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Louis Cappelli to the rescue...Louis Cappelli to the RESCUE!

Dynamic "developer of choice" in Westchester County purchases Macy's Property from Tishman Speyer for $17 million.

Presents highly detailed blockbuster plan to Common Council.

Proposes two 18-story apartments plus Town House and resuscitates Town Center with a community live theater included.

Developer does not stop there: He negotiates for A & P Property on Main Street to add hotel topped by co-op apartments in future.

Target Store to anchor; Gap, Old Navy, Sear's Great Indoors, upscale restaurants named to fill space.

Cappelli expects City $23 million garage subsidy, says he will seek county and state grants for street design to defray his cost: $250 million.

Says closing of EJ Conroy Drive key to creating "apartment street sense."

Martine Avenue garage to be demolished in stages to ease parking shortage during construction.

By John F. Bailey

CityLine: April 25, 2001--City Hall

Louis Cappelli strode into the Common Council chambers Tuesday afternoon and wowed the Common Council a $250 million blockbuster plan to save the town center.

The new owner of the Macy's property proposes a 15-18 screen movie complex, a Target Store and two 18-story luxury apartment buildings and 9-story townhouse to revive the mired-in-malaise Tishman Speyer Town Center Project. Mr. Cappelli revealed his ambitions to build a hotel and cooperative apartment complex on top of the A & P site on Main Street if he can acquire that site.

Capelli Center
WPCNR Photo by Steve Morton,
used courtesy of

In a plan that Mr. Cappelli told WPCNR was developed and designed, complete with tabletop model from Streetworks, over the course of the last 60 days, the Common Council saw a detailed concept that attaches 500 residential apartments, designed to start at rents of $2,800, to the basic Town Center design presented by Tishman Speyer.

Mr. Cappelli does not want to stop there. He gave the Common Council a preview of his vision for the rest of Main Street out to North Broadway. He is negotiating to purchase the A & P property on Main Street, where he hopes to erect a hotel and CO-OP apartment complex above the hotel to compliment the hub of Town Center activity.

Westchester's "designated developer"

Cappelli is "the developer of choice" in Westchester County. He is creator of New Roc City, and of a shopping complex in Mount Vernon, in the process of building a luxury apartment complex to complement The Avalon in New Rochelle, also would-be developer of the waterfront in Ossining, and developer of 360 Hamilton and 140 Grand Avenue in White Plains.

Cappelli admitted to having the Town Center property in his sights for some time. He said "I'd be lying to you if I said I had not had my eye on (the Town Center) property," and later, referring to last July's rush to approve the Town Center said, "White Plains is our backyard. I kept eyeballing it, and I wondered why we (Cappelli) didn't have it."

His plan restores the residential component to the Town Center plan which Tishman Speyer the former owner had dropped out of its final plan approved by the city in July 2001 which the city alleges was sabotaged by a sham lawsuit.

Tishman Speyer is now history, having sold the Macy's property to Mr. Cappelli for $17 million, according to Mr. Cappelli's spokesman, Dean Bender. The closing took place Monday afternoon in Manhattan. It is the "Cappelli Center," now, though an official name for the new Town Center has not been selected.

Ken Narva has nothing on Louis Cappelli

By far the most eloquent presenter this reporter has observed, including the dashing Ken Narva of Streetworks, Louis Cappelli enthralled the Common Council.

Cappelli, a Tyrone Power look-alike, boyishly handsome with steel gray hair, and a healthy tan is one of the rare developers who presents his own projects. He presents them with passion.

He was intense and looked elegantly successful Tuesday afternoon in sleek gray suit, perfectly pressed, sky blue shirt, gray/blue tie and black Gucci loafers. Occasionally pausing to refresh himself with a bottle of Deer Park water which matched his shirt and tie, he went through a set of schematics and color comprehensives showing layout and style, and a three-dimensional model designed by Streetworks, the same design firm employed on the Tishman Speyer project.

Cappelli was indeed compelling as he animatedly described how his design met many preconceived visions the Common Council has for the Town Center: encourage pedestrian traffic on Main and Mamaroneck, attract new residents to the downtown, deliver retail revival to the downtown merchants, intensify the night life, meet parking needs, and bring movies and live theater to White Plains.

