By Matt Smith
“It takes a village,” Summit Development President Felix Charney began his speech on the morning of Super Tuesday, to kick off the official Groundbreaking ceremony for the new retail complex at Chappaqua Crossing Headquarters. “Given your presence here in this room, this is a village. And given the contribution that each of you in this room has made in one form or another, over the course of [the review of] this project, we all now have something today we can celebrate, and hopefully be very proud of… It’s Super Tuesday [in the political world], but it’s super for us, ‘cause it’s been a hell of a long ride, and we finally made it through.”
The plan, which Charney noted was 11 years in review and spanned the terms of four different town supervisors — Janet Wells, Barbara Gerrard, Susan Carpenter, and Rob Greenstein, all of whom were in attendance — will add a Whole Foods Market, LifeTime Fitness, and 28 affordable housing units to the former Reader’s Digest campus off Bedford and Roaring Brook Roads.
“This is a unique project — there is nothing like it in Westchester,” Charney continues. “The fact is, this is a magnificent town with phenomenal schools — it deserves amenities [whose standards are held] at the same bar.”
To that end, the development also includes plans for 91 luxury townhomes, a completely decked-out 500,000-square-foot cultural center, and a shuttle connecting to the Metro-North train station in the center of town, all of which are underway.
To say the 75 community members in attendance were in high spirits during the ceremony would be an understatement. “The truth is, a lot of people didn’t know if they would ever see it happen, and it’s happening,” says New Castle Town Supervisor Rob Greenstein. Despite the arduous process, he notes that “together, we made sure we ended up with a project that would benefit our entire community. We ensured the residents of New Castle the best possible outcome, amenities and aesthetics, as well as the commercial tax dollars we desperately need.” In short, as he states, “What started out as the longest and most controversial land use application in our town’s history, ended up as the perfect example of the benefits of working together.”
During the ceremony, representatives from both of the “retail village” companies expanded upon how their respective companies would specifically contribute to the well-being of the community.
“To be able to be part of a project that brings Whole Foods Market to Northern Westchester County and the great town of Chappaqua is something we’re so excited about,” says Whole Foods representative Michael Sinatra, adding that the opening of the store will satisfy customers who, through social media, expressed a need for such a venue in Northern Westchester. “One thing we really hang our hat on is our ability to partner with local non-profits, our local schools, [and] local food banks, and that’s also something we’ll look to extend when we open this property next year.”
Comments Brian Smith, area director of LifeTime Fitness, of their specific plans: “This [facility] destination will be unique [as opposed to others in Westchester]. It will have a broad array of highly personalized programs and services, that will allow our members to really go after the things they are most passionate about. If we can do [here] what we’ve done in our other facilities in Westchester, which is [to] really create a third home for folks in the community, I think we’ll have succeeded. We are honored and privileged to be here with you all today, and we are so excited about bringing this thing to life next year.”
The morning was capped off by an official groundbreaking, complete with a first dig and initial bulldozing — “‘Cause who doesn’t want to toss some dirt?” jokes Charney — and a lunch, catered (quite appropriately) by Whole Foods.
Despite the grueling process and the long road ahead to completion, Greenstein, who, in fact, was once opposed to the project, now admits he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. “I personally think when this project is completed — maybe… four to five years down the road — there’s going to be some people that are going to say, “I can’t even believe that there was ever opposition to it,” because that’s how great I think the project is going to end up.”
Echoes Deputy Westchester County Executive Kevin Plunkett: “It shows that if we all work together, even over a long period of time, good things [can] happen and we can make a difference in Westchester County.” That we can, Mr. Plunkett, and we look forward to seeing what you, Charney, and Greenstein, can create with the rest of your team, and see how “this iconic piece of Westchester” can be repurposed for the next generation.
Chappaqua Crossing is located at 480 Bedford Road, just off of RT-117. CNB Builders will be in charge of construction. Whole Foods Market, the first building within the retail village to be constructed, is currently set to open in January 2017. For more information, please visit www.chappaquacrossing.com.