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North Castle Daily News

Armonk's Supermarket

Public Hearing to Be Held for Armonk Square's Building Violation

Updated March 23, 2014
DeCicco’s Family Market opened it doors in Armonk Square in June 2013. Nine months later, on March 21, 2014, a Notice of Violation was issued to Armonk Square by the Town of North Castle’s Building Department. The complaint says, “The mezzanine size/configuration does not match approved floor plans. An amended approval from the Planning Board is required.”

The date of the Notice of Violation complaint was February 7, 2014 and in order to correct the violation, on March 10, Mark Miller, a lawyer with Veneziano & Associates, who represents the DeCicco’s Family Market, appeared before the North Castle Planning Board to apply for an approval of an amended site plan that addresses the Notice of Violation. Miller requested a Public Hearing allowing for public input and questions from the Planning Board about the site plan modifications to the configuration of the mezzanine level of the supermarket. The site plan approved by the Planning Board showed a mezzanine of 3,000 square feet. Miller says that due to additional weight that was applied to the roof, additional structural support columns coming up from the ground floor were required. And rather than have the steel beams be exposed in the center of the selling floor, it was determined that it would be better to conceal the beams by building a center mezzanine around them. The plans for the mezzanine originally located the second floor on two perimeter walls, but the change eliminated part of the approved mezzanine plan and created a mezzanine walkway in the center of the floor overlooking the shopping areas below, connecting a wine bar and a seating area. A portion of the mezzanine behind the bar has been blocked off until the necessary approvals have been obtained by the Planning Board.

The two-story Armonk supermarket is DeCicco’s eleventh store and is second in size to the company’s Brewster store. Initially there was 17,650 square feet of retail space on the main floor and 3,000 square feet on the mezzanine, totaling 20,650 square feet. Miller said the main selling floor was reduced in size by approximately 1,500 square feet, and this space was converted into main floor areas that are used for storage and mechanicals. The size and configuration of the mezzanine was modified from the site plan approval of 3,000 square feet to 4,413 square feet.

The mezzanine level was originally intended for the store’s mechanical equipment and office space; instead, the mezzanine was built as a retail supermarket “amenity space.” DeCicco’s press release in July 2013 said, “unique to this store are its popular second floor gastropub that sells wine by the glass and two dozen beers on tap.” There is also a demo kitchen intended to feature cooking classes by celebrity chefs, two bocce courts, and table and chairs for shoppers to sit and enjoy DeCicco’s food, including pizza delivered in a box straight from the oven. The second floor space can also be rented for parties and special events.

There were a significant amount of changes that require Planning Board approval, says adjourning property owner, resident and developer, Michael Fareri. Although Fareri says he is happy that there is an aesthetically appealing supermarket in town, he has several concerns about safety, parking, sewer and water usage, and the process. Fareri says the site plan changes require Planning Board approval, and he questions the process of why it has taken nine months for the Building Department to issue a violation when they issued a certificate of occupancy back in June.

Fareri filed an Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law against Armonk Square that was dismissed in October 2013. At that time, 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 Article 78 was dismissed for two reaason, says Town Attorney Roland Baroni. "Fareri failed to first appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals which is required by the Zoning Code, and Fareri failed to abide by the stipulation of settlement of the first Article 78 he brought against the Armonk Square project which restricted his ability to commence a second Article 78."

When real estate uses are changed, Fareri says, the demand for parking are changed and that affects all businesses on Main Street. Armonk Square had a required parking study done in September 2011 and Fareri says what was in the shared parking analysis study isn’t what got built. His concern is that his tenants are complaining because their customers can’t find a place to park. “The parking study that was done by DeCicco’s is not in conformity to what was built. One thing that is for sure in suburban real estate, if you have a facility that doesn’t have the proper amount of parking, people will go to a different place,” says Fareri.

Mark Miller disagrees and says, “DeCicco’s submitted an off-street parking analysis that showed the blended parking requirements for the created CB-A Zoning District were sufficient.”

The parking requirement was 168 spaces and still is, says Miller, but an agreement of a shared driveway between Armonk Square and Fareri’s property at 37 Maple Avenue provides an extra a five spaces for a total of 173 parking spaces.

“The Town created a new CB-A Zoning District for Armonk Square and that zone operates as blended parking requirements and is different than other zoning districts. The new district provides all permitted use within the district allowing new and diverse uses within the hamlet of Armonk,” says Adam Kaufman, Director of Planning in a memo dated March 7, 2014. This requirement “eliminates the need for subsequent trips to the Planning Board for changes of use within the district which help ease the ‘red tape’ associated with opening new downtown uses. These types of regulations help foster the ability for the establishment of creative and desired new businesses within North Castle and maximize shared parking for uses with differing peak parking demand.”

“Under the approved zoning plans, we comply with the parking and under the plans as constructed we comply with parking,” says Miller.

The Town is currently studying the possibility of expanding parking in downtown Armonk to accommodate future development. Perhaps, if necessary, additional parking can be considered for businesses with payments in lieu of parking spots at several locations including behind the Hergenhan Recreation Center.

The Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing on March 24 at 7:00 p.m.


DeCicco’s Introduces Its Custom-Brewed Beer
Collaborates with Evil Twin Brewing for a DeCicco’s exclusive
 
July 13, 2013
The burgers have been grilled, the fire is dying down, and the s’mores fixings are ready to go. It’s the perfect time to pour DeCicco’s Imperial Biscotti Break, an Imperial Stout crafted and brewed by Evil Twin Brewing exclusively for DeCicco Family Markets. The beer will be available throughout the summer.
 
Flavored with roasted Italian hazelnuts and a hint of chili pepper, Imperial Biscotti Break is pitch black in color with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, hazelnut, and vanilla with warm finish from the chili pepper. “While this beer is full-bodied, it may seem out of season for summer, but actually is ideal for the end of the day when the sun has set and an evening chill has set in,” says Chris DeCicco, co-owner of DeCicco’s.
 
“We have always been big fans of Evil Twin Brewing. We met Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø at a ‘Meet the Brewer Night’ beer event last year in our Brewster store,” explains co-owner Joe DeCicco Jr. “Jeppe saw what we were trying to accomplish in our stores – pairing great quality food with craft beer. He offered to put a spin on one of his best selling creations – Imperial Biscotti Break, an Italian-inspired beer that went along with our Markets theme. We met one afternoon in Brooklyn at Jeppe’s Craft Beer Bar, Tørst, and threw around different ideas. We settled on substituting roasted hazelnuts for the almonds in his original Imperial Biscotti Break and adding a touch chili pepper. The result is amazing.”

Decicco family market
DeCicco’s Opens its 11th Area Store in Armonk
New store combines tradition and trendy with gastropub, demo kitchen, bocce court

July 8, 2013
DeCicco Family Markets, a second generation grocery chain with 10 locations in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, and Orange Counties, proudly announces its 11th location in the newly constructed Armonk Square in downtown Armonk.

The store opened its doors on Friday, June 14, following an invitation-only grand opening for more than 300 family members, vendors, friends, and area dignitaries on Thursday, June 13.

The two-story, 18,000-sq-ft store, second in size to only the company’s Brewster store, was stylishly designed by Antonucci and Associates and incorporates rich cherry wood walls, custom tile flooring, extensive stone work, and a copper and tin ceiling. It offers shoppers classic DeCicco’s quality, variety, and service in a contemporary market, with a full-service deli; meat department featuring a selection of prime, aged steaks; bakery with all products baked on the premises; fresh seafood department; large gourmet and specialty selection; and hundreds of cheeses and beers from around the world. The produce department carries fresh items from local farmers, as well as organic and international vegetables and fruits. Included in an expanded prepared foods section are a new line of prepared dinner items.

