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

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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!

Tigers lose to N. Rockland in Football Opener, 42-13

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Three gift touchdowns put the Tigers down early in the 85 degree swelter of Parker Stadium Saturday and they never recovered. Running of Lawrence, Moronta will compliment Rindenhour in games to come.
The White Plains Tigers opened football 2001 at Palmer Stadium and found themselves quickly down 21-0, after the first quarter.

FIRST COIN TOSS of the year at Parker Stadium Saturday.

North Rockland is an obvious powerhouse, both big and quick. Their disciplined swarming pursuit of the ball on defense is complimented by backs on offense who can get outside quickly behind their ferocious line. The combination did the Tigers in Saturday afternoon, 42-13.

White Plains had the Red Raiders stopped on third down on the opening series when Greg Damon’s quarterback option roll to the left froze the Tiger secondary deep allowing the Raiders QB to slip through into the flat for 16 yards and a first on the Tiger 48. One of the Raiders matched set of burly swift backs ripped right for 12 to the 36. On the same QB option roll on third and 5, Greg Damon this time passed, after the Tiger secondary came up for an anticipated stop in the flat. Damon hit Stetson Terpak down on the 20 on the farside, who had slipped behind the Tiger secondary wide open on the 20 and he steamed in for TD. It was 6-0, and the Tigers were in a hole, 4 minutes into the game.

The Tigers went three and out, and N. Rockland, and two pass plays put the Raiders on top 14-0. A muffed punt snap, set up North Rockland inside the Tiger 5, and they punched for the 21-0 lead after the first quarter.

Again the Tigers went three and out, not making any holes in the swarming Raider line. A 16 yard punt return put the ball on the Tiger 36, and Phil DeCosta blew past a desperately reaching Tiger arm and cruised 36 yards into the endzone, 28-0, North Rockland in the middle of the second quarter.

Regaining their composure, the Tigers picked up their first first of the day when Darrell Mack hit Wilson Moronta for a pass and run combo that picked up 51 yards setting up White Plains on the Rockland 23. Spencer Ridenhour ripped off tackle 14 yards to the 9, and carried 6 more yards to the three. Spence on fourth down from the three bounced off two players and redirected punching in for a score to make the deficit 28-7 at the half.

SPENCER RIDENHOUR bulldogging for TD in 2nd Quarter action at Palmer on Saturday afternoon. PHOTOS BY WPCNR SPORTS

The Tigers got a break to start the second half when Jeff Lee picked off a Rockland pass and returned it to the Raider 45, and we in the stands were thinking this was a break for a comeback. Not to be, as Mack was sacked by three Raiders (who just kept coming all day–they are very big and quick off the line), for a 16 yard loss. The Raiders then picked Mack off for a 37 yard interception return, setting the Raiders up for a 35-7 lead midway through the third. Game over.

White Plains moved the ball late in the 4th quarter on alternating runs by senior Wilson Moronta and Junior Greg Lawrence, with Lawrence scoring the second Tiger touchdown as time ran out to make the final score 42-13. Moronta convoyed 35 yards to the Rockland 37, and Lawrence 26 yards to the 11. With Lawrence on 4th and 2 scampering in for the final score.

For more on Tiger football, check out the White Plains Football Website

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D’Elia Property is Ours! Council does the right thing.

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“This land is our land, and now this land is your land,” Mayor Delfino celebrated as the Common Council voted in a 7-0 sweep to bond for $1.75 million to acquire the 5-plus acre D’Elia property as the first Open Space acquisition in 20 years.

Under the gun for a decision, Kate Brown of the Trust for Public Land, reported to the Common Council Thursday night that she needed a decision to fund the D’Elia acquisition tonight, otherwise Ronald D’Elia and his contractor, Arnold Orlando would try to develop the property again.

Tom Rothman, financial analyst, assured the Common Council, that by funding now, they could still acquire county aid in a few months towards the $1.5mm purchase, and devote it to the land. He explained by purchasing an interim bond now, that they could defray the costs of the bond later, should the county aid become available.

Armed with this information, the Council passed the funding measure.

Ms. Brown, the person who negotiated the deal for the city, said the next step was to contact Mr. D’Elia and say the funding was available and go to contract. Saying the papers were being drawn up now, Ms. Brown reported heavy pressure from Mr. D’Elia because he thought the Council was not going to go through with the detail.

