Two Years Later, Cappelli Leaves Behind Boulevard of Broken Dreams on Anderson Street in New Rochelle

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Two Years Later, Cappelli Leaves Behind Boulevard of Broken Dreams on Anderson Street in New Rochelle

April 02, 2012 - 14:16

5Anderson Exterior 137

If New Rochelle officials ever wondered why New Rochelle residents do not trust the real estate developers who, in exchange for grand but vague promises, are offered generous tax abatements, coddled by the New Rochelle IDA, offered public property giveaways and granted repeated MOU extensions despite a complete lack of progress on developing projects, they need to look no further than the once active apartment building at the corner of North Avenue and Anderson Street.

The building known as "5 Anderson" is a monument to the unreliability of promises from real estate developers and the gullibility of city officials when dealing with them.

In never before seen photos of the interior of 5 Anderson (after the jump), obtained exclusively by Talk of the Sound, the utter devastation of the building is clear. Every single room, in every single apartment has been gutted and otherwise left unusable. Exterior photos show the faded remains of window treatments installed under the terms of a 2010 MOU extension obtained by Cappelli Enterprises under the condition they beautify the outside of the building and address various code violations. Additional photos in the slideshows below.

5Anderson Interior 136

5 Anderson Map

On July 27, 2010 the New Rochelle Municipal Arts Commission questioned Joe Apicella of Cappelli Enterprises about window treatments required under a pending extension of the LeCount Square MOU. The meeting was chaired by Ivar Hyden who has since been elected to City Council from District 4 which includes 5 Anderson. The setting was a special meeting of the MAC called by Development Commissioner Michael Freimuth. MAC Members were under pressure from city officials to approve the Cappelli proposal so that yet another LeCount Square MOU extension would be granted.

During the meeting, as the accompanying video shows, MAC members repeatedly raised concerns about the durability of the material to be used in the window treatments, at one point requesting that the same material and method of installation used at Trump Plaza be used at 5 Anderson. Apicella repeatedly interchanges discussions about the material to be used and the method of installation, confusing the issue and getting the MAC board to say "yes" to the method of installation (interior) when they believe he is agreeing to both the material (same at Trump) when Apicella's patter is intended to confuse while avoiding, as best he can, giving a definitive answer. Looking back, it is easy to see that Cappelli had no intention of using the more expensive material in Trump and within a few months the results were obvious. Cheap material had deteriorated badly and, in some cases, fallen off the building. Despite repeated assurances, there has been no maintenance of the window treatments at all.

MAC Member: The images in the Trump Plaza building look great, they've been up for a long time…if you use the same material and the same method that's fine with us…

Apicella: I think we should be OK, I agree.

He "agrees" with what? That he will install the same quality of window treatments at 5 Anderson that were used at Trump Plaza? No. He agrees that the images at Trump Plaza looks great. He agrees that the images at Trump Plaza have been up a long time. He agrees that IF Cappelli used the same material the MAC would be fine with that. Is he agreeing to do that? No, but since the MAC member asking the question does not press Apicella for a specific, clearly articulated commitment, Apicella can now truthfully say that he never agreed to use the same quality material at 5 Anderson that was used at Trump Plaza.

A few minutes later, Apicella twists a question ("can we") to give an answer to a question ("did you") not asked.

MAC Member: "Can we stipulate they put up in the same material, same method, that we've already seen…"

Apicella: "no, we did not" and goes on to state that he will defer to his employees "good judgement" in selecting materials 'because I have confidence in Jeff [the Cappelli employee] and the material selection that's will make and that'll will stand up to scrutiny and the elements…stand the test of time.

MAC Members ignore the negative responsive, go onto express concerns about the durability of the images and the content and the need for them to be maintained as if Apicella has agreed. Apicella appears to tell the commissioners what they want to hear, they react as if he is agreeing with them but he never does and the MAC never nails down a specific agreement on the quality of the material.

