Annual “Controversial Approval Day” Coming Up.

WPCNR News and Comment. The Mid-Year Review  II Continued by John F. Bailey. July 28, 2018 UPDATED with CURRENT STATUS OF WINBROOK REBUILD, 7/31 IN BOLD and WHITE PLAINS PAVILION REVISION:

Coming up appropriately on August 6 this year is the White Plains Common Council “Annual Controversial Approval Day.”

The city seems to schedule important votes at Council meetings that are not too well attended. Like the night before Election Day. They did that last November.

It is the first week in August Beginning Wednesday. A time for citizens to beware of the foibles of the White Plains Common Council and the shrewd strategy of administrations.

A perfect time that current city administration has  observed  over the years, preserved and pointed to for years to decide crucial matters affecting the city.

It is the time when hearings on matters that have drrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggggggggggggggg onnnnnnnnnnnnn for years by seemingly calculated delay tactics on the part of the city and neighborhood associations, when neighborhood association collective ires are aroused against a project.

The first week in August, 2015, was the day the city vote to decide on the French American School of New York Ridgeway property was called. To everyone’s shock  the councilperson handpicked by the Mayor, voted No on the project much to the city’s chagrin and dragged the decision on for another three years now. 

The FASNY project has become The Flying Dutchman of White Plains development. It is still not decided and drifts ghost-like on the capricious high seas of the motion practice and court calendars.

The judge who has been charged with the decision to decide  the paper storm of legal challenges to the project has still not made a decision on  the current lawsuit by the Gedney protagonists, and when she does, that decision will be appealed.

Meanwhile the French American School of New York in the tradition of Beau Geste refuses to give up the fight to start building a project that time has perhaps  passed by.

It is now  approaching year eight this FASNY project has been dragging on. It’s resembling the Hatfield and McCoys feud. The Civil War that is still being fought today.

Is this simply a matter of French Honor at stake here?

Does the project make sense any longer in view of President Donald Trump’s New World Order?

Is the Board of the French American School of New York obsessed with progressing ahead?

Do they have the financing?

Is the design obsolete?

Will there be new safeguards built into the final decision by the court(s) whenever that happens that will protect further development in light of the Trump Administration “Anything Goes” business policy?

What is the court delay?

Where is the Common Council on this?

Does anyone know where and when the Common Council is ever allowed a say in city approvals and planning?

Development is like dating. If  the woman thinks you’re a jerk and says “no” the third time you ask for a date, buddy, it’s time to move on, not take on a vendetta against the woman.

While we wait for the molasses courts to make decisions on this, FASNY’s preoccupation with being right has perhaps clouded their judgment.

Consider this:

Since this project started, the city character has changed. It is not a pleasant downtown anymore. It’s not New York City, where chaos is  glamorous.

The downtown traffic has become a nightmare.

The bicycles are taking over.

The millennials have not come because the city’s designated developers have dragged on obtaining  financing. They cannot convince retailers to lease. They are reconfiguring their projects, or are trying to do that.

One building has been built (55 Bank Street), and it still only has one building of that complex open. The Winbrook housing project revitalization has taken 10 years to finish one building of 5. Now that’s incompetence, tolerated by the city administration. And actually a cavalier uncaring attitude towards the tenants.

(Commentator’s Update–Councilwoman Nadine Hunt-Robinson told WPCNR the contractor is currently selecting local workers to be subcontractors on the rebuild of Building 135 on the Winbrook site on South Lexington Avenue. She added that demolition of 135 should take place in the spring with work starting shortly thereafter. She added the building units will be offered to teachers, police, city workers at market rates, and to Winbrook residents. At market rates units will be at all levels of the building. This schedule may see the second building of Winbrook completed by fall of  2020, optimistically but that is a guess.)

Those people who live in that development have been waiting too long for new homes. A city disgrace worthy of a class action suit in the millions. But give Donald Trump Judge Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court will throw out any lawsuit like that.

There are 3 developments in White Plains approved but with site plans incomplete, how can that be?

The process of doing things in White Plains has become disorganized, too trusting of developers and inertia-delayed.

No one can make a decision because the approvals are flawed—sloppy, not specific, and most importantly, no financial penalty attached to the developer for failure to perform in a timely manner. Of course no developer would sign an agreement to be accountable.

And another quiet approval in the heat of August of another controversial project may come up August 6.

On August 6, the Common Council will continue the hearing on the 52 North Broadway LLC 800-apartment complex the organization wishes to build on the Good Counsel project that has been contested by the neighbors around that for its density, the traffic it will create and an environmental issue.

It is August. People are away. What better time to close the hearing and take a vote?

Again the possibility of a vote unpopular with the persons in the neighborhood being held at a council meeting that is not high profile. It is amazing how votes are taken on projects in July and August, on pre election nights.

I suggest the city going forward should stop holding key votes in the summer. It is not fair, and the Common Council should pay a lot closer attention to those three projects: The White Plains Mall, the White Plains Pavilion (Lennar the developer of that introduced a new design Monday evening, July 30, cutting back the retail, because they could get financiers interested in the first design) and the  Mamaroneck Avenue-East Post Road residences, that is said to also be started by Lennar shortly.

You’ve approved them. Hold the developers accountable to do what they said they would do.

Get them started. You are already two years away on the second building in the 55 Bank Street project. Four years away on the White Plains Mall redo. You do not even have a complete site plan yet. Perhaps 5 years away on the White Plains Pavilion “Hole in the Ground” which has been a hold for a year now.

The Council has to stop picking up pay checks and open their mouths and kick the city administration into gear to get some answers from these developers we trust implicitly apparently.

Time waits for no one, and your market is looking elsewhere.

 

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