Carmen Leggio, Romantic Sax for 60 years, leads Festival on 22nd at Arts Council

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Donovan Guy, impresario for the Westchester Jazz Legends Music Series will present the righteous Carmen Leggio and his Quartet for an evening of romantic jazz standards Saturday night, September 22 at the Westchester Arts Council Building as the keynoter in the 2001 Legends lineup.
The Westchester Arts Council building will turn into an old-fashioned jazz club without the smokey blue haze and drinks September 22, when Carmen Leggio, “The Tenor Man from Tarrytown” eases in for a one-night stand.

Guy reports that Leggio’s career headlined the original Birdland night club in the early 50s. He’s best known for his long association with Yonkers resident, Gene Krupa, and Carmen’s jazz career spans six decades.

“The Tenorman from Tarrytown” played with Maynard Ferguson’s All Stars Big Band. He was lead saxophone with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, with Benny Goodman’s Sextet, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.

The Tenorman with the Big Bell Sound

Leggio has been playing the same unique big bell tenor Gold Medal SML saxophone since 1961. The instrument, made by Strasser, Marigaux & Lemaire, with a bell over 6 inches in diameter, was given him by Jack Loeb, Manhattan importer of SML saxophones in 1961.

CARMEN LEGGIO as he appeared in the 1960s in a vintage advertisement for SML saxophones, from the SML website.

“I don’t know much about horns and mouthpieces,” Leggio (now in his 70s) explained his affection to writer Fred Cicetti, for his antique saxophone which is almost as old as he is. “A friend of mine (Loeb) got me to the right sax and set-up and I just stayed with it because it worked for me. A sax is like a pair of shoes. If you get a pair that is comfortable, you can learn how to do any kind of dance in them.”

The Willie Mays of Tenormen

Leggio can dance. His body language says “saxman.” Fred Cicetti, the jazz writer describes him as slightly stooped over, and his head bent down a bit. Cicetti writing on the SML website, loves his playing style: “Leggio blows tenor the way Willie Mays ran down a flyball. They both let you know from the get-go that you’ll never be able to do it their way.”

Man of a Thousand Songs

Leggio’s name means “music stand” in Italian, though he never uses one, because as Carmen says, “I have thousands of songs memorized. I can hear a song once and know how to play it. In my whole life, I’ve never bought a piece of sheet music.”

Jazz aficionados and couples looking for a moody evening in White Plains and what great tenor is should snap of a pair of the limited ducats for Carmen and his quartet. Only 200 seats will be sold.

The performance is at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, the Westchester Arts Council Building on Saturday night, September 22. The gig is from 7 to 10 PM. Tickets are $20 in advance,$25 at the door, and may be purchased at the Arts Council Building, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue. Call 328-0671 or 428-4220 for more details.

“The Tenorman from Tarrytown” Today. He’ll be appearing one night only, 7 PM to 10, Septemeber 22 at the Westchester Arts Council first floor rotunda. Tickets are $20 in advance, call328-0671 or 428-4220.

LocalBoy Plays Good

Leggio taught himself to play, first on the clarinet, trying to imitate Artie Shaw playing on the radio. Carmen still plays Artie’s romantic showstoppers: “Stardust,” “Nightmare” and “Begin the Beguine,” but when he does, he plays them on an old King metal clarinet like Artie.

By age 14, the lure of sax overcame him and he switched to tenor sax, and Leggio landed gigs in night clubs in Tarrytown.

His father was not happy: “I quit high school, because I knew I was meant to be a musician,” Leggio told writer Fred Cicetti in a recent interview. “But my father was so angry he didn’t speak to me for years. On his deathbed, he admitted I was right to leave school.” Carmen still lives in Tarrytown where he got his start in jazz, and is still recording.

Recording artist

His last album is “Sax After Midnight for Lovers,” on which he lends is smooth big tenor touch “My Foolish Heart,” “Angel Eyes,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “When Your Lover Has Gone,” and other favorite standards.

Cicetti describes the album stylings this way: “Leggio provides a lot of breath and vibrato to seduce his listeners. He sounds a bit like Ben Webster, but with even softer edges. The tone he gets throughout the range of his tenor will put anyone in the mood for love.”

In the mood for romantic sax

Mr. Leggio will appear at the Arts Council first floor rotunda with Chris Parker on skins, Doug Abrams at the keyboard, and Lou Stelluti on bass, and their stylings will be given an added dimension by Glenda Davenport joining them as vocalist.

What is Leggio’s big bell sound?

He explains why he has played his big bell SML for 41 years: “I loved it, because of the tone the bigger bell gives you. I also liked that it was heavy. I like a heavy horn because it’s like a heavy car—it holds the road better. I was told that Coleman Hawkins played an SML and that influenced me a little, too.”

Cecetti reports that Carmen accidently ran over his beloved saxophone last year and had to have his repairman, Jay Beers, attempt to repair it: “He did an incredible job,” Carmen reports. “Actually it sounds even better now. I have no idea why. It’s darker and mellower.”

White Plains hipsters can hear that “darker, mellower” sound — what tenor sax is all about September 22.

Save Time and Money, Order Tickets for All Concerts now

Coming up in the series after Carmen’s performance:

October 27, the Jazz Legends presents Fred Smith & The Masters of Swing.
November 24, it’s the Jimmy Hill Quartet with Alto Sax smoothie, Jimmy Hill performing.
A fourth concert is in the process of being booked. Jazz buffs may order a ticket for all 4 concerts for $75, 3 concerts, $55, 2 concerts,$35. Tickets for the Leggio performance are $20 apiece in advance, $25 at the door.