In addition to funding by bonding in historic gesture, the Council approved the Open Space Policy and its funding processes, and its instruments of implementation, most notably, the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee.

All councilpersons in their remarks were behind the project last night, despite their reluctance to endorse the Mayor’s initiative as well as the bonding as recently as 10 days ago.

Councilman Larry Delgado, in his remarks, came up with a great idea that if citizens are interested in preserving Open Space they could all chip in as little as a dollar to help build the Acquisition Fund just approved.

In a spontaneous gesture on the historic evening, the diehard Common Council gallery of some 15 persons, passed a hat, contributing $5.25, according to City Clerk, Janice Manieri, which was passed up to Mr. Delgado. Ms. Manieri reported to WPCNR that the $5.25 would be added to the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Fund.

Mr. Delgado, appreciating the gesture, came up with a brilliant idea of a voluntary checkoff that could be added to citizen city water bills or tax bills to help build the Acquisition Fund. He felt it would be a painless, voluntary way to involve the citizenry who wished to contribute personally to the new city open space acquisition fund that was officially born last night.

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William King Places Levine on the Scene Tuesday Night

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William King, White Plains Councilman, reported to WPNCR Thursday that Robert H. Levine had definitely handed him a copy of Levine’s own faxed plea to the Council Tuesday night.

King said Levine introduced himself just prior to the Common Council meeting Tuesday evening, and turned the fax (not shared with the public or read into the official record) over to Mr. King. King reports him as introducing himself and saying nothing else.

King is the first Councilman to place Levine on the scene Tuesday, quietly lobbying Councilpersons discreetly in the mill scene just prior to the Common Council meeting Tuesday.

This was Surprise Tuesday, when the Council came down hard on the aesthetics of the Cappelli buildings for the first time. The lowering of the boom on the buildings at literally the eleventh hour plunged Frederick Bland of Beyer Blinder Belle in demand as the potential savior of the project. It is said only he has the touch that can charm the Council’s sharply changed tastes in achitecture.

King also told us that William Rose, of the Urban Renewal Agency, a companion lobbyist of Levine had not contacted him personally before Tuesday night.

Rose had said to WPCNR that he and the other individuals sharing his point of view had contacted “all” of the councilmen.
King said that Rose and the other individuals mentioned had not contacted Mr. Delgado, or Ben Boyken either to his knowledge.

This lends credence to the observation by city hall observers interviewed by WPCNR who had seen the strange interplay between Council and Cappelli Tuesday that the harsh attitude taken by some of his colleague councilpersons surprised Mr. Delgado and Mr. King and Benjamin Boykin.

Mr. King tried to soften the Council’s harsh message Tuesday evening, strongly telling WPCNR “I think we’re very close in the design. I have liked the looks of the buildings from the beginning.”

The Mayor’s office had nothing new to report from Cappelli sources.

Cappelli Insider: Fred Bland is not on the payroll.

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Frederick Bland, the White Plains Common Council “designated architect” is not inked to a contract yet, according to a Cappelli source, contrary to published reports in printed media.
An informed correspondent stationed inside the Cappelli Empire reported directly to WPCNR that Fred Bland is not as of Thursday evening under contract with CappelliEnterprises.

This information put a published report that Cappelli Enterprises had already hired Fred Bland, partner in Byer, Blinder Belle, the toney design architectural consultants as premature.

“Negotiations are ongoing, and we hope to go to contract Friday,” this source disclosed to WPCNR, under condition of anonymity.

This means that Mr. Bland will have to draw very fast. WPCNR estimated they have 7 days to design, and have all in readiness for the September 20 Common Council meeting.

Asked if he felt Bland could fit into the 24/7 Cappelli pace, our source grinned wickedly, saying, “he’s in for an experience.”

The source said the plan, presuming Bland was on board for the weekend was for Cappelli to come back to the council with some design work by next Friday.

Our source vowed: “We’ll get it done, whatever it takes.”

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High School Opens on Time! “Went Just Beautifully!”

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White Plains High School opened Thursday with students dining in the new cafeteria, Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent of Business reports, with Media Center set for completion the end of September, new Science Wing upper level by early October.
On a first day of school, described by one longtime observer, as having “went just beautifully,” White Plains High School opened the cafeteria portion of its $28 million renovation.

Richard Lasselle, Assistant Superintendent for Business, who has been conducting marathon meetings daily for weeks, spearheading, organizing and coordinating with Principal William Colavito and his high school staff, was breathing a sigh of relief for a job completed. “We opened on time, “ Lasselle told WPCNR, “and we opened the areas we planned to open.”

