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Pirestein :M.anagement Inc.

June 29, 2015


Supervisor Christopher Burdick and
Members of the Town Board
Bedford Town House
321 Bedford Road
Bedford Hills, New York 10507
Re:

Proposed Local Law to Amend Section 125-29.7 as to the scale of development.

Dear Supervisor Burdick and Members of the Town Board:


I compose this letter as a Principal in Firestein Management lnc., which owns 262-294
Katonah Avenue (Section 49.19, Block 2. Lot 19) in the Katonah hamlet within the Town
of Bedford, New York. I am significantly concerned that the well-intentioned June 12,
2015 proposal by the Katonah Village Improvement Society (KVIS) requesting that the
Town Board further reduce the size of any single. first floor use in the CB and the NB
Districts from 7500 square feet to 5000 square feet or below is premature and ill- .
conceived. particularly given that the Town Board only codified the 7500 square foot
limit 6 years ago by Local Law No. 5 of 2009 on July 14, 2009. The local real estate
market is still very fragile with numerous vacancies and high turnover.
By way of background, I have over 30 years of experience working with retail
businesses, both large and small. I personally owned and operated a small retail store
and a small restaurant. I currently own an equity interest in more than one dozen retail
properties, and have negotiated over 500 retail lease transactions as both an owner and
broker. I share my background to facilitate your weighing my comments appropriately.
Although the Town Board. KVIS and the Planning Board may see this further limiting of
the size of first floor tenancies in the CB and NB Districts as an exercise in
Placemaking, I would actually suggest that the unintended consequences associated
with this seemingly innocuous change from 7500 square feet to 5000 feet will adversely
and Significantly harm the local real estate marketplace. The potential for collateral
damage to landlords and the "local" tenants you seek to protect is significant.
Simply stated, small tenancies require landlords to take bigger risks at the outset and
throughout the tenant cycle. In my experience, new, local tenants seeking to lease
space are generally undercapitalized, unless they are a vanity business investment.
New businesses have a higher failure rate; and therefore, represent higher turnover for
the landlord. Often, these smaller businesses have lower credit ratings which require
landlords to incur more of the tenant improvement costs during the fit out of the tenant
space and to accept a lower rent. And, when successful, these tenants often desire to
grow their retail area and back office. The landlord has to weigh these risks in the
leasing process. A further exacerbating factor for Bedford with its location in the NYC
East of Hudson watershed is that there are effectively no new hook-ups for waste water
which particularly impairs the leasing process for food related businesses. Plus, in a

2% Tax Cap Era, landlords are finding that municipalities are forced to decrease
services notwithstanding the extremely high property taxes as a result of unfunded
mandates by the federal and state govemments. All of these factors make it difficult for
landlords to do business. successfully.
Meanwhile, national and/or regional chains
frequently posses better credit ratings and can afford higher rents to offset landlord's
prior investments and current debt service. Ultimately, these better credittenants allow
landlords to take risks on other tenants, who are often the ones providing the
idiosyncratic character. In addition, we all know anecdotally and statistically that retail
requires anchor-drawing tenants that provide essential services such as restaurants,
food markets, and pharmacies. Thus, a blend is essential. The proposed local law
prevents such a blend.
Based on the genesis of the prior law and this amendment, it seems that there is a
significant aspect to these laws seeking to prohibit so-called Formula retail. Yet. I am
uncertain as to how the 9th DeCicco's Family Market proposed for 122-138A Bedford
Road in the Katonah hamlet and the existing Mrs. Greens located at 186-252 Katonah
Avenue on property owned by an Urstadt Biddle affiliate known as UB Katonah LLC,
which is 1 of 20 Mrs. Greens in the Natural Markets Food Group, harm the character of
Katonah. Instead, I would suggest that these tenants in many ways define the essence
of Katonah. These tenants cannot expand, extend or enlarge without risking their legal
non-conforming status if this local law is approved. Moreover. as a landlord. per Zoning
Law Section 125-110 no permit shall be issued that will result in the increase of any
dimensional non-conformity.
I also am concerned as to how this local law will hamstring the redevelopment of the
Bedford Playhouse property located at 633-647 Old Post Road in the Bedford hamlet.
which is owned by Alchemy Bedford LLC who has taken an unprecedented risk on the
newly formed Bedford Playhouse not-for-proflt.
Additionally, this local law could serve as a potential further impediment to the newly
formed Bedford Hills Live Public Forum that had its first professionally facilitated
meeting earlier this month.
The proposed local law will further exacerbate a challenging and slowly recovering local
real estate market. Ironically. this local law will create conditions contrary to risk taking
by the landlords on small and local tenants who are undercapitalized. and it could
frustrate grass-roots efforts by the newly formed Bedford Playhouse Inc and the Bedford
Hills Live Public Forum. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with any member of
the Town Board. Planning Board or Town Staff to discuss these issues further. Thank
you for your cooperation and consideration in this matter.

v~~

cc:

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Chairwoman Courtney-Batson and Members of the Bedford Planning Board


Jeffrey Osterman. Town Planner

lirestein !Management Inc.

Cl'aee 2

Joel Sachs, Esq. & Eric Gordon, Esq., Town Attorneys


Christian Potter, Esq., CVS
Tracey Roll, TMC
Neil J. Alexander, Esq. & Anthony Morando, Esq., Cuddy & Feder LLP

Pirestein !Manaeement Inc.