Unique to this store are its second floor gastropub selling wine by the glass and two dozen beers on tap, demo kitchen featuring cooking classes by celebrity chefs, and bocce courts. Shoppers are invited to bring coffee or gelato upstairs and to enjoy other fare created by DeCicco’s, as well as Armonk’s own Fortina restaurant. A second floor space can be rented for parties and special events.

The grand opening event featured music from DJ Joe Fratto, who also manages DeCicco’s deli department, and arias by Italian tenor Luciano Lamonarca. County Legislator Michael J. Smith thanked DeCicco’s for its commitment to the County on behalf of the Board of Legislators and County Executive Robert Astorino. In addition to a full buffet, DeCicco’s introduced Imperial Biscotti Break beer, an Imperial Porter brewed exclusively for DeCicco’s by Evil Twin Brewing.

The second DeCicco generation, John Jr., Chris, and Joe Jr., opened their first area food market in Ardsley in 2006, bringing the type of service and quality that DeCicco’s has been known for since its founding 40 years ago in 1973.  The area stores each uphold the DeCicco tradition of keeping a firm eye on the future while never forgetting the promises and mindset of the past.

 “We welcome our Armonk neighbors into the DeCicco’s family and look forward to building the types of personal relationships that they expect from their neighborhood food market,” says John DeCicco Jr. “As part of our integration into each of our DeCicco’s neighborhoods, we also donate one percent of store sales to the PTA in the local school district to use as they see fit.”

DeCicco’s and store manager Charles Macias invite area shoppers to enjoy the DeCicco’s experience at its new Armonk store. The store is located at 17 Maple Avenue, Armonk Square, in downtown Armonk, www.deciccos.com.

About DeCicco’s
DeCicco Family Markets was founded in 1973 by John, Joe and Frank DeCicco. It began as a small storefront in the Bronx, offering a choice of high quality food to its growing array of customers. For 40 years, DeCicco Family Markets has a proud history of bringing the largest selection of high quality food available to customers with a friendly, personal touch. It is this simple but unwavering mentality that has enabled the company to expand throughout Putnam, Rockland, Westchester, and Orange Counties. The family operates 10 stores in the following locations: Ardsley, Armonk, Brewster, Chester Heights, Cornwall, Cross River, Harrison, Jefferson Valley, New City, Pelham and Scarsdale. The company is also involved in a number of civic and community-related events, regularly working with schools, Little Leagues, churches and Chambers of Commerce groups.

Armonk Food Market, The Place to Be Seen

DeCicco's Family Market opened its eleventh supermarket in Armonk on Friday to thousands of customers, said John DeCicco, Sr. Families were arriving together in cars or strolling to the supermarket, just like a day out sightseeing, to visit the much-anticipated new market at Armonk Square.

Neighbors were seeing one another for the first time since the A&P supermarket closed in February 2012.

DeCicco's customers were treated to an array of samples, including fresh shrimp and oysters, vegetarian rolls, and fresh cheese that was passed around as hors d'oeuvres on the main floor.

One neighbor smiled as she walked into the market and said she could not believe how excited she was to come to a supermarket! My own daughter shopped, came home to get me and returned to give me the official tour.

The store is outfitted with standard market items, all sorts of specialty foods, as well as fresh gelato, a coffee bar, and a second-floor bar area that serves beer, both in bottles and on tap, and wine. There's a bocci court that wasn't open yet but looks like it will offer great entertainment while customers are grabbing a bite to eat or having a party. The upstairs balcony area seats over 80 people and overlooks the produce, deli, bakery and butcher departments.

A friend came up to me while speaking with John, Sr. She had a business card in hand and requested they stock sugar-free biscotti and rugalach from a distributor. Sure, John, Sr. said. Fulfilling the demands of their customers is part of everyday service.

John, Sr. is right: it's special and not like any supermarket I have ever experienced before. Stop by, bring the family, try some of the samples.

The A&P Closed
February 15, 2012

As expected, the Armonk A&P has closed its doors for good. Most of us would agree that it was never a great supermarket, but it served the needs of the community. We stood in the interior of the store as everything remaining was being cut up for scrap material.
The entire store was being demolished and the walls and shelves were cut up and put out in carting bins. The scrap collector was on hand to haul the materials off in big dumpsters. The A&P’s outdoor signs were down.

Residents gathered to say their goodbyes to the employees; unfortunately, customers were turned away at the locked door.

Resident Marla Shechtman said she is heartbroken because the supermarket was the heart of Armonk and a place where she saw so many people in town. She was a regular at the supermarket, shopping every other day, and said, "They always carried what I needed. I don't always shop here, but I was always getting something, and if they didn't have what I was looking for, they would order it for us."

Framing's owner Judy Gilmartin Wilsey said it was good to have a little supermarket in town that she could run over to and buy things when needed.  "It's a weird experience to see a place that you've walked into for the last 23 years being disassembled, piece by piece, scrap metal by scrap metal, and that's what's happening." She can't wait till the new supermarket at Armonk Square is finished and open for business.

Linda Ranieri said, "I've shopped here since I was a teenager. To see this destruction and know that now the town will have no supermarket till the end of the year is sad. And I'm also sad for the employees. They all got relocated with new jobs and that's a good thing at this time. But it is also sad for the town. It is a whole new chapter representing a part of Armonk being shut down. It is an unknown future for the town and for the employees, especially with the CVS coming to town. Too bad we could not work it out between the town and the owners of the A&P building."

Sue Miller just came from food shopping in Eastchester. She said all moving days are sad. "I feel badly for everyone who lost his or her job. Food shopping here was a fast in- and-out trip and now food shopping will be a real trip."

One resident pointed out that we will lose the sales taxes as a result of the store closing.  He also suspects that sales taxes will be lost when the new CVS store opens and no one shops there. A CVS spokesman said they anticipate opening the Armonk CVS in October 2012.

The following letter was written by Barbara DiGiacinto, dated February 2, 2012 and addressed to corporate A&P:

   Similar to so many residents of Armonk, I am very sad the A&P is closing this month. Certainly, it will be a great adjustment to live in a town without a supermarket, but what I will miss the most are the loyal A&P employees, many of whom have worked for many, many years in your Armonk store. They have not only become like a family to one another, but also to shoppers as well. Over the years I have observed store managers, cashiers, stock clerks, etc., show kindness and genuine concern to the elderly or to the ill or to those who lost a loved one. But what has impressed me the most is how dignified your Armonk employees have behaved since learning last year the store would close because Mr. Werber had signed a lease with CVS.
     Although the uncertainty of not knowing when the store was actually going to close must have been extremely unnerving, your employees put on a happy face and continued to work as if nothing were wrong. Never once did I ever feel their work had become slipshod, never once did I ever hear a negative word about the A&P; all I ever observed was their genuine appreciation for the kind words and support they received daily from their loyal shoppers.
     Perhaps it was Armonk's A&P manager John DeLease whose demeanor and attitude influenced his staff; he never complained and never played "the blame game”; he just regrettably accepted the hand he was unfortunately dealt and continued to manage the store as he had always done. Certainly, John was very concerned with the store's plight, but he never altered his attitude or work ethic and definitely has served as a leader by example to his employees. Even today as I observed John in the store with empty shelves and yellow and black signs all over the store screaming out "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS," he was doing his job just as if he was not managing a store on life support! John is and always has been the consummate gentleman and the A&P is most fortunate to have a man of this caliber and dependability serve as a store manager.
     Yes, we will miss the A&P but many of us will miss even more your wonderful employees who never made us feel as if "this was just a job."  I do hope you recognize them not only for their work ethic in the final, dark days, but also for their loyalty as well.

