Planning Board Roundup: City Center endorsed.

The City of White Plains Planning Board endorsed the Cappelli City Center project pending design changes Tuesday night.
In a Planning Board meeting held before virtually no audience Tuesday evening, the Board gave its blessing to the Cappelli City Center project with the following caveats, according to the official minutes:

The Board recommends the Common Council consider the visual impact of the roof-scape (of the City Center retail/theater portion) on residents of the existing and proposed apartment buildings.

The Board prefers the previous design of the Martine Avenue facade of the parking structure (false apartment fronts), because the articulated facade broke up the mass of the structure and appeared more residential in character. Two elements of the current design preferred by the Board are the light shielding and the grillwork on the openings.

The proposed sign on the upper left corner of the Mamaroneck Avenue frontage of the building should be replaced by a “blade sign” affixed to the corner of the building, above the Greenpoint Bank building.

A clock should be installed in the City Center plaza.

A uniform license should be granted the applicant for the projection of signs from the building.

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Bland on Board City Center: New, Improved Bland/Cappelli Towers Coming Monday

WPCNR News learned Wednesday that Frederick Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, is redesigning the Towers of Cappelli as we write. The new looks are expected to be showcased to Monday in anticipation of a final vote September 20
Two reliable sources, one within City Hall, one with firsthand knowledge of the Cappelli & Bland creative team’s work have confirmed that Frederick Bland, “Super Architect” from Beyer, Blinder, Belle has combined with “Super Developer,” Louis Cappelli in a design makeover the last five days.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said he expects to “have more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the presentation of the Cappelli & Bland designs tentatively scheduled for Monday.

Pulling up lame in the backstretch.

After breaking from the gate in the Common Council Stakes strongly, City Center stumbled rounding the turn to approvals September 4. The Bland hiring for redesign came about to appease reservations Common Council members had about the Louis Cappelli “originals” presented to the Council at his 34-story zoning hearing September 4. On that ”Night of the New Heights,” the Council approved the 34-story scope of the towers.

But, they approved the 34 stories not without prejudice. For the first time, they informed Cappelli with a bit of bad news. His designs were not acceptable to the majority. Rita Malmud, the most outspoken architectural critic called the towers “34 stories of mediocrity.”

Changing Board Jockeys

Cappelli, shocked at the Council’s displeasure with the tower aesthetics, reacted swiftly. He told the Council he would hire Frederick Bland, the city consultant. Bland executed the study for the Council on the effect of building heights in downtowns, in early August. Cappelli informed The Journal News that he would “fire” Schuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural firm designing the towers, and engage Bland for his exclusive touch. Confirmation is hard to find.

However, Cappelli’s public relations firm, Thompson & Bender, and Bland’s own architectural firm, Byer, Blinder, Belle did not confirm to WPCNR that Mr. Bland was, indeed, on board.

Now, WPCNR has ascertained Mr. Bland is fully involved holding the reins. Mr. Bland has had at least 5 days on the designs, since as of last Thursday evening he was not under contract. Today, a source shown the latest thinking on the Cappelli City Center project, said Mr. Bland was fully integrated, hands-on, in the redesign process and that Shuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural designer, is out of the picture. Work was reported being executed in the Beyer Blinder Belle offices on 11th Street in New York City. How Mr. Cappelli and Mr. Bland were interfacing on the project is not known at this time.

Down the stretch they come.

A city hall source confirmed the new look or looks are planned for showing tentatively Monday morning in a dramatic presentation to the Design Review Board, the Planning Board, the Conservation Board, and the Urban Renewal Agency.

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s right hand man, said he would have “more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the details of the unveiling. City Hall, he said, is trying to arrange for the Common Council to see the designs at the same time, because he did not want the other city boards to see them before the Common Council, WPCNR presumes, as a matter of protocol and respect for the Council.

Photo finish.

At this late date, Monday appears the last possible date for a pre-vote viewing of the designs by the Council, considering the holy days of Rosh Hashanah are on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.

The ultimate City Center vote on the Cappelli site plan and Special Permit is scheduled to be held by the Common Council on September 20, one week from Thursday. However, there is always the possibility it could be moved forward.

Win, Place or Show Money scheduled for September 25

Mr. Cappelli is pushing the City Center horse hard for approval September 20 because he is scheduled to close on his financing with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce September 25.

It remains to be been whether CIBC, previously committed to furnishing $375MM to bankroll the City Center construction, is being affected by the reeling international markets resulting of the World Trade Center catastrophe. Mr. Cappelli’s pleadings with the Common Council to move faster because of the “event-risk” factor in any financing arrangement now appear eerily prophetic.