The problem is not that MAC Members did not ask the right questions. The problem is that MAC Members are operating on a "good faith" basis when Apicella is not. This is a point that city officials at all levels repeatedly fail to appreciate, most especially the Mayor, the City Manager and members of City Council who blindly defend these developers. It was primarily Mayor Noam Bramson and City Manager Chuck Strome who pushed to extend the LeCount Square MOU which required gathering the Municipal Arts Commission on very short notice for a special meeting to accommodate Cappelli to get approval for a plan Cappelli had said they going to implement a year before.

Real Estate developers are a step above con men and a step below used car salesman in the "trust-o-meter", right next to career politicians. Apicella is just doing what real estate developers do, advancing the interests of his company. It's not his job to protect New Rochelle officials from themselves.

Not surprisingly, in August 2010, Cappelli installs window treatments that are not remotely close to the quality of the window treatments at Trump Plaza.

The slideshow below shows "before/after" photos from the Cappelli proposal presented to the Municipal Arts Commission, photos from the day the window treatments were installed by Cappelli in August 2010 and photos showing how those window treatments look today.

The window treatment panels are much smaller, the material of much lower quality and the color printing far inferior. The installation is haphazard and sloppy. Within a few months the window treatments have turned a faded yellow, those pasted onto plywood on the Anderson Street side of the building have come loose and one has come off completely (during a wind storm in February 2011). Today, the window treatments make the building look worse than having nothing there at all.

To what is likely to the surprise of many New Rochelle residents, the interior of 5 Anderson is worse than the exterior, far worse.

In exclusive photos obtained by Talk of the Sound, the full extent of the damage becomes clear. Every single apartment has been destroyed. Walls and doors have been hacked to pieces with axes or kicked in. Radiators, pipes, sinks, bathtubs and pretty much anything else of any value has been ripped out, removed or smashed. The entire plumbing system of the building has been removed The building has been thoroughly gutted.

The damage was done by a combination of illegal squatters and members of the New Rochelle Fire Department and New Rochelle Police Department who used the building as a training facility in the expectation that the building would be torn down as part of the LeCount Square project. With the LeCount Square project dead and the building still there, no one seems to know who is responsible for repairing the damage but the estimates of the cost run into the many millions of dollars.

5 Anderson Interior Photos:

Various potential tenants have looked at the building since the LeCount Square MOU expired on December 31, 2010. Among them has been Monroe College which is said to be considering the building as either a dormitory or a hotel that would be used as a training facility for students in Monroe's hospitality program. Iona College which has students living at the nearby Marriott Residence Inn is also said to have considered the building as a student dormitory. IHOP has looked at several locations in downtown New Rochelle including the retail space on the first floor of 5 Anderson as a location for a new restaurant.

Meanwhile, the area around 5 Anderson has become blighted. Merchants have been complaining now for several years that the area is neglected. Homeless people have moved into the area and have been found sleeping in the foyer at the Citibank branch across the street, in the Walkway Plaza, even upside down in garbage cans. Businesses complain that customers have been driven away from the area, frightened off by aggressive panhandlers, drunks and drug-addled vagrants roaming the area.

At this point, no one seems to know what to do about what has become arguably the biggest eyesore in New Rochelle.

The building at 5 Anderson has been the subject of a protracted legal battle between Cappelli which had an option to buy the building, and the owners with both sides claiming the other is responsible for the upkeep of the building. That dispute has reportedly been resolved. The police do not have the manpower to continuously patrol the area although they have done some "park and walks" in the area. The businesses say their appeals to city officials and the downtown Business Improvement District have fallen on deaf ears. The BID says they are doing what they can. There are First Amendment issues with panhandlers which protect their right to ask for money.

What is clear, is that trusting real estate developers is not a good idea.

The next time the IDA and City Council get a pitch from one of these developers, they would be well advised to stroll down Anderson Street and take a good long look at what trusting a real estate development really means for New Rochelle.