Best regards,
Barbara DiGiacinto
(Lifelong resident of Armonk and also third-generation resident in town.)

Why not both an A&P and Trader Joe's Supermarket in Armonk?

June 19, 2011
The most ominous change in Armonk began with Werber Management's plan to expand the Armonk Shopping Center, which includes the A&P supermarket.


The biggest challenge of the project was to provide the extra parking spaces needed for the expanded square footage of the supermarket. After many residents spoke against a proposed plan to use town-owned property to meet the parking requirement, the Werber Brothers signed a 25-year lease with the CVS pharmacy chain.

Where should a new supermarket be located?  In the 1950's Armonk had several smaller markets located both downtown and along Route 22. Today, with Armonk and Banksville's combined population at 9,000, can we support more than one supermarket? Dom Dioguardi, one of the developers of Armonk Square, has proposed a 25,000 square foot supermarket in Armonk Square.

Developer Michael Fareri has proposed a 24,000 square foot supermarket in Business Park. Neither of these markets would be as large as the A&P in Mount Kisco or the Super Stop & Shop in North White Plains.

But why can't we have an A&P supermarket in Armonk Square and another market like Traders Joe's in Business Park?


Moratorium Requested to Review CVS

Posted May 26, 2011
During the May 24 meeting of the North Castle Town Board, Supervisor Bill Weaver said that while he recently spoke with CVS and Werber Management to propose an alternative project for Armonk Shopping Center, the Werbers are not interested in leasing to anyone besides CVS and "CVS plans to go ahead with their signed lease right now."

During the public comment period, residents spoke about CVS and the A&P Supermarket. A newly formed group, Concerned Citizens of Armonk, has suggested a six-month moratorium be enacted for the commercial properties in excess of 8,000 square feet to allow time to review the application of the pharmacy chain store.   

Armonk resident Dale Hisiger said the purpose of the moratorium is to maintain Armonk’s “charming historic character,” and to protect the town's independent entrepreneurs. We have a duty to preserve our economic viability, the distinctive character of our community, and the appeal of our commercial district she says. Read her letter here.

Hisiger believes that a moratorium will allow the Town Board time to review more options and alternatives concerning the property. "It gives us a moment to take a deep breath, and deliberately and strategically analyze our future," she says. Hisiger said the  residents of Dobbs Ferry used a moratorium to enable their Planning Board to review a plan for commercial building on a residential street. Hisiger requested that a Public Hearing take place during the Town Board's meeting on June 8 to discuss enacting a moratorium.  

Other residents also spoke in favor of this moratorium, including Keith Rosenthal, who stresses that time is of the essence and urges the Town Board to pass a moratorium “as soon as is practical.” Rosenthal said the requested moratorium is not an anti-development plan, but rather an opportunity to maintain the character of Armonk's commercial district. Read Rosenthal's comments here.

“We are going to have an executive meeting to go over the possibility of this law,” Weaver said. “However, I don’t think we’ll be ready to set a public hearing for the next Town Board meeting.” The earliest that the Town Board plans to address the topic publicly is mid-June.

Request for Public Hearing on a Draft Land Use Moratoria from Concerned Citizens

Mt. Kisco CVS
No McCVS in Armonk

Editorial Updated May 21, 2011
The A&P Supermarket will shut its doors and a CVS will move in, though no one knows when. CVS has signed a lease with Werber Management, owner of the Armonk Shopping Center, bringing America’s second largest pharmacy chain to the quaint hamlet of Armonk. The prospect of a CVS opening in Armonk has many town residents in an uproar, claiming it will violate the local store culture and damage many family-owned businesses throughout the community. We have gathered unfavorable opinions about the arrival of CVS in Armonk from many residents, including Small Town Theatre’s Sam Morell and fellow resident Dale Hisiger.


Negative Impact of a CVS in Armonk:
    •A CVS would give us two pharmacies and no supermarket.
    •A CVS in Armonk will attract other chain stores to open up here, starting a chain reaction that will change the character of the town.
    •A CVS would harm business for many small stores in Armonk.
    •Armonk residents want a supermarket in Armonk Shopping Center, not a CVS. People will not want to move to a town that doesn’t have a supermarket.
    •The Town Center Pharmacy is a family-owned, high-quality pharmacy that would suffer if a CVS were to come to Armonk.
    •There are at least five CVS’s within ten minutes of Armonk, including two in Thornwood and Mount Kisco, and one in North White Plains.     
    •The Town Board might be pressured to grant a special use permit for a supermarket on Business Park Drive. If a special use permit is granted to a supermarket, how do we stop a further transition of Business Park from office space to retail operations?
    •CVS is open 24 hours a day. Armonk residents do not want people hanging around town all night.
    •A CVS may discourage families from moving to Armonk for it’s quiet, neighborly atmosphere.
    •Economic conditions are difficult as it is for local businesses, a CVS would only make things worse.
    •Local stores in Armonk offer friendlier customer service than a CVS would.
    •A couple of residents of Mt. Kisco spoke at the Town Board Meeting on May 11, and although they spoke as residents, they are Mt. Kisco planning board members, and talked about how the CVS in their town did not adhere to the landscaping and site improvement recommendations of the planning board.
    •North Castle, take warning of what Mt. Kisco went through with their CVS. CVS’s approved building plan conditions were not met, leaving the citizens with an eyesore in the middle of their village. In North Castle, an additional requirement of CVS approvals should require a performance bond to hold the applicant accountable.
    •The majority of Armonk residents DO NOT WANT a CVS in town.
    •We want Main Street, not Chain Street.
        
These are the reasons for the overwhelming resistance to building a CVS in Armonk. The majority of Armonk's citizens oppose the effect that a CVS would have on the dynamics of the town. 

99 Business Park Drive Armonk
A Supermarket at 99 Business Park Drive?

Updated May 28, 2011
Developer Michael Fareri has requested a public hearing for June 8 to consider a zoning petition to permit a supermarket at Business Park.  

On May 4, a week after the Town Board's April 27 meeting, Supervisor Bill Weaver sent a mass email about the public discussion of a CVS replacing the A&P supermarket.
Weaver said, "I still feel that the best location for a supermarket is on the present property leased by A&P.  I hope that Mr. Werber [owner of The Armonk Shopping Center which the A&P now occupies] and Mr. Dube [Real Estate Director of CVS] will continue to discuss what options might remain open for us."

Supervisor Weaver says he has met with CVS and they say they have signed a lease with Werber Management.

Fareri says until he knows for sure, without a doubt, what will happen with the A&P and the CVS, he will delay the request of a public hearing. He says he is reluctant to pay for experts to attend a public hearing unless it is necessary, and he would rather wait until the Town is certain that the A&P is leaving and the CVS is coming. Rather than having a public hearing with 100 people against a supermarket in Business Park, he would rather have a hearing with 50 people in favor. Fareri says he'll wait to see what happens, and anticipates requesting a public hearing in the next two to four weeks.  

Fareri says he is considering several supermarkets for the space, although he says he'd rather maintain the space as an office building because the rent for a supermarket is significantly less than the rent for office space. Typically, offices rent for $20 a square foot, and supermarkets rent for less, depending upon the location. Fareri also claims the capital improvements to retrofit a supermarket at 99 Business Park will exceed $2 million.

