval of a retail zoning district.
The settlement was approved by the town board in mid-December and has Summit/Greenfield paying New Castle $1 million in fees the town said was owed.
Summit/Greenfield had sued the town in state and federal court over its handling of the Chappaqua Crossing site, claiming that its conduct deprived Summit/Greenfield of making the property economically viable.
The lawsuits won’t officially be dropped until the town formally approves the retail zoning district. Summit/Greenfield’s state lawsuit was dismissed, though the developer had planned to appeal. The federal lawsuit was in the discovery phase.
The town held public hearings on the matter last fall and expects to continue the hearings in February and March and allow for comments at the town board meeting.
Summit/Greenfield would develop 120,000 square feet of retail space at the site, including a full-service supermarket. The retail aspect would replace existing office space.
Chappaqua has been without a grocery store since D’Agostino on King Street closed shortly after Tropical Storm Irene. It’s being replaced by Walgreens, forcing Chappaqua residents to travel to Mount Kisco or Millwood to do their grocery shopping.
Summit/Greenfield said it has strong interest from several supermarket chains. The developer, a partnership of Summit Development L.L.C. and Greenfield Partners L.L.C., both real estate services and investment companies based in South Norwalk, Conn., said a market and retail component could generate $650,000 in property tax revenue, bringing the total real estate taxes from the site in excess of $3 million.
BartonPartners Architects Planners Inc., of Norristown, Pa., has designed the proposed changes to the buildings to blend with the Neo-Georgian brick of the original Reader’s Digest building. Retail space at the southern end of the property will have a complementary architectural style.
The retail center would have 600 parking spaces. Parking for the existing office space would be relocated to maintain the required 1,680 spaces for the offices.
The remainder of the space not used for retail would continue for office use. Currently Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco Medical Group, Fiber Media and WeeZee Sensory Gym are tenants.
Summit/Greenfield bought the 114-acre property for $59 million from Reader’s Digest Association in December 2004. It had initially proposed building 348 units of age-restricted condominiums and townhouses. The town eventually approved 111 units of housing, 20 of which are affordable.
Many residents have opposed the new zoning district fearing it will negatively impact downtown Chappaqua. The planning board has also expressed skepticism about the new zoning district.
Geoff Thompson, a spokesman for Summit/Greenfield, said only 3 percent of taxable properties in New Castle are commercial properties, putting a heavy tax burden on residents.
“Chappaqua Crossing is the largest taxpaying property in the town and Chappaqua Central School District,” Thompson said. “The town and school district need to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Thompson said the revised impact study should be ready within 60 days and will address how the retail zoning would impact the downtown commercial district.