Eminent Domain a last resort in wrap-around block:

Fleet Bank and buildings on Martine: 209 and 235 are planned to be acquired by Cappelli, either by purchase or eminent domain, which he said he hopes not to have to resort to. Negotiations he says are taking place. A Target Store will occupy the bottom floor of the Town Center complex, with retail and restaurants on the second floor and 15 to 18 movie screens on the top floor. Parking will be provided in the new garage he plans to build on the site of the present Martine Avenue garage. Prestigious retail operations expressing interest are Sears Great Indoors, The Gap and Old Navy. Here is the mix: 95,000 square feet of Movies, 65,000 square feet to restaurants, 350,000 square feet devoted to retail.

Two 18-story luxury high rises plus 9-story Town House.

He is bringing back the residential component the city originally wanted three years ago from Tishman Speyer, calling for two 18-story luxury apartment buildings to be built adjacent to the square block Center complex. One apartment, envisioned with a mansard roof would rise on the corner of EJ Conroy Drive and Main Street directly across from City Hall.

The other would rise diagonally opposite on the East corner of EJ Conroy Drive and Martine Avenue, attached to the front the new parking garage Cappelli will build, replacing the antiquated Martine garage. The new town house complex will be positioned across Conroy from the new apartment house on the Southwest corner of Martine and Conroy. The Town house is to be roughly situated where 235 Martine Avenue stands now (former Macy's tire center, now a psychiatric facility).The Town House is approximately 9 stories, appearing to be half the height of the apartment house.

Cappelli said the new center plan city zoning codes "as of right." Tishman Speyer is history, having sold the Macy's property to Mr. Cappelli for $17 million in a closing that took place Monday afternoon in Manhattan. It is the "Cappelli Center," now, though an official name for the new Town Center has not been selected.

Mr. Cappelli is planning wrap-around purchase of all buildings on the Macy's block, with the exception of the Westchester Arts Council building on the corner of Main and Martine. He says he is in the process of negotiating for 711 Main, Fleet Bank, 209 Martine Avenue and 235 Martine Avenue. He expressed hope the properties would be "reasonable," but advised that he would definitely attempt to ask the city to invoke the city right of eminent domain to acquire the properties if they could not reach an agreement on a purchase price.

Compensation for renters such as Behar, Cache', beauty parlor not addressed.

The property at 209 Martine Avenue is the building that Ian Behar, the retail clothing entrepreneur, rented space in last June when the town center approval prompted Mr. Behar to sue the city for damages. Mr. Behar has seen his previous suit dismissed, but currently is in countersuits with the city. The city is suing him for $150 million for allegedly filing a "sham lawsuit" to block construction of the Tishman Speyer project.

Paul Wood, spokesman for the Mayor's office, said there are no plans at this time to drop the city suit against Mr. Behar and his company I.W.L. Associates, even though the Town Center is now revived thanks to Mr. Cappelli.

Behar is also suing the city and 5 members of the Common Council for character defamation, in a separate legal endeavor. Word could not be obtained as to whether Behar, Cache' and other tenants of 209 Martine Avenue rental space would be compensated by the new owners for the loss of their space.

Cappelli Enterprises is counting on $23 million for the parking garage from the city.

Mr. Cappelli confirmed that he expected the city to follow through with the $23 million in funding for construction of the new parking garage on Martine Avenue, saying since his project is expected to generate 10% more sales revenues than the Tishman Speyer plan, that he expected no less. He added that he would seek county and state assistance grants for the street improvements to defray his cost of construction.

Demolition in stages to retain some parking for Broadway tenants. A one-entrance facility planned.

Cappelli said he would work to keep portions of the old garage open to ease parking fears of nearby business on North Broadway, not demolishing the garage all at once. The number of parking spaces (2,038) would be the same as proposed to be built by Tishman.

Design of the "Capelli Center" shows two underground levels of parking planned underneath the two apartment complexes to serve residents exclusively. Service entrances for the movie and retail center are to be positioned onto Martine Avenue underground, similar to The Galleria underground entrance on Main Street.