The Rebel Council Appeals to Spano

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Here is the text of the letter Councilpersons Robert Greer, William King, Rita Malmud, Pauline Oliva, and Benjamin Boykin wrote to County Executive Spano Wednesday.
August 28, 2001

Dear County Executive Spano:

The City of White Plains is currently negotiating for the purchase of approximately six acres of open space andits eventual dedication as parkland. the property, commonly known as the D’Elia property, is situated in the Reynal Park/Rocky Dell section of White Plains and abuts The Greenway — dedicated City parkland.

The Trust for Public land has been involved in negotiations with the present owners on the City’s behalf and has arrived at a purchase price of $1.75 million. White Plains is very interested in owning this property as permanent open space and dedicating it as parkland. However, an unaided purchase of this magnitude would strain the City’s ability to buy other desirable parcels of open space for use as parkland.

We know of the County’s interest in open space preservation and wish to respectfully request that the County provide the City with financial assistance in order to make this important acquisition.


Rita Z. Malmud, Council President

Robert Greer,Councilman

Pauline C. Oliva, Councilman

Benjamin Boykin II, Councilman

William M. King,Councilman

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Rebel Councilpersons Snub Mayor in Appeals to Spano for D’Elia Aid

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A letter from five Common Councilpersons requesting open space aid from County Executive Andy Spano was faxed to a Journal News Reporter Wednesday without notifying the Mayor and a sixth Councilman before it was apparently leaked to the reporter..
The Mayor’s office was shocked Wednesday when, according to Executive Officer George Gretsas, Journal News City Hall Beat Reporter, Susan Elan, contacted him asking him for City Hall comment on a letter she had received sent Spano by five Councilman.

Ms. Elan, Gretsas said, told him she had received a letter, faxed her by Robert Greer, signed by five Common Council members including Greer, asking County Executive Andy Spano’s office for aid in funding the $1.775 million purchase of the long-sought D’Elia property off the Greenway approved by the Capitol Projects Board Tuesday.

The Council takes over.

Gretsas told WPCNR he had no idea what she was talking about, and he asked her to fax the letter over to him so he could comment on it. She faxed it to him at 2:45 PM.

According to Gretsas it was the first time the Mayor’s office was aware of the maverick Council initiative.

County spokesperson Donna Greene told WPCNR: “It (the letter) came up here in a letter form (I think hand delivered) addressed to the county executive, signed by the 5 council members at about 2 PM. (Precise time not known.)”

She said she did not think the County Executive had examined the letter immediately upon its arrival.This raises the possibility that the reporter may have known about the request before Mr. Spano did.

Letter does not “cc:” Delfino

A copy of the letter obtained by WPCNR has five Councilmen signing the letter which is written on Robert Greer’s City Council stationary. The five are: Robert Greer, Rita Malmud, Benjamin Boykin II, William King and Pauline Oliva. The letter formally calls for the County Executive to step in and supply county aid for the D’Elia property, in effect, (since the Mayor was not carbon copied or informed to Gretsas’ knowlege), behind the Mayor’s back. It also raises the question whether all five councilmembers met privately which is forbidden by the City Charter, to sign the letter.

Friday, Paul Wood, spokesman for the Mayor’s office said, Mayor Delfino had indeed met with County Executive Spano on Wednesday but they had not discussed any open space aid package.

If Spano knew of the letter, it could be assumed he might have mentioned it to Mayor Delfino. This raises the question of whether the reporter knew of the five councilpersons’ request before the County Executive.

The council still has to vote officially to authorize the $1.775 million expenditure on the D’Elia property. It is on the agenda for approval for the September 4 Common Council meeting, along with the Council resolution to establish the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee and adapt as city policy the Mayor’s Environmental Protection Initiative.

Can Council Acquire Land working within the Trust for Public Land model?

WPCNR learned from a key city environmental officialwho spoke on condition he not be identified, that the Wednesday letter is the first time since the Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee was formed last spring), that the Council has raised the question of going to the county for aid to fund the $5 million acquisition fund. They have not done so, even when the Council has voted to approve a Home Rule Request to Albany to release pension fund money to fund partially the $5 million earmarked to spend on open space properties.

Susan Habel at the Tuesday CapitalProjects Board recommendation hearing said the Mayor engaged the New York Trust for Public Land to negotiate for the D’Elia property because it had long been suggested strongly by Open Space advocates that the city use the Trust services.

Now, in the first negotiation the Trust has conducted for the city, successfully, the Council may, in its concern for city expenditures,may be showing it is unable to work within the parameters of the way The Trust for Public Land works: agreeing to a negotiated deal within a tight time frame.

If the council does not have the stomach for a $1.75 million bonding, can they abide with a multi-million dollar purchase down the road?

Council knew Tuesday county, state and federal sources would be explored

The Mayor’s Executive Officer was puzzled by the council need to appeal to the County Executive for aid.

What troubled Gretsas most was that Robert Greer had been explicitly assured by Mayor Delfino at the Tuesday afternoon Capitol Projects Board meeting when the $1.775MM expenditure for the D’Elia piece was agreed upon by all council members in attendance, that aid would be sought from the county, state and federal levels.

WPCNR, covering that meeting, heard Delfino tellGreer explicitly he had a meeting with Spano “in about 10 days” to discuss the possibility of direct county aid.

Gretsas expressed disappointment with the letter the council five wrote to Spano, because, he said, the Mayor said Tuesday that if the city depended on the county to approve some aid, the 90 day contractual period the New York Trust for Public Land has to close the deal with the D’Elia owners might be missed.

City will bond for a year, seek aid which could reduce bonding need

Gretsas said Greer’s fears were unfounded. He pointed out the city financial interest was protected in case aid could be secured. He said in cases like these when federal aid might be anticipated, the city executes a short-term bond in anticipation of future aid.

