“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.