Cafeteria is open.

The new cafeteria and servery, Lasselle reports, opened for business today with students dining in the new concourse area on the building’s south side. Lasselle reported a gradual “phase-in” taking place today and tomorrow.

Meals were prepared Thursday in the former kitchen of the old cafeteria, and brought over to serve the students. This procedure will be in effect Friday, as well. WPCNR observed the new cafeteria tables in place earlier this week. On Monday, Lasselle expects the new serving kitchen on the back of the cafeteria will be opened and cuisine produced for the first time to the students.

Media Center shelved and stocked end of September

The Library or Media Center is “basically completed,” too, but not furnished with shelves and books yet, Lasselle reports. He says the installation and the “book lift” will be scheduled shortly with the Media Center due to open the end of September. In the interim, instructors are aware that all research has to be conducted on the internet, hardcopy books and sources are not available, he said. He reports the media center is wired for technology, but that no new technology installed, just wiring for the previous equipment.

Science Center scheduled for first two weeks in October

Students will start classes in the new Science Center, according to Lasselle in about the second week of October, when the top floor is expected to open. He says the students are being housed in the former science rooms to begin the year. He expected the whole science wing to be wrapped by the end of October.

Kudos for the team effort

Mr. Lasselle told WPCNR: “I want to thank the high school administration and all staff for their support throughout this project, especially the custodian staff who worked so hard to keep the school clean through the construction. I also thank the project managers, Thomas Construction and the architects, KG & D, for their cooperation.”
Lasselle described the last month as meeting after meeting, setting and resetting priorities, moving around workers, orchestrating the tasks precisely in order to get the new edition functioning for today.

Construction will be completed on the administration wings in the summer of 2001, with the administration continuing to camp out in the trailers.

He said he hopes all parents will attend Open House at the High School on October 4 at 7:30 PM to experience the new renovation in person.

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Text of “Secret Fax” sent Tuesday to Common Council

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Here is the Secret Fax text in its entirety, sent to the Common Council on Tuesday, September 4 before the Common Council meeting, obtained by WPCNR News.< Facsimile Transmission September 4, 2001 Pages sent: 2 To: Hon. J. Delfino
Hon. R. Malmud
Hon. B. Boykin
Hon. L. Delgado
Hon. R. Greer
Hon. W. King
Hon. P. Oliva

Fr.: R. Levine

Re: Cappelli Project

As you prepare for tonight’s Council meeting, we strongly urge you to review the enclosed Talking Points which conclude by recommending that the Developer augment his professional team by engaging a Design Architect to work with the Schuman Lichtenstein (SL) firm who would continue as the Architect of Record.

This arrangement, recognizing specific strengths of various architects, is standard procedure in the field, a natural response to situations similar to ours. SL has often worked as the Architect of Record this way; in fact, several times with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB). BBB, in turn, has often performed as the Design Architect with others.

BBB’s Fred Bland has indicated today his willingness to meet to further discuss the matter if the City and the Developer are interested in BBB’s participation in this project.

R. Levine
W. Rose
R. Stackpole

Talking Points for Common Council Meeting 9/04/01
Since the Cappelli project relates specifically to the ordinance under consideration, (I/we) would like to register (my/our) strong concerns regarding fundamental functional planning inadequacies of the project as it has been thus far presented, inadequacies which must be dealt with, in full, prior to consideration for Site Plan approval.

1. Access and parking
* What are the options re the dimensions of the main structure, and the resulting number of levels required?

* Is it possible to have more of the parking below grade, with potential tunnel access to adjacent sites?

* What alternatives are there re the number, type and location of curb-cuts and ramps?

2. Building massing and related open space

•What are the options re locations/massing/setbacks/orientation of the residential towers?

•What are the options for distributing the net available open space at grade along the various property/street lines? Specifically, are there better ways to relate to the City Hall vista and to potential future development to the west and northwest?

3. Flexibility: provision for growth and change

•How could future development absorb additional site area to the northeast?

•What would be the effect of a third residential tower on this ‘block’?

•What reasonable provisions can be incorporated to respond to possible revisions in movie-theatre marketing strategies?

Contrary to some recently expressed opinions, these are not mere estheticconsiderations, subject to the whim of the beholder. Past experience, in White Plains and elsewhere, has taught us that a high quality planning resolution is essential to the long-term success of a project, which, after all, will be with us for a long time.