He said the city was going to bond for the 1.775 million purchase price for just one year:
“This one-year bond gives the city time to apply for grants, seek aid from the county and the federal level, yet by bonding now, the city secures the D’Elia property during this brief window because the New YorkTrust for Public Land only has 90 days in which to close the deal. If we receive aid within one year, we can rebond for a lesser amount, but we lock in the deal, now.” (See WPCNR earlier story).

Ryan to the Rescue

Coincidently, aid could be forthcoming. County Legislator William Ryan, (of District 5), was reported in the Journal News as saying he would introduce a bill in the County Legislature to acquire $500,000 in county aid towards the D’Elia purchase, at the County Board meeting September 10.

Interestingly, this move has Ryan supporting two different positions toward “woodsy” open space within White Plains.

Ryan currently supports a $1.9 million county purchase of wooded, Silver Lake-adjacent land in Woodcrest Heights in White Plains to build low cost affordable housing for lower and middle income persons, an ongoing Andy Spano initiative, while only asking for $500,000 to preserve the D’Elia property.

The $1.9 million funding has not been moved to the Legislative Budget committee yet, its next step.

Corcoran to the neighborhoods: Reynal Parkers for it: Greenway not used much now.

Candyce Canelstein Corcoran, an outspoken advocate for open space, Ryan’s rival for the Legislative post in District 5, reported on her walking tours of the Reynal Park area Thursday and Friday. She and her companion Republican candidates for Common Council, Larry Delgado and Robert Amodio have found the neighborhood eager for the D’Elia purchase.

Corcoran made the walking tour, to get a sense whether the neighborhoods were against the purchase if it were open to county residents. Talking with over thirty persons door-to-door, Corcoran reports:

“They feel it is important for the city to acquire the land.They are not concerned who pays for it, and believe even if the county contributes, that it will not see increased use because no one uses it now. They would prefer it to be owned by the city of White Plains for city use only, but at this point they do not seem to care whether it is a combination of city and county money that acquires it. There were 2 residents who expressed resistance to the county helping pay for the property because of the ramifications of it.”

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Another Day, Another Groundbreaking for Mayor: Stop N Shop coming Sept/2002

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“If we work together, anything is possible” Mayor Joseph Delfino said as he presided over opening demolition ceremonies for the New Super Stop N Shop Wednesday at the Westchester Avenue “gateway to the city.”

“MR. REVITALIZATION” RIDES AGAIN: Mayor Joseph Delfino presides over his fourth groundbreaking in a year, the beginning of Stop N Shop construction on Westchester Avenue saying “If we work together, anything is possible.”PHOTO BY WPCNR NEWS

The future of the White Plains Eastern Gateway took an historic step towards gentrification Wednesday. The Stop N Shop Supermarket Company held a Demolition & Groundbreaking Ceremony signaling start of construction of their new supermarket on the site of the old Bank of New York building and Post Road Bowl alley on Westchester Avenue.

The ceremony marked the end of a two decade quest for a supermarket for White Plains that ended with the Stop N Shop and Bianco & Pep’e deal, brokered and encouraged by Mayor Delfino’s diplomacy which made the Wednesday ceremony possible.

Opening in September 2002

When an orange Hitachi 400 Excavator with Hydraulic Pulverizer, lurking over the old Bank of New York branch office like a monster from Jurassic Park, snapped down on the top of a bank wall and started chewing it up at about 11:10 AM, the new 60,000 square foot supermarket was launched. According to David Greene, spokesman for Stop N Shop, the new superstore is scheduled to open in 9 to 12 months, between late spring to September 2002.

Andrew Hennessy, Principal of Berg Hennessy Olson, Washingtonville, N.Y., project architects, told WPCNR the new facility would go up quickly because “construction of supermarkets today can be done in half the time of construction that was executed twenty years ago because of better materials, equipment, technology and building methods.” Hennessy said he expected the new store to open at the latest in September 2002, depending on the weather, or as early as next summer.

Supermarket will not be held up by garage construction

It is not necessary, Hennessy said, for Bianco & Pep’e to complete the garage for the supermarket and Westchester One before the Stop N Shop can open. That is because, Hennessy reports, the new supermarket will use the parking on the ground level of the parking garage. Hennessy said the new garage Bianco & Pep’e is building is prefabricated and should go up in an efficient manner.

“WHITE PLAINS EMERGES FROM SHADOWS: Mayor Delfino and Stop N Shop’s Tim Mahoney unveil the sign announcing new supermarket construction. Mahoney promised Stop N Shop would be a contributing and volunteering member of the community.PHOTO BY WPCNR NEWS

As the Bank of New York was feeling the bite of the Hitachi, Bianco & Pep’e was pouring footings and foundations for the new Department of Public Works garage on 3 Brockway Place. When that structure is completed, the DPW will move its operations from 111 South Kensico to that location.

The White Plains Youth Bureau currently housed in 111 South Kensico expects to move its headquarters to Eastview School in mid-October or mid-November, according to Frank Williams, Youth Bureau Director. Williams said the refurbishing of Eastview for the new bureau was “proceeding very well.”

Frank Miceli, owner of FMC Demolition of New Rochelle said the demolition of the bank building would take approximately one day. The plan is to move from Westchester Avenue inward towards the Post Bowl building. Crews will take down the Post Bowl bowling alley building next in sequence.

Mr. Revitalization hosts fourth groundbreaking in a year.

According to the WPCNR scorecard, this was the fourth groundbreaking of the year for the relentless Delfino Administration: On his watch, the Mayor has begun a new apartment complex off Main Street opposite Eastview section, (Canfield Park), the Cappelli City Center Project, and now Wednesday the culmination of the intricate Stop N Shop/Bianco & Pep’e project. Work is continuing apace at the site of the Bank Street Commons project at the former “Hole in the Ground” for a twin tower residential and hotel complex.

