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Study Says Chappaqua Crossing Retail Will Not Hurt Downtown Business

AKRF planner/economist Jed Poster speaks as part of his firm's Chappaqua Crossing study presentation.
AKRF planner/economist Jed Poster speaks as part of his firm's Chappaqua Crossing study presentation. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- While a new study found that the proposed retail for Chappaqua Crossing could compete with business in downtown Chappaqua, it concludes that it would not do so in a way that would lead to a significant adverse impact.

The study comes from AKRF, a planning and engineering firm that was retained by the town. The report is technically a revision from a 2013 analysis, having been updated to take into account the proposal for a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery store.

Representatives from AKRF gave an overview of the report at the New Castle Town Board's Oct. 28 meeting. Later that night, an attorney for Chappaqua Crossing owner Summit/Greenfield urged the board to vote on the retail proposal or face a return to litigation.

“There would be the potential for competition,” said John Neil, a vice president at AKRF. “But the more important question is whether potential competition could lead to the displacement of existing retailers, prolong vacancies in the hamlet and blighting effects. In other words, whether there would be significant adverse impacts to the hamlet’s neighborhood character. The answer to that question is no, and tonight we’ll summarize our rationale for that determination.”

The reasons cited in the report include the downtown’s lack of an anchor tenant; unmet consumer demand in the area; planned investments for the hamlet that include water, sewer and streetscape work; and convenience for the area, such as the offerings and proximity to places such as the train station and town hall.

For examining consumer demand, the AKRF study placed downtown Chappaqua in what are called trade areas, or where customers come from. The report includes a primary trade area that is a 1-mile radius around the downtown, along with a secondary trade area, which comprises the entire Town of New Castle.

For the primary area, the report found that there is total retail demand of $147 million but just $58 million in local sales. It concludes that there is “leakage” of $89 million, which means that this is money being spent elsewhere. The gap is wider for the secondary area, with the report finding that the leakage is $340 million. In total, the secondary area has $428 million but just $88 million in sales.

AKRF’s report also finds that if there is no restriction on store sizes at Chappaqua Crossing, it could result in 15 to 20 shops, which would come in at 2,000 square feet to about 5,000. It also finds that there would be what it calls a broad variety of shops and with the potential for more multiple restaurant offerings. In contrast, the report finds that having a size limit would lead to “category killers,” such as a Staples or Best Buy, along with a handful of larger restaurants, such as an Olive Garden.

The report also gives a favorable opinion to the tax implications of the project, as higher rents from it would lead to more commercial property tax revenue.

A slideshow of the report is on the town’s website. A copy of the full report is available here.

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