Ginsburg reveals plan for $100-million White Plains development — The (Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam County NY) Journal News, 10/21/04

By Susan Elan

Nearly a year after announcing plans for a luxury condominium tower on Main Street, developer Martin Ginsburg last night unveiled his proposal to the Common Council for a $100 million venture.

The 148-unit project, called Pinnacle, has been designed to rise to 280 feet, the Hawthorne-based developer told the council during a work session at City Hall. One- to three-bedroom homes in the sleek, copper-capped tower designed by architect Michael Graves would sell for between $450,000 and $2.5 million.

But Ginsburg has not assembled enough land under city zoning law to build higher than 230 feet or about 23 stories. So he is asking the council to use the power of eminent domain to seize a corner parcel along Main Street owned by Louis Cappelli, developer of the adjacent $350 million residential, entertainment and retail City Center.

The two developers have negotiated for about six months over the use of the corner lot, home for two decades to a popular lunch spot called the Corner Nook Cafe. Discussions over the coveted 6,000-square-foot parcel recently broke down, Ginsburg said.

To put together the 100,000-square-foot parcel required by city zoning law to make his plan for 250 Main St. work, Ginsburg also needs to convince White Plains officials to include 0.66 acres of the municipal City Center Garage land in the calculation of his holdings.

Ginsburg said there are two powerful incentives to get the city to agree to his requests. First, his development plan would improve the look of Main Street. In place of a maze of driveways connecting with the City Center Garage, Ginsburg said he would expand a 5-foot sidewalk into a landscaped public plaza fronting on Main Street that would include a café and two restaurants.

Second, Ginsburg said, acquiring Cappelli's corner parcel and gaining council permission to build to 280 feet would make it economically feasible to construct nine below-market housing units within the luxury building at a cost of about $3 million. Other developers who brought plans for luxury condominium developments to the council last night asked for permission to contribute to a city fund to create affordable housing off-site.

Council President Thomas Roach said after Ginsburg's presentation that he finds the design of the granite and brick-clad building "unique and dramatic," but he is hesitant to seize private property from one developer to assist another.

"Eminent domain should be used sparingly and only for public use," Roach said.

Councilwoman Rita Malmud questioned whether the city would have the right to allow Ginsburg to incorporate any portion of the City Center Garage in his land calculations.

Cappelli, who did not attend the meeting, said later in a telephone interview that construction of Ginsburg's 280-foot-high condominium tower with a 50-foot-high copper spire on top would interfere with the view of his City Center tenants and those who buy condominiums in Trump Tower, a second 35-story development he shares with Donald Trump.

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