Ever since D’Agostino closed its doors in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Chappaqua has been without a local grocery store. While its imminent closure was rumored for months, little action was taken by County and New Castle officials, to the chagrin of hundreds of “Save our Grocery Store” petition signers in the hamlet.
Today, Dr. Terrence Murphy (R, I, C – Yorktown) joined Team New Castle Supervisor candidate Bob Kirkwood to announce their ‘Operation Groceries’ initiative, a seven point, competitive plan to solicit letters of intent for a new grocery store in Chappaqua. “Going back to the days of Gristedes, or even further to Grand Union, Chappaqua has always had a supermarket, and we as public servants must take action to ensure it always will,” Murphy said.
In speaking with the D’Agostino family, the group learned that Chappaqua had lost a bid for a DeCicco’s, after the family-owned, upscale grocer decided on a location in Cross River when expeditious approvals were secured by County and local officials.
“Chappaqua is home to our beloved Village Market, featuring a superb butcher, meats, vegetables, bread, cheese, desserts, prepared foods and staples,” Kirkwood said. “Yet the basic village staple that is a true, long-hours grocery store has now closed. It appears that town officials were not fully engaged and took the grocery store for granted. With A&P’s second bankruptcy filing, it is conceivable that Millwood, too, could be without a grocery store either.”
Dr. Murphy, a small business owner, says Chappaqua residents need a high-end grocery store here. He wonders why, with County help, Armonk was able to offer an expedited, four week approval process for a new DeCicco’s upscale market after the announced closing of the town’s A&P, while Chappaqua has failed to seek such assistance.
The candidates say that their plan would enable Chappaqua to make a competitive bid with appropriate incentives that could attract an upscale grocer, such as DeCicco’s, who reportedly have their eyes on Chappaqua. The initiative that was unveiled today includes:
- A single, consolidated application form modeled after Gov. Cuomo’s CFA
- Coordination among different county departments to review contracts together as well as a liaison to work with the applicant, town, and county.
- A 10 year tax abatement phase out plan.
- Tax incentives through a property tax abatement and Commercial Rent Tax special reduction for nonresidential or mixed-use premises built before 1975.
- An expedited EIS/SEQRA review
- A grocery store council consisting of Chappaqua’s county legislator, the developer, applicant, and one member each from the town board, planning board, and zoning board to streamline process
- County agriculture district incentives to encourage buying local produce
“We are here today to say New Castle should be open for business,” Kirkwood said. “More than 600 residents of New Castle signed the online petition saying they want a grocery store in Chappaqua. We should be capable of matching Armonk’s four-week approval process which led to DeCicco’s coming to their town. This is not about putting a grocery store at this specific site, but about proposing new ideas to invite business to consider New Castle and to streamline the approval process for this and other projects.”
Murphy has had conversations with nearly all of the high-end grocery stores which residents have expressed interest in attracting. Whole Foods has said that they would require a larger venue, such as Chappaqua Crossing. Turco’s, another well known local grocer, expressed similar concerns, and would need an expanded footprint in the hamlet.
A representative from Trader Joe’s told Murphy that they would only consider coming to New Castle if they were allowed to construct a liquor store, a hybridization model that was arranged for the DeCicco’s location in the town of Southeast.
“This is not just about convenience for shoppers, its about creating local jobs, buying local produce, providing an outlet for our restaurants to buy fresh, local produce, something I know a lot about as the owner of a restaurant,” Murphy said. “We are simply promoting a pro business atmosphere for New Castle. As County Legislator, I will work hand-in-hand with our local officials to do what is necessary and right for Chappaqua’s economic vitality. That vitality starts by soliciting a high-end local grocery store.”