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White Plains Shops Consider Urban Renewal Corridor

This article was edited July 25 to correct inaccurate boundaries for the newly designated urban renewal zone corridor. The Post Road/Lexington Avenue corridor spans from where Post Road and Maple Avenue meet Rathburn Avenue west up to, but not including Mamaroneck Avenue. The urban renewal zone also extends from where South Lexington Avenue and Court Street meet Post Road to where the two streets intersect Quarropas Street.

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Business owners like Silverio Mazzella, who set up shop along Post Road and Maple Avenue, welcomed news of the newly-designated urban renewal zone corridor albeit with a few suggestions.

“Right now this area is as bad as it could be,” said Mazzella from his White Plains Piano Company shop on 139 E. Post Rd. “At the other end of Post Road they have to do something with all those empty lots. They’re going to have to think in terms of what they did with Main Street and down by The Westchester mall. They’re gonna have to think larger than just paving the streets.”

Mazzella, an Eastchester resident, suggested the city use all the open lots on the other end of Post Road to create an open-air mall, which would entice different stores than a traditional shopping center, give the farmer’s market a new home, and cost less than other large-scale developments. Mazella was happy to hear the “giant pit” across the street from his store where the Bengal Tiger restaurant fire broke out would be paved into a parking lot soon.

“The corridor’s good and it could really open up the whole city if they do it right,” said Mazzella, who has run his business in White Plains for 23 years. “The parking lot will give me greater visibility. Now, I want to know what they’re doing with the empty building across the street.”

Last Tuesday the Common Council unanimously voted to expand the urban renewal zone and focus on a Post Road/Lexington Avenue corridor that runs from where Post Road and Maple Avenue meet Rathburn Avenue to where the two roads intersect with Mamaroneck Avenue. No property on Mamaroneck Avenue is included. The corridor also extends from where South Lexington Avenue and Court Street hit Post Road to where the streets run into Quarropas Street. The project includes 190 businesses and 112 properties that are a little over a fifth vacant. The Urban Renewal Agency ranked 44.8 percent of the properties as in poor condition during earlier surveys.

Anything that “brings more life” to the neighborhood seemed positive to Lisa Moronta who said just fixing the sidewalks and streets would help her Post Road hair salon.

However, other business owners like Christine Garvin worried that urban renewal projects would inflate her rent and push her out of White Plains, where she has run Chris’s Beauty Salon since 1990.

“The cost is going to go up and it’s enough down here already. We’re already struggling to stay afloat. If urban renewal comes and does this place over, we small businesses won’t be able to stay,” said Garvin, a White Plains resident, who local politicians and business organizations honored by declaring May 14 Chris’s Beauty Salon Day this year. “I’ve been fighting with the landlord for five or six years too because he’s making me pay his property taxes.”

The city has vowed to work closely with those settled near the corridor including businesses, the White Plains Hospital, the Coachman Family Center for Homeless Families and Grace Church Community Center, Winbrook residents, the the Fisher Hill and Highlands neighborhoods.

Planning Commissioner Susan Habel said White Plains will find out if it received the federal grants it applied for this winter. If the grants don’t come through, the city will decide if and how it wants to proceed. Public hearings will be held before any concrete project plan is drafted.

What are you thoughts on the urban renewal zone’s expansion? How beneficial do you think the corridor will be? What do you think city hall should focus on when working on the corridor? Email your thoughts to strangle@thedailywhiteplains.com and we’ll include your responses in future coverage.

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