David Greene, host of the ceremonies for the some 75 guests underneath a white tent in the former bank parking lot, began by saluting Joseph Nicoletti, Commissioner of the Department of Pubic Works, for his “spearheading” of the project and “a good level of leadership,” in the creation of the two garages and supermarket plan.

Pep’e family patriarch honored for compromise

Greene singled out the founding patriarch of the Pep’e family, Sal Pep’e, builder of Westchester One, who was in the audience. He commended the legendary builder of Westchester One, now in his 90s, for having “rose to the occasion” and worked out a compromise with Stop N Shop at the urging of Mayor Delfino to make the project possible.

Bianco & Pep’e had originally proposed a Shoprite supermarket project in conjunction with a new DPW garage which was supported by the Mayor, but the Common Council opted for the Stop N Shop design instead last spring. At the urging of members of the Common Council, the Mayor used his long association with the Pep’es to bring them together with Stop N Shop and hammer out the present compromise plan. Greene said the project “represented economic development, new jobs, new (sales) taxes for the City of White Plains.”

Greene introduced Timothy M. Mahoney, Senior Real Estate Manager, of The Stop N Shop Supermarket Company, who said the purpose of the ceremony was “to clear away the old and make way for the new and make way for the reinvestment in this community. Now it’s time for the building to come to life.” Referring to baseball’s Rogers Hornsby who said “the secret to baseball is getting a good ball to hit,” Mahoney said, “We have a great ball to hit.”

The Mayor completes a personal goal urged by the Common Counci:get us a supermarket.

Mahoney introduced Mayor Delfino to do the honors: The Mayor said he remembered that the last time the city built a supermarket was in 1965 when the old Finast was built. He said it was hard for people outside of White Plains to understand that the city does not have a major supermarket within its city limits, pointing out that most residents have to shop outside the city.

“Now we’ve taken the right steps. We’ve cut a lot of ribbons and with each ribbon we cut, Cappelli City Center, the Hole in the Ground, the Barker Avenue site, and now this , development by development we are moving the city to the future.”

The Mayor thanked Sal Pep’e, whom he said he had known for almost 40 years: “Just like Sal, with me handshakes mean everything. We did get together with Stop N Shop and a wonderful merger to make this day happen…Anything can be done if you work together. If you don’t work together, nothing will ever be done. And, now today, it is going to get done.”

The usual events take on a sense of history in the making

Mr. Delfino and Mr. Mahoney proceeded to the unveiling of the sign announcing the new supermarket, posing for a very brief photo-op.

The big Hitachi Excavator took its star turn with Anthony Mariano at the controls. The big machine ate the Bank of New York Building for lunch.

“GODZILLA DEVOURS BANK: The Jaws of Progress of the Hitachi Excavator with Anthony Mariano of FMC Demolition at the controls feed on the Bank of New York on Westchester Avenue starting demolition, paving way for the new super 60,000 square foot Stop N Shop, due to open in by September 2002 “PHOTO BY WPCNR NEWS

Looking like a mechanical tyrannosaurus rex, with menacing jaws, swing bolts looking like eyes, on the end of powerful orange neck, the crane’s “Jaws of Progress” exerted pressures of 160,000 pounds per square inch. The machine fed, bit, chomped and tore at the old building relentlessly, poking and ripping out beams, snapping and gnawing on the old branch roof, exposing a gaping hole with violent authority, tossing 50 foot beams in the air like matchsticks.

A “White Plains Moment” occurred when a blue bowling ball fell from the roof of the bank, plunging to the parking lot. Laughter sprang from the awestruck crowd, and media speculation emerged as to whether the ball was a souvenir of some long ago bowler’s frustration.

With each bite of the dinosaur, White Plains had taken another step to becoming the White Plains of the twenty-first century out of the past.

Projects Board Moves Purchase of D’elia property for $1.775MM

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The Capitol Projects Board recommended the Common Council approve purchase of the D’Elia property, along the Greenway, as part of Mayor Delfino’s Environmental Protection Initiative.

In swift, decisive action, with a minimum of discussion, the D’Elia property was cleared to become the city’s first Open Space Acquisition as part of Mayor Joseph Delfino’s Open Space Acqusition plan Wednesday afternoon.

AT LONG LAST, the D’Elia property is on the brink of being purchased by the city for $1,775,000. The curved light gray portion of the map above is The Greenway. The D’Elia property is in dark gray just below it. The property is located on the East side of the Greenway, abutting the Scarsdale border is approximately 6 acres, thickly forested including the “paper street” that runs through the center. The D’Elia property also features the trickling West Branch of the Mamaroneck River, rocks and steep slopes.

The recommendation to allocate $25,000 from the City Recreation Trust Fund and bond for $1,750,000 to purchase the 5-acre D’Elia property from The New York Trust for Public Land, has to be approved by the Common Council. It is expected by WPCNR that the Council will take up the resolution at their next Common Council meeting September 4.

The $1,775,000 the city will pay, if the Council approves, is less than a New York Trust for Public Land-selected private appraiser has valued the property for sale on the real estate market today. This was the criteria by which the Trust judged whether to acquire the property.

The property was evaluated by the appraiser, Bob Balog, of Balog-Ferrier Real Estate Appraisals in Tarrytown, according to Susan Habel, Deputy Commissioner of Planning. The New York Trust for Public Land negotiated the deal on the city’s behalf and will actually purchase the property from a Greenwich developer who will pay Mr. D’Elia for the property. The city will purchase the piece from the Trust.

Greer raises question of outside aid

Robert Greer lightly raised the question of whether the city would seek aid from Westchester County or the state to fund the purchase. Mayor Delfino said that time was of the essence in purchasing the property. Deputy Commissioner Habel pointed out that the Trust for Public Land had only three months from September 4 to December to close on the contract.