Unfortunately, because (I/we) have come to conclude that the problems outlined have been figuratively “wallpapered” over, with little, or no, recent progress (I/we) feel it is essential that the developer propose to the Council his engagement forthwith of the services of an architect, recognized in the profession for design expertise and for demonstrated accomplishment with urban developers, to assist us in achieving the “elegant” result White Plains was promised and which has thus far eluded us.

Perhaps Mr. Cappelli could address these concerns before we vote.

Secret Fax Shatters Council Confidence in Cappelli Designs.

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The first time Louis Cappelli realized the Common Council was against his firm’s designs was at the Council meeting Tuesday night. All Councilpersons received or were sent a fax that afternoon that could have triggered the Council dumping the designs.

It was just a helpful fax.

Local architect Robert H. Levine (whose name is on the fax as sender), faxed the 2-pager to Mayor Joseph Delfino, Councilpersons Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin II, Larry Delgado, Robert Greer, William King and Pauline Oliva. Our source said it arrived Tuesday prior to the evening Common Council hearing on a Special Permit hearing for Louis Cappelli. The hearing was to allow Louis Cappelli to build his two towers at the City Center to 34 stories.

Fax promotes Fred Bland as resource for Cappelli team.

The fax held out a very attractive carrot to a Council under pressure: the opportunity to get Fred Bland from Beyer Blinder Bell to advise on the project, or so they might have reasoned from the document.

Here is a quote from the secret fax obtained by WPCNR:

As you prepare for tonight’s Council meeting, we strongly urge you to review the enclosed Talking Points which conclude by recommending that the Developer augment his professional team by engaging a Design Architect to work with the Schuman Lichtenstein (SL) firm who would continue as Architect of Record.

This arrangement, recognizing specific strengths of various architects, is standard procedure in the field, a natural response to situations similar to ours. SL has often worked as the Architect of Record this way; in fact, several times with Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB). BBB, in turn, has often performed as the Design Architect with others.

Here’s the kicker, as it continues:

BBB’s Fred Bland has indicated today (Tuesday) his willingness to meet to further discuss the matter if the City and the Developer are interested in BBB’s participation in this project.”

The fax went on to raise more “Talking Points” for the council to raise in the Tuesday meeting. The complete text of this mysterious fax undisclosed Tuesday evening is available to read elsewhere on the site.

The fax is type-signed without signatures by “R. Levine” and his two co-signers of the fax, “R. Stackpole,” of the Planning Board and “W.Rose,” of the Urban Renewal Board.

(This raises the possibility that Mr. Rose and Mr. Stackpole did not know their names were on the fax.) Mr. Rose has acknowledged to WPCNR that he and Mr. Levine and Mr.Stackpole had been expressing their concerns to “all” Common Councilmembers for sometime.

Anatomy of a Set-up

Cappelli, meanwhile dismissed an early warning sign.

A source close to the Cappelli organization told WPCNR under condition of anonymity that Mr. Cappelli was contacted on an undisclosed golf course early Tuesday morning September 4 and informed of possible Council retreat on the issue of the tower designs.

It appears that no councilmember talked to Cappelli before the councilmeeting about what they were about to do for him and to him.

The project was going good.

Mr. Cappelli had reason to believe 6 days previously on Wednesday evening, August 29, that the council was on board. The Council indicated they liked the way the designs were going.

Five of the six councilpersons expressed enthusiasm with the designs (with the exception of Rita Malmud who made no public knowledge of how she felt about the project on Wednesday, the 29th).No one spoke up and said, “Lou, this is not working for us. We just don’t feel we’re there.”

Mr. King had even said “we’re getting close,” Mr. Delgado liked what he saw, just wanted to see a two-story glass treatment.

Cappelli thinks he has a consensus.

According to WPCNR’s source, the boss was not worried on the golf course call Tuesday morning. He was reported to react in his usual confident manner, saying he was not that married to the designs, that he would just hire Bland, without the expectation that he would ever have to. He had no idea what was about to hit him Tuesday evening.

The Tuesday Night Surprise

He got his approval for the height, but the Council to a man and woman with the exception of the Mayor, told him literally to go back to the drawing board. They expressed, no demanded, he use Fred Bland on the project.

The council told him this, as far as WPCNR can analyze, based on the fax. The fax had told them Mr. Bland was available.

However, Mr. Bland was not “on board.”

