Night Edition, 1-25-02, 4:00 AM EST: The Common Council reserved decision on Louis Cappelli’s request to lower the size of the City Center from 5 floors to 4, but did not voice strong reservations.
The Super Developer said he was closing on his financing with the Canadian International Bank of Commerce on February 10, and revealed he was exploring “partnering” with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel with designs for the hotel coming within 60 days.
LOOK, WE TAKE OFF THE TOP FLOOR HERE, AND THAT GIVES US 17 MORE RENTABLE APARTMENTS IN THE NORTH TOWER ON MAIN STREET HERE…Louis Cappelli, the Super Developer, his eyes lit with the future, describes the site plan amendment proposal he desires to the Common Council Thursday evening. He wants to eliminate 150,000 square feet of Floor Area Ratio retail, by eliminating the fifth floor, in hopes of using it to build a luxury hotel on the Martine Avenue side of the building. The 20 feet drop in height, adds an additional 17 marketable apartments, bringing the total residential units to 620, with more expected depending on configuration of the south apartment spire.
Photo by WPCNR.
Mr. Cappelli, dashing in midnight black suit, matching Gucci Loafers and cool purple tie, smoothly presented his case for lowering the City Center by a floor. He has not rented out the floor yet, and he has the Ritz-Carlton interested in bringing him in as a partner in a luxury hotel.
THE MAMARONECK AVENUE FACADE OF THE CITY CENTER, reduced by one floor, as presented by Mr. Cappelli Thursday evening. The Westchester Arts Council Building stands sentinel at the far right in counterpoint to the more dignified movie entrance in the center. Colors are not finalized according to Cappelli
Photo by WPCNR.
Romancing the Ritz
Cappelli said that approximately two weeks ago, the Ritz-Carlton Organization approached him showing an interest in intergrating a luxury 200-room hotel on the Martine Avenue side. He said they presented him a thick book of specifications, and he was agreeable.
For the last week and a half, he said, Frederick Bland, the Beyer Blinder Belle architect, has been working with Ritz-Carlton architects. Bland, Cappelli said, is incorporating a 200-room, 7-story U-shaped design into the “horseshoe” shape area between the former loft building and the South Cappelli 38-story apartment Spire.
HORSESHOE AREA WILL BE THE CENTER COURTYARD OF THE PROPOSED RITZ-CARLTON, which will rise 7 stories in a circle, Cappelli says, with all 200 rooms viewing the court in a semi-circle wraparound. A fountain will grace the middle of the horseshoe courtyard. The former loft building is being eliminated, replaced by the West wing of the hotel. Designs are expected within 60 days. Commissioner of Planning Susan Habel advised Cappelli he should show designs sooner, hopefully within 2 weeks, based on comments made by the Common Council in Executive Session.
Photo by WPCNR.
Ritz-Carlton and Cappelli negotiating a partnership.
Asked if he would own the hotel, Cappelli said “that hasn’t been worked out,” but he expects to own “a piece of the Ritz,” with the Carlton organization, which will manage the building. On the surface, this is a departure from the normal Ritz-Carlton arrangement. They usually manage, but do not own. Cappelli said he had also been contacted by the Intercontinental hotel chain (owners of the White Plains Crowne Plaza), and expected other hoteliers to express interest.
Some Cappelli Announcements
In making the pitch for his floor reduction, Cappelli announced that he had signed a contract with Target Stores Thursday afternoon at 3 PM, and had signed Circuit City to a contract Tuesday, and expects Legal Seafood in the fold within days. All properties have been acquired and the Fleet Bank building will be demolished next within two weeks.He has ordered structural steel for April delivery. All systems are “go,” he said.
MARTINE AVENUE SIDE OF THE NEW DESIGN, demonstrates how the Arts Council Building on left stands more regally setting off the edge of the hotel on far right.
Photo by WPCNR.
Council clearly impressed.
As Mr. Cappelli ticked off the positives to eliminating the fifth floor, the Council was just drinking it in. Rita Malmud was concerned about the site plan amendment, perhaps setting a precedent that other future developers might take advantage. Robert Greer noted that “you’re only asking for flexibility…”
Mr. Cappelli said the said the city was not losing any money by the FAR transfer, saying no reductions in Payments In Lieu of Taxes would be made, that he would stand by his $1.556 million dollar PILOT payment.
He also noted that should the hotel deal work out, the South Spire had the possibility of being turned into condominiums, since this is typical of Ritz-Carleton marketing expertise. Should the South Spire be cooperatized, this will provide windfall tax revenue to the city.
He disclosed that his partnership possibility with Avalon on the apartment spires was not going to happen because the design of the apartment buildings, enhanced by Mr. Bland, was too expensive. He and his bankers (CIBC’s group), are assuming ownership of the two apartment spires.
The Council met in Executive Session to consider Mr. Cappelli’s request.
HOTEL IS PROPOSED FOR THE AREA INBETWEEN THE TWO TOWERS on the Martine Avenue side.
Photo by WPCNR.
“You have some deep pockets walking around White Plains right now,” Cappelli said, cooly wrapping up his prime time show, mentioning other interests ready to invest in the city. “This city will be a different place in 7 years if you allow it to be.”
In other action..
The Common Council granted Tri-Kelly’s Pub and Thirsty Turtle the ability to run an outdoor patio, ending a 10-month struggle. However, the resolution granting the patio, deleted a clause requiring Tri-Kelly’s to insure Sloan Bar Association against damages resulting from use of their parking lot. The city Corporation Council Edward Dunphy advised the city it let them in for serious obligations if Tri-Kelly failed to live up to the agreement. The Mayor told the two attorneys from the two firms that it was a matter between two parties, and the city would not include the insurance provision.
The Council went into Executive Session to hear Arnold & Porter their independent attorneys on the New York Presbyterian Hospital proposal on the zoning question. The session was closed on the basis of it was revealing “attorney client privilege” according to Paul Wood, the city Information Officer.
No announcement was made about the Deputy Commissioner of Planning appointment expected shortly.
Tom Roach and Rita Malmud advocated for the city to invest in new voting machines to prevent more voting machine problems in the future. George Gretsas, Executive Officer noted that Janice Minieri, City Clerk had advised him that whatever changes the city made had to be compatible and integral with the Westchester County Board of Elections system.
Gretsas suggested to the council that New Jersey has been using electronic voting machines for about five years. He described the machines as push-button electronically operated voting machines that kept a permanent record, as well as a scanner magnetic record. They even have a cancel button, if you make a mistake in your selection, he said.
Tom Roach suggested that the Mayor volunteer White Plains as a prototype city for the county to test electronic voting machines. The Mayor said he would explore it with the county.
In December, Board of Elections Co-Commissioner, Reginald LaFayette told WPCNR he estimated it would cost the county $10 million to convert to electronic voting machines countywide.