Farera's discussion with DiCicco Markets includes a 25 year lease with two-five year options. When asked if he is talking with A&P about moving to 99 Business Park, Fareri says yes, but asks, if you had to consider renting to  a financially secure company versus a company in Chapter 11, which would you choose?

Fareri's plans include an expansion of the parking lot for both the potential supermarket and The Gym, which occupies 43,588 square feet of 99 Business Park. The unoccupied space is 24,024 square feet. Based upon the zoning code The Gym's parking requirement, says Director of Planning Adam Kaufman, is 238 spaces. If the parking requirement for a supermarket is one space for every 200 square feet, as is true at the North White Plains Stop and Shop, Kaufman says then the existing office space, if used as a 24,024 square foot supermarket, will require a minimum of 121 spaces. Under the town's parking rules, a minimum of 359 spaces would be required for the 7.3 acre site. Fareri's recent plans have a maximum of 474 parking spaces, which should be sufficient to meet the requirements, even if the supermarket would require 161 spaces, using the existing off-street parking requirement of one space for every 150 square feet of a supermarket.

The additional parking spaces would be on the east side of the The Gym's current parking lot, which is now the site of a water tower that was dedicated in an easement agreement to Water District 4. The water tower was originally used by Jelenko & Co., which processed dental alloys. Fareri bought the building several years ago, and in exchange for the tower, the building at 99 Business Park was hooked up to the public water supply and sewage system.

CVS is In/A&P is Out -- The Latest

Posted April 30, 2011
The North Castle Town Board's meeting on April 27 at Whippoorwill Hall was attended by more than 220 residents. It was standing room only.  Everyone came to speak and to learn about the status of Werber Management's lease with CVS to replace the A&P supermarket.


The adverse public comments revealed an almost unanimous opposition to CVS or any other big box store opening on Main Street. Many people directed their comments to representatives from CVS, the A&P and Werber Management. Although these individuals were not identified, it was said they were in attendance.  Residents expressed concern about the negative impact a CVS could have on small businesses in Armonk, causing some of them to shut their doors.  Watch the video here.

Armonk resident and co-owner of the Town Center Pharmacy, Charlene Jacobi, opened the public comment period with a compelling talk about the small town feel that makes Armonk so appealing.   Jacobi said she felt like she was punched in the stomach when developer Mike Fareri told her that the Werber's had signed a lease with CVS. She asked why a councilwoman would leak this confidential information to Fareri and wanted to know why he was privy to information that no one else had.  When she finished the audience gave her thunderous applause. Read Jacobi's letter here.

Councilman Diane Roth, after some opposition to her speaking, said that after hearing the news of the lease from Supervisor Bill Weaver she was concerned and thought she might be able to reduce the harm caused by A&P's closing. She explained why she called Mike Fareri, saying, "Oh my gosh, we are going to have a CVS, and wait a second, are we going to loose our supermarket?" Roth said she called Mike Fareri to find out if he was really going to build a supermarket in Business Park since plans can so often change.  

CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said that CVS understands that the community is upset about the A&P not having its lease renewed.  A&P's lease expired three years ago, and since then Werber Management has extended the rental lease month to month. DeAngelis emphasized that the decision to close the A&P was not CVS's fault.  He said that while CVS will not sublet their retail space, every CVS offers food, and about 45 percent of the nation's 7,000 CVS stores combine a pharmacy with an expanded section for food and other consumables. He would not  disclose when CVS started talking with Werber or how long the term of the lease is.  DeAngelis says the initial plan is for CVS to open in Armonk in 2012, but this is subject to further consideration when they have a discussion with the landlord and with Supervisor Weaver.
 
Supervisor Weaver says he intends to meet with CVS and Werber to consider all the options.  He hopes residents will continue to contact both of them because this does affect the decision making.

Not having a grocery store in town would be a difficult, Weaver says. If there is no longer a supermarket on Main Street, Weaver adds, there is no other location for a supermarket except Business Park.  He does not believe Armonk Square would be a feasible location for a supermarket because the cost to construct a new building, rather than to retrofit to existing space, couldn't be justified by the rent paid by a supermarket. 

Weaver says the uncertainty concerning A&P's financial future goes back several years, and its recent Chapter 11 filing, in addition to the probably higher income from renting to a pharmacy, is what drove the Werber brothers to sign the lease with CVS.

Werber Management's plans to expand the A&P failed because Werber tried to fit ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound bag, says Weaver.  The town was willing to allow the same parking variance enjoyed by North White Plains' Stop  & Shop supermarket. The last plans submitted for the building's renovation by the Werber's Eden Enterprise would have moved the access ramp to the shopping center, which would have eliminated several parking spaces along Main Street, and this would have reduced the parking available for other stores on that part of Main Street.  Weaver wants the public to know that the Town Board never voted on the A&P's plan for renovation, instead, the Werbers withdrew the application last April.

Councilman Mike Schiliro says, "There's too much misinformation that's been circulating in the last week or so to correct, but just one thing regarding the [supermarket] public hearing. There's been information circulating that I did not support taking this application in Business Park to the public hearing, that's absolutely not true. All you have to do is listen to the meeting or check the minutes. I absolutely supported furthering the public hearing for that application." (Please note this is a corrected statement from: he says, he supports advancing the application for a supermarket in Business Park.)

Town Attorney Roland Baroni said the CVS proposal does not have to come before the town for approval unless CVS takes on additional retail space or subdivides a space larger than 5,000 square feet. Baroni did say that CVS will be required to submit a site plan to the Planning Board for alterations to the facade and the parking lot.

We spoke with Martin Werber, a partner, along with his brother David, of Werber Management, before he saw the tape of the Town Board Meeting on April 27.  Werber said he never intended to put a CVS in the space. Instead, he said, he tried hard to put a first class supermarket there. "We submitted multiple requests, but for one reason or another it couldn't fly." Werber says a 20,000 square foot store is tiny in the world of supermarkets. He explained that there was no other supermarket chain besides A&P which could meet the needs of the community with reasonable prices, or which was willing to work within a small space.  Werber said he really tried to find another supermarket.  

Werber said CVS is a much more stable tenant than A&P given A&P's filing of Chapter 11.  For the record, Werber says that A&P put some money into the store several years ago to fix it up. "But perhaps not enough, the store definitely needs some improvements."  The town's major issues with Werber Management's plan to renovate the store was the access and parking considerations based upon the store's square footage, Werber said.

North Castle's Director of Town Planning, Adam Kaufman, says grocery stores, convenience stores and supermarkets each reach require one parking space for each 150 square feet of gross floor area, while retail or service businesses require one parking spot for each 200 square feet of gross floor area.  

Werber says once he had to shrink the size of the project, it wasn't worth the money anymore. The overall size of the A&P was a factor because it is too small, one of A&P's smallest stores.  Werber also says that  his firm never proposed a CVS for the retail space, the idea was proposed by a resident.

The Town Planning Board's minutes of its meeting on August 13, 2007 show "The applicant [A&P Shopping Center] had also proposed a drug store, but due to the reaction they received, they changed it to neighborhood retail…

...The redevelopment plan would retain the existing A&P building for a period of time, demolish the small shops and then begin the construction of the new A&P perpendicular to the existing building. This would mean that the orientation  would turn toward Maple Avenue. When the new building is ready to be occupied, the older A&P would be demolished, paved over and turned into a parking lot. That would be followed by the construction of what would have been a pharmacy which would be tucked at the same elevation."

The three smaller stores adjacent to the A&P in the shopping center, according to Werber, will remain in place. There was never any interest in relocating them, he says, and they want to stay. He is happy to lease to them, and the people of Armonk like these businesses. 