LeCount Square MOU with Capelli Expires, Ending Sad Chapter in New Rochelle's Downtown Development Plans

...Be it resolved, that the City Council of the City of New Rochelle hereby authorizes the City Manager to execute a Fourteenth Amended MOU to amend Section 2.2 of the MOU to amend Section 2.2 of the MOU to amend the Exclusivity Date through December 31, 2010, upon the following conditions.

1. By July 31, 2010, exterior improvements shall be made to 5 Anderson Street to the satisfaction of the Department of Development. If such improvements are not made by July 31, 2010, the MOU shall automatically expire...

Postal Service Prepared to Negotiate Sale of New Rochelle Facility but Has Not Heard from Embattled Developer in Months

Email Records Show City Manager and Development Commissioner Blessed Capelli MOU Three Weeks Ago

On WVOX, Bob Marrone Asks New Rochelle Mayor Bramson About 7/31 Deadline of LeCount MOU Extension

Municipal Arts Commission Greenlights Capelli Improvements at 5 Anderson; Apicella Portrays Capelli as Victim of Area Blight

Special MAC Meeting July 27, 2010: Capelli LeCount MOU & Exterior of 5 Anderson (1/2)

Special MAC Meeting July 27, 2010: Capelli LeCount MOU & Exterior of 5 Anderson (2/2)

Two Days Past MOU Deadline -- with Back Taxes Approaching $150k -- New Rochelle Building Permit Noticed at 5 Anderson

Cappelli's LeCount Square Signage at 5 Anderson Street Gone with the Wind

OFFICIAL: Cappelli LeCount Square Project Dead

LeCount Square MOU with Capelli Expires, Ending Sad Chapter in New Rochelle's Downtown Development Plans

Capelli "No Comment" on Termination of LeCount Square MOU

Cappelli Abandons LeCount Square but New Rochelle's Planned Parenthood Remains

Like the Crypt-Keeper, Louis Cappelli Hoping to Bring Le Count Square Project Back from the Dead in New Rochelle

There are 9 Comments

Thank you, this is the kind of news we need. Great work. Thank you.

Bramson floated out the Mayoral threat of Eminent domain as a means of helping Cappelli assemble contiguous purchases of real estate. This is on the public record. If I am the defaulted on owners of 5 Andersen I am hauling Bramson to court as a party to the action. He owns this they got screwed by Cappelli with Bramson as Cappellis hammer. He owns ever inch of this debacle. He even tried to get his buddy Chuck Schumer to whore for him on the steps of the Post Offfice but the Post Office General was having none of this. If I am the guys who got defaulted on I am hanging pictures of Bramson in every Store front reminding people what he did what he brought. Nobody else to blame here.

The fates of "5 Anderson Street" and the Armory appear intertwined, now that it seems that both formerly viable structures have been sacrificed to the political future of the chief New Rochelle executive. That is why now than ever, independent citizen action is needed to save the day.

One property was accepted as a "gift" from the state and then allowed to fall into disrepair and ruination. The other, diverted from profitable and practical use. Unless both are saved, they will disappear from the New Rochelle street scape.

The chief New Rochelle executive knows better than anyone that his greasy finger prints are all over the corpus delicti of his maladministration. So what is the only path left to the perpetrators? Destroy the evidence! That is the only possible explanation for the administration's mad rush to develop the properties. Once the offending original structures are brought down, there will be no evidence left of the cravenly abusive and neglectful stewardship perpetrated under the two past mayoral administrations.

No one seriously believes that the boy wonder can progress up the political landscape with such obvious moral and practical blemishes on his rap sheet. This explains his feverish rush to condemn and raze the structures that so threaten his delicate reputation. Excise the abused, rain-damaged, bullet hole-pocked structures and fixtures to interdict any sort of political or legal consequences.

Citizens; the New Rochelle community is faced with nothing less than the attempted destruction of evidence that might be required in a legal investigation some time in the future. Organize, write, act.

