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NEW ROCHELLE, NY-Last month developer Louis Cappelli failed to convince White Plains officials that a new office project geared to take advantage of the tight Manhattan office market was a good idea. Five-and-a-half weeks since being turned aside there, he is asking city leaders here to approve a change in his proposed $350-million LeCount Square mixed-use development that would nearly triple the amount of office space to be built at the downtown site adjacent to the New Rochelle train station.

Cappelli, president of Valhalla-based Cappelli Enterprises, reports that his firm is seeking to reposition its pending LeCount Square project by increasing the office space component from 126,000 sf to nearly 400,000 sf. Also part of the repositioning will be the reduction of the number of luxury residential units from 527 to 258.

“Our new alternative plan for LeCount Square more accurately reflects the growing demand in our region for class A office space that is located near major transportation hubs,” Cappelli says. “The concept of transit-oriented office use is a relatively unique product in Westchester County. Our project will be ideally situated to serve this important sector of the high-end office market.”

Cappelli offers the same argument for his revised LeCount Square project as he did a month ago for his Station Square office project in Downtown White Plains that would have featured more than one million sf of new office space to be built by the White Plains railroad station. The Station Square project was eventually rejected when the White Plains Common Council refused to sign an exclusivity agreement with the firm.

In reference to the LeCount Square project, Cappelli notes the tight office market in Manhattan that is securing rents approaching or exceeding $100 per sf is fueling demand for quality class A office space in Westchester County that can be delivered in the next two years.

“The office space at LeCount Square will be on par with the quality you expect to find in a Manhattan office building,” he adds.

Joseph Apicella, senior vice president of Cappelli Enterprises, notes that recently the City of New Rochelle amended its Memorandum of Understanding with the development firm to increase the density of the project from 850,000 sf to 1.15 million sf. The city is currently modifying its comprehensive plan and density bonus provisions. Cappelli’s modification to its original plan was presented as part of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement the firm recently submitted to the city.

Apicella admits that the rejection of the Station Square project in White Plains played at least a part in the firm’s decision to skew the LeCount Square venture in the Queen City toward commercial office use.

“It is exactly the same market we planned on approaching to be part of the Station Square project,” he says. While he would not provide specifics on talks the firm has had with prospective New York City tenants, Apicella notes, “I can tell you we would not be repositioning the office part…if I did not have the market to fill the space.”

The modified plan also includes a reduction of one of the two high-rise towers from 500 ft to 375 ft. The other tower will be approximately 50 stories (500 ft). The two towers will rise from a three-level retail podium. The north tower building will contain strictly office space with the first two floors above the retail featuring 40,000-sf floor plates geared toward trading floor use. The remaining office floors will have floor plates of approximately 23,500 sf. Also planned for the project is a 209-room hotel and 200,000 sf of retail, up from 180,192 sf in the original proposal and 12,000 sf of restaurant space, down from 22,000 sf based on the original plan.

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