WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- John Picciano and other Post Road merchants who've struggled to keep customers since the Lyon Place garage closed in August 2010 said they're happy to hear city hall has crafted an agreement to reincarnate the 45-year-old parking facility. However, owners say White Plains must act fast to prevent businesses in limbo from joining vacant retail slots on E. Post Road.
"I'm completely elated that there's finally a plan," said Picciano, who opened his Salon Flair at 193 E. Post Rd. in 2008 because its back door opened up into the Lyon Place and Waller Avenue garage. "They have to remain diligent about it. The faster they get it, it still can't undo what's done. They all but destroyed this block."
On Wednesday The White Plains Capital Projects Board unanimously voted to back an agreement Mayor Thomas Roach negotiated with The Esplanade assisted living home that owns the garage. Under the agreement, the Esplanade will give the five-story garage to the city for free and finance construction to remove parts of the home that protrude into the garage. White Plains will demolish the garage and construct a seven or eight-story garage that has 160 parking spaces for the Esplanade and 490 for general public use. While the Esplanade would contribute to maintenance and operational costs, White Plains would pick up the approximately $17 million tab for demolition and construction through bonds.
The common council is expected to approve the negotiation at its Monday meeting, which would allow Roach to sign the agreement.
"Small businesses are what really separate us from other communities," said Roach, a Democrat. "Whereas Target and Walmart have plenty of parking, small businesses rely on us. Thats been an issue. With many small businesses, if someone is driving by and they dont see a spot, theyll just keep going."
Roach said safety concerns surrounding the garage and its "poor design" made it most cost-efficient to build a new "modern," well-lit, and secure garage in its place. If approved by the all-Democratic council, Roach said his administration will begin design work immediately.
Picciano said his staff has begun "parking cars" and occasionally paying customers' parking tickets since Salon Flair lost two-thirds of its customers between the recession and the garage closing. Diane D'Angelo estimates she and her co-owner have lost a third of their customers at Salon D'Aprilia since the Lyon Place garage shut. PIP Printing didn't suffer a significant customer loss, but has begun delivering orders to customers who honk and stop outside their 190 E. Post Rd. shop, according to owner Alan Goldman.
"We're very happy that it's coming to fruition," Goldman said. "There's a light at the end of the tunnel."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.