CVS
Supermarket/CVS Update

Updated April 27, 2011
Barbara DiGiacinto, who owns commercial buildings along Armonk's Main Street, urges community members to call CVS if they do not want the pharmacy in Armonk. On April 25, she sent an email to community members that she called a CVS associate in Chief Executive Officer Larry Merlo's office, and explained that she did not want a CVS to come to town.


The CVS number is 1-800-746-7287. DiaGiacinto says to press option 3 to comment about one of CVS's stores, then press option 3 again to get assistance with pharmacy issues. DiGiacinto says that when you finally get a live person, insist on speaking with someone in the president's office and be prepared to give your name, address and phone number.

"If we can influence CVS to reconsider their plan to open a store in Armonk," DiGiacinto says, "the next step would be to see if we can encourage the A&P to remain at their present location." She expects the A&P's interior to be renovated, and the parking lot and landscaping to be improved. DiGiacinto says "if this plan turns out not to be feasible, then we need to lure another supermarket to lease this space."

DiGiacinto urges that a "special use permit" for a supermarket in Business Park not be granted until all efforts have been exhausted to keep a supermarket on Main Street.

Adam Kaufman, Director of Planning, says the procedure required to create a special use permit in Business Park is the amendment of the comprehensive plan by the Town Board, establishment of special use permit standards for a supermarket after a public hearing in front of the Town Board and then the approval of a site plan after a public hearing in front of the Planning Board.

Kaufman says the A&P is not operating under a special permit as Al DeBello, attorney for Werber Management, the owners of the A&P building, stated.  Town Attorney Roland Baroni says the requirement for a special use permit is fairly new and was put into effect long after the A&P opened in the 1960s, when a special permit was not required.  

Kaufman says that CVS will not require a special use permit either because the pharmacy would be grandfathered in the same retail space, with no change in the retail use, and therefore would meet the requirements of the Central Business (CB) district.  

Baroni says if CVS were to subdivide the approximately 18,000 square feet of the A&P store, and if the green grocer mentioned by DeBello as a possible sub-tenant of CVS were to occupy more than 5,000 square feet there, it would require an application to the Town Board for a special use permit.  But Baroni believes the green grocer will occupy roughly 2,500 square feet. Even so, CVS will need to go in front of the Planning Board for approval to change the facade and the parking lot.   

Armonk resident Bob Greene, a commercial real estate developer who has built about 20 different supermarkets, says supermarkets have specific criteria when they review potential communities to determine the ideal location. Although each chain uses a different method, they all review data from the marketed location as well as the local road networks to determine how people travel in the area. They consider how competitive an environment is, and how many people live within a one, three and five mile radius of the potential store, to estimate how many potential customers the supermarket can attract.  

Although Greene says he has never analyzed the Armonk market, based upon these criteria, he imagines a supermarket that is 30,000 square feet or less would do well in Armonk. He says other factors crucial to a supermarket's success are the ease of parking and access for truck deliveries. Greene says a 35,000 square foot market has about 120 truck deliveries per year.

Looking at two different locations for a supermarket, the A&P lot and Business Park Drive, Greene says the A&P site is more difficult due to the loading docks. He says there isn't another location for a supermarket besides Business Park. "You have to stay close to the satellite stores. I don't know how much further we could go from town."

Trucks have been coming to the A&P since it opened. It is not ideal, because sometimes trucks are parked in the customer parking lot, but they seem to be able to deliver merchandise to the store.

Although Greene hasn't made a study of Armonk Square, he says it would have the same issue with the large trucks not having enough room to maneuver. He can't imagine that the three acres of Armonk Square would be better than Business Park.

Developer Mike Fareri has been trying to build a supermarket in Armonk for 10 years. He says he will attend the May 11 public hearing that will determine whether to allow a supermarket in Business Park or not. If it is approved by the Town Board, the application to build a new supermarket in Business Park will be submitted for a site approval review by the Planning Board. If the Planning Board approves the review, Fareri says it will take six months to complete the renovation of 99 Business Park Drive.

Fareri says the current A&P location was probably the best location for a supermarket in the early 1960s, but as the town's population and the trucks that serve the supermarket grew in size, it is no longer the right location.  

The population of North Castle in 1960 was 6,797, today it is 11,841.

Fareri says there have been no renovations to the existing supermarket since it opened on Main Street. He also says that a CVS could be good for the community since competition always brings fair pricing.  

Fareri believes Armonk cannot support a supermarket over 25,000 square feet.  Although he says an agreement with DeCicco Markets to open a store at 99 Business Park is almost complete, he will not comment as to whether another supermarket chain is interested in 99 Business Park now that A&P is slated to close.

Fareri postponed the April 27 and the May 11 public hearing dates for his supermarket application. He says he needs another two to four weeks to address all the traffic, sewer, water and environmental concerns. He wants to be 100% prepared for a public hearing.

Greene says "The first guy to build a supermarket in town will be the last."

24-year Armonk resident Dale Hisiger called CVS corporate headquarters to ask if they have performed a cost benefit analysis. Hisiger told CVS that she believes we do not have the demographics to support a CVS and that "our town will not have the growth capacity that they need because we are peaking right now in our school population." The Byram Hills School District's growth pattern is projected at about a 2.2 percent decline over the next four years. Hisiger also pointed out that there are four CVS’s close by, and "the 'big box' look and feel of a CVS store does not fit into the architectural plan of our town."

Hisiger says "The young woman I spoke with told me that she has received other calls [from Armonk] and CVS is in the process of reevaluating."
 
Sam Morell, Armonk resident and founder of Small Town Theatre, invited CVS's CEO Larry Merlo, to attend North Castle's Wednesday April 27 Town Board meeting at 7:30 PM at Whippoorwill Hall. Instead Merlo will send CVS's Real Estate Director, Rick Dube, to travel from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, CVS's corporate headquarters. 

Petition Signing

Updated April 23, 2010
Armonk residents show support for the Town Center Pharmacy after Werber Management signed a lease with CVS.

A petition can be signed at the checkout counters at the A&P, plus the following stores: Town Pharmacy Drug Store, The Right Thing, Framings, VIP Photo and Sheep Shack. There are also form letters at the A&P addressed to CVS's Corporate headquarters and Werber Management. The letter says:

"I am a resident of the Town of North Castle, and I do not want CVS to open a store in the hamlet of Armonk, NY. If a CVS were to open in Armonk, I will not ever shop in that store because my loyalty is to the existing Main Street businesses. On the other hand, I would like to see Armonk's A&P remain at its present site. In the event that cannot happen, I want another supermarket in its place."

A&P is Out/CVS is In

Posted April 20, 2011
The CVS drugstore chain has signed a lease to rent the space now occupied by the A&P supermarket. The lease is subject to approval by the North Castle Town Board for a special permit to change usage. The A&P currently operates with a special use permit from the town, and CVS would also require a special use permit after a hearing by the Town Board.  
Alfred DeBello, of DeBello, Donnellan, and Weingarte, the attorney for Weber Management, which owns the supermarket building, says he does not know when the A&P will vacate the building. He says CVS plans to divide the store and sublease to a green grocer, a standard practice for CVS.

Building owners Marty and David Werber of Werber Management were unavailable for comment during the Passover holiday.

Abe Rutman, pharmacist and co-owner with Charlene Jacobi of Armonk Town Pharmacy, says most people have drug plans that pay the same amount for prescriptions no matter where they are filled. He hopes his customers will remain loyal. He says he has an educated clientele that knows they can't get the same service from a CVS as they can from a small local pharmacy.