Based on his experience with the County Board of Legislators, Delfino said it would take too long for the County government to work a funding proposal through the system in time to meet the Trust for Public Land 90 day window of opportunity to buy the D’Elia property. He also pointed out if the county helped in acquiring it, the parkland would have to be made available to all county residents.

Delfino said, “If we did not have the money to fund this, we would fund it anyway. We would find the money. That’s how important I feel open space is (to this community).”

Meeting with Spano coming up

Delfino said the city would explore other sources of funding to reduce the need to bond for the money, but it was important to accept the deal at this time because of the owner’s deadline. The Mayor said he would be meeting with County Executive Andy Spano to discuss other issues important to White Plains in the next 10 days, and that funding for this would be part of the discussion.

CCOS delighted. Open Space Acquisition Committee’s first success.

Barbara Benjamin of Concerned Citizens for Open Space was an observer. She commented, “CCOS is absolutely delighted. We feel that this land should be preserved in perpetuity. It’s very environmentally sensitive. We hope to work out ways it can be used as an environmental laboratory.” She added that some of the plans for the site are to use it to teach ecology to students in the White Plains schools.”

The D’Elia property acquisition is the first apparent success, (depending on the Common Council voting for its acquisition), in the Mayor’s Environmental Protection Initiative, and it took just 4 months. The Mayor created the Initiative to pursue open space preservation aggressively. If the Council approves the expenditure of $1,775,000, it will be the first Open Space acquisition by the city in 20 years, according to the Mayor’s office, and the first property purchase by the city in 10 years.

One property almost in the portfolio, 4 to go on “Most Wanted List.”

The D’Elia property is the first property appearing on the Open Space Acquisition Committee “ Top 5 Most Wanted Properties List” to come within reach of the city. Susan Habel commented for WPCNR on the other four properties on the “Want List:”

The Dellwood and Pettinnichi properties in Woodcrest Heights were properties that the city is interested in acquiring, but the County owned the Dellwood piece and has an option to buy the Pettinnichi property for low cost affordable housing. This is currently due to go to the Westchester County Planning Board, but has not as of yet and has been hanging fire since last Spring.

The other property, the Grieco property, also in Woodcrest Heights, is currently under option to Richard Cohen, a developer, who is going through a lengthy environmental review with the Planning Department in attempting to build his Jillian Estates project, consisting of 16 homes on the property. Habel said the owner cannot negotiate to sell their land until Cohen’s option expires.

Another property on the “Most Wanted List” is adjacent to the soon-to-be acquired D’Elia piece. The Mindich property near the Greenway, is in “ongoing” discussions with The Trust for Public Land, according to Habel, but the owner is interested in building a home there at the present time.

A great time to borrow

Habel added that borrowing at this time is very advantageous for the city since municipal bond rates are even lower than commercial bond rates. Louis Cappelli, speaking Monday night to the Common Council also commented that this is a great time to borrow money.

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City Center Countdown: 2 New Tower Designs.

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Louis Cappelli, sun bronzed from a Monday afternoon golf round playing “customer golf” with his City Center financiers, presented enhancements to his proposed City Center residential apartment towers Monday night. Afterwards four of seven Councilpersons seemed inclined to back the 34-story project with enthusiasm.

The Monday evening work session brought the White Plains Common Council closer to its “date with destiny” next Tuesday, September 4. On that fateful day, the Common Council is scheduled to vote on a Special Permit allowing Louis Cappelli to erect two 34-story residential apartment towers on his 7 acre site changing White Plains forever.

Two new tower designs reflect Councilmember comments.

“Mr. Development” presented enhancements of his City Center “Twin Towers” based on council comments on the eight tower designs presented just last Wednesday evening.

HOW TO SELL A CONCEPT:”Mr. Development,” Louis Cappelli, of Cappelli Enterprises, showcases the features the Common Council liked most wrapped up into one building Monday night. The 34-story job is redbrick, with stately stepbacks with a gold pyramid on the top. Mr. C. is selling the advantages of taller, slimmer elegance to a riveted Common Council. Photo by WPCNR

Cappelli put the height question into perspective. He said the first 100 feet of each tower up against the City Center building and the new Martine Avenue garage were useless, and “had to be offset by more expensive real estate (at the top of the building).” He said the key floors of each building were the top six stories (above the 28-floor level) which would rent for $3 a square foot as opposed to $2/a square foot for the bottom 28 stories.

What Council wanted.

Prior to unveiling his two new designs, Cappelli recapped his interpretation of what the Council had said they liked about his designs last Wednesday. He said the Council wanted a more “verticular look” and that the tower facades should be defined more dramatically, and that “the top should form some sort of slant,” referring to the enthusiasm for the pyramid caps he had shown.

He advised that each of the tall towers would contain 280 apartments, and his third Conroy & Martine building (replacing the psychiatric center) would contain 40 loft apartments, making up the 600 apartments. He estimated the 600 units would bring 1.4 persons per unit, approximately 900 to 1,000 permanent residents to the downtown.

Now 380 foot towers, not 340. Cappelli prefers two different towers.
The Council learned that the actual height of the buildings would 380 feet, not 340 feet, since the cupolas of the towers would contain 40 feet of air-conditioning, elevator works and boilers to heat the building. Mr. C said he preferred to build two different towers rather than duplicate towers as Beyer Blinder Belle had suggested. The towers would not be the tallest buildings in Westchester, but the second tallest next to The Avalon in New Rochelle.

Up come the Boards!

Cappelli unveiled two views of the first design featuring a square-topped tower with a gold pyramid treatment and a standard square roofed cupola, with two different brick and glass treatments.

