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New Rochelle IDA Revisited by Cappellia and Mounto

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New Rochelle IDA Revisited by Cappellia and Mounto

July 13, 2013 - 20:52

In the July 4, 2013 Issue of Westchester Guardian

Returning to the New Rochelle Industrial Agency (IDA) on June 26, 2013 were two familiar faces. First, the Executive Vice President, John Madeo, of Mountco Construction and Development Corporation whose company had refurbished two senior citizen buildings on Maple Avenue, and second, Joseph Apicella, Vice President and Executive Director of Cappelli Enterprises.

Madeo cheerfully stated he was "shamelessly trying to better" the city's housing projects. This was the third time in a year he wanted to upgrade a City Housing project. Last year he had upgraded (and partially purchased) two senior citizen residential buildings on Maple Avenue: one with HUD grants and the other with tax free bonding from the Local Development Corporation (LDC). In this instance Madeo said he needed to apply by August for funding for upgrading Carrington Arms at 33 Lincoln Avenue. He stated he needed to apply by August to obtain needed approval by the Attorney General.

Of particular concern to Madeo were five commercial storefronts in this housing complex. He wanted to improve the conditions of the commercial space. New Rochelle IDA members expressed various concerns about this proposal. Will the kitchens be upgraded? How would the retail areas be changed? IDA member Angela Stenrous wanted to know if residents would be impacted by any commercial updates. The ethnicity of the tenants and the number of Section 8 tenants was also questioned. The answer given was that of the one hundred eleven housing units, about 80 were Section 8 recipients. Madeo said there was not sufficient convenient parking for the retail in the area but suggested the nearby Hartley House residents could also use the retail stores in this complex. There were questions about the physical needs assessment which apparently has not been completed for the building. City Manager Chuck Strome said final approval will be given later. IDA members also questioned the crime rates in the area and Madeo said he did not think it was a significant issue but he can check on this.

The next portion of the meeting was a discussion on New Roc Parcel 1A and retail uses for Trump Plaza.. Strome adamantly addressed comments by Apicella by saying there was "debate on the good use of the space in Parcel I A and Trump Tower and he was not "comfortable" taking zoning action because the city's residents and City Council are where and how this request for rezoning should be decided. Denard Michael said the IDA's "mission" is somewhat different from the zoning board's mission. The IDA is for revitalizing the City. IDA member Gregory Merchant also strongly objected to this rezoning request. Strome then emphasized no matter what a zoning outcome at City Council, the application (of Cappelli Enterprises) could come back to the IDA and he was not pleased with this option..

When other members of the IDA objected, Apicella answered, "We are not new in the City," and have invested a lot of money here. His request for a non retail space (a storage company) was in an area that had never been leased. "Either we are partners or not." His company has tried to lease the space for seven years and Apicella felt "some occupancy was better than none." It was suggested that perhaps the medical unit next door might be looking for space. (In 2011 there had been a deal to lease 23,000 square feet to Sound Shore Medical Center, which apparently did not materialize). Michael insisted from day one this space was supposed to be retail and "self storage is not allowed." Apicella continued his company was the developer who "started development in downtown" and this small piece was "a little bit of help." He claimed the City had made $400,000 in sales tax. Continuing he said Cappelli owns LeCount Square. Apicella claimed the City had previously called him in and asked his company to help them out by buying a Gentlemen's club from Sam Zherka. They paid $5.2 million because they had put their "hearts and souls" into this project, adding he was going to ask for a"sliding scale" on this request. IDA Chair Marianne Sussman replied this issue is not in front of them. She continued, saying this present concept for recognizing the investment does not "revitalize the area" and/or provide significant employment. Apicella left the meeting and no vote was taken.

There was also a Local Development Corporation meeting that followed but Dan Marsh of the National Development Corporation did bit show up for the agenda item listed which pertained to his company's proposal to develop and bond for a new City Yard at the Beechwood Avenue site. City Council has not acted on this National Development Council proposal either.