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Brutal Day After: Postponements of Events.

WPCNR will report your cancellations and postponements as well as any services or efforts you or other community groups may be considering in the days ahead to help or assist as the metropolitan area regroups. Today, the JPI Groundbreaking at 300 Mamaroneck Avenue was postponed and the Candyce Corcoran for County Legislator fundraiser for Friday, September 14 was postponed.
City hall reported today that due to JPI executives being unable to fly in for the 300 Old Mamaroneck Road apartment complex groundbreaking for Jefferson at White Plains, the groundbreaking was postponed.

Candyce Canelstein Corcoran also reported to WPCNR to say that because of “the horror and devastation” of the Trade Center attack, and the fact that she has been placed on active reserve as a nurse to assist health authorities, that she is postponing her fundraising event scheduled for Friday evening, September 14, until further notice.

Please send your news to “Report News” on our website.

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Blood Donation Centers Open Locally Now.

White Plains residents may donate blood at the following local blood donation centers if they wish to contribute in some small way to aid the victims of the Trade Center catastrophe.
Residents may donate blood locally at:

1.White Plains Hospital Center, Davis Avenue and Post Road, White Plains. Hours, from 9 a.m.
2.Hudson Valley Blood Services, 525 Executive Blvd., Elmsford. Hours, from 7:30 a.m.

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Trade Center Demolished Connects Us All.

In the worst premeditated surprise attack on any nation anywhere, with loss of life in the thousands, the World Trade Center Towers collapsed into rubble Tuesday morning by 10:30 AM and we all realized how connected we are.
No novelist has imagined this disaster. It is all too real and horrible. Not since the Hindenburg disaster have I heard radio reporting so emotional. Not since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has there been such loss of life in a single attack. As the attacks mounted every 15 minutes observed one radio reporter, America realized how connected we all are. At least this reporter did.

What impressed this reporter, was how connected we all really are here in America. A candidate for office worried about their treasurer’s wife who works in the Trade Center. I worried about my nephew, just starting his new job this summer in lower Manhattan, and I do not know exactly where he works. My brother-in-law called from Miami to see if my wife was all right. (She is.)

A friend of mine called to see if my wife was all right, too, then he mentioned what about those children in school who have parents working in those buildings? It was a sobering, angering thought.

Sobering because, you knew some of them had to have lost their parents. You just knew that.

Our very communicative society was communicating, phonelines were jammed. Everyone thought of loved ones or persons that they knew that perhaps worked down there.

Persons watching the horror unfold, broke down in front of their televisions. Breaking down, because of the sense that there was nothing they could do.

As I write this at 12 noon today, the end of these maniacal acts (a very appropriate description from one WOR reporter) is not in sight. But, when it does end, and it will, let’s remember how connected we feel to those entombed in the Trade Center rubble.

Let’s pull together and work together more, like those brave New York City Firefighters who obviously were trapped in the buildings when they collapsed. The police who obviously have died trying to evacuate the innocents within. I don’t want to hear any more knocks on the NYPD.

And please, Hollywood, no made-for-tv movies about this.

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Trade Center Attack Aftermath: Schools Stay Open, Activities Cancelled

As of 11 AM EDT, the White Plains School District’s Michelle Schoenfeld reports White Plains schools remain open at this time in the wake of the “maniacal” attacks on the World Trade Center towers. Schools are expected at this time to remain open until regular dismissal hour.
Ms. Schoenfeld, spokesperson for the district advised WPCNR that all extra-curricular activities after school have been cancelled as of 11 AM. The cancellation of extra curricular activities affects primarily the White Plains High School and the Highlands and Eastview campuses.

She also reports that if parents wish to pick up their children early, they may, but need to sign the children out.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Saul Yanofsky has advised all principals at schools in the district via letter to remain calm. Ms. Schoenfeld also reports that school staff will provide support for children who are worried or in distress at the morning events.

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Oliva, Hoffman, Lewellyn, “Deacon” Jones make WPHS Hall of Fame

The School Board has officially nominated four distinguished graduates to the White Plains High School Hall of Fame. The 2001 “Fab 4” will be inducted Wednesday, November 14.
Larry Geiger of the White Plains Board of Education, announced the four 2001 nominees at Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting. The four honorees are:

Pauine Oliva, Two-term Councilperson, Class of ’44, and longtime civic activist.

