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WHITE PLAINS-Once he saw the White Plains Common Council was unanimously against an exclusivity agreement for his recently proposed Station Square office project, developer Louis Cappelli earlier this week withdrew his request and with it his firm’s plans to build the $1-billion venture by the White Plains railroad station.

At a session on Monday evening, the Common Council was unified in its opposition to adopting an exclusivity agreement that would have allowed Cappelli to formulate a development plan for a several block area around the White Plains railroad station. Just a few weeks ago Cappelli, president of Cappelli Enterprises of Valhalla, gave a presentation detailing his Station Square proposal to the Common Council at a session held on May 14.

The project called for 1.5 million sf of new office space to be built in three tower buildings by the White Plains Metro North railroad station. The proposal also called for extensive improvements to the train station as well as parking improvements to the area. The hot New York City office market and his belief that some Manhattan corporations would relocate their operations to his development in order to save on operating costs fueled Cappelli’s plan. Cappelli was planning to charge $50 per sf triple net for office space at Station Square.

However, while most council members praised the venture at the session several weeks ago, their support for the project cooled considerably. Reports are that residents and some developers contacted city officials complaining about giving Cappelli exclusivity to build down by the train station.

At the council hearing on June 4, Cappelli asked for and was granted his request to withdraw his exclusivity agreement from consideration just before the council’s formal vote on the matter.

A Cappelli spokesman says Cappelli is still convinced that the Station Square concept is “an appropriate and intelligent approach for redevelopment of the city-owned properties adjacent to the White Plains Metro North station. If any location meets the definition of ‘smart growth,’ this is it. It links new development directly to a major mass transit system.”

He adds that Cappelli wanted the exclusivity agreement since the firm estimated the formal redevelopment plan would have cost it $3 million to $4 million to complete. Commenting on the council’s opposition to the agreement, the spokesman says, “We now recognize that the speed at which we were seeking to proceed was greater than the Common Council was comfortable with. At this point, the council will take the time that it feels is necessary to determine if and how they want to proceed. The question of our future participation would be determined by the level of the workload we have as a company at the time and whether or not the Manhattan office market is still in a condition similar to that of today.”

Paul Wood, executive officer for the City of White Plains, in a prepared statement, notes, “The most important point here is that the train station project was Louis Cappelli’s vision, not the administration’s. His organization requested the exclusivity agreement. The city is not ready to entertain competing proposals at this time because no formal studies of the area have been completed. It should also be mentioned that at no point was the administration prepared to create an RFQ for these sites, as we were not targeting this particular site for large-scale redevelopment. This was Mr. Cappelli’s idea, period.”

While perhaps leaving the door open a crack for a future proposal, the Cappelli spokesman says, “White Plains is a wonderful community where we have invested some $1 billion in the last seven years and where we expect to continue to invest in the future. Hopefully, at some point in the not too distant future we will be including the redevelopment at the train station as part of the work we are doing there.”

Cappelli has developed the City Center entertainment/condominium development, Trump Tower at City Center and is currently building the Ritz-Carlton Westchester high-rise hotel/condominium development, all in Downtown White Plains.

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