Armonk Square’s Debut: The Reviews Are In By Sheila Smith Drapeau
April 1, 2014 The cold, blustery wind that blew through Armonk Square on a recent March afternoon wasn’t deterring Lisa Geller from her first appointment at Hott Blow Dry and Beauty Lounge. As she paused to reflect on the two storied, 3.43-acre development of shops,
banking center, offices, one bedroom apartments and food market, the Armonk resident smiled.
“It’s exciting, it’s new, and I think it’s a great addition to Armonk,” Ms. Geller said.
What seemed to residents and Town officials alike to take eons to complete is finally breathing new life into the hamlet’s downtown district. As Chase Bank lights its logo, Bowls serves up lunch, and Tazza brews a steady stream of coffee and accompaniments, the verdict, while not unanimous, is mainstream positive. As the wooly weather has kept foot traffic and outdoor café dining at bay, North Castle residents and visitors from other area villages and towns are sheltered in shops and restaurants with comments warm enough to purge the chill outside.
“We’re from Purchase and so this is our town,” noted Mandy Wiederkehr, who was sharing some down time with a cup of coffee and Jane Hurvitz. “We like DeCicco’s and we enjoy the new shops.”
Ms. Hurvitz added that they had “already been to a lot of the stores,” noting that people from Purchase and West Harrison were making the trip to Armonk to try out the new restaurants and shopping.
“The parking is a problem though,” she added, voicing one of the major drawbacks mentioned by more than a few.
Realtors in North Castle have welcomed the changes, especially the addition of DeCicco’s Family Market, the food purveyor that took 20,000 sf of retail space, and ended Armonk’s nearly two-year dry spell living without a supermarket.
“I think (the Square) opened town up in more than a physical sense, it opened up new possibilities,” said Jean Looney, a licensed real estate salesperson with Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “People were thrilled when DeCicco’s opened and they’re coming in from other areas in Westchester to check it out. We send potential clients to DeCicco’s and they love it.”
Ms. Looney also noted the Square added a warm and cozy community element to a winter whose long, cold grip seemed relentless.
“It was during the Frosty Day parade, with people here from all over, that, for the first time in 18 years, it seemed to me we were really connected to one another and to other parts of the county.”
Bruce Wenig, a broker with Rakow Commercial Realty Group, Inc., was instrumental in bringing the bustle of business into the multi-use project. In noting that new buildings in the center of town created a new energy, he said it was not a hard sell to area businesses.
“It’s fabulous. Armonk is a hub now,” Wenig commented from the Square’s brick apron outside Bowls, the handcrafted salad and soup restaurant that opened less than a month ago.
“We’re seeing people coming in from Greenwich, Rye, Purchase and Chappaqua. People used to shop and look for good dining in Mount Kisco, but now Armonk is the big draw. It’s even getting a reputation as a foodie destination with the high quality restaurants settling here. Word-of-mouth works and people are saying that Armonk Square is a beautiful addition to the downtown footprint.”
Wenig noted that the quiet, small hamlet that was once known only for its small Mom and Pop shops has now grown to embrace more mainstream businesses, such as the higher end restaurants and the controversial CVS pharmacy that is slated to occupy the old Armonk Shopping Center space.
Neil Lesher, the Pleasantville resident who recently opened Bowls, said what drew him to Armonk and the Square in particular was the concept and vision and the fact that he was treated with professional respect and a familial camaraderie by Armonk Square developers John DioGuardi and Dominick DioGuardi and Alan Zaretsky, as well as other commercial outlets in the Square.
“Many of the other business owners and employees come here for lunch,” an upbeat Lesher noted happily. When I was training my employees, Tazza’s owner, James Monica, brought over coffee and muffins. When I went to pay him he said we’d catch up later. He fed my crew and right then I knew I was exactly where I belonged.”
If there is a caution light to address in all this new energy pouring into town it is the fast pace in which it is happening and the matter of parking.
A resident of Armonk for 27 years, Elaina Garone noted that the new development is “pleasing to look at, but honestly I think it created some serious parking problems. Armonk was already becoming congested and now all the new employees and added shoppers are looking for parking in the same limited number of areas except, of course, for the Armonk Square lot, which is already crowded beyond capacity on most days. I find myself leaving town to shop more than I used to because of the congestion.”
Ed Wechsler, owner of La Mer Seafood, noted that, while growth was good for Armonk, it was hard for the Mom and Pop shops to keep up.
“We’re seeing too many competitive merchants popping up for the amount of people in town,” he said. “It’s good to have choices, but it can also cut down on the amount of business for each shop.”
At Hickory and Tweed, Armonk’s anchor store for more than 53 years, owner Skip Beitzel noted it was “fun to watch the process and progress” of Armonk Square.
“It lends a synergy, a great vibe, to town,” he added. “The Square’s diverse shops and restaurants cater to all age brackets and we’re seeing Greenwich, Chappaqua and other residents from other towns bring Armonk closer into their lifestyles and everyday routines. A rising tide lifts all boats and all in all, Armonk Square gives Armonk that much more reason for being.”
Planning Board Examines Parking Issues and Supermarket Mezzanine
March 29, 2014 The North Castle Planning Board’s Public Hearing for Armonk Square on March 24 was held to examine the Building Department’s issuance of a violation for the unapproved revisions to the mezzanine level of DeCicco’s Family Supermarket that did not comply with what the Planning Board approved back in 2011. But even though the mezzanine was reconfigured, says Town Attorney Roland Baroni, DeCicco’s has complied with the town’s regulations. The almost 21,000 square feet of DeCicco’s Supermarket was originally approved with 17,650 square feet on the main selling floor and 3,000 square feet at the mezzanine level. As built, however, the main floor was reduced by approximately 1,500 square feet, and the size of mezzanine added 1,400 square feet.
The net requirement of parking spaces for all of the commercial uses for the 3.43 acres of Armonk Square is 168 spaces. Armonk Square is complying with this parking requirement, in fact they have exceeded the requirement by providing 173 parking spaces.
Planning Board Chairman Art Adelman says everyone agrees that it’s not so easy to find parking in downtown Armonk. “It’s a global issue.” But the town has an obligation to provide for more parking spaces in Armonk.
The Town Board is exploring options for additional parking in the downtown area on Kent Place and at the Hergenhan Recreation Center. The Verizon parking lot off of Kent Place could be used for long term parking for designated employees. But using this lot will require negotiations to rent the property from Verizon. Opening the Verizon lot would free up more spaces for customers to park behind the stores on the west side of Main Street. In addition, developer Michael Fareri has donated property to the town between the Verizon lot and the Amore Restaurant on Kent Place. This will also be considered for possible future parking, but it requires more extensive excavation work, including the crossing of a stream that runs on the property.
The Town’s open green space behind the Hergenhan Recreation Center is the most likely location to pave a parking lot. The Town Board is exploring many possibilities and will consider different ways to fund any new parking, including the creation a parking district that may charge as much as $10,000 to $13,000 for any parking spot funded by future commercial development.
At the Planning Board meeting, Fareri said he is concerned about the three properties that are adjacent to Armonk Square because they are in trust for his grandchildren and he is acting in their interest. Fareri says he has filed three suits under Article 78 of New York State’s Civil Practice Law against Armonk Square. The first suit pursuant to Article 78 was filed before Armonk Square was approved in 2008, Fareri says he filed that lawsuit because Armonk Square restricted access to the driveway to his family’s commercial property at 37 Maple Avenue. The settlement of this Article 78 suit led to a widening of the delivery driveway to the supermarket, which prevented trucks from having to queue up on Maple Avenue, thereby avoiding traffic congestion.
Fareri says he filed the second Article 78 suit against Armonk Square on July 3, 2013 because the site plan had a dumpster located only ten feet from his home on 20 Bedford Road. There was also a settlement for a shared driveway between the two properties on Maple Avenue that might have caused excessive exhaust from the supermarket’s delivery trucks to end up in his building. As a result of this settlement, the truck delivery time to the supermarket has been restricted to morning hours and Armonk Square also gained five parking spots, increasing the public lot to 173 parking spaces. Armonk Square’s attorney, Tony Veneziano, says that a proposal to move the garbage dumpster was presented to Fareri before he filed the second Article 78 suit. In addition, Fareri says the second Article 78 suit addressed his concerns about the noise from the exhaust fans on the supermarket’s rooftop. The units were relocated.
The third Article 78 suit filed by Fareri was dismissed on October 17, 2013 and is under appeal. Fareri says his main concern is that what Armonk Square actually built was different from what Armonk Square’s parking study and traffic study of the mixed use of retail, restaurant, office space and apartments had previously proposed.
A greater use of restaurants would typically require more parking, yet the parking requirements for CB-A Zone of Armonk Square is a “blended rate” that allows for a more lenient parking regulation of five parking spaces per thousand square feet of the mixed retail use.
A possible solution for some of Armonk Square’s parking congestion was offered by Armonk resident Neal Baumann. When there is an event — a beer or wine tasting — upstairs at DeCicco’s, could these events be planned for later in the evening, after the prime time food-shopping crowd dissipates? The DeCicco family says it would consider moving the wine and beer tasting events to a later hour if the Town would approve the mezzanine of the supermarket as constructed.