Milton Hoffman, Class of ’46, the distinguished reporter and columnist for the Gannett newspapers, known for his “Tales of Hoffman” columns.

J. Bruce Lewellyn, Class of ’48, an accomplished entrepreneur and presently CEO of the Philadelphia Coca Cola Bottling Company.

Grover “Deacon” Jones, Class of ’52, whom Mr. Geiger described as perhaps the most outstanding athlete ever to come out of Westchester County.

The four will be honored Wednesday, November 14. They are the 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th graduates to be inducted into the WPHS Hall of Fame from among White Plains 25,000 graduates.

Council shelves Bill Brown’s Eastview senior housing in wee hours

With one lone resident raising questions about former Mayoral candidate Bill Brown’s 42-unit senior and affordable housing project for the Eastview neighborhood, the council adjourned the public hearing last Tuesday until September 20.
Brown proposes a 42-unit, 5-story housing project slated for the Eastview neighborhood on South Kensico Avenue down the street from the toney housing project now going up, Clayton Park.

Brown, a principal in the project, advised that the senior “affordable” housing project is planned to feature 29 single unit apartments, 4-1-bedroom apartments reserved and 9-2-bedroom apartments. with 20% of them “affordable” to moderate income families.

The need-targeted population is senior citizens. Brown said rents would be as low as $825 in some of the apartments, ranging up to $1,900.

Denser Zoning Requested.

William Null, attorney for Brown and his partner, urged the Council to give him approvals as soon as possible to take advantage of their option on the land. He stressed these were “totally affordable units,” badly needed in White Plains.

Brown’s organization, White Plains Avenue LLC, is seeking an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, allowing them to go to 6 stories, and to reduce the minimum square feet per dwelling to 325 feet for senior apartments and 500 feet for those apartments available to moderate income families. Null admitted it was a greater density than otherwise would be allowed by the present zoning.

Council upbeat.

Councilperson Rita Malmud was very positive: “This is terrific. We have yet to create more affordable housing in White Plains, preferably for White Plains residents to have priority.” Pauline Oliva voiced her support for the project, too, citing the low priced rents.

Lone resident who lives there: not so sure.

Carlos Caceres of 406 Main Street, waiting 5 hours to address the council on this project, raised several concerns. He said the 42 units would “create a strain on our community (the Eastview neighborhood),” which he said was suffering from quality of life issues already: speeding traffic, automobile congestion, public vagrancy, and unsavory conditions created by unstable persons and day laborers already residing in substandard housing in the area who are prone to loitering.

Fear of Section 8

Caceres indicated these conditions would be further aggravated by the population attracted to the low rents proposed by Brown’s project. He expressed fear that the low rents in line with that of Section 8 housing, proposed for Brown’s project would further destabilize the population by attracting undesirable people and deteriorate the neighborhood.

Stablizing southend while destabilizing Eastview?

“What is it going to do for our community? “ Caceres asked.” We’re already an overcrowded situation in Eastview, with some families living three families to a 1 bedroom apartment. It (Brown’s project) creates the quality of life we want to run away from. Now, they (the Brown organization) want to cram people into one building. I wish you do not change the zoning. How can you change the zoning in some neighborhoods to preserve density, while intensifying density in our neighborhood that cannot stand it. We’re (Eastview) is entitled to low density, too.”

Claims White Plains residents priority. Social history checked.

Null, reacting with a sense of quiet alarm, sought to assure the council that residents would be screened very carefully for past history and stability, and that White Plains residents seeking senior and affordable housing would be given preference in selecting tenants.

Caseres said 24 units would be acceptable, while he felt the 42 was too much for the block.

The Council adjourned the hearing until September 20.

WPCNR asked Mr. Null, how Brown’s project could limit the renters to White Plains residents, especially since it was subsidized housing, and this appeared discriminatory. Null said he was not sure, but that it had been done at other similar projects in the county.

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View from Section 240: “Mr. Jet” Says Fans Philosophical about Game

Greg from White Plains, “Mr. Jet,” checked in with WPCNR on the Herman Edwards Jets after the Sunday brutal loss to the Indianapolis Colts, 45-24 at The Meadowlands, which he observed in person from his mezzanine box.

“The Jets have a whole new offense, and they have a whole new defense,” Mr. Jet reports, “and they looked as if they were out of sync. Frankly, they looked as if they could have used about 3 or 4 more preseason games. Guys obviously were a step slow and were reacting, not instinctive.”