With the second design, he hit a homerun, or at least “a gapper.” It was a spectacular, rich, rose brick fa├žade, clear glass ornate and solid with articulated protrusions and solid, sturdy horizontal definitions at each setback with the column soaring to a Metropolitan Life Building-type golden pyramid peak.

The night views of each proposed tower inspired glowing countenances from the councilpersons. Cappelli, speaking softly in a rapturous, seductive tone, said each building with have setbacks at intervals as the columns soared to the heavens, upon which there would be floodlights turning the buildings into spectacular evening art, beckoning drivers for miles traveling on I-287.

“I can’t build a nicer building than this. It has to be brick, has to be glass. This is a monumental building, with lights on the cutbacks, the atrium lit and clear, especially at night.”

Council appears positive to the concept

Cappelli had them on the run. The exception was Pauline Oliva who repeated her complaint about the calls she had been receiving from residents about the proposed height, and still seemed to be a definite “No.”

Larry Delgado appeared to back off from tacit rejection of 34 stories to quibbles about colored glass, and appeared to be wavering in his opposition to the magic 34. Robert Greer, William King, Benjamin Boykin each expressed enthusiasm for both designs and no reservations about the height, though Greer wanted Fred Bland of Beyer, Blinder Belle to give his opinion of the designs.

Rita Malmud remained the coy muse of the Common Council. She refused comment on the new prototypes, or to weigh in on the “look,” or to comment on the height question, despite Mayor Delfino’s asking her twice for her impressions. The coy Mayor reserved comment until the vote.

The reaction was highly positive.

Councilman William King: “That’s a fantastic top.(Referring to design 2).”
Councilman Robert Greer: “I agree. But, I’d like Fred Bland’s opinion on it. I like the one on the right (gold pyramid topping).”
Councilwoman Pauline Oliva: “I like the accentuated lines, it seems to hug it to the ground.” She pointed out that Cappelli had originally come in with a design for 18 stories, and had many phone calls from persons opposed to the height.

Cappelli said “this (meaning the 34-story buildings) was a trade-off. It’s enabled an acre and a half of public open space. We’re a big city. We’re not a sleepy town of 54,000 people.” He compared the success of the Avalon building in New Rochelle (300 rented in six months) as more reason to go with the height.

Ms. Oliva responded that White Plains acreage is smaller (than New Rochelle). Cappelli said, “That’s why I’ve got to see The Lord (go up).”

Mr. Greer recalled Cappelli’s first proposal: “I remember some pretty squat buildings.” Mayor Delfino agreed, remembering Cappelli had three boxes.

Greer came down emphatically supportive of the higher buildings as opposed to the three boxes: “I think this is a big improvement.”

Councilman Delgado, appearing thoughtful, said: “I’m still interested in what Fred Bland has to say.” Delgado asked about a design using one pane of glass for two floors, and Cappelli said that was coming.

Delgado concentrated his statements on the design, and we could not know whether this meant he now could live with voting for the 34-story height. He said he did not like colored glass because that was characteristic of office buildings. Delgado said “The tops they all look beautiful. You just can’t ignore that it is a tall building.”

Councilman Boykin joined Councilman King’s outright enthusiasm emphatically: “They (both new building designs) look very good. But, once it’s built we can’t change it. By going up, you’re optimizing the infrastructure and providing open space.”

Mayor Delfino, queried by Ms. Malmud, said he liked the first building, and that he “could look at 34 stories.”

Cappelli was seeking a consensus. He said he sensed a “lighter council.” Pauline Oliva again demurred: “If it weren’t for all the calls I get and some critics….”

Cappelli said, in a diplomatic way, “They have no idea or any connection with the downtown…they are not connected.”

Oliva said, “They are. They pay taxes and they vote.”

Cappelli, said, “I’m in it (the downtown). And I vote and pay taxes,” then lightening up, he added, “I don’t want this to be a 4-3 vote, I won’t be satisfied until I get a 7-0 vote.”

The City Center could break ground in January, 2002
He closed his remarks by advising the council there was a 120-day appeal period after approval, and that he wanted to close on his financing by September 20. He anticipated beginning construction, January 5, 2002.

Garage construction procedure being examined.

Cappelli said he was still planning phasing the Martine Avenue garage construction. He was not sure whether to finish it early and lose revenue on it, or finish it at the same time the entire project was completed, which would extend the construction.

In comments on the mezzanine of City Hall, during Executive Session, Cappelli said, if he built the garage right away, he could finish the entire project in 12 months, opening at the end of 2002. If he phased it, he would finish the project in 20 months, with the project opening in mid 2003.

He advised that Sears had agreed to lease him 100 parking spaces, to supplement the 125 the city was making available for permit parkers now housed in the present Main-Martine garage. He was hopeful of even more spaces from Sears. He said he would decide on which timetable he would pursue in about 30 days.

The countdown to the City Center Time Table

The Council will also vote next Tuesday evening on a Zoning Ordinance in the downtown Zoning District allowing 280 foot, or 28 story residential towers on properties of 180,000 square feet (with 15 foot setbacks) in the Main Street-Mamaroneck Avenue-to Post Road corridor. This may set a new course for the White Plains of the future, dedicated to bringing high rise residential back to the downtown.

Should the Council approve the City Center Special Permit next Tuesday, there is one more hurdle for the dashing developer.

The Mayor’s Office reported Friday that should they approve the 34-story Special Permit, the Council will hold a special vote about mid-September to approve the $23 Million in bonding towards the new Conroy & Martine parking garage. This double approval is being created for Mr. Cappelli to close on his financing about September 20.

According to George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, in an interview with WPCNR last Friday, the council only needs a simple majority vote to approve the Special Permit. However, the vote for the bonding of the $23 million tentatively targeted for Mid-September, requires a 5-2 majority.