Supervisor Bill Weaver says he is not happy because he thought the Werbers and A&P were coming to an agreement. He didn't expect the Werbers to sign a lease with CVS even though they had discussed it as a distinct possibility for years. Weaver says the Werbers were still having talks with A&P, but because A&P declared bankruptcy under Chapter 11, its future was uncertain. He says unfortunately it was a prudent business decision by the Werbers to sign a lease with CVS.

Weaver expects that CVS will remodel the interior of the building, and that the Werbers will pay for the renovation of the facade, roof, infrastructure and parking lot.

DeBello says that although the A&P's location was always a likely spot for a large chain drugstore, the Werber Management never intended to actually close the A&P supermarket.  But DeBello said the Werbers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to comply with North Castle's building requirements while trying to renovate the building. DeBello claims the Werber's were willing to tear down the building completely and that it was in their financial interest to rebuild it.  But the Town Board did not approve expansion plans that were proposed, nor the variance it required for parking. The Werbers had requested but were denied the use of town land to create 50 additional parking spaces behind the adjacent Hergenhan Center.

Adam Kaufman, North Castle's Director of Planning, says, "The Town of North Castle's zoning code contains no provision to prevent chains from opening in the town. There are, however, regulations regarding the establishment of fast food restaurants, which are often chains. As you know, we currently have several chains operating in the town, including  Subway, CVS (a portion is in North Castle), the A&P, Stop and Shop, Dunkin Donuts, and I think all of the banks."

A Supermarket in Business Park?

Updated April 20, 2011
At the March 9 meeting of the North Castle Town Board, developer Michael Fareri requested that the board hold a public hearing on a proposed supermarket at 99 Business Park.  An almost 70,000 square foot building there includes 45,000 square feet for The Gym and 24,000 square feet of empty office space. 
Fareri says 24,000 square feet is an adequate size to meet the demands of the community and of a supermarket chain.  Although this is a similar size to the existing A&P, which has tried to unsuccessfully expand its size. Fareri says other supermarket chains he has spoken with were interested in retail spaces of up to 60,000 square feet.

Fareri also says an impact study, done at the request of the Town Board by BFJ, of Manhattan, reported that a supermarket in Business Park, "would have no negative effect on the present businessman in downtown Armonk."  Some residents have pointed out flaws in this report, including a lack of discussions with all of Main Street's business owners, and inaccurate information such as the assertion that a pharmacy is located in Armonk's A&P.

Michael Fareri says he interviewed about a dozen supermarket chains but secured only one perspective client. DeCicco's Food Market has seven markets throughout the Hudson Valley area.

99 Business Park's application for a supermarket was referred to the Planning Board. Fareri says the Planning Board sent a letter to the Town Board unanimously in favor of permitting a supermarket at Business Park. Before any approval is final, there will be a discussion of parking and environmental issues, typical requirements of any application that goes through the process, Fareri says.

A&P has filed for bankruptcy, but Councilman Michael Schiliro says Armonk's "A&P is not designated by A&P to close."  Schiliro does not agree with some of the Planning Board's recommendations.  His main concern is the uncertain precedent  of establishing a retail business in Business Park, (which might lead to a larger retail area) that could potentially have a detrimental effect on our Main Street businesses.    

Councilman Becky Kittredge expresses the same concern and says, "I am not happy putting retail in Business Park. It might open a Pandora's Box." She understands that companies are downsizing and  vacancies in business parks throughout the county are growing.  But she says that we should think outside of the box and consider alternative businesses for Business Park,  such as was done at the Platinum Mile in White Plains when they brought in Fordham University and Sloan Kettering.

Director of Planning Adam Kaufman says the vast majority of the policies and goals of the town's 1996 Comprehensive Plan remain true today.

But Councilman Diane Roth asks whether the master plan from 1996 should be referenced at all.   She answers, "Not that much, 1996 was a whole different world."  And given the economy, she says that now is not the time to spend money on revising it.  She says getting the tractor trailer trucks off Main Street would be a good idea and the commercial real estate of our town can be bigger then one block.  She adds, Business Park is our "failing street" and it should be our "income street".  

Fareri's request for a Public Hearing was approved by all of the three sitting board members and by Supervisor Bill Weaver.  Councilman John Cronin recused himself due to a request that the Ethics Board review his current home renovation and his relationship with the builder whose company's sole agent is Michael Fareri's daughter.  We should see Cronin participate in the next supermarket discussion since the chairman of the Ethics Board declined to review the matter due to a lack of any evidence of a specific violation of the local ethics code.  

The task of the Town Board is to determine whether it is appropriate to have a supermarket in Business Park. With the new developments,  Fareri has  delayed the public hearing that was scheduled for April 27. 
Shopping for a Supermarket

Updated: April 6, 2011
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company operates 395 stores nationwide,  including the local A&P. Because it recently filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, the future of the Armonk's A&P is uncertain.  

Eden Enterprises, owner of the A&P building in the Armonk Shopping Center on Main Street, tried to expand the store several years ago, but it  required additional parking. The project met a roadblock when Eden attempted to negotiate a deal with the town to take over open space behind the adjacent Hergenhan Recreation Center to use as shared property to fulfill the parking requirement.

A&P has been a store of convenience, never fully meeting the quality demanded by the community. But with the new uncertainty regarding A&P, Supervisor Bill Weaver says that the Town Board will take another look at a plan for a supermarket in the Business Park to avoid leaving the town without a market.  

So developer Michael Fareri's plan to build a supermarket there has been revived. Fareri's latest proposal is to turn the office building at 99 Business Park Drive into a 24,000 square foot market. Fareri owns 99 Business Park Drive, which comprises on 7.5 acres. The Gym occupies 45,000 square feet of the building, but 24,000 square feet in the building has remained vacant for several years. Fareri's basic plan, he says, has ample parking, 325 spaces. He says that he has been treated unfairly in the past, and blames the Town Board for dragging its feet for 14 months since he first proposed his supermarket. By his own calculation, Fareri pays approximately $1MM yearly in real estate taxes.

Ten years ago, Fareri unsuccessfully proposed a supermarket at the Armonk Bowl lot on Old Route 22.  At that time, residents strongly opposed the plan, and Fareri eventually sold the property to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) for an unconfirmed $10MM.   

Fareri claims to have a letter of intent from DeCicco Food Markets, a small family-operated chain of grocery stores, in Westchester and Rockland counties. On their web site they write, "DeCicco’s built itself a well-cemented reputation of being the food market of choice for those who have a serious love for food and cooking in general."

Following Fareri's application, The Town Board commissioned a planning study done by BFJ Planning in July 2010 on how a market's location in Business Park would affect downtown businesses. Town Councilman Becky Kittredge says the report was flawed because they did not talk with all of Main Street's store owners. Kittredge also said the study had inaccurately reported that a pharmacy was located inside the A&P, which is not the case. She also expressed concern for residents that walk to the A&P.

North Castle's Director of Planning, Adam Kaufman, said, in a memo on an application for a 140-bed assisted living facility in Business Park, that the Planning Board should consider requesting the developer to "investigate the feasibility of providing a pedestrian connection to the Armonk Hamlet via a crosswalk on Route 22 and sidewalks along Maple Avenue." The developer has declined to provide a sidewalk because the average age of its residents would be 83-years-old. Either they would remain on the grounds of 6.5 acre property or they would be bused everywhere. Crossing Route 22 may not a walkable situation for the residents, but what about their daily guests, the family members?  There could be a hundred guests daily. What if they want to walk to town? Doesn't the developer have a responsibility to provide a safe path?

