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WHITE PLAINS-A joint venture of Archstone-Smith/Tishman Speyer, Starwood Capital Group, SL Green’s Reckson division and RexCorp Realty are vying to be selected as exclusive developer for property near the White Plains train station, GlobeSt.com has learned. The four ventures answered a Request for Qualifications issued by the City of White Plains for the redevelopment of city and urban renewal agency property adjacent to the White Plains Metro North Station.

Not on the list of respondents to the RFQ was Cappelli Enterprises of Valhalla, which made headlines earlier this year when the company submitted an unsolicited plan to build approximately 1.5 million sf of office space down by the train station. Louis Cappelli, president of Cappelli Enterprises, termed his Station Square project his “Billion Dollar Baby” and brought it before a work session of the White Plains Common Council in May. The firm sought an exclusivity agreement with the city, only to be rebuffed by the Common Council a month later. The project site Cappelli proposed for Station Square included city-owned land, the Metro North railroad station, urban renewal property and possibly some privately owned land adjacent to the train station.

The city subsequently issued the RFQ on Aug. 22. According to the document prepared by commissioner of planning Susan Habel, the developer who is given exclusivity must post a $3-million letter of credit upon execution of the exclusivity agreement. The funds will be drawn on by the city to fund planning and technical studies to determine the type and scope of the development for the project site. After the study is complete, the city would then engage in a community review process on the studies and findings by the city.

In a statement issued by Cappelli Enterprises concerning the RFQ, the firm states, “given the Common Council majority’s stated opposition to the RFQ we decided not to proceed at this time. It is our hope that in the not too distant future that a consensus can be built around how to proceed with this critical next phase of downtown revitalization.”

The 4.6-acre site includes the Bronx Street Municipal Parking Lot, which is owned by the White Plains Urban Renewal Agency; the Metro North Train Station Lot; the adjoining Trans Center Garage; and a Fire Station and Public Works Facility, all of which are owned by the City of White Plains. Existing city zoning would allow for approximately one million sf of office development or about 1.1 million sf of residential and office space. The RFQ states that the city would like to select a designated developer for the initiative at a meeting of the White Plains Common Council this December. A timeline included in the RFQ projected that completion of the necessary studies, possible changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinance, the community review process and any other governmental approvals will take place sometime between August and December 2009.

The RFQ has become somewhat of a political issue in this upcoming local election. Some candidates for the Common Council have argued against moving forward on the RFQ. In a speech before the Westchester County Board of Realtors last week, Mayor Joseph Delfino said he hopes that after the election, Council members will agree to allow the studies to proceed.

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