The November 10th City Council meeting had representatives from the Cappelli organization and Forest City Enterprises provide their version of an update on where things stand regarding each of their projects. If you got a chance to watch it, I'm sure you have an opinion about how bad things are for both of the developers. This is my opinion. Mr. Apicella (from the Cappelli group) was very animated in his pitch to convince council that the upcoming request for a record 13th extension is a necessity to save the project and give them more time to "unravel" the financing products needed to go forward. Seems to me, they're trying to "find" money to keep themselves afloat. When asked about the timeframe, Mr. Apicella pointed out that in these desperate times, the city should be reinforcing the relationship and be supportive of the developer. So much so, he spoke in terms of when they get their IDA sweetener, it may be more than originally thought to be (at which point someone suggests he use the word if instead of when). Promises of more retail (even though they haven't closed the deal with Target/Kohl's) to sit alongside the 100,000 sq/ft of vacant space in the Trump building made it hard to believe this is the right move for New Rochelle. By his own admission, the market is saturated and no one is building until the market turns around. Granted, we are in a bad climate, but maybe it really underscores the fact that there can be too much in one place. Meanwhile, the properties along Lecount and Anderson sit, stagnant, handcuffed and unable to move along and contribute to the city in any form, fitness club - gone, skating rink (could have been used all this time)- gone. The Nov. 30 issue of the Westchester Herald seems to support the idea of Cappelli's lack of money and shows how the area is being idled.
So, I guess you need to ask the question, how much of the risk and costs are the taxpayers willing to subsidize as we continue to privatize the profits? Holding the downtown as ransom until private developers are ready to "invest?" in the city. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move along. As for Forest City, a very subdued Abe Naperstek painted a bleak picture as well saying that nothing is coming up out of the ground until things get better. After hearing his commentary, I'm of the opinion that Forest City's attitude is, if "we" get an extension, fine, but we're not going to jump through any hoops to hang on to it. They have bigger fish to fry and their not in Echo Bay. When he was asked why Forest City, in cancelling so many other projects, held on to Echo Bay, the first words out of Mr. Napersteks mouth were "WE want" a presence in Westchester. Nothing about what a great thing it is for New Rochelle. All in all, not very impressive, he was only up for about 15 minutes, and it appeared as though they had nothing to offer. Does anyone know why he felt he needed to bring his lawyer with him?
As with LeCount, the area is in limbo, even if there was a better way to move forward(and there are plenty of ideas), it's all being held up to suit a multi-billion dollar corporation who tells us nothing will happen in the near future. They've leased the only property they reportedly own for a 3 year period. That says it all. If Forest City were to walk away and lose the 2 million dollars they claim to have into the project, it wouldn't be much of a loss. Percentage wise, I'm sure most of us have lost a higher percentage of house value or retirement fund in the last 2 years. Some have lost everything. Again, socializing the risk/debt and privatizing the profits, ask yourself, who really benefits? Destroying the quality of life in the East End neighborhood and Sutton Manor while costing the city a minimum of 40 to 60 million in lost tax revenue coupled with increased burden on city services? You call that a deal? Look at your next city tax bill. The upcoming school tax bill, $700.00/year sewage assessment, county tax increase, your water bill is just about doubling. Now is not the time for us to be supporting the developers. If anything else, they should be supporting the taxpayers. Say no to extensions. It will sharpen everyone's senses and give developers a chance to show just how committed they are to New Rochelle, and, it will open the field for anyone else interested in participating. The traffic/environmental studies are outdated anyway and should reflect the most recent data. Time to step back and reevaluate the master plan. If you have an opinion, tell your councilperson, tell the mayor, tell your neighbor. Do something before it's to late.
Noam Bramson, Mayor Phone: (914) 654-2150 Fax: (914) 654-2357 E-mail: [email protected]
Louis Trangucci, Council Member, District #1 Home Phone: (914) 235-0499 E-mail:[email protected]
Albert Tarantino, Council Member, District #2 Contact Number:914 633-1985 E-mail: [email protected]
James Count Stowe, Council Member, District #3 Phone/Fax: 914 633-1049 E-mail: [email protected]
Councilman Richard St. Paul, District #4 Phone: (914) 420-6887 E-mail: [email protected]
Barry R. Fertel, Council Member, District #5 Phone: (914)-740-4346 E-mail:[email protected]
Marianne L. Sussman, Council Member, District #6 Phone: (914-740-7385 E-mail: [email protected]