Downtown commercial real estate owner Barbara DiGiacinto also has concerns  about building a supermarket in Business Park because she believes it will deter people from going to downtown Armonk. She says, "While the study concluded that a supermarket in Business Park would not really be detrimental to businesses on Main Street, the study did not include any of the businesses from City Bank to the Town Center Pharmacy, and I believe it also left out Framings."  "Therefore," DiGiacinto she says, "to allow a supermarket based on the BFJ Planning Study is totally unacceptable. The Town needs a new, comprehensive and objective study to determine a Business Park supermarket's financial impact on all existing Main Street businesses."

"One last thought," DiGiacinto says, "if you allow a supermarket in Business Park, you are allowing, for the first time, a retail business to operate there. The Town will be opening the door for other Business Park property owners with empty buildings to line up and say, "Me, too!" Do we want Business Park to turn into a shopping center? How might that effect Main Street businesses?"

The question remains: Will the location of a supermarket in Business Park steer dollars away from Main Street?  

Further objections to a supermarket there have been heard from Town Center Pharmacy owner Charlene Jacoby, and from the principal owner of Garson Brothers Development, Jeffrey Garson, who owns the Armonk Town Center Shopping Plaza on Route 128, for fear that if the A&P goes, a CVS will replace it.

The Town Board has sent Fareri's application back to the Planning Board for further review and has asked its members for an expeditious recommendation. If the Planning Board recommends the application, the Town Board would then consider if they would permit a supermarket in the planned light industry/office (PLI) Zoning District via a Town Board special use permit, as recommended by Kaufman.  

Does the Town Board approve the variance in zoning, allowing the plan for a supermarket in Business Park to move forward? Does Fareri build it, or if the price is right, does he sell the right to build a supermarket to another developer, as he did with Cider Mill?  Fareri briefly explained his real estate investment strategy. He says he doesn't intend to sell 99 Business Park because he uses it as an income generating property, unlike Cider Mill, which he bought from the Schultz Family and sold to Antares within a two year period to minimize taxes on the capital gains.

In a memo written by Kaufman, regarding another application to develop an assisted living center in Business Park, Kaufman said, "given lower asking rents, lack of leasing demand and an excess supply of office space, it may be necessary to permit a greater mix of uses within the planned light industry/office (PLI) Zoning District." Kaufman also said the Planning and Town Boards should consider the "cumulative impacts associated with the proposed facility, new office building and a proposed supermarket (located at 99 Business Park) with respect to traffic, potable water demand and sewer demand."  

The Planning Board, at the November 22, 2010 meeting, said that a comprehensive review of all the projects needs to be completed before the Planning Board can make a recommendation to the Town Board."

Armonk A and P
A&P Statement

Posted May 2, 2011
“A&P has been informed by our landlord that the lease on our Armonk store will not be renewed.  Though we tried many times to extend our lease so that we could make investments in our store, the landlord unfortunately has signed a lease with CVS, without our knowledge or any attempt to negotiate with us.  We enjoy serving the Armonk community and have begun a process of identifying an alternative location for A&P so that we can continue serving our customers in the area.  In the meantime, the Armonk store remains fully stocked, open for business, and able to provide the excellent service our Armonk customers expect.”

armonk A&P
January 22, 1964 the North Castle News

Posted April 22, 2011
The well remembered paper ran a front page story about the newly formed North Castle Business Development Committee. Supervisor Lombardi described the committee's objectives and importance of coordinating with other committees and town boards. He was quoted as saying, "We want to bring the right kind of businesses into this community to broaden our tax base and at the same time keep the Town green." 

Some forty years later Lombardi's statement about commercial development still holds up. As the economy slowly shows some signs of rebounding, the various town boards that review applications for business development are concerned with broadening our tax base while preventing over development. It's a balancing act complicated by the available leasing of retail spaces scattered throughout town and the future commercial developments of Armonk Square, the Moderne Barn and A & P Armonk Shopping Center.

The objective is challenging. As we elect a Town Supervisor and two or possible three Town Council in November 2011, think carefully about who you cast your vote for, as Lombardi put it so well, to be "the salesman of our community."

 Armonk Shopping Center

Updated Sept. 29, 2009

A new application to redevelop the Armonk Shopping Center was introduced at the July 8 Town Board meeting. The Armonk Shopping plan was first submitted Sept. 2007 and revised a year ago.  The  buildings' square footage, parking configuration in front of smaller building and others changes have been made since its last submission.

The application proposes razing the existing 25,107 square foot A&P on 3.08 acres of property and redevelopment of a 36,000 SQ FT supermarket with an additional building of 14,111 SQ FT retail space. The total foot print of 50,140 SQ FT of Armonk Shopping Center requires additional parking. 

Adjacent to the Shopping Center is the Hergenhan Rec Center. The center’s current vehicle entry off Maple Avenue is narrow and dangerous, and the Armonk Shopping Center applicants (who have changed their name from Werber Management to Edin Enterprises, Inc.) are offering to work with the Town and Parks and Recreation Department to reconfigure the ingress/egress and parking of recreation center.  Currently the recreation center has 24 parking spaces behind the building and about 20 spaces in an adjacent dirt parking lot to the east.
 
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recommended the Town Board accept improvements around the recreation center to reconfigure entry and parking as well as securing pedestrian easement to the A&P parking lot that would connect via a walkway from behind the recreation center as offered by Edin Enterprises.

Initially cost of the improvements to the Hergehan Center's parking was quoted at $250,000. This estimated monetary amount led Town Board Councilmen Weaver, Kittredge and Schiliro to request the applicant make a payment to the town in leau of the proposed improvements.

Town attorney Roland Baroni was notified by Edin Enterprises of an alternative improvement to the Rec Center estimated at a much lower cost of $95,000, which could be bargained down to cost closer to $70,000.

In response to the three councilman’s monetary request, the advisory board wants to insure residents safety in accessing the center and has asked the three councilmen to change their position with this in mind. The advisory board, as well as Councilman Geist and Supervisor Berman, are in favor of the Edin Plan to replace current parking spaces between the Rec Center and Wampus Brook Park with a loop around the building to add an additional 50 parking spaces behind the Rec Center.  The trade off would be to eliminate about half of the 20 parking spots of the adjacent dirt lot to allow entry to the rear of the building. The parking lot behind the center now has 24 spots which would be redesigned into the traffic flow. 50 parking spots are proposed to be built on town property where there currently is an open green space further north behind the center's parking lot and next to the A&P.

The lose of 24 rear parking spots,  plus 10 spots in the adjacent lot and the addition of 50 spots would be a trade of open space, a gain of 16 parking spots and a much safer flow of traffic behind the Rec Center.

The improvement of parking and reconfiguration of town property was referred to the Planning Board and a public hearing is scheduled for October 6, 2009.

It was noted that if the applicant doesn't get approval for redevelopment of Armonk Shopping Center, they'll lease the building to a large drug store chain.

armonk shopping center eden enterprise
Aeriel view of Armonk Shopping Center at the corner of Maple Avenue and Route 22.
Four Years of Redeveloping Armonk Shopping Center

January 29, 2010
The downtown supermarket development is a popular project.  Two weeks ago real estate developer Michael Fareri presented a plan that calls for a new supermarket at 99 Business Park. Lashins Development may also have submitted preliminary plans for a supermarket and  an adjacent building housing residential apartments behind 80 Business Park, although Lashins did not return our phone call to confirm this.