“To be fair, the Colts are one of the best offensive teams in football. They wore the Jets defense down. The Colts just dominated the game.”

“The Jets made it close though. They came back. They trailed by two touchdowns with 4 minutes left. On 4th and 1 on the goaline, one of the blocking backs ran into Vinnie (Testeverde), and a Colt took it back for the last touchdown 98 yards. Game over.”

Jets out of shape? NO.

Asked how come the Colts didn’t get as tired on offense as the Jets defense seemed to be in trying to stop Peyton Manning’s Mustangs, Greg, who played football for White Plains High School, patiently explained: “When the offense is pushing you, they know where they’re going. It’s less taxing (for the offense), while the defense is always reacting. And it was really hot out there.”

Delay of game non-call

Radio commentator Dave Jennings said Indianapolis should have gotten a delay of game penalty at the end of the First Quarter when they failed to get a play off after their 30 second clock ran out at the end of the quarter. Greg said the Jets didn’t care or make a fuss about it, and did not see it as a problem.

Marvin Jones play braindead.

“I went crazy on the Marvin Jones play, (when Jet Linebacker Jones attempted to run out an interception from the Jet end zone and fumbled on the 5, giving the ball right back to the Colts before the end of the half,” Greg says. (He’s used to these things). “He picks it 3 yards deep in the end zone. If he gets it out to the 20 yard line, it’s a miracle. It was a 7 point game at that point, then the punt return for a TD killed us.”

The Jets trailed 17-14, and wound up trailing 31-14 at the half.

West Coast offense needs time.

On the Jets new “West Coast offense,” Mr. Jet says the jury is still out.

“They will get better each week. But, I’m not sold on this offensive coordinator yet. They’re selling this offense as a wide open type, but it seems more conservative to me. They run the ball a lot. They throw short passes and never throw it downfield. Wayne Crebett caught just one pass.”

How did the fans take it?

Jets fans are prone to leaving games over the last four decades saying “Same old Jets.” But Greg says they were kinder and gentler Sunday:

“The fans were holding back a little. Not as hard on the Jets as in years past. They know this is a new system.”

How was the officiating?

“They definitely need the regular refs. Even from where we were sitting, we could see there was a lot of holding going on. These are the greatest players in the world and they know they can get away with a lot of stuff. You could tell the refs just let them play. There were no out and out blown calls. But, in the Raider K.C. game we say on replay, there was a really bad call on Tim Brown where he was knocked out of bounds by a Chiefs receiver, and clearly would have come down inbounds. Brown yelled so much they slapped him with a 15 yard penalty. Yeah, they miss the real refs.”

Mr. Jet said Payton Manning, the Colt QB had a great game, being 7 for 13 on third down conversions. “That killed the Jets. They’d stop him on the first two, and then bingo, he’d convert. The Colts just overwhelmed us.”

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You be the Architect! Help Louis Cappelli Design His Towers!

Now, with site plan approval coming up, it’s time to help Louis Cappelli sell the finicky Common Council what you want in a brand-new, scientifically created by hearsay poll.
In our first WPCNR Poll ever, 87% (58) of you responding out of 63 individuals went for the 34 story height for the Towers of Cappelli. And the Common Council followed your lead.

There’s no way of telling whether the Common Council actually took your overwhelming, resounding, endorsement of 34 stories into account when they voted 6-1 to allow The Super Developer to build two stairways to Heaven for White Plains.

But the first WPCNR Poll was revealing.

Now with the Common Council suddenly worrying about the Towers of Cappelli not being elegant enough, or remarkable enough, or enough of enough, or whatever, they need your help. (Rita Malmud referred to them as “34 stories of mediocrity.”)

Architects with dubious motives have secretly complained about the Cappelli designs at the eleventh hour.

No one has considered that the City Center will bring 1500 jobs, 1,000 people to the downtown. They are just wringing their hands over how it will look. It’s time to give the Common Council some confidence.

WPCNR has rounded up the styles that have been advanced by architects who have been critical of the Cappelli Tower Designs (pictured elsewhere on this site–See “Towers of Cappelli: Controversy Looms”).

First take a look at the “Towers of Cappelli” story and see the designs.

Then go to the poll in the column. We’ve capsulated many suggestions we’ve heard made into 10 options, and if you have other ideas you can write your comments in about what should be considered in the designs. Perhaps your tastes will help Louis Cappelli and Fred Bland who we hope is at the very moment, (we think) tweaking Mr. Cappelli’s designs.

It’s your chance to be an architect! Go ahead, YOU be the architect!