“Armonk Square is over designed, over cost and gorgeous,” says Armonk Square’s lawyer Tony Veneziano. Thirty million dollars was invested in Armonk Square by Alan Zaretsky, Dominick and John Dioguardi, and the DeCicco family.
The approved plans for Armonk Square’s CB-A zoning district permit many retail uses. The total building specifications include 20,445 square feet of retail space in the supermarket and 9,715 square feet of bottle return and storage space. The remaining Armonk Square retailers total 12,748 square feet. The total square footage, both retail and residential, is approximately 62,750 square feet of which 6,150 square feet is circulation space which is not counted in the parking calculations, says Mark Miller of Veneziano Associates who is the attorney for DeCicco’s. This blended parking zone excludes the parking requirements for the office use of 2,930 square feet that requires one space per 250 square feet, and the 10 second floor apartments that require 20 parking spaces, plus two additional spaces for visitors.
Armonk Square’s public parking lot is used by everyone on Main Street, says Veneziano. “We don’t really have a parking problem as much as a center that has come alive.” He says the problem with parking in Armonk is that the state owns Main Street and the parking there does not work. You can’t angle park, you can’t stripe the road, and there are many SUVs too large for drivers to parallel park. But Veneziano says, “It’s not all bad to have some level of activity.”
The Planning Board will propose a resolution of DeCicco’s mezzanine changes at the board’s next meeting on April 7.
Fareri's Article 78 Suit Against Armonk Square Dismissed
Correction October 22, 2013 Judge Susan Cacace of the Westchester County Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law filed by 37 Maple Avenue, a corporation managed by Armonk Developer Michael Fareri.
Fareri sought a ruling directing the Town of North Castle, and/or its Building Inspector to refer some certificates of occupancy to North Castle's Planning Board to address what Fareri calls unauthorized and improper changes to the site plan of Armonk Square.
The Planning Board has already approved Armonk Square's site plans for the construction of a supermarket, office space, retail space, and residential units. In July 2013, 37 Maple Avenue challenged the town's issuance of these certificates of occupancy.
In a decision dated October 17, Judge Cacace wrote, the petitioner, 37 Maple Avenue, does have standing to bring this proceeding. The 2012 settlement clearly stated that the filing of a new Article 78 proceeding was not a remedy provided for in the stipulation.
The town also said that 37 Maple Avenue did not exhaust its administrative remedies by failing to appear before North Castle's Zoning Board of Appeal as is required by law. Judge Cacace said that the court agreed that the petitioner, 37 Maple Avenue, "failed to exhaust its administrative remedies as a condition precedent to the commencement of an action or special proceeding."
Mark Miller, an attorney representing Armonk Square with Veneziano & Associates, says, "We think the judge rendered exactly the right opinion based upon two actions." The Certificate of Occupancy issued by the building Inspector says the buildings of Armonk Square are safe and fully compliant with town laws.
Miller says one action taken by 37 Maple Avenue was its failure to file a challenge with the Zoning Board of Appeals within 60 days of when the Certificate of Occupancy was issued. Miller adds that the settlement of a prior lawsuit prohibited 37 Maple Avenue from filing an Article 78 proceeding against Armonk Square for essentially for the same project.
The lawyer for 37 Maple Avenue, Alan Singer, a partner of Welby, Brady and Greenblatt, said his firm is contemplating filing a notice of appeal of the judgement in an appellate court. They have 30 days to so from October 17.
Singer says the judgement barring a new Article 78 suit is wrong because the previous settlement prohibiting the filing of an Article 78 suit was part of a judgement about a different set of plans for Armonk Square.
Singer says 37 Maple Avenue wants the Planning Board to review the significant changes in the increase to Armonk Square's square footage, the change in usage, the additional parking that is required, and the issues of additional water and sewage because of the addition of a mezzanine to the supermarket. The mezzanine has a bar and tables for eating and can be used private parties. Singer says that this was not considered in the original computations of water, sewage use, and parking requirements. Furthermore, Singer says, 37 Maple Avenue would like see the North Castle Planning Board determine whether it will accept the changes to Armonk Square as is, or whether they want the developer to improve the plan.
Armonk, Square's lawyer, Mark Miller, says Armonk Square's parking requirements were established by the Town Board as a blend of several requirements by the central business zoning district. Miller says all of the environmental impacts were considered and addressed. "They can file an appeal and we are confident that the appellate division will make exactly the same finding."
Miller says there was excellent cooperation between his firm and the Town Attorney, and Supervisor Howard Arden says that the cost of defending the town in this lawsuit was $15,300. Comments
Fareri Sues the Town and Armonk Square Again
July 11, 2013 On July 3, 2013, Michael Fareri (as agent for 37 Maple Avenue, LLC) filed suit against the Town of North Castle, the Town Board of North Castle, the Acting Building Inspector, and the principal partners of Armonk Square: AZ Reserviour, LLC, Poughkeepsie Development, LLC, EZ Rentals, LLC, Antares Armonk Square, LLC and AZ Ventures, LLC. 37 Maple Avenue is a property adjacent to Armonk Square.
The suit, filed under Article 78 of New York's Civil Practice Law, says, "as a contiguous property owner to a large-scale development, 37 Maple Avenue, LLC will be substantially and adversely affected by the actions of the Respondents." Fareri claims that, "as a neighboring property owner, he has suffered and will continue to suffer actual and concrete harm if the actions by the Town and its Building Inspector in issuing Certificates of Occupancy are not annulled as arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law, and if the Town is not mandated to conduct the appropriate public hearing and necessary SEQRA review."
The suit asks that the Town refer the Certificates of Occupancy back to the Planning Board of North Castle for "appropriate action(s) to address the unauthorized and improper changes to the approved site plan."
The suit also asks the North Castle Planning Board to consider the impact of certain unauthorized changes made to the approved plans of Armonk Square with respect to traffic, parking, water consumption, sewage and drainage, and character. "Upon such review the Planning Board should be authorized to order any and all appropriate corrective measures to cure the improper and unapproved changes to the approved plans."
The entire Armonk Square project complies with the zoning of the site and the approved conditions that were granted by the Town Board and the Planning Board, says Tony Veneziano of Veneziano & Associates, attorney for Armonk Square. "All uses at the site are permitted and the impacts have been analyzed."
"This Article 78 lawsuit is baseless, without merit, and is an unfocused challenge as the project was built and conforms with the approvals," says Veneziano. "Michael Fareri seems to be asking to send us to the Planning Board for a project that has already been approved and built consistent with the approvals. Fareri is using this as a platform for his concerns," Veneziano added.
There were a normal amount of field changes, says Veneziano. "But all of the modifications conform to the plans submitted and the building permits issued. The 3,000 square foot restaurant was reviewed and is consistent with the parking requirements. The 173 parking spaces are fully compliant as construed with the parking requirements and that is evident by the certificates of occupancy that was issued on June 3 & 4, 2013."
The lawsuit says, "The elevations of the building C was changed, requiring the construction of steps to gain entrance along Maple Avenue, thus requiring the widening of the sidewalk, which in turn resulted in the elimination of parking along Maple Avenue and a significant reduction in the width of that roadway." The petition states, "the widening of the sidewalk was initially constructed without approval and without the required public hearing." At Fareri's insistence, a public hearing was held before the Town Board during which the change was approved, "but without the benefit of Planning Board or Architectural Board of Review analysis or approval, and without considering the impact of the narrowed street on traffic or access."
Fareri's suit further says, "The effect of narrowing Maple Avenue was not taken into account with a narrowed turning ratio for ten-wheel delivery trucks which are required to enter from Maple Avenue."
This is the third suit filed between Armonk Square and Michael Fareri in eight years. The second suit pursuant to Article 78 was filed by Fareri on November 10, 2011. The motion requested that the Town be forbidden from issuing building permits to Armonk Square for a variety of reasons. Further information about the lawsuit filed in November 2011 is below.
Armonk Square Plans to Have the Three Best Looking Buildings in Town
April 29, 2012 The foundation for DeCicco's Family Market in Armonk Square was poured last week in one day. They brought in about 30 trucks-worth of cement, said Armonk Square Developer Dom Dioguardi.
Armonk Square is only responsible for building the structure of the building and hopes to complete their work by September or early October.
DeCicco's has its own building permit, and their interior crew will finish the interior space. Typically, you wouldn’t expect to see them working in tandem, but Dioguardi said their teamwork goal is to save time so the market can open as early as possible. "Their plumbers and electricians will be here while we are still working,” Dioguardi said. The steel that supports the rest of the building is scheduled to be delivered in about three to four weeks, he added.
There is a 3,000-square-foot separate area along Maple Avenue that is attached to the supermarket. "We have a lot of interest in this space as a restaurant,” commented Dioguardi. Thanks to the success of its newest restaurants, Westchester Magazine has chosen Armonk as the best place for foodies. Two of the interested parties involve an award-winning TV chef, and a group that owns a restaurant in Manhattan, said Dioguardi.