And the Werber Brothers, owners of Eden Enterprises, have gone once again gone before the planning board with yet another plan for the A & P at the Armonk Shopping Center.  The presentation of a new plan addresses the entrance and parking spaces at the local supermarket.

The plan calls the A & P to expand to 33,725 square feet, considerably more than the A & P's current size of 25,725 sq. ft. The A& P will still  be a local shop and not a destination store. This version also calls for smaller retail stores to be located in a separate 7,000 sq. ft. building on the northwest side of the property. Made in Asia and Fernando's Pizzeria would remain in the shopping center.

The main concern about this project in the past was insufficient parking ratio for the proposed larger retail space. Given the public outcry, the use of town land for parking is no longer possible. The applicant did an extensive parking and traffic study and found that the parking area has always been underutilized, even on the busiest supermarket day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving. But we didn't need a parking study to tell us that the parking lot is never full.  (Although Planning Board member Jane Black remembers that, when the Outdoor Art Show was still in town, the A & P parking lot was full for two days.)   The fact that the supermarket will remain a local shop and not a destination store does put less strain on the parking lot.

The plan proposes that a retaining wall be constructed along Main Street with a decorative wrought iron fence. Engineer Bob Roth says it would be very attractive, but others differ. The owners of Eden Enterprises are willing to consider laying paver-stones on the sidewalk, but not beyond their own property.

Landscape in the parking lot, with a tree or a large plant for every four spaces, would be a welcome improvement.  According to Bob Roth, there are currently 143 parking spaces, and the new proposed lot would have parking is 157 spaces. He says he is confident of the parking study that concludes there will be sufficient parking.

A proposal for truck-loading docks in the rear of the A & P is practical, says  Alfred DeBello of DeBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, et al, attorney for Eden Enterprises.  "It may not be perfect, but it works on paper."  Perhaps, but the area appeared to be very tight.

Another proposal is for the entrance off Main Street to be closer to the heart of town. A widening of the entrance off Maple Avenue has been proposed, with either 21' with a variance, or 24' with the removal of trees along the office building adjacent to the Maple Avenue entrance. Either way, a sidewalk is proposed along that entry. But Eden Enterprises is not willing to dedicate, nor grant access, as was suggested by Director of Planning Adam Kaufman, for adjacent properties to use the shopping center's Maple Avenue entrance in order to decrease curb cuts and ease traffic on Maple Avenue. Traffic on Maple Avenue is anticipated to increase once Armonk Square is built with its main entrance across the street off Maple Avenue.

The next step is for the engineers working for each party to sit down to discuss the details.

Everyone knows that Armonk residents would like a new supermarket. The question remains, which plan is the best?   
Watch the highlights of the March 9 Town Board meeting's discussion of the supermarket below.
It's All About The Parking

April 20, 2010

One of the few things that everyone in town would agree upon is the constant frustration caused by inadequate parking in downtown Armonk.  While I’m not certain anyone has noticed a change, parking downtown has become an easier feat.  Parking on Main Street used to be challenging, especially on Friday afternoons; it often required driving around  the area near the Kent Place lot to snag an open space.  In fact, on April 15th, often referred to as “tax day”, there were two open spots in front of the post office on Main Street at 11:15 A.M.!

There is also a general consensus that the Armonk A&P is overdue for a much-needed face-lift.  The Armonk shopping center is currently owned by Werber Brothers; they lease the space to the A&P and three other retail stores, including restaurants  Fernando’s Pizzeria and Made In Asia. The A&P shopping center has appeared on the agenda of both the Town and Planning Boards for three years.  Werber Brothers has submitted dozens of different plans designed to improve the site by enlarging the supermarket.  Eden Management is owned by Werber Brothers who claim that for the A&P to remain a tenant, the store must be renovated and enlarged.  During the application process, the issue was raised many times that if the space was not renovated, the Werbers would entertain the possibility of renting to a large drugstore chain. Whether or not this option would be more favorable than the A&P remains to be seen, yet it would certainly produce some competition to Town Center Pharmacy, a small and locally owned business.
As a community, we tend to prefer quainter shops, rather than large chain stores in our town.  And if this is truly the case, we must support our local retailers, even if their prices are higher than those of chain stores such as CVS.   Furthermore, the question remains if it is in the town’s best interest to work with Eden Management in the renovation of the A&P.  We may also wish to consider another option, namely, a new supermarket in the Business Park, which has been presented in concept only by Michael Fareri.

Al Delbello, legal counsel for the Werber family, says, “The Armonk Shopping Center is getting old and in need of upgrading.  The A&P tenants have expressed an interest for expansion and upgrade of the supermarket.”  Numerous generations of the proposed plan have been presented over a three-year period, including a shared parking plan behind the Hergehan Recreation Center and Armonk Shopping Center.  The public comments regarding the use of public property at the Hergehan Center to meet the parking requirements of the shopping center were opposed to the shared parking plan.  Objections included the following:  distributing land that was intended for recreation; concern about the use of land-owned town property without an assigned fee; and safety issues between vehicular traffic and pedestrians.

The latest A&P site plan, as presented by Bob Roth of Myers Consulting, includes two buildings: one 33,225 square foot A&P Fresh Supermarket, and a second building consisting of 7,225 square feet, intended for smaller retail shops.  At a recent Planning Board meeting, the parking topic was discussed in great detail, particularly the need for landscaping, additional parking and improved lighting.  The main concern associated with the proposed expanded supermarket remains parking, and the Town Board’s charge is the following:  should the Town provide a variance for off-street parking for the Central Business Zoning District?  The issue of parking revolves around allowing one spot for the overall gross square footage of the shopping center, requiring 210 parking spots.  The applicant is requesting a variance for one parking spot for the retail space of the shopping center, which excludes the  employee preparation area of 10,000 square feet.  The latter formula means only 156 parking spots.  The concern in this situation is that if the A&P improves its appearance, service and products, as other conversions to A&P Fresh Supermarkets have done, more people will shop there.  In that event, 156 parking spaces might be insufficient.

A parking study presented by Richard Pierson, a traffic operations engineer with John Myers for 23 years, reviewed the parking patterns.  He determined that on the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year, a maximum of 106 spots were taken.  The shopping center’s 143 parking spots are currently adequate for the 25,100 square feet of retail space.

Director of Planning Adam Kaufman says he would like to see the Maple Avenue driveway to the shopping center become a utility driveway for the adjacent properties, which currently consist of an empty real estate building and a dental office.  This merely requires a curb cut into the driveways.
Imagine Armonk Square’s driveway on Maple Avenue and the A&P driveway diagonally across the street.  If there are cars coming in and out of both driveways, the result may be a steady flow of cars, causing daily traffic jams at peak hours.  It would be safer to direct the traffic flow from one driveway of the shopping center instead of three driveways.

The loading dock of the A&P is for the most part non-functional.  Currently, delivery trucks often park randomly in the front parking lot.  I recently visited the loading dock only to discover an old delivery truck that appeared to have been abandoned.  Another day, a four-wheel delivery truck was stuck turning into the loading area near the front door of the A&P, blocking all the cars parked in the east lot.  This unfortunate event left many residents trapped in the lot and understandably fed up.   Accordingly, traffic consultant Mr. Gallante, reviewed Werber's recent plans and gave the town a positive recommendation for the new driveway, loading docks and traffic circulation around the new building.

Although, Supervisor Weaver said, “We need to make sure we don’t squeeze the parking in.  We want a project that will work well for the community.” The process of considering the various proposals has been a lengthy one and it appears that the Town Board will shortly determine whether they will incorporate a new-off-street variance parking for the Armonk Shopping Center allowing the supermarket to expand or not.