Entry to the new parking garage for Town Center visitors and moviegoers will be exclusively from Martine Avenue, a similar system to the New Roc City parking setup, which works well. Customers will enter the Town Center from the new garage from a stylish spiral walkway between the Center and the garage.

Cappelli will close EJ Conroy Drive to two-way thru traffic

Cappelli was firm and saying to make the project work and provide an ambiance and "street sense" for the proposed apartments, he needed to close EJ Conroy drive as a thru street.

Apartment dwellers in the Main Street high rise would enter their personal underground parking off EJ Conroy from Main Street. Dwellers in the town house and the other high rise apartment projected for the corners fronting on Martine Avenue would occupy parking levels under those two proposed structures with parkers for the new Town Center also entering the garage off Martine.

18 months and done. January 2003 projected opening.

The developer said he was ready to start "tomorrow," hoping he could obtain the necessary approvals from the Common Council within 3 months. He figures on completing the entire project apartments and all within 18 months from when he starts with completion by January, 2003.

Cappelli received nothing but plaudits from the Council members with only a few troublesome questions. Rita Malmud asked about his financing. Cappelli gave a long rambling answer there, saying he had not worked out the details but citing a variety of sources he might partner with, "powerful banks," among others.

Mr. Cappelli has a history of finding ready funding he can tap for his vision of the Town Center. By WPCNR's rough estimate, Mr. Cappelli is participating in projects on the drawing boards and in process in the Westchester and tri-state area totaling over $1 billion. Take into account the national scope of his operations, and the handle is $1.5 billion.

He is refurbishing the abandoned Concord Hotel and Grossingers in the Catskills for a projected $500 million. He is building the tallest residential building in New Rochelle. He is reported to have arranged the financing for The Avalon in new Rochelle. He is attempting to build The Landings in Dobbs Ferry. He is awaiting approval to build a $30 million project on the water in Ossining. Money apparently follows the former resident of Yonkers.

This is because of Mr. Cappelli's track record. Kevin Plunkett, the lawyer told WPCNR Thursday evening in Scarsdale, apprised of Mr. Cappelli's presentation said, "That's good. Mr. Cappelli gets things done."

Movies have turned around. 5 chains interested.

Cappelli was optimistic about finding a movie theater chain to occupy the new Town Center, saying that Regal Cinemas, the theater operator in New Roc City was one of the contenders he was negotiating with along with 5 others. Cappelli said his New Roc City cinema attracted 1.5 million moviegoers a year, and he anticipated the same for White Plains.

A mere 8 months after Loews debt troubles apparently caused a lack of confidence on the part of investors in the Tishman Speyer project, Cappelli said most movie chains had restructured and were turned around. He said New Roc City was the number one theater in Regal's chain of some 1,500 theaters. He attributed Tishman Speyer's inability to continue the project to their losing interest in the project since it was one of their smaller worldwide projects.

A bigger, better, richer Town Center

Cappelli said the project will provide $1.75 million dollars in payments in lieu of taxes for 17 years as opposed to $900,000 generated by the Tishman project. He said he would seek County IDA sales and mortgage tax abatements. His project will furnish a "community live theater," a pet project of hundreds of White Plains residents and several Councilpersons, and additional sales tax revenues of 10%.

Asked about the halo affect of the project by Councilman William King, because New Roc City has been said not to have had a revival affect on the rest of New Rochelle, Cappelli said he has had Ernst and Young prepare a study which would be forthcoming.

He pleased Councilwoman Pauline Oliva by assuring her 6% of the apartments would be reserved for low income persons with rents below the project $2,800 a month starter level.

He was firm with Councilman Larry Delgado who questioned closing EJ Conroy Drive, saying "I need that."

He assured Councilman King that New Roc City was not intended to revitalize the New Rochelle downtown but rather was a catalyst, spurring the construction of The Avalon, which he described as being half-rented and renting at 40 new rentals a month. Cappelli also showed the Avalon as an example of how his new housing would take off in White Plains.

Mayor Joseph Delfino praised Cappelli for meeting most of the city's objectives for the Town Center and the Council's concerns.

Mr. Cappelli closed his presentation with the words "We're ready to go."

He is.

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