He expects to start construction of the two buildings along Main Street in about four to six weeks. Combined, they will have 10-second-floor apartments. "The architecture will be pleasing to look at and they are going to be the three best-looking buildings in town,” Dioguardi proudly added.
The town's water main runs underground Armonk Square. The connection runs from Maple Avenue to Bedford Road and has been completely replaced. The new sidewalks along Main Street will be built at the same time as the pavers of the square, perhaps as early as late summer. They are working on extending the sidewalk to the entrance of Maple Avenue.
The three partners of Armonk Square all have their share of work to do on the project. Alan Zaretsky and brothers Dominick Dioguardi and John Dioguardi are longtime Armonk residents. In the seven years in which they have owned the property, they have received several good suggestions as to the type of retail stores that belong in Armonk Square. Dom Dioguardi stressed that they are definitely not seeking another pizza parlor or nail salon: We have enough of these. When asked which type of businesses would eventually occupy the retail spaces, they all feel strongly that it not only depends upon the economic stability and longevity of the applicants, but also who they think will ultimately be the best match for the project and the town.
North Castle's Planning Board called for a special meeting to address minor changes to the existing site plan of Armonk Square. Planning Board Chairman Bob Greene said the litigation between Armonk Square and Michael Fareri has been extinguished and the project will move forward. Fareri is the Managing Agent and property owner of 41 Maple Avenue, LLC., which had filed a judgment pursuant to Article 78.
Greene explained that minor site plan changes have resulted in a settlement. The changes could have been field changes, but instead, the Planning Board has declared itself lead agency for the sole purpose of addressing the three changes to the site's shared truck access, parking, and dumpster location.
Fareri owns two properties adjacent to Armonk Square: Cocobolo, an interior design store, is located at one of the properties on 41 Maple Avenue. The change in the plan is a reciprocal easement that allows a two lane, shared driveway access between the two properties. This access point enables two trucks to make deliveries as they enter the truck access road from Maple Avenue to Armonk Square. Without the easement, specifically if more than one truck arrived for delivery, the additional trucks would have to queue up on Maple Avenue and wait.
The addition of the two lanes of truck access will be a significant improvement to the site. Greene said the two lanes of truck access also provide four additional compact car parking spaces on the Armonk Square property that can be exclusively reserved for Cocobolo parking. A five- foot sidewalk will also be added to the parking lot leading to 41 Maple Avenue.
Prior to his recent appointment as Planning Chairman, Greene expressed concern with Armonk Square's parking. He said, "The 168 space-parking spots will be tight, but the four additional spots doesn't seem like a lot, but it is."
Greene added that Fareri intends to reorient the building at 41 Maple Avenue so that the entrance faces Wampus Brook Park, rather than facing the Hergenhan Recreation Center, as it currently does.
Another proposed change is the location of the garbage collection area in the parking lot. The supermarket refuse is located inside the building and this plan will remain the same. The plan called for the waste receptacle for the retail and 10 second-floor apartments to be located backed up to Fareri's property; in this location, he currently has a garage apartment and office building on Bedford Road. The new location of the dumpster will be further east, next to the neighboring dentists' building dumpster and adjacent to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation’s pumping area; this is also near the entrance/exit of Center Street going out to Bedford Road.
Father Josh Conlon of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church asked if the entrance/exit to Bedford Road could be moved further west, away from the church's graveyard. Green said the plan changes have nothing to do with the driveway.
Resident Bob Wyker inquired when Armonk Square's DeCicco Family Market is scheduled to open. Mark Miller of Veneziano & Associates, attorney for Armonk Square, said the site is already under construction. The most realistic estimate and goal are to have the grocery store completed by the end of the year. So far, the weather has cooperated with the construction work.
On the southern side of Armonk Square and along the north side of the property of Bedford Road, taller landscaping will be added to provide more visual screening from the second floor of Fareri's apartment. There will be a double row of 16-foot trees, covering approximately a 150-foot spread.
The proposed changes require a public hearing, which has been scheduled for March 12, 2012. Greene doesn't anticipate any areas of contention. Proceeding the site plan approval, the Article 78 must be dismissed by a judge of the Supreme Court in White Plains.
Bob Greene Delivers a Resolution to Armonk Square
January 26, 2012 Town Attorney Roland Baroni slipped a note to Supervisor Howard Arden
at the end of the January 25, 2012 Town Board meeting; Arden then passed the note to Councilman Roth. Roth read, "Resolve that the Supervisor be authorized to execute the stipulations in order of a settlement in Article 78 proceedings commenced by 37 Maple Avenue, LLC."
Arden explained, "An agreement settlement has been reached between the Armonk Square Development and Mr. Mike Fareri so that the Article 78 proceeding that would be slowing down the Armonk Square development will be lifted. I have to give credit to our new Planning Board Chairman Bob Greene who worked his "Kissinger-like” skills to bring two very far apart parties together. It is a huge accomplishment that speaks to the new attitude and methods that we are pursuing in town here. I can't stress how important this is; this project could have been delayed for 18 months, if this settlement hadn't been reached. It bodes very well for the future."
Planning Board Chairman Bob Greene said, "We are heroes in terms of the Armonk Square and 37 Maple Avenue teams in their willingness to settle this. They both gave up a lot, Mike (Fareri) especially; he gave up a piece of his property at 37 Maple Avenue with a reciprocal easement. That land is very valuable, and with it, Armonk Square has a better access entryway. Prior to Mike’s giving it up, Armonk Square's truck entry allowed for one truck in the driveway of the supermarket. If the driveway were blocked and if another truck arrived, it would have to line up on Maple Avenue. Now the trucks will have two lanes between the supermarket and 37 Maple Avenue.”
Six parking spaces were added to Armonk Square from 37 Maple Avenue. Six parking spots doesn't sound like a lot, but it could be if parking were tight. Customers of 37 Maple Avenue will be able to park in Armonk Square. The elimination of the parking behind 37 Maple Avenue allows for the second truck lane to exit straight out to Bedford Road, rather than the prior plan of requiring an "S" turn to the exit on Bedford Road from the supermarket.
Another agreement was the decision that the garbage dumpsters behind Fareri's property on Bedford Road would be moved next to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) water pumping station, which is located in a small shed building.
The settlement is in the best interest of everyone, and the town gets both a resolution to the lawsuit and six additional parking spots. This settlement seems to repeat the settlement of an earlier dispute from 2005 between 37 Maple Ave and owners of the Armonk Square property; that dispute was settled in 2007. Litigation was initiated by Armonk Square against 37 Maple Avenue over potential easement of the respective properties. In place of an Article 78 proceeding from 2007, the parties agreed to an alternate dispute resolution process. The agreement allowed easement from Maple Avenue to Bedford Road for truck deliveries to 37 Maple Avenue that are no larger than 30 foot box trucks. The stipulation was negotiated insuring that no judicial proceeding, including any Article 78 proceeding, may be instituted.
Supervisor Howard Arden said there had been valid issues on both sides of the lawsuit and the issues have been worked out. The town has been party to the lawsuit, and therefore, Arden is authorized to sign as a party to the Article 78. The final settlement was the sixth or seventh version that was reached, as a result of meetings that began in December. Arden said there were valid cases on both sides, yet Greene brought them together and pointed out the up-and-down sides of the lawsuit; he ultimately got them to agree on the issues. "These are tough guys on both sides and the negotiations were difficult,” Arden said.
Tony Veneziano, lawyer for Armonk Square, said a settlement hasn't been signed and a discussion is premature.
Armonk Square Files Motion For Dismissal
Nov. 27, 2011 The attorney for Armonk Square, Mark Miller of Veneziano & Associates, has filed a motion to dismiss the petition filed by 37 Maple Avenue, LLC against Armonk Square and the Town of North Castle to halt the construction of a supermarket on the site.
The motion signed by Michael Fareri as managing agent, states that the
petitioner, 37 Maple Avenue LLC, and the prior owners of Antares/Armonk
Square were involved in litigation in 2007 that resulted in a "So
Ordered" Stipulation of Settlement.
37 Maple Avenue, as the defendant in the prior litigation, had waived its right to bring any proceeding under Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law with respect to the Armonk Square property against Antares/Armonk Square or any successor. In the settlement, Antares/Armonk Square granted 37 Maple Avenue a permanent easement through Armonk Square's property. This easement allows trucks, no larger than 30 feet, to make deliveries to 37 Maple Avenue with ingress and egress to and from Maple Avenue to Bedford Road via Armonk Square. The Stipulation also provides that customers at 37 Maple Avenue can park at Armonk Square.
Miller writes that it is disturbing, at best, that the petitioner, 37 Maple Avenue, has filed an Article 78 Petition and that its counsel, by implication, would attempt to keep the existence of the Stipulation of Settlement hidden from the court.
The terms of the Stipulation read:
"It is hereby understood and agreed that any and all disputes or differences which may arise under or in connection with this stipulation and/or Plaintiff's [Armonk Square] development, including, but not limited to, the scope of the easement reference herein, shall exclusively be submitted to the alternate dispute resolution process as hereinafter set forth, and that no judicial proceeding, including, but not limited to, one for injunctive relief, any other equitable remedy, or any Article 78 proceeding impacting Plaintiff's property may be instituted…."