George Gretsas, according to the Beyer Blinder Belle offices Wednesday had been trying to reach Bland most of Tuesday afternoon unsuccessfully. Whether or not Mr. Bland has made a verbal commitment to Mr. Cappelli or Mr. Gretsas Tuesday is not known at this time.

Mr. Bland is very committed this week. He was judging an architectural exhibition in New York Wednesday, Thursday according to his office. Mr. Bland has not, at this time, returned WPCNR’s calls.

The situation.

There is no indication in the fax that Mr. Bland had criticized Mr. Cappelli’s designs to Mr. Levine, and Mr. Levine, contacted by WPCNR has already told us he will not comment on any phase of this matter.

We have no way of telling what Mr. Bland actually told Mr. Levine, whether he saw the designs, and it would be irresponsible to speculate.

First sign of trouble

WPCNR first learned that Mr. Bland had apparently seen Cappelli’s tower designs when Robert Greer, a backer of the project, troubled and concerned, told us Tuesday morning that Mr. Bland had criticized the designs.

Greer revealed three architects were going to present their feelings about the quality of Cappelli’s Tower architecture to the Common Council. He did not say when or how the architects would make their feelings known.

WPCNR assumed Greer meant the meeting Tuesday night. But, did it actually occur Tuesday afternoon through the medium of the “Secret Fax,” no longer secret?

Common Councilmembers we have contacted and asked if they received any input from architects did not mention receiving any except Mrs. Malmud. She named Mr. Rose, Mr. Levine and a third architect, as three who had talked with her about the designs after the Council meeting on Tuesday evening. (The third architect was not Mr. Stackpole).

You know the rest.

Cappelli was into damage control at Tuesday’s Council hearing saying “he’d become aware” that there was council dissatisfaction with the designs and that he was willing to hire Fred Bland to bring him on board as the design architect with Schuman Lichtenstein as the drawings architectural firm.

We saw a composed Cappelli, numb after approval by a 6-1 vote of the height, brushing politely past congratulations, his eyes steely and searching, troubled, slightly uncertain, focused on an uncertain future.

This is not just WPCNR’s impression. Witnesses described Cappelli as being “floored” by the Council demand to redesign, “absolutely floored.”

The Mayor’s office had no statement to issue by the end of the day Wednesday on the search for Fred Bland. A somber Paul Wood reported that it was out of the Mayor’s Office control now because Bland would be working for Cappelli, not the Council, if Cappelli succeeds in hiring him.

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Architectural “advisors” lobbied council to discard Cappelli designs

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WPCNR has learned that concerned planners, planning board members and architects quietly pressured councilpersons to demand more “extraordinary” design of the Towers of Cappelli.
One of the architects, identified by Councilperson Rita Malmud Tuesday night as having influenced her thinking in her rejection of the Tower designs, confirmed the quiet grassroots effort to WPCNR Wednesday.

William A. Rose, Jr., member of the Urban Renewal Board said he and several other community citizens have been talking by telephone and at gatherings around town (The Rotary Club) to “all of the councilpersons” expressing their concern about the Cappelli designs as first submitted.

Cappelli designs didn’t meet “criterion.”

The architect, William A. Rose, Jr. of Hillair Circle, and a member of the Urban Renewal Board told WPCNR today that “I think that you heard Mr. Cappelli correctly (last night). Several people had expressed concern to the council, and most of this came from Fred Bland’s comment on ‘the need to make sure the architecture is extraordinary.’ After the first submissions of Mr. Cappelli, it became apparent they didn’t meet this criterion.”

Rose said other persons expressed the same sentiments to all the councilpersons in telephone calls and community meetings. He said that critics of the design who spoke out to the councilpersons about “mostly the height” and inadequacy of the design included Robert Stackpole and John Garment of the White Plains Planning Board, David Volberg of the Planning Department and Robert Levine, another architect.

Planning Board members did not react negatively to designs shown them.

Mr. Stackpole and the other reported concerned Planning Department-connected citizens supported a position against the design of the buildings to councilpersons, even though Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment signed a letter from the Planning Board to the Common Council saying they supported the 38-story height.

Both Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment are reported not to have voiced any concerns about the designs of the Cappelli towers, at the time Mr. Cappelli showcased his designs to the Planning Board. WPCNR points out that Mr. Stackpole and Mr. Garment may have been saving their design concerns until it came time for the Planning Board to review the actual site design plans in the natural scheme approvals.

