The following are David Pacchiana's talking points that he used to address the City Council at the Aug. 13 public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Eminent Domain Procedure. Thank you to David for sharing this information for publication on Patch.
Do you know how long Panio’s has been in business?
How about WJCS, Urban Beauty, 7 Days Nail Salon, or J’s Unisex Salon?
Panios has been in business for 41 years, how many businesses do you know have been around for 41 years?
(1.5 & 3.1-14) Our five businesses are low turnover successful businesses we’ve all been in our locations for 8 plus years and most of us more 10. We pay our rent, taxes and service thousands of customers weekly. These are undeniably very good retail spaces. Only one of the spaces you’re trying to take is vacant and that’s probably because of the city’s intentions, no one is going to move in there now.
Your plan is to take us from the very desirable side of the shopping center with ample parking and put us in much less desirable locations. Actually there is one desirable location but unfortunately we can’t all squeeze into the space next to Rite Aid. Parking is critical for my store because so many of our customers enjoy the convenience of being able to park 10 feet away from our door without having to pay a meter. There just aren’t any other locations in Peekskill that compare.
The EIS mentions that the City is committed to helping the displaced businesses find suitable locations yet there are repeated references to the NYS General Municipal Law which limits the maximum payout per tenant at $25K. Is it the City’s understanding that their entire obligation to help each tenant move is limited to $25K?
$25K isn’t even enough to move my air conditioners.
If the City is planning to pay for my fixtures, how come no one has come into my store to create an estimate?
The City paints a good faith image of assisting the current business owners to re-locate yet not once has any City official come into my store to discuss the City’s intentions.
3.1-15 The City states the Crossroads property value at $4.66 million. The budget for land acquisition is $2.75 million and the City has already spent about $1.2 mil to acquire the two adjoining properties. That leaves about $1.55 mil remaining in the land acquisition budget.
Given you are trying to take about 40% of the rentable space on the Crossroads, a logical calculation (40% of 4.66 mil) would put the value of the acquiring piece at $1.85 million. That puts you $300K over budget and that’s using your appraisal and you haven’t even compensated any of the businesses for moving.
Let’s talk about the negotiation for 1141 Main St which is the white house on the corner of Main & Broad. The City’s appraisal for that house was $325K yet wound up paying him $514K for the property which was 94% of his asking price. As previously mentioned, the City’s appraisal of the Crossroads was $4.66 million, the property owner’s appraisal is $6.5 million.
If the City invokes eminent domain, a county judge will ultimately decide the amount the City must pay the property owner. In a similar case decided a few months ago, the City of Port Chester was ordered to pay a property owner $3.1 million dollars. The property owner was seeking $4.1 million and the City offered $975K.
If the owner gets anywhere near his asking price the City going to have to come up with a substantial amount of additional money not in the budget.
Next topic is business owner re-location. The business owners have all had discussions with very experienced condemnation attorneys who are anxious to represent each of us in a fixture and re-location claim against the City. From what we’ve been told by these lawyers who make a living representing small businesses such as ourselves against municipalities is that by law, the City would be required to compensate each business for re-location and business fixture improvements using prevailing wage rates. In essence, the City would have to pay each business for all its shelving, walls, counters, plumbing, bathroom fixtures, air conditioners, electrical work, ductwork, etc. Think about re-modeling costs, remodeling isn’t cheap.
Its also my understanding that its not a simple task to section off a piece of building like you want to do with Antonio’s Pizza. Its not a given that his space could be salvaged. If it can’t be salvaged, then there would be additional land acquisition and re-location fees and further budget overruns.
When you consider all of the costs the City is going to incur should it pursue eminent domain, its not hard to imagine millions of dollars of cost overruns just in land acquisition fees.
So the big question is how is the city going to pay for all this?
Increase the deed transfer tax? Up to this point the transfer tax has been a well-kept secret. Peekskill residents, you must realize that when you sell your house, the City is taking 1% right off the sale price to help pay for the firehouse (that’s 2,500 dollars on a $250,000 sale). The city’s parting gift to outgoing residents who won’t benefit from a new firehouse is a 1% de-valuation of their home.
Can a large budget gap lead to an increase in this tax to maybe 2% or 5%?
The Peekskill residents are being burdened with the cost of a new firehouse that never went out for voter approval. It seems that many of the costs in the original proposal are far too low. I’ve only discussed land acquisition costs, what about construction costs? How have price escalations affected the original construction estimates that were done years ago? The original construction estimate was $12.9 mil, what should that estimate be increased to in current dollars?
The primary reason this country is in so much financial trouble is because years ago people bought property they could not afford with money they didn’t have and didn’t understand ahead of time how they were going to pay for it. Sound familiar?
I would like to propose an alternate site that would save the taxpayers millions of dollars. The biggest objection to using the empty lot just south of the current site was building into the hillside next to Brown St. However, shifting Park St about 100 hundred yards north of its current location would create plenty of space and a large flat footprint which could house the same facility.
The current plan to use eminent domain has a multitude of losers; the property owner, businesses, employees, many loyal shoppers, taxpayers, real estate and sales tax rolls, etc. Building the central firehouse on this alternate site would save millions of dollars of land acquisition costs and demolition expense.
The city would be utilizing empty space and would continue to receive much needed tax revenue from my business as well as the others. The boxing gym which has been a great addition to Main Street would not have to move. The historic house on the corner of Main and Broad would not have to be torn down. I’m sure we would all upgrade our locations knowing that we’re not going to be displaced. I’m sure new businesses would now be willing to move into the Crossroads shopping center right across from the new firehouse. This plan would be a win-win-win for everyone.
The residents of Peekskill should realize its up to you, do you want your City to spend a couple of extra million dollars when a viable alternative is a mere 100 yards away? If you disagree with the City’s current plan to use eminent domain to acquire the Crossroads Plaza, you need to speak up, call City Hall at 737-3400 to protest or email the City of Peekskill website. Thank you all for hearing me out and listening to my opinion on this matter.