The developers of Armonk Square intend to proceed forward with breaking ground. Armonk Square's lawyer, Tony Veneziano, says there is no injunction to prevent his client to start construction as scheduled. The capital advisors at Cooper Hewitt and financial partners at the M&T Bank are proceeding forward with personal guarantees of the Armonk Square developers. Veneziano writes in a letter to the Town Board, "We are proceeding to close on our construction financing and are moving forward on the project as promised."
Miller's notice of motion to dismiss further states that the petitioner's principal, Michael Fareri, made certain verbal agreements with the Town Board and Armonk Square at the September 14, 2011 Town Board meeting.
"If [Armonk Square] can make a deal and it's satisfactory to the community and satisfactory to the site plan to get signed and site plan approval and it works for the tenant that's going in to go there, whether it be DeCicco or anyone else, so be it. I'm not trying to be an adversary or wrong for this community. I want what is right for the community and I think you do to."
An appearance by Veneziano is part of the Town Board's agenda for the November 30, 2011 meeting. He intends to remind the Town Board of the verbal agreement Michael Fareri made regarding his rezoning proposal for a supermarket at 99 Business Park.
At the September 14, 2011 Town Board meeting, Fareri further stated :
"I'm willing to sit back until the end of the year…ok? I'll wait until January 1, 2012, put me off until January, it gives them [Armonk Square] from September until December. If they can structure a deal and get their lease in place, and it goes forward and it gets by the Planning Board, with all the necessary requirements that the plan. So be it. I have no problem, I want what's right for Armonk as well…no problem."
Veneziano says, "Armonk Square has signed a 10 year lease, with options for an additional 30 years, with DeCicco Family Markets for a supermarket in Armonk Square."
The motion of dismissal also asks for the dismissal of a motion by the petitioner involving North Castle's Landmark Preservation Committee (LPC). The motion says that LPC's Certificate of Appropriateness is not subject to an environmental study and that the petitioner failed to exhaust its administrative remedies and is not permitted to challenge the decision by the LPC in court.
Section 126-23 of North Castle Code reads:
"Any person or persons jointly or severally aggrieved by a decision of the LPC with respect to the issuance or denial of a certificate of appropriateness may, within 30 days from the date when a final decision is filed in the office of the Town Clerk, appeal to the Town Board for a review of such decision….The Town Board shall have the power, within 30 days after such hearing, to affirm, modify or reverse the decision appealed from."
Armonk Square's motion for dismissal says, "The Certificate of Appropriateness was filed in the Town Clerk's office on August 10, 2011. No appeal was taken from that decision of the LPC and it may not be challenged now in court."
Darius Chafizadeh of Harris Beach PLLC, as legal council for 37 Maple Avenue, said they will submit a reply once Armonk Square has submitted their papers. He said that he has seen a court decision take anywhere from one to six months. In the meantime, "We believe the law in our papers provides that the developer can not do anything." 37 Maple Avenue's Article 78 petition says that a building permit should not be issued and building should not begin until a further environmental review of the impact of a supermarket is properly done.
November 19, 2011 A group of
about two dozen supporters attended a rally on Saturday morning, walking
from Armonk Square's Center Street to Main Street. They carried signs
and a clear message:
"Build Armonk Square Now." The group, and many others who drove by and "honked", showed their support of having a grocery store in Armonk Square.
A lawsuit was filed, suing the Town and Armonk Square, by Harris Beach PLLC representing 37 Maple Avenue L.L.C., which was signed by Michael Fareri as Managing Agent. An Article 78 of New York's Civil Practiced Law and Rules was filed with Westchester's Supreme Court on November 10, 2011.
Darius Chafizadeh, attorney for the Petitioner 37 Maple Avenue L.L.C., said he was not aware that 37 Maple Avenue was proposed for sale to Armonk Square. But he did say that the petition requests the town be responsible for an updated review of the environmental impact, especially given the amendments of Armonk Square's plans for the supermarket and an additional .4 acres of property. Also, in failing to do so, he claimed the Town violated the Environmental Impact Statement (SEQRA). "The town is responsible for an updated study to include traffic, noise, community character, and the impact on neighboring properties." Chafizadeh said there should be an appraisal of the adjacent properties and the impact that the addition of a supermarket in Armonk Square will have on these properties.
Tony Veneziano, representing Armonk Square said, "There are hardly several issues worth discussing. In all the pleadings, we only need to talk about a few things to resolve it.
"The petition is either a delay tactic for their client to have us buy 37 Maple Avenue at an inflated price or he (Michael Fareri) is trying to reposition his supermarket concept in 99 Business Park."
Veneziano said if they answer the petition, the court date of December 9 will hold; however, it is more likely that they will submit a motion, which will delay the court hearing. "There is a lot to the strategy," said Veneziano. "We expect to have a response as early as next week."
The Armonk Square partners have met with the Town to coordinate the strategy to defend Article 78. North Castle Town Attorney Roland Baroni has not returned our phone call as of this article’s publication.
Chafizadeh said although there is no way to know how long the process will take, it could be months. "We submit our papers, they submit their papers, we submit a reply and then the court has it. The court could sit on it. We've seen decisions as quick as a month and as long as six months."
Michael Fareri said he is not interested in making any statements at this time.
Nov. 12, 2011 We recently said there was an "informative political update" meeting at Leslie Zane's home, but the meeting was moved to the Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate office because Zane's home lost power during the recent storm. We regret any inconvenience that our reporting of the incorrect location might have caused.
Several people told AllAboutArmonk.com that at the meeting Bob Greene said Armonk Square will never be built and will remain an empty hole in the ground. Greene, however, says he never said anything like that.
He writes in an email, "When asked about Armonk Square, I give accurate information concerning the approvals that are in place. I'm often asked if the new supermarket store will open in 2012 as someone (but I'm not sure who) has predicted. I always give the same answer: 'in my opinion, there is not enough time to get a store open before the end of next year, considering
(a) the owners have several technical site plan and approval issues to work out before a building permit can be issued; (b) the owners then have to construct the building shell and parking field -- plus the satellite buildings and improvements to the east side of main street as well as other off-site traffic improvements (c) because of the time of year -- weather may be a delaying factor and (d) once the building shell has been completed (and accepted by the tenant) -- the tenant's contractor needs time to upfit the store interior -- and finally (e) a certificate of occupancy has to be issued.'
"Can all that be done by the end of 2012? It's not impossible, but I think it's unlikely -- which is how I answer the question.
"My goal is to explain what has been approved at Armonk Square to people who know little, or nothing, about it. I'm often asked, "is this for real? Is it really going to happen?" Again, my answer is simple and straight forward -- I confirm that all necessary zoning and general site plan approvals are in place. I report that I don't know the status of lease negotiations with DeCicco's, but I've heard the agreements are in an advanced stage. But no one will know for sure when the store will open -- until it actually does. I'm a developer -- I see deals fall apart every day and for every crazy reason -- even ones that are under construction."
Planning Board Approves Proposal for Armonk Square, Ground Breaking Could Begin in Weeks
Oct. 13, 2011 This
Wednesday, North Castle's Planning Board approved a plan for
construction at Armonk Square, including a supermarket. The plan
includes a variance in the code for loading docks and restrictions on
nighttime hours and Sunday deliveries.
Tony Veneziano, legal counsel for
the owners of Armonk Square, presented amendments to the approved plans
at a public hearing in front of North Castle's Planning Board on
October 12. The changes include a 20,000 square foot supermarket. The
total retail and residential development rose from 49,000 square feet to
53,000 square feet. The developers, Alan Zarestsky and brothers Dom and
John Dioguardi, have been meeting with planners, engineers,
consultants, tenants, in addition to raising funds for the project.
Armonk Square will include stores, offices, apartments and a 20,000
square foot DeCicco's Food Market with a ten year lease, with multiple
extensions up to 40 years. On the storefront on the north side of the
supermarket, along Maple Avenue, will be three smaller stores, keeping a
small town look.
People have been trying to develop this property for thirty years. It has been a longtime issue for the community's residents, business owners, neighboring property owners, and the Landmark Historical Society. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church has made several requests concerning the project over the years since they occupy the largest amount of land adjacent to Armonk Square.
Sue Shimer, Chairman of the Landmark Preservation Committee, wrote a letter that was read during the public hearing expressing concerns about truck traffic through the historic district along Bedford Road and the tree planting on the property lines between Armonk Square, St. Stephen's, and the boundaries of the historic district. She said that the truck ingress and egress should be limited to Maple Avenue and if that was not possible, she suggested that traffic be one way in from Maple Avenue and out to Bedford Road. She also said signs of any nature in the historic district require the Landmark committee's approval.
Judy Gilmartin-Willsey, the owner of "Framings" for 23 years, drew analogies to the town in "It's a Wonderful Life" and said she was tired of the delays and wanted to "get this thing off the ground and move the project forward."