No comment from Mr. Levine

Mr. Levine was identified by Ms. Malmud as being one of the other architects who had spoken to her privately on the subject of the Capelli Tower designs. However, Mr. Levine declined to comment to WPCNR when asked about his feelings about the Cappelli tower designs, saying that he does not talk to the press because it does not understand and it misrepresents what he says.

Rose pleased with results of lobbying effort.

“Mr. Cappelli,” Rose said, “has done the right thing by agreeing to hire Fred Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle to assist in designing the project. A large number of people were concerned about the architecture.”

Rose said the Cappelli designs shown the Common Council August 29, were “better than anything he had previously shown. At last he’s moved ahead with his thinking. He has a ways to go yet.”

No specific suggestions.

WPCNR asked Rose what he’d like to see Bland address in his future design of the building. Rose said the buildings have to be considered “in terms of scale, quality of materials, shapes of the buildings, and what the proportions are going to be.”

He said it was difficult to say precisely what he’d like to see on the buildings, or what was wrong with the three towers presented last Wednesday, and the double glass design shown for the first time Tuesday night. He commented that the designs “because there was such a rush associated with this project, simply didn’t approach the standard that was worthy of being shown to the public. Before things got into the public domain, they should have stayed on the architect’s desk a little longer.”

Cappelli agreed Tuesday to hire Bland

He said he was primarily critical of the architect, not Cappelli Enterprises.

We asked when Rose first heard Cappelli had agreed to engage Mr. Bland. He said, “Yesterday when I learned Mr. Cappelli was going to hire Fred Bland.”

Rose concluded his comments to WPCNR, saying, “Nothing should be considered political in this. There was no collusion. No cabal, nothing to insinuate a threat to the project.”

Bland may not be able to start design until weekend.

However, Mr. Bland is not on the job yet as of Wednesday night. As of 5 PM Wednesday afternoon, WPCNR was advised by Dean Bender of Thompson & Bender, Cappelli’s spokesman, that he did not know if Mr. Cappelli had been able to reach Mr. Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle to engage his design services as of very late Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, at Beyer Blinder Belle in New York City

Mr. Bland’s office Wednesday morning advised WPCNR that Mr. Bland was engaged in an architectural jury judging Thursday and Friday and appeared not to be available. George Gretsas of the Mayor’s Office was reported trying to reach Mr. Bland throughout most of Tuesday afternoon before the Council meeting, but he could not be reached, because he was reported to be at the US Open.

WPCNR asked Mr. Rose if he felt the time between now and September 20 was enough for the Beyer, Blinder Belle to input effectively into the design tweaking. He felt that BBB had enough talented persons.

WPCNR was first tipped to this story Tuesday morning by Robert Greer, who mentioned that some architects were very much against the design, and he expected three of them to speak at the Common Council meeting. However, they did not speak.

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Council Approves 34 stories for Cappelli Towers, demands new designs

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The Common Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to permit Louis Cappelli to build his City Center towers to heights of 34 stories with a catch. It demanded Cappelli totally redesign his two towers in 16 days, dismissing the prototypes they’d been looking at for 2 weeks.

As reported by WPCNR Tuesday afternoon, the City Center was in trouble: the tower designs were not going to fly.

The Common Counci appears to have been swayed by private input from at least three prominent local architects told to at least one councilperson. The Council is disenchanted with Mr. Cappelli’s submitted designs for the two 34-story residential apartment buildings. The council voted 6-1 (with Pauline Oliva voting against the 34-story height), to approve the Towers of Cappelli, but the designs went out the window.

Council waffles on appearance of buildings

Pauline Oliva, Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin, Robert Greer, Larry Delgado and William King all strongly expressed desires for a grander set of towers, completely dismissing the two buildings that they, with the exception of Mrs. Malmud, had lead Mr. Cappelli to believe they liked a scant 6 days ago.

For once Mr. Cappelli had no answer. He appeared shaken. Though he expressed knowledge that he was aware of an undercurrent of concern about the design, he appeared to have been taken by surprise. Otherwise, why had not Fred Bland already been contacted earlier Tuesday, this reporter mused.

”Get Me Fred Bland and Make it Snappy!”

Cappelli says he needs site plan approval (which by definition includes an approved project design), by September 25 when he expects to close on his $375 million in financing with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The beleaguered builder doggedly pledged round-the-clock designing.