I wonder how long it will take Monroe College to decide they would like this property for dorms. I think Monroe College is one step below used car salesmen.

This is a first class piece of work. I echo Tom J and offer my thanks for this expose and historical record of the deterioration of a once thriving City.

Nothing to add to this except the conditional consequences of waxing eloquent, sitting on our duffs and doing little or nothing.

I want to close with the caveat... Marc Jerome the chief Enabler lurks around the corner and lusts to add this critical area to his not so eminent domain.

Cut the tentacles now... better it lie fallow until the Council feels its power, acknowledges its responsibilities and begins to restore and rebuild.

The game is not over. Every Councimember, all seven of them, has a duty to serve, to preserve, and to rebuild this into a semblance of what it was and a vision of what it should be. If not, you are ENABLERS, you crush the hopes, dreams and aspirations of many good people of every demographic classification.

And every reader, your duty is also clear.... you will also be an enabler, a bit more benign, but an enabler... if you do not stay on top of this and its sister issues of echo bay, albanese, the armory, school district, crime, downtown deterioration, changes to zoning and code, and most important, adherence to the Rule of Law as evident by our City Charter/Code.

Thank you Bob and I hope some day to learn that a summary file, a book, something exists in your world that documents the decline, decay and expecially appropro in the Easter season, the resurrection of the Queen City.

Go get em Political Force.

This is a whole new area for investigation and reporting.

Monroe College is riding to success on waves of taxpayer-subsidized tuition dollars. Whether by public guarantee, insurance or other device, the private, profit-making entity is reaping a financial bonanza from federal/state programs designed to encourage attendance at institutions of higher education. Is this a simple facilitation of career-hungry youth or is it profiteering at the expense of a vulnerable class of minorities

Nothing wrong with helping students improve themselves; but with the Monroe population drawn largely from lesser-privileged African-American, Spanish-speaking, and immigrant communities, extra scrutiny is in order. The fact is; for decades, minority populations were victimized by fast-talking purveyors of "easy credit" in the purchase of electronics and household furniture. In the Bronx, we were forced to chase them away from our business premises during lunch periods and other breaks. Simply promising education instead of personal belongings does not make the exploitation any more acceptable.

Some possible fields of inquiry; a) what sorts of employment "guarantees" are offered to graduates of the college's programs? b) what is the nature of employment counseling, if any? c) what are the typical consequences of re-payment default by these newly encumbered debtors? d) what is the total annual cost to the public for accommodating/guaranteeing related tuition and board expense?

Between the lax regulation of federal/state subsidization and the trigger-happy grant of accommodations and favors by our crony-capitalist-mad city hall lays a minefield of potential venality and waste.

I wrote a blog a week or so earlier on Marc Jerome. He is very, very clever and entwines himwelf around potentially prime business areas like an octopus.

I mentioned I would avoid any analysi on the inner workings of Monroe. Stephn is correct, someone perhaps he himself ought o look closely at the innerworkings and report to the community. I will just say this.

1. At last count, something like 61% of freshmen drop out of the school
2. On several occasions students have brought to the public allegations about failed promises regarding post graduation jobs.
3. Despite indicating that they are the least expensive college of its sort in the area, most students will have to sign up for federal assistance, school loans, etc.... defaults are likey extensive.
4. curricula ranking is not very high among lisitngs of colleges.
5. But, they provide a service for disadvantaged students that is valued by families and this needs to be factored in.
6. they ar becoming a power in athletics; first basketball, football will follow.
7. Jerome is ambitious. he will not let current state rest.

Here is what you should know.

1. monroe needs to be subject to extensive rezoning sos that our business district does not become wedded to a small college, non revene producing, first provideer and other resource consumer.
2. marc jerome is the prince of all enablers. He and his family have contributed a good deal of money to Noam Bramson, other democratc incumbents,and he democratc party.
3. for some unexplicable reason, jerome is the chair of the BID.
4. He cleverly offers services to locals, such as the Huguenot Church and others, then requests a sservice. You have seen the movie.

a word to bloggers, try to cite what others have recently wrote about, for community unity and reportage strength.