12-year resident Stuart Kovensky said that he would like to see more commercial development in town to bring up our tax base, but said he was concerned about the town's traffic and parking. The Town's traffic consultant, Michael Galante, said that the key to the parking in Armonk Square were the Square's three different types of land use: residential, office and general retail. The variety of uses puts a different time demand on the parking spaces and therefore the 167 parking spaces proposed were sufficient since the consultant's study envisioned a need for 155 spaces on the busiest day of the year. He also says there are traffic benefits to the town's merchants but that traffic won't be eliminated. The idea is to maintain or improve traffic by upgrading the traffic light on Kent and Main Street. Armonk Square is required to put up a $130,000 bond for the cost of the traffic light if the New York State Department of Transportation deems it essential. The NYSDOT won't make that decision until after the Square is built and operating.
Real estate developer Bob Greene had an opportunity to meet with the Planning Board and representatives of Armonk Square to discuss his concerns, most important: parking, truck maneuvering, trash processing, and electrical transformers. Town attorney Roland Baroni said, "The reason why we went to great lengths to meet with Mr. Greene and his consultants last night was to ferret out any remaining issues. We also knew we had to get letters from the police and fire departments. They had given verbal approval of the plan but they hadn't given it in writing; we're now going to have it in writing. There was a question whether or not room was in the plans for electrical transformers, and what we learned today was that Con Edison doesn't believe transformers are necessary, and if they are necessary they can be put underground."
Greene also requested that there be an opportunity at the public hearing to review the traffic plan associated with the proposal.
Dr. David Fields has practiced dentistry next to Armonk Square his entire professional life. He says, " I can't stand another day seeing the sign 'Coming Soon Armonk Square'. We are ready to build this site. There is a large majority in town who agree with me. There will be a bit more traffic, but that's what a vibrant town looks like."
Father Josh Conlan of St. Stephen's Church said the church has been a cornerstone of the historical district since 1842. St. Stephen's Church and its cemetery share the largest property line with Armonk Square. He asked that no deliveries be made on Sundays and between 10pm and 6am daily. Veneziano said that since DeCicco's owns its own delivery trucks, the request to restrict overnight deliveries was acceptable, and prohibiting the deliveries of large 18-wheeler trucks on Sunday was also acceptable. Usually they expect two large truck deliveries daily. Veneziano also agreed to have the food market's hours limited to from 6am to 10pm, with lights out at closing time. But he said they will most likely be open from 8am to 8pm. The details of the lease still need to be worked out. The DeCicco's Food Market with have a ten-year lease, with optional extensions for up to 40 years.
Developer Michael Fareri said he had several concerns about the plan's recent addition of the supermarket. His concerns include a change in the town's character, the noise generated from a supermarket, garbage, odor, truck delivery, emergency vehicles, traffic, adequate parking, mezzanine use, and basement elevations and usage. Fareri said further studies should be conducted to answer these concerns. The Planning Board has many conditions for its approval of the site plan. Many issues will be reviewed by the Building Department, which must review the plans for the supermarket before issuing a building permit.
Commercial property owner and lifelong resident Barbara DiGiacinto asked the Planning Board to "close the public hearing tonight." She recalled the Town Board's public hearing for the A&P in April 2009 when similar issues were raised, and the Town Board did not close the public hearing and as a result we lost the A&P.
Besides the increase in tax revenues to the town, DiGiacinto pointed out that the new businesses in Armonk Square will strengthen and revitalize Main Street. The 10 second-floor rental apartments will also add vitality to our local commerce, said DiGiacinto. She also said, "The demise of this project could very well foreshadow the decline of Main Street."
Building 10 market-rate apartments requires the developers to provide two middle income units that are slated to be located off premise at the Cockren Property, owned by the same group. Town Planner Adam Kaufman said there are certain protections in place to be sure that these requirements are met.
Jeff Garson, owner of the Town Center, said Ken Narva, head of the Architectural Review Board 15 years ago, said to him when he built Town Center, "I want a place where traffic is slow and where neighbors see neighbors and can wave to each other."
Resident Barry Manville warned the Planning Board, "Don't let this deal die from analysis, get it done."
Planning Board member Beata Buhl asked Town Attorney Roland Baroni whether the supermarket building is restricted to use as a food store? Baroni said that any change in use in a building over 5,000 square feet would have to go to the Town Board for a special use permit. The reason that didn't apply to CVS was because the Town's special use regulation was put in place in 2003, and the A&P had been in Town for decades before the the regulation went into effect.
Planning Board member Guy Mazzancello visited the Scarsdale branch of DeCicco's several times. He said Scarsdale's DeCicco's doesn't have parking or a loading dock. "Is the Armonk Square plan perfect? No, but you really have to look around to see what you have. It is not perfect, but this will work for the Town without a doubt."
Dominick Dioguardi said, "I've been with the project since 2005 when Antares owned it. It's been a long time, and now that we have a chance to have the supermarket where it should be. As residents, we're very excited and we can't wait to start. We know the project will work the way it's supposed to. Whatever we need to address, we will. These plans are in the beginning stages, as the tenant refines them we'll need to come back to the town and show them what the use is for and make sure everything's okay and then continue from there."
"We could break ground tomorrow doing the infrastructure if we wanted, Dioguardi added, "I think we're going to wait for building plans which should come shortly. Within the next thirty days, we should break ground."
Baroni said, "It's a great step that will lead to a ground breaking and actual construction and hopefully it's going to occur within the next couple of weeks."
Developer Alan Zaretsky said, "I'm thrilled for us as a town, that's the collective us. With my associates, the Dioguardi's, we have assembled a wonderful team with the Town's best interest in heart, which is why this works. I thank everybody for supporting the plan and I'm happy we were able to accommodate the requests of the townspeople, the shopkeepers, the landowners, and the town officials by keeping a supermarket in town."
Supervisor Bill Weaver said he is happy and excited about the Planning Board's decision. "There's a big advantage in getting this off the ground. Not only will we have a supermarket, but the Square will be a huge improvement to the downtown. The approval is a win-win for the town as it will steer more business to other businesses. It sends a message that North Castle is open for business, and when we have good builders with good projects, we are ready to go."
Planning Board Chairman John Delano was the most succinct: "Put the shovel in the ground!" Comments
Armonk Square Supermarket: The Latest Plans
September 29, 2011 The A&P supermarket needed to be refurbished, but unfortunately the town could not agree with the building owner, Eden Enterprises, on how to best expand the building and parking lot to meet the zoning code. The Town's inability to provide a variance led the Werber Brothers to rent the space to CVS, and the A&P will close its doors after nearly a half a century.
The Town Board has reviewed four alternative proposals for a supermarket over the past several years. Developer Mike Fareri has proposed two supermarket locations; one at the Armonk Bowl on old Route 22 and more recently a second supermarket at Business Park. The Armonk Bowl location was not favorably received at a public hearing years ago, and New York State's Department of Environmental Protection (NYS DEP) later bought the property to help protect the Kensico Reservoir.
Fareri's proposed location for a supermarket in Business Park Drive is meeting opposition as well. The objections are that it will open up the door to further retail space and draw customers away from downtown Main Street. Fareri owns an empty 24,000 square foot office building adjacent to The Gym. His proposal has spurred a dialogue among residents, commercial owners and storekeepers about how retail stores in Business Park would affect Main Street's enterprises.
Even the future of offices in Armonk's Business Park is being questioned. Businesses today are run from a computer screen, which can be done from home or on the road. With the sluggish economy, businesses are not looking to increase the expense of renting office space.
Fareri says he will put his Business Park supermarket proposal on hold till January while the Armonk Square plan is being reviewed by the Planning Board, which has scheduled a public hearing on October 12, 2011.
Armonk Square's recent proposal is to eliminate two of the five buildings originally planned and reconfigure 24,000 square feet of space. The new plan is a reduction of second floor apartments and changes the retail space so that an 18,000 square foot supermarket (similar to the size of the current A&P) will be attached to an additional 3,100 square feet of retail space occupied by one to three retail stores facing Maple Avenue. The architectural style of the storefront on Maple Avenue will have the same design as stores on Main Street with smaller frontages. There will be an increase of total square footage to 53,000 square feet from the previously approved plans for Armonk Square at 48,794 square feet. The plan still includes 10 apartments on the second floor of the square's two Main Street buildings, which will be along the pedestrian walkway entrance.
The Armonk Square's planned footage breakdown as of Sept. 28, 2011 is:
10 Residential Apartments
10,234 sq. ft.
33,442 sq. ft.
2,930 sq. ft.
Circulation Areas (ie lobbies, stairways)
6,154 sq. ft.
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) Monitoring Building
600 sq. ft.
53,360 sq. ft.
Armonk Square's latest plan has 167 parking spaces. The pre-supermarket plan included 118 parking spaces. The Planning Board is reviewing the parking and the details of traffic and truck maneuvering in the square. Developer and resident Bob Greene has outlined several objections to the plan. His main concern is that once the details of truck traffic and utility configurations are worked into the plan, parking codes will not be met.
The Town Code allows the Planning Board to reduce the maximum number of parking spaces required by code by up to 25%. In order to qualify for this reduction, the applicant must demonstrate that the proposed use will be compatible with the mix of other uses within the Central Business (CB-A) District. The applicant must also prove that the demand during its peak parking period can be met even with the construction of fewer spaces.