He said he would immediately hire Fred Bland, Partner of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, the architectural firm that had convinced the Council that the 34-story height was acceptable, to work with his architects, to work 24 hours a day, if necessary for 16 days to get a design acceptable to the Council’s aesthetics. Cappelli said that since the Council had confidence in Bland, he felt he would be a good choice to start the design process over.

Cappelli told WPCNR he had no idea of Mr. Bland’s whereabouts, or whether he was even available to design personally. He had not yet been in touch with the architect, but he said wryly he’d send people out to find him, if Bland could not be reached Wednesday morning.

All was not well as late as the end of last week

WPCNR first learned of the architectural reservations about the buildings Tuesday morning after Robert Greer’s Campaign for Mayor Kickoff News Conference. Greer told WPCNR the council was having major problems with the design,even indicated that Fred Bland himself, had expressed “disappointment” with Cappelli Enterprises design effort on the building. In fairness to Mr. Bland, this is what Mr. Greer said, and we have not gotten Mr. Bland’s version.

After the Common Council voted the approval of the height issue, Greer confirmed again late Tuesday evening that some architects had been in conversation with some councilpersons about the design issue, and he knew the designs were “in trouble” at the end of last week. He would not say what councilpersons were in touch with carping architects. So WPCNR asked.

Larry Delgado and Benjamin Boykin both said they had not heard or been influenced by any architects regarding the design. We did not have the opportunity to ask Mr. King and Ms. Oliva.

“Attackchitects” catch Malmud’s ear.

Mrs. Malmud, who in casting her vote for the 34-story height, called the two Cappelli designs “towers of mediocrity,” told us she had heard from three architects on the design of the project. She named two architects and a third prominent name architect, extremely well-known in White Plains project circles.

WPCNR feels would be inappropriate to identify all three at this time, though we do know their names and they were named by Ms. Malmud “on the record.” The high profile architect had talked with her about the merits of the Cappelli designs at the Stop N Shop groundbreaking last week. Mrs. Malmud would not say what he actually did say, but indicated he was not enthusiastic.

Mediocrity defined

We asked Mrs. Malmud why she felt the Cappelli designs were “towers of mediocrity.” She said they were “nothing, they were generic, undistinguished. (They) had nothing to recommend them as architecture.”

Asked if Mr. Bland accepted the Cappelli commission to make a last minute save, what her recommendations would be to him, the Council President said “I want to see great architecture. I’d want it to be so special. If he (Bland) were here I would say I want a building that would be distinguished, elegant. It should be soaring. I’m not trying to turn words into architecture, but Mr. Cappelli is an engineer, he’s not an architect. I don’t mean that against Mr. Cappelli personally.”

WPCNR asked why Mrs. Malmud had not expressed her reservations at the final three Cappelli designs at last Wednesday’s work session when Cappelli had presented the very same buildings that were dismissed last night, Ms. Malmud said, “At that point I had given up. (The designs) seemed acceptable to them (the rest of the council).”

Asked when Mrs. Malmud had first known she did not like designs, she told WPCNR, “As soon as I saw them.”

Asked what she was looking for in building increments, Ms. Malmud said “I’ll know it when I see it.”

National Amusements is “in.”

The hearing preceding the approval of the 34 story tower heights, featured an announcement by Mr. Cappelli that he had received a signed contract from National Amusements for a 20-year lease for 15 theaters in the City Center project at 6:30 PM Tuesday evening.
Mr. Cappelli celebrated this by giving a wrapped gift to the Mayor, which when the Mayor opened it on television, was discovered to contain popcorn. Cappelli joked that the gift was a reference to the Mayor’s saying he hoped to be enjoying popcorn at the City Center downtown at the movies in two years.

Then a procession of persons from businesses, neighborhoods, apartments in the downtown, and just every day citizens came up to the Common Council Pulpit to support strongly and eloquently the City Center project. Only one speaker recommended rejection of the height. Only one person speaking expressed criticism of the designs.

Council Sends Cappelli Back to the Drawing Board

Louis Cappelli after receiving his 6-1 approval vote from the council in favor of the height, looked like a man who had been kicked in the stomach after he left the Council Chambers at 11:30 PM, the hour when the council approved the endlessly debated height question.

When another warrior in the approval wars, William Null said “congratulations” to Mr. Cappelli, he appeared not even to hear it. It was a Pyrrhic Victory.

His work was just beginning and it was no longer “his” project. It was Fred Bland’s — if Mr. Bland wants it.