Should the Special Permit not be approved for Cappelli, there is no indication at this time what the developer would do next.

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Open Space Committee greenlights city buy of D’Elia property.

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The Mayor’s Open Space Acquisition Committee voted unanimously to recommend the first White Plains acquisition of park land in 20 years.

The Mayor’s Office reported Friday that the proposal was met with great enthusiasm by the Acquisition Committee, when Susan Habel presented the news Thursday night. The recommended purchase now moves to the Capitol Projects Board on Tuesday morning, when the price for the land will be revealed, according to George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer.

The deal was announced at the Wednesday, August 22 Work Session of the Common Council by Kate Brown, of the New York Trust for Public Land. Ms. Brown negotiated the deal by which the Trust will buy the land from the contractor now owning an option on the D’Elia property. The Trust, in turn will sell it to the city for a price that Ms. Brown reports is below market value.

Real estate sources advise WPCNR they expect the property to move for approximately $1.1MM leaving about $4MM left in the city’s open space acquisition budget.

If the purchase is approved by the Capitol Projects Board, it could come to the Common Council for a vote. The council in its work session last week gave its blessing by a 5-1 vote, (with Rita Malmud unenthusiastic), to pursue the contract, however a final official vote has to be taken for the purchase to go through.

The development of the D’Elia property has been fought by the Hillair Circle neighborhood and the Concerned Citizens for Open Space organization for years, and now it appears the city is on the brink of preserving this densely forested tract for future generations.

White Plains Police stay the course, endorse Bill Ryan for County Legislator

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“He’s been very supportive of police issues,” says Jim Carrier, head of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association.
The WPPBA endorsed an old friend Sunday night. This is how Officer Carrier described William J. Ryan, incumbent County Legislator, in reporting to WPCNR Sunday that the White Plains Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Ryan for Legislator in District 5 against his challenger Candyce Canelstein Corcoran:

“We’ve only endorsed one candidate so far and that is Bill Ryan,” Carrier told WPCNR. “Legislator Ryan is the head of the County Board of Legislators Public Safety Committee. He’s been very supportive of police issues in the past, and we believe he will continue to do so.”

The WPPBA by virtue of Sunday evening’s announcement breaks with the Scarsdale PBA in endorsing Ryan for the new County Legislative District 5. The Scardale PBA had endorsed Ryan’s opponent, Corcoran. The WPPBA, the Professional Fire Fighters Association of White Plains and the Civil Service Employees Association all had endorsed Legislator Ryan in his bid to run for Mayor of White Plains last April.

Ryan had actually captured the Nominating Committee nomination to be Democratic Party Mayoral standard bearer in November. However he was challenged for the nomination by White Plains Common Councilman Robert Greer and lost the nomination by a poll of the city wide Democratic District Leaders in a very close vote. Ryan’s loss touched off some bitter comments from labor observers in the hall at Democratic headquarters the night Greer wrested the nomination from Ryan. The Firefighter’s union in particular was upset with the Democratic party that evening, one official saying angrily: “We’ve been ignored by the Democrats for the last time, and that we’re going to show the Democrats they can’t take labor for granted.”

Carrier’s announcement to WPCNR Sunday evening only deals with the County Legislator contest.

Mr. Carrier said the WPPBA would be announcing its choices for citywide races for Mayor and Common Council in mid-September.

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Cappelli to council: No 34 stories is a Deal Killer

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Louis Cappelli,made it bluntly clear to the Common Council that he would not compromise with the city on the 34 story heights of his proposed City Center towers Wednesday night.
The super developer expressed anxiety that worsening economic conditions could upset the whole City Center financial structure if he changed his project even one story, effectively killing the project perception with the banks, Avalon, his residential partner, and his prospective tenants.

The Common Council hunkered down in their seats at Wednesday evening’s work session and their eyes became smaller with each sentence uttered by Louis Cappelli who gave them an update and virtually an ultimatum on the City Center project. Councilman Benjamin Boykin, was not in attendance and did not hear the sober, friendly, frank warning delivered by the indefatigable developer.

Cappelli said that all demolition would be completed within the next three weeks, and that he wanted the Council to approve the project at their September 4 Common Council meeting because he feared any further delay could jeopardize the financing of the project.

He presented the council with his “term sheet,” an economic breakdown, floor-by-floor, of the buildings demonstrating how most of the profit of the residential towers was contained in the upper 10 stories of their projected 34 story heights. Lessening the height by one floor, he said would cause him to have to go back to the banks and reconfigure all his leases, financing, and residential partnerships.

“I sense from certain councilmen that theCity Center project was enough. I get a sense from other councilmen that 34 stores might be too high, that it’s something to come off of. It’s really not a negotiation. The bottom seven floors are worthless,” Cappelli said. “Lowering the buildings affects the performance. The top four floors are very valuable. I have to go back to Avalon, the banks. Everywhere today, you see stuff(bad economic news) happening. Time is the enemy.”

Cappelli said bluntly, “I can’t stress enough for you to move on this, say yes so I can close with my banks. I don’t want anybody to think knocking floors off is not a big deal because it is a big deal.”

Cappelli added that he is scheduled to sign a lease with National Amusements, the theater tenant, on September 4 which he will have for the Council in time for their September 4 Common Council meeting that evening, when he urged them to approve the project.

At this point, Cappelli turned to aesthetics and presented eight different brick colors and design treatments for the twin 34-story towers he was demanding. They ranged from redbrick to blue-gray, from vertical to horizontal window treatments, from a block structure pinnacle to varying pyramid pinnacles. He said he was willing to come back with 8 to 10 more treatments of the buildings to hone in on what design the Council was comfortable with.