The Town code requires 206 parking spaces, but a reduction of 25%, or 52 spaces, still requires 154 off-street shared parking spaces which is well within the plan for 167 parking spaces.
The Urban Land Institute says "The combination of restaurant and office uses is a good example [of shared parking]. During the day office workers will utilize the restaurant, and at night the restaurant will have additional parking available when office parking is not in high demand. Parking studies often demonstrate that shared parking will allow a reduction of 10 to 40 percent when compared with the total number of parking spaces that would have been required for each individual land use. Many communities are recognizing the problems created by sprawl, and are adopting policies that promote smart growth."
The August 16, 2011 letter from Westchester County to the North Castle Planning Department stated, "We recommend that the Town give specific consideration to keeping the total number of parking spaces established to the lowest responsible amount.”
In addition, the County Planning Board also noted it "is particularly welcome that the proposal now includes a small supermarket in light of the recent [imminent] closing of a supermarket nearby in the hamlet. Together with the proposed housing, retail, office and restaurant uses, the supermarket will help solidify the future of the hamlet's vitality as a walkable and accessible center.”
The previously approved plan for Armonk Square was more aesthetically appealing than the new plan that includes a supermarket. But the developers can't fill all the retail space in this economy, while having a supermarket as an anchor store for the mixed residential, retail and office space has spurred the interest of several supermarket chains, including A&P and DeCicco's Market. Both firms also have an interest in the Business Park location.
Tony Veneziano, representing the owners of Armonk Square, said the owners are prepared to begin construction as early as October. They already have the Town's approval to begin the water and sewer infrastructure and to erect the two buildings along Main Street.
The Planning Board will continue to review Armonk Square's plan. The board has expressed concern's about the traffic patterns and the loading dock for the trailer trucks. Large trucks have made deliveries to the A&P for 50 years. The A&P has two tractor trailer trucks that deliver on Monday and Tuesday, none on Sunday and one delivery every other day of the week. According to the management, they rarely have more than one large truck delivering at a time and the trucks usually arrive at night. There really is no difference between the two locations as far as downtown truck traffic goes. The locations are actually only a couple of hundred yards from one another, on the opposite sides of Maple Avenue. The concern for Armonk Square is about trucks traveling in the parking lot. Will any parking spaces will be lost to get trucks to be able to maneuver safely?
A fifth supermarket plan was discussed only a couple of weeks ago by Democratic candidate for Town Board Chris Carthy, but his concept didn't sit well with town historians. He proposed to build a supermarket behind Town Hall that would replace a structure built during the Revolutionary War.
If the CVS corporation is smart, they will not move into the A&P space until there is a new supermarket completed in Armonk. Because residents will seethe daily if CVS replaces the A&P before the
arrival of another grocery store, and residents have to travel to
another town to grocery shop.
Erin Pensa, CVS/pharmacy Director of Public Relations said, "we are moving forward with our plans to open a new CVS/pharmacy in Armonk. However, we are in planning stages and don't have any other infomratinon available at this time in terms of time frame for opening or details about the store."
Armonk Square to Welcome a Mix of Established and New Armonk Retailers
September 19, 2013 Armonk Square's developers are nearing completion of the two buildings in addition to the original building shared by DeCicco's Supermarket and Fortina restaurant.
A few new retail shops will open, but we will also see a relocation of some established Armonk shops.
Tazza Cafe, for example, will move next door from the Olive Branch Plaza to 400 Main Street, in Armonk Square, with more seating and an expanded menu.
Lilies & Lace will also be relocating from 480 Main Street to Armonk Square.
And Dry Cleaning by Fredericks will move to Armonk Square from its current location near the future CVS in the Armonk Shopping Center, just on the other side of Maple Avenue.
Douglas Elliman Real Estate is eagerly waiting a move from its temporary trailer to a two-floor office facing Main Street. The firm anticipates its new home to be one of its showcase real estate offices in Westchester.
Four new additional business in Armonk Square will be "Primp and Blow", which is a blow dry bar, a JP Morgan Chase Manhattan Bank, Jagger and Jade children's store, and a self-serve frozen yogurt shop, "Peachwave." Peachwave has 77 stores including locations in Westchester and Putnam Counties, and will open on 402 Main Street, Armonk Square.
The Armonk Square complex is situated in the middle of downtown Armonk, and will have a walking esplanade from Main Street lined with benched seating areas. The vehicle entrance and exits are on Maple Avenue and Bedford Road.
Once the trailer that is the temporary home of Douglas Elliman Real Estate is removed from Main Street, foot traffic will be welcome into the complex. It's been said many times that downtown Armonk is one block long. That is not exactly true, but the one block that is the heart of Armonk is finally close to having two operating sides. The new buildings will be filled with retail operations and second floor apartments.
One of the biggest changes in Armonk from the addition of Armonk Square, besides the arrival of the supermarket, will be residential dwellings in the downtown neighborhood. Some of the old-time Armonk residents, such as Kathleen Petre, say they remember prior to the 1960's a mix of residential homes on Main Street. That was before the homes were torn down to make room for retail businesses. Once again, as was true decades ago, downtown Armonk may have life around the clock.
Gas Leak Closes Main Street in Armonk
December 2, 2013 The North Castle Police Department received a phone call at 1:49 p.m. today, reporting a strong odor of gas on Main Street. A gas line had broken on the west side of Main Street, as a result of excavation work.
Labriola Construction Company, located in Armonk, was removing the sidewalk curb and replacing the curb and pavers with a handicap access at the newly relocated pedestrian walkway; the walkway is now located in front of Armonk Square’s promenade. The gas leak occurred in front of Houlihan and Lawrence Realtor’s office.
Shortly after the call, Main Street, between Maple Avenue and Bedford Road, was closed. The gas service along Main Street was interrupted, in an attempt to make the necessary repairs. About 10 buildings along Route 128 were evacuated, and businesses, including Bank of America and the Armonk Post Office, were temporarily closed.
Con Edison quickly responded and recapped the broken pipe. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., Main Street was open again for pedestrians, traffic and businesses.
The correct depth of gas lines is between three and four feet. But the gas lines should have been marked before the digging work began. We have contacted the contractor, Michael Labriola, but he has not returned our call as of this publication.
At 5:00 p.m., a Con Edison subcontractor arrived to turn on the gas at the Houlihan and Lawrence office. At that time, the gas leak was fully repaired, and the gas line was covered underground. But the ground remained dug up, with pavers stacked; in addition, a large part of the curb was lying inside a construction fence along the sidewalk.
This was not the first time that a gas leak occurred on Main Street. There had also been a gas leak during sidewalk construction on the west side on Main Street when Fareri and Company was repaving the sidewalk in 2004. In that situation, Developer Michael Fareri says the gas line was improperly marked.
Armonk Square is Taking Shape
June 28, 2012 Armonk Square's esplanade, says developer Dom Dioguardi, "will be lined with benches, tables and trees."
The basement of the building near Tazza Cafe, is poured. The mechanics of the building will be located in this basement. The foundation walls are in and are covered with black waterproof sheeting. Once the waterproofing is finished, the contractors will pour the cement floor. The buildings were designed in 2006 - 07, but conform with the latest energy codes and regulations that were passed in 2011, says Dioguardi.
Behind the existing fence will be a store perhaps 20 steps off Main Street. On the second floors of the two buildings will be a total of ten one-bedroom apartments. The two buildings will face each other in a north and south direction, which will allow plenty of light, says Dioguardi. Each apartment will have 1,000 square feet of floor space and will rent for between $2,000 to $ 2,500 per month.
The metal deck of the floor of the supermarket building off Maple Avenue is in place and is ready for a concrete floor to be poured. Dioguardi says there will be one more delivery of steel before all of the steel is in place. Then tradesmen will come to do the framing, roof and exterior.
Sometime in October or November they will be able to turn the building over to the DeCicco Family Market, says Dioguardi. How long work takes from there depends upon how long the DeCicco crew will fit out all the interior space. Dioguardi says that DeCicco's crew will work in tandem with them, which should speed up the process. Residents, including Dioguardi, would like to see the supermarket completed as soon as possible since we have no supermarket in town.
Dioguardi says the total additional retail space in Armonk Square will be in the range of 13,000 to 14,000 square feet, which may be divided into 12 storefronts. They have leases prepared for tenants to sign for 75% of the spaces.
Dioguardi says, "Once retailers see the steel up, they know it is just a matter of time before we will be finished. We hope to be done with everything by July 2013." The developers will also manage Armonk Square.
The sizes of the stores so far range from 500 to 3,000 square feet. To compare this to other stores on Main Street: Tazza Cafe is about 1,500 square feet, while Lilies and Lace is about 500 square feet. Due to confidentiality statements, Dioguardi is unable to say at this time who the future tenants will be.
For rental information call (914) 273-5700.