Here is the bottom line as we say in business.. Ig Monroe and Iona continue to expand in an unchecked fashion, consumer resources, and swallow up our business districts and use our high rises as dormitories, pack up your suitcases and move to a town that controls this sort of thing.

Again, you will be enablers. stop fooling yourselves, you will pay taxes, get no rlief from investrs seeking to build or cccupy appropriaely.

Find Monroe acreage up north where it exists to build a campus and dormitory. Do the same, to a lesser extent for Iona, who could easily move away once they reach Division One status.

Enablers. remember the term and apply it to the Council members.

Bloggers, if we are to succeed, we have to recall and cite other recent work so we can pull files together. This could wake up the parts of the City who feel unaffected but try selling your home or reducing your debt in the near future.

Yes, Stephen, someone should look into this and perhaps this is you.

Does anyone on The City Council have a backbone at this time to speak up? Does anyone care? Can anyone keep up his or her end of a deal? What ever happened to doing the right thing for the right reason? What ever happened to the days that people did good deeds just for the sake of doing good deeds? Are the days of philanthropy over? All we see today here in New Rochelle are developers, colleges and politicians with nothing but self-interest and self-advancement in their hearts and minds. None of it involved anyone coming out with an idea or a plan that would make New Rochelle a better place. None of them have a plan that we are aware of that would work toward the betterment of New Rochelle.

Most plans if any are at the cost of tax payer dollars and The Citizens of New Rochelle. I have not heard one statement from Iona College, Monroe College, Cappelli Developers, Young Companies, Forest City (which ever) and most importantly The City of New Rochelle’s Mayor, City Manager and their Council Members about any type of Master Plan. Stop all of the committee’s. We need visions and leadership. Not back room deals and magic tricks with smoke and mirrors. We need the people from Iona College, Monroe College, Cappelli Developers, Young Companies, Forest City (which ever) to meet with the people up front and personal. Have a town hall meeting and collect all the great ideas that are out there. Then put forth some meaningful proposals. Most importantly, we need A Plan.

We have a company right here in New Rochelle that just upgraded the Mamaroneck Train Station. What a great example of working with the village, community and state leaders and others such as Jim Killorian from Habitat for Humanity. Such a novel approach! Four years ago, John and Christ Verni bought the Mamaroneck Train Station from the MTA. Verni explained that in planning and development, the project is a type known as "adaptive reuse". Several of the historic elements had been preserved and incorporated into the design. Looks like they Do Green. What a useful resource they might be for the Armory. Why is it good New Rochelle people that want and would help need to travel outside our city to do good? All we have is questions but never any answers.

There are many people here in New Rochelle that have wonderful ideas and visions. They are willing to put forth the effort, willing to donate their time and ideas. At no cost. Such a novel idea! They don’t get heard, nor are they taken seriously. Why, I don’t know. Could it be personal or political? If we don’t listen and put to use the wealth of knowledge our citizens have to offer, we may eventually lose some of the help and history these people bring to the plate. Some are already talking about leaving the city. It just doesn’t make sense. We must act now. There may be no tomorrow!

“Common Sense for the Common Good”.

As long as Bramson is pulling the strings he will go over a cliff to prove his way is right.
HUBRIS does not allow one to make decisions for the good of New Rochelle or for the sake of good sense.
What we have is a case of someone who thinks they are smarter than everyone else leading around a few other democrats who are on the Council to serve his desire and with a City Manager without the ability to stop the madness.
So lets keep going down the same failed road no matter the result and lets keep blaming the lack of success on everything but himself.
In the end the Citizens of New Rochelle will have to flea as the cost of servicing all this stupidity will break the bank. Realty in the toilet, taxes in the Sky servicing Pensions will make us all certainly Cry.