Rita Malmud reacted to the designs with some warmth, and did not make any comments on the height issue: “I’m having trouble working with the verticalness. The vertical lines need more sense of distinction. I’ll know when I see it. That’s it.”

Pauline Oliva, however, continued her opposition to the 34-story height, though she liked building number eight. Oliva said she liked Building eight because it had a “heavier, lower look.”

Larry Delgado said “It (the design) is not quite there yet.”

William King said he liked Building number six, “I like where you’re going. I’ll support the height. I think it’sjust a matter of tweaking it. It’s a great look.”

Robert Greer said “I don’t pretend to be an architectural maven, but I’m with you on the height. No problems.”

Cappelli ebullient about the reception the design looks were getting said, “This 34-story building has to be perfect. A symbol of the city.”

Cappelli added that the buildings would be enhanced by skyward-directed flood lights, imparting a nighttime glamour.

Larry Delgado concluded comments with stating that “I’m concerned about the problem of height downtown. As Fred Bland (of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, architects) indicated we’re a city of shoulders, I would not want to see a city of only ‘heads’…I’d not like to see the biggest thing to be the biggest height.”

Cappelli took sharp, rational exception to this comment: “I’m out on the street. I don’t get the sense of what you’re getting a sense of that these stories matter. I can’t agree with a comment that this height is an issue.You show me one letter against the height, I can get you 50 letters supporting the height.”

Delgado said he was supportive of the 28-story zoning change considered by the Council.

Cappelli stood firm: “This is a deal killer. I can’t fit those 8 apartments by six floors into 28 stories. This (28 stories) is a deal killer because it changes the performance of the project.

He added: “Don’t judge us by other projects(in the future). Where were they for the last 10 years? To have you say that what they suggest should affect me that’s not right.We’re here for the first time making history. They’re not here.”

Pauline Oliva took up the anti-height crusade: “I was willing to vote for the proposal for up to 28 stories. It’s not that I am against the height, it’s how high. You just talk to business tenants. But people that talk to me, whom I meet in the supermarket, people say don’t let them build that height.”

Cappelli and Oliva wrangled over what residential homeowners thought and what the downtown needed. Oliva expressed concerns about traffic that was already clogging her Battle Hill neighborhood and what it would be like when the apartments were built at the City Center.
William King suggested part of the increased traffic was due to I-287 cut-throughs.

The Cappelli presentation closed with Mr. Cappelli vowing to return with more enhanced designs for his twin towers within a few days.

City has a deal on capturing D’Elia property for open space

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The New York Trust for Public Land, has successfully negotiated a tentative deal to acquire the D’Elia subdivison off Hillair Circle with the purpose of perserving 5 acres of land for city open space as part of the Greenway Trail.
The Common Council agreed 5-1(with Rita Malmud dissenting, Benjamin Boykin not attending) to pursue the deal in its Wednesday evening meeting, after a closed door executive session. The Council did not vote to approve the expenditure which was not revealed.

The deal came as a complete surprise to the Council with the appearance of Kate Brown, Project Manager for the Mid-Atlantic Region of the New York Trust for Public Land announcing the opportunity.

Ms. Brown said she had been working on the request of the Mayor’s Open Space Acquisition Committee to pursue the D’Elia subdivision property as a number one priority of the committee, and had successfully reached an agreement on a purchase price with the owner, Albert Orlando, a developer from Greenwich, Connecticut.

“The Mayor asked us to help out with your Open Space AcquisitionProgram. It’s a typical role for us (The New York Trust for Public Land). We serve a nice role of keeping some distance between the public agency and the landowner,” she said. “Albert Orlando, buyer of the D’Elia property has agreed to turn over to the public 5 acres on Hillair Circle.”

Rita Malmud, at this point, said “I have no idea what we’re talking about.”

Ms. Brown explained that Orlando, the owner, was willing to turn over the property, (long sought by Concerned Citizens for Open Space for preservation), “at or below fair market value, so we, (The Trust for Public Land) could resell it to the city. We are in a contract situation.”

George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, explained to Councilwoman Malmud, “We need for the council to show a manifestation of support, an affirmative agreement, or we can just pull the plug (on the deal).”

Pauline Oliva asked what were the intended uses. Brown explained the Trust was acquiring it for the city for open space or park purposes, or as an extension of the Greenway. Susan Habel confirmed this was the intended use.

Councilman Delgado said the D’Elia property was an opportunity he had discussed with members of the Open Space Acquisition Committee, but Councilwoman Oliva pointed out, “You made a recommendation and we (the rest of the council didn’t), and the Open Space Acquisition Commitee has no legal standing.”

Susan Habel gently reminded Mrs. Oliva that “the committee had been operating under the Open Space Policy under the Mayor’s Open Space Initiative (announced last spring). All properties (on the acquisition list) were actually before the Planning Board for some kind of proposal, and it was not appropriate for the city to acquire them.”

Brown said the deal started to fall into place three weeks ago, at which time she obtained independent appraisals: “Mr. Orlando is willing to hold the property off the market for a limited amount of time for us to go to contract.”

At this point, the council went into Executive Session to discuss the purchase price. After the session was over, and the council discussed what they had heard briefly before agreeing in consensus to pursue the deal.

After Executive Session, Ms. Malmud said “We’re not voting are we? I’m still not sure if the numbers are relevant.”

The other 5 members agreed to continue to go to contract on the deal, pending an official vote.

Interviewed by WPCNR in the City Hall mezzanie, Ms. Brown said the puchase price negotiated with Mr. Orlando would still leave the city with enough funds in its $5 million allotment to continue to pursue more acquisitions on the Open Space Acquisition Committee list.

Jim Benerofe, of, familiar with real estate values estimated that the D’Elia property was worth approximately $2 million.

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