Oct. 22, 2011 Watch the Ground Breaking Ceremony of Armonk Square's DeCicco's Food Market
Would A Land Swap Speed Development? By Michelle Boyle
November 15, 2011 A reliable source tells us that developer Michael Fareri has offered to sell his property at 37 Maple Avenue, adjacent to the old Beascakes Bakery, to Armonk Square for a multiple of its assessed value. Ideally, the additional property would provide more parking, even though the current parking plan is sufficient to meet the town's parking code. The additional land of 37 Maple Avenue could also ease the maneuvering of trucks into loading docks on the market's east side and allow for more retail space. But at what price would it be sensible for Armonk Square to purchase 37 Maple Avenue? Would the two parties consider a real estate trade? Why not consider a swap of 37 Maple Avenue in exchange for the Cockren property going back to ownership by Fareri, with the town and county housing requirements at Cider Mill and Armonk Square to be fulfilled instead at the lumberyard on Bedford Road?
Crab Apple Properties, on Old Route 22, formally known as the Cockren Property, is owned by the partners of Armonk Square, Alan Zaretsky and brothers Dom and John Dioguardi. They also own the Cider Mill residential development on Old Route 22. The Cider Mill complex owes the town 8 middle-income offsite units under North Castle's housing law. In addition, Armonk Square will have to provide the town with two middle-income units for the 10 apartments they have proposed to build on the second floor of the two buildings along Main Street in Armonk Square.
The Westchester County Housing Board held a meeting in May 2011 in Armonk to explore the possibility of purchasing the Cockren property from Crab Apple Properties for a reported $400,000 in order to build 10 affordable housing units to meet Westchester's federal housing obligations.
Newly elected Supervisor Howard Arden has publicly spoken against the affordable housing project located on Old Route 22, where he owns a building. Arden said that the location would segregate residents from town and he would like to see the affordable housing in Armonk Square. Since the Cockren property is about one mile from the heart of Main Street, I'm not sure why this would qualify as segregating residents.
The old lumberyard property on Bedford Road is owned by Michael Fareri. The property has been approved as the site of a 10,000 square foot shopping center. Fareri has also mentioned an alternative plan for an apartment building at the lumberyard property. Why not move the 10 affordable housing units from the Cockren property to the lumberyard?
Michael Fareri conveyed the deed to the Cockren Property to Antares, which owned Cider Mill before Zaretsky and the Dioguardis did. Fareri also owns the lot across from the Cockren property, where the Gavi Restaurant is. His property value there would most most likely fall with a housing project across the street, whether it be the county's affordable housing or the town's middle income housing.
So gentlemen, now that the election is over, let's get Armonk Square built and consider meeting the requirements for affordable housing as quickly as possible without any judicial or administrative hearings at the expense of taxpayers. Comments
June 23, 2011 The
Armonk Square developers said that they will build a supermarket on the
empty lot of 3.4 acres off Main Street and Maple Avenue if the residents
want it. Early in 2012, a CVS will replace the A&P Supermarket,
but if the standing room only group that attended the June 22 Town Board
meeting represents the community, we will soon have a supermarket in
Armonk Square. A supermarket is the key to open Armonk Square, to take
down the fences and add to the charm of our one-block town. A
supermarket will also be the lure that will secure construction
financing and attract a bank, a restaurant and other retailers.
Tony Veneziano, the lawyer representing Armonk Square, said a supermarket will get things moving downtown. Yes, but when? Armonk Square has been in the pre-development stage for decades, and most of us won't believe anything is happening until we see it. But the square's part-owner, Alan Zaretsky, takes a broad view.
Plans for Armonk Square received an extension recently from the Planning Board so that details can be worked out with modifications. The proposal has changed from five buildings to three. A 25,000 square feet supermarket will be by the entrance from Maple Avenue. The two buildings off Main Street will remain divided by a pedestrian walkway coming in from Main Street. There will be 10 second floor apartments over the two buildings rather than the original 21units. Parking has increased to 190 spots after the purchase of the property on Maple Avenue where Beascakes Bakery once stood. Some minor zoning changes and variances also need to be ironed out.
The most recent delay in the project was because of financing, Zaretsky said he had potential tenants, but first the approval process was slow, then the economy took a dive and here we are a couple of years later. Zaretsky says he doesn't expect everything to be approved until December, and then it would take about seven to eight months to build the infrastructure and a supermarket.
Zaretsky has spoken to several supermarket chains, including DeCicco's, which had signed a letter of intent with 99 Business Park, part-owned by Michael Fareri. Fareri's supermarket application has yet to be reviewed by the Planning Board, and a public hearing for the application will be held in mid August if he is prepared.
It is well known that rental income per square foot is less for supermarkets than it is for other retail shops. The difference can be about 60%: retail being roughly $50 per square foot, while a supermarket may pay $30 per square foot.
Veneziano wants the Town of North Castle and Armonk Square to coordinate their efforts to make sure we get the right retail mix.
Dr. David Fields is a dentist whose office is next to Armonk Square on Bedford Road. He says he has looked at downtown's dead zone for 30 years. He supports Armonk Square and believes it will bring new customers, better parking and more life to town.
Howard Arden, who is running for Town Supervisor, suggests that the town hire an outside consultant to review the plans for Armonk Square and 99 Business Park to see which location would be better for a supermarket. Town attorney Roland Baroni says Michael Fareri has also suggested this. Councilman Schiliro doesn't think an outside consultant is necessary because it is the Town Board's job to determine, in accordance with the town's Comprehensive Plan, which proposal is best for the town.
Why not a build a supermarket like the A&P in Armonk Square and a specialty store like Trader Joe's in Business Park? People are always saying they want to attract people from out of town. A Trader Joe's in Business Park would draw people from all over Westchester and from nearby Greenwich.
Supervisor Bill Weaver says that because of the uncertain economy, the plans for Armonk Square may still have some delays but he wants to see the project built and says a supermarket is an important part of this.
An updated proposal for Armonk Square will be presented to the Planning Board soon. Perhaps it will move through the process quickly and earn final approval by the Town Board.
A Supermarket at Armonk Square?
June 10, 2011 Tony
Veneziano of Veneziano & Associates, speaking for the partnership
that owns Armonk Square, is requesting an extension of the site approval
by the Planning Board to continue with either the current plan or if
the A&P closes, to build a supermarket at Armonk Square.
Armonk residents Alan Zaretsky and brothers Dom and John Dioguardi, owners of Armonk Square, have contacted two or three firms that are interested in opening a supermarket in Armonk Square, if A&P is no longer across the street. Veneziano says the town can have a supermarket of about 22,000 to 25,000 square feet by the entrance of Armonk Square off Maple Avenue.
The economic climate has made it difficult to secure retail clients. The site was originally 3 acres, with frontage on Main Street, in between Maple Avenue and Bedford Road. They have recently acquired the Beascakes property on Maple Avenue, which adds an additional .41 acres, an increase of 14%, to expand the size of the lot to 3.43 acres.
A comparison of the before and after plans, with the inclusion of a supermarket in Armonk Square, increases the number of parking spaces to 190, up from 118. Other notable changes include a reduction from 21 apartments to 11 units. There will also be a swap of about 10,000 square feet from residential space to retail space. The office space remains the same at 2,930 square feet, as does banking space at 3,814 square feet. The restaurant square footage jumps from 1,425 to 4,925 square feet to accommodate an 80 - 100-chair restaurant. The total proposed square footage, including the supermarket, rises from 49,947 to 52,905 square feet.
Veneziano says the partners considered this alternative plan after the A&P/CVS situation arose, but they will still build a pedestrian walkway by Main Street, and the same buildings with a real estate office and a bank, with 10 to 11 residential apartments (including the required two middle income units) above the retail space rather the prior 21 units, because apartments cannot be located above a supermarket. The addition of the .43-acre property will make possible additional parking. The parking lot is anticipated to be the same as Stop and Shop Supermarket in North White Plains, with one parking spot for every 200 square feet of supermarket.
Veneziano says the principles were approached by local store owners, property owners and residents to consider building a supermarket in Armonk Square. Although a supermarket is less profitable than other retail operations, it would jump-start the project and would encourage additional tenants to fill the retail space.
Veneziano is asking the Town Board to revising the Armonk Square plan if the A&P leaves, saying that it solves the problem that the empty lot at Armonk Square has presented for the past 25 years. Veneziano will also ask the Town to change the Beascake property commercial zoning from Central Business (CB) to Central Business Armonk (CB-A).
Supervisor Bill Weaver says he likes the idea of a supermarket in Armonk Square because it could make a big difference in foot traffic in the downtown area. He says he has always wanted to see some development there, and this is something that would accelerate that.
Dom Dioguardi says the current location of the A&P is the best location for a supermarket in town, but if the A&P closes, and if the town and its people support a supermarket in Armonk Square, it will jump-start the project and the banks will favor it. As his Grandmother said, "Everything happens for a reason."
Veneziano says they are prepared to start construction quickly.
Armonk Square's plans from June 2009. 51,000 square feet of mixed development of retail, office and residential space is proposed for Armonk Square.
Armonk Square's Big Step
August 20, 2011 North Castle's Town Board has unanimously granted Armonk Square a special use permit for a 24,000 square feet food store to be included in the downtown's 3.4 acre project, although the North Castle Planning Board is continuing to review Armonk Square's plan for a supermarket.
In a series of actions at the August 17 public hearing, the Town Board allowed the latest land purchase of the Beascakes’ property on Maple Avenue to be included in Armonk Square's central business zoning district. Permission was also granted for retail parking there to maintain a ratio of one spot for every 200 square feet of retail space, which is a variance from the town's usual requirement of 150 retail square feet for every one spot. A total of 179 parking spots were presented in the plan for the square.
A supermarket, will help the long awaited Armonk Square break ground in this difficult economic environment.
The changes in the newly presented plan from the one that was approved in 2009 include a reduction from about 52,000 sq. ft. to about 50,000 sq. ft. of retail, office and residential space. The food store and the 179 parking spaces would replace three retail buildings. The parking area increase shortens the pedestrian walkway coming off from Main Street. The number of second floor apartment buildings has been reduced from 22 to 10, with the apartments to be built on the second floor of the two buildings along Main Street. The Town Board is also allowing the required one or two middle income units to be located either on-site or off-site. A truck lane and a loading dock at the supermarket for tractor trailer trucks would be new; details must still be worked out with the Planning Board. The vehicle entry from Maple Avenue will be separated from an adjacent entry for trucks. The ingress/egress onto Bedford Avenue will remain the same.
Depending on who is the food market tenant, there could also be up to three smaller stores along Maple Avenue in front of the larger market. Armonk Square's architect says that the supermarket facade, facing Maple Avenue, will blend in with the architectural style of the square's buildings off Main Street. The newer proposal also sees the use of 100 to 200 fewer gallons of water per day than before.
Judy Gilmartin-Willsey of Framings says that completing our unfinished center of downtown, which has been a disgrace for so many years, with a supermarket in Armonk Square will be in line with the character of our town. It will keep the small town feel that is the reason people moved here in the first place. "Walkable and park-able right in town, how great is that?" Gilmartin-Willsey asks. "The people who are building this are community minded. They live here and do not want to screw us."
Armonk's life long resident and property owner of several Main Street buildings, Barbara DiGiacinto, presented a show of strong support with a petition signed by 70 merchants and property owners in Armonk in support of a grocery store at Armonk Square.
The central location of Armonk Square will allow people to park only once and shop at any of the stores in town. Indeed, a supermarket in Armonk Square could be the heart of the entire Main Street business district, says DiGiacinto. She adds, a market will provide an anchor for Armonk Square's other stores, restaurants, and businesses, and this will give the town vitality, diversity, as well as additional sales and real estate revenue.
But with further site work to be done, the completion of a supermarket at Armonk Square could be 18 months away.
Lawsuit Filed Against Town and Armonk Square
Updated Nov. 18, 2011 On November 10, 2011, Harris Beach PLLC, representing developer Michael Fareri, as Managing Agent for 37 Maple Avenue LLC, filed a judgment pursuant to Article 78 against the Town and Armonk Square in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
The Respondents listed on the lawsuit are the Town of North Castle, the Town Board, the Planning Board, the Landmarks Preservation Committee and the partners listed on the latest plans for Armonk Square. The partners are AZ Reservoir LLC; Poughkeepsie Development LLC; EZ Rentals I, LLC; and Antares Armonk Square LLC.
The petition was served to the town on November 16, 2011. The goal of the lawsuit is to reverse and annul the Town's approval of Armonk Square's plans for several reasons listed below (but not limited to), as actions taken by the various town boards and committees.
1. The Town Board issued a "special-use" permit to allow construction of up to a 25,000 square foot supermarket. 2. The Town found no evidence that the Armonk Square supermarket plan will have a significant impact on the "environmentally sensitive downtown" and only a moderate impact on traffic. 3. The Town amended the zoning for Armonk Square's recent purchase of an additional half-an-acre lot that reduced "off-street" parking requirements. 4. The Town permitted the provision of two "off-site" middle-income units, rather than requiring the apartments be built "on-site." 5. A "Certificate of Appropriateness" which studied the traffic impacts to the historic district of six early 19th century village homes, St. Stephen's Church and cemetery dated 1847, was issued by the Landmarks Preservation Committee. 6. The Town failed to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS").
The petition requests that the Town be forbidden from issuing any building permits, tree-clearing permits or other means of approval to move forward the supermarket plan, pursuit to Article 78 of New York's Civil Practice Law and Rules (C.P.L.P. 7806).
The petition also requests that the Court grant relief to the Petitioner as "the Court deems as just and proper, including costs, disbursements and attorneys' fees."
The suit claims that the Town failed to take a "hard look" at the environmental impacts of the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"). “A hard look doctrine is a principle of administrative law that says a court should carefully review an administrative agency's decision to ensure that the agencies have genuinely engaged in reasoned decision making. A court is required to intervene if it becomes aware, especially due to a combination of danger signals, that the agency has not really taken a ‘hard look’ at the salient problems." The administrative procedure portion of Article 78 instructs courts to invalidate agency decisions that are “arbitrary” or “capricious.”
Fareri's property at 37 Maple Avenue is adjacent to the land in which the supermarket is proposed in Armonk Square. The lawsuit states that the supermarket plan will have a serious negative impact on the value of the contiguous real estate property, one that is different from the impacts suffered by the public at large.
The hearing is scheduled for December 9 at 9:30 a.m. at the Westchester County Supreme Court in White Plains. Responses to the Petition have been set no later than five days prior to the December 9, 2011 return date. If the Town chooses to respond to the petition, taking into account the Thanksgiving holiday next week, it may be required to request an extension of time to review the nearly 400 pages of the petition, affidavits and memoranda. Comments
Nov. 7, 2011 An email generated by Kerry Lutz under the name of SuperMarket Tracker (Lutz signed the updated profile response, but not the email itself) was sent on Sunday. It said that the A&P will be closing in eight days: "The Armonk A&P is set to close on November 15, 2011."
Supervisor Bill Weaver has spoken with the directors of Werber Management, which owns the A&P building, and they say that Lutz's email declaring a November 15th closing date for the A&P is a complete fabrication. The A&P store manager said the closing date he received from the A&P’s corporate offices is March 2012. He added that if they were really closing in eight days, food orders would not be coming in.
At the October 22 ground breaking ceremony for Armonk Square's DeCicco's Food Market, Supervisor Weaver said, "The A&P will close in a month or so. They have not made that announcement yet, but they are getting ready to do that." Undoubtedly, the intentional timing of Lutz's email, two days prior to the election, doesn't allow voters enough time to obtain the truth. However, challenger for supervisor Howard Arden, within two hours, had carefully worded an email commenting on the possibility of the A&P’s closing. Kerry Lutz was a former running mate of Arden’s before Lutz lost in September's Republican Primary.
Although Armonk Square has been approved and the developers are working with the Director of Town Planning Adam Kaufman to complete the building permit conditions, there is continuing opposition from several residents, including developers Bob Greene and Michael Fareri. Greene, Howard Arden’s campaign manager, attended a meeting last week with real estate agents from Houlihan Lawrence at the home of Leslie Zane. Zane's LinkedIn page states that she is President of The Center for Emotional Marketing. It describes her professional work: "Brand positioning expert, visual imagery specialist, consumer insight extractor, and advertising consultant." At the meeting, Bob Greene said that Armonk Square will never be built and it will remain an empty hole in the ground.
Tony Veneziano of Veneziano & Associates, legal counsel for the owners of Armonk Square, said, "This type of action and misinformation is potentially actionable. We will pursue our legal rights and protect our assets."
The long-awaited Armonk Square still has 25 conditions from the North Castle's Planning Board that must be met before they can put the shovel in the ground for the DeCicco's Food Market. The conditions for a building permit should be ready within 3 to 4 weeks, said Developer Dom Gioguardi.
Veneziano assured that they have all the required county, state and local permits for the infrastructure. The capital is in place to build the infrastructure, which could commence at anytime. Veneziano also said they have a commitment for a construction loan from a financial partner of Cooper Horowitz and M&T Bank. He added, "We have started the negotiations with their counsel and expect to close the loan by November 30, 2011.”
DeCicco's has signed a 10-year lease with up to 35 years with all the options, said John DeCicco Jr. They expect to open the market in 2012. The final draft of the lease with the DeCicco's Food Market is awaiting the signature of one of Armonk Square's partners, who is currently out of town.
Dom Dioguardi said they have two letters of intent for retail space and a third retailer interested, with rental agreements at asking price or more. The three retailers will take up about 50% of the retail space.
Developer Michael Fareri has scrutinized the Armonk Square supermarket plans and has hired an engineer to review them. It appears that he is attempting to find all the possible objections to the project. Fareri also said he is considering filing an Article 78 petition. An Article 78 petition would allow, in an official capacity, legal action against the Planning Board’s site approval of the supermarket in an expedited proceeding.
Lutz's email also refers to an article in the October 31, 2011 Westchester Business Journal. "John DeCicco said the developers said that they hope to begin construction in January and that it will take 12-15 months to complete.” Lutz further stated, "Therefore, no supermarket could be opened in less than 15 months, although it will probably take years."
Dom Dioguardi said the statement that he and his partners hope to start construction in January is false. The partners do not know where this information is coming from. But it would be ideal if Weaver would attempt try to keep the A&P in town, until the new supermarket can open in Armonk Square.