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Part 2: Simon Continues 'Shops at Nanuet' Talk with Clarkstown

The first article "Part 1" ran on Patch Thursday morning

 

The Clarkstown Planning Board and other Clarkstown officials continued with Simon Property Group, Inc. on the transformation of the Nanuet Mall into ‘The Shops at Nanuet’ at a Planning Board meeting Wednesday night at Clarkstown Town Hall.

Tom Schneider, executive vice president of development for Simon and Ira Emanuel of the Law Office of Ira M. Emanuel, P.C. in New City, were the two representatives that spoke on The Shops at Nanuet.

Simon plans to change the Nanuet Mall into The Shops at Nanuet, an open air Main Street concept. “We’re trying to replicate a downtown experience … in a contained space,” said Schneider.

Read more about these changes in this detailing the October informational meeting.

Possible Timeline Changes

The Board gave warning to Simon on items that could possibly delay and change their timeline.

“You said that the footprints may change on some of the buildings so it may mean that new plans would have to be submitted,” said Shirley Thormann, chairperson of the planning board. “It may impinge on your timeline.”

“They are minimal footprint changes,” said Emanuel. “The minimal footprint changes that are fairly normal in a site plan review. The overall scheme of the proposal is not going to change. There may be some shifting around the edges simply because it’s the nature of the beast. I don’t think you’ll see any changes that would require

There will not be the type of changes that would require, by law, resubmission of plans.”

Regarding the New York State Department of Transportation, Traffic Consultant John Sarna said that in dealing with them in the recent years, the town has noticed that they’ve asked for a more extensive analysis.

“In going back and forth between the applicants and the DOT, there has been a delay,” he said. “If you waited for them to come back and then have to do some new studies, it could delay your project … and approval.” He suggests contacting them early and “expedite it by working with them as quickly as you can.”

Town Comments & Simon Responses

Sam Fattah, vice president of project management for Simon, said that a general contractor has been selected: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, who in turn will hire subcontractors as they see fit. He added that they plan to submit the demolition next week.

Charles Maneri, Clarkstown building plans examiner, pointed out that there were was an error that shows in the current site plan draft, but added that Simon plans on fixing it in the next draft of the drawing. He referred to a concrete island in the Macy’s lower parking lot.

Maneri commented on a few items that need to be rectified in Simon’s next drafting:

  • A concrete island in the Macy’s lower parking lot that was accidentally not taken out in the drafted drawing.
  • Should show the 8-foot chain-link fence on the plan.
  • During the building removal, some material will be crushed on site. The draft should show the location of the crusher and proper permits need to be obtained from the Rockland Health Department.
  • Provide a breakdown of gross floor area (GFA) for all buildings and what is included in the actual GFA. This is needed to determine amount of parking available
  • The building for Banchetto Feast should be shown that it is now approved
  • Show location of dumpsters
  • Show location of cart corrals for the grocery store
  • Will there be a designated area for snow removal equipment and salt storage

Response

All these comments will be addressed in the upcoming draft.

“We decided to wait until we got all the comments in and respond to them all at once,” said Emanuel.

Dennis Letson, Clarkstown deputy director of environmental control, compared this project to that of the Stop and Shop one in New City.

“You have an existing site that has aged. The tenancy is no longer there as it was in the past. You have a center here that has undergone site plan review on several occasions, has undergone environmental review on several occasions and is at the point where the existing condition, were it to be fully occupied, has been reviewed and approved, whether it was by this board or a previous board.”

Letson’s comments are as follows:

  • Break down acreage to the different ownerships because it’s easier to control the property and leasing with it being broken down.
  • Further discuss temporary impacts during the construction period
  • Have the Rockland County Sewer District No. 1 review pretreatment
  • Simon’s traffic studies, hydraulics and drainage have already been submitted and are under review.
  • Had issues with the entry
  • “You’re proposing to raise the northeast corner of the site. That’s the area that’s prone to flooding during severe storms. The detail for your underground detention system shows a system that is a little over 11 feet high. Please verify the depths and how that’s going to drain out after it’s flooded. The grading doesn’t indicate that it’s coming up that high.”
  • Letson had 1.5 pages of technical comments on the site plan, but chose to skip them with respect to time. Those comments will be added to the minutes.

Response

Schneider said nothing unusual jumped out at him from the engineering comments and that many of these comments and changes will be reflected in the “phasing plan” draft. They still need to clear that draft with the department stores before moving forward.

He added that Simon set up a weekly conference call with Supervisor Alex Gromack and other officials until they’ve worked through these issues and keep them involved with the plans.

Joe Simoes, principal town planner, comments:

Suggested that the planning board seek advice from the town traffic consultant on the safety of the diagonal pull in parking on the site’s “Main Street.” As seen on the site plan drawing, the “L” in the middle that goes down the two rows of retail stores is the “Main Street” concept Simon hopes to mirror. It’s two one-way lanes with diagonal parking spaces on either side.  

“Particularly with cars backing out, traveling vehicles bypassing other vehicles waiting for parking spaces and pedestrians crossing the roadways.”

Consideration for a pedestrian area, if not on the main street than on the side streets

Response

The “Main Street” safety issue:

“We are every bit concerned, if not more concerned (than the planning board) about public safety,” said Schneider. “Our traffic engineers have looked into main streets. Your main street for example … we have found that those have higher traffic generation, higher speeds and more potential for accidents than on our (Shops at Nanuet) Main Street.”

Simon’s review several town centers with this parking and pedestrian plan shows nothing unusual in safety issues.

“Most of our traffic will be going into the parking fields on either side of the shopping center. I do not see this as an issue that merits concern. We feel very comfortable with this design,” said Schneider, adding that there is “far more traffic” in the parking lot areas surrounding the retail stores on the property than on the “Main Street” itself.

In February 2010 was the most recent mall Simon opened. Schneider said that from 1999 – 2010, “every shopping center in the mall division that was an open air main street regional center, I have not found any incidents in any of our incident reports. I have had conversations with each of the general managers of those properties.”

“I have put together a book with site plan aerials of main street” of Simon’s other mall (main street) centers with similar situations, said Schneider. “I have reviewed those centers. There have been no personal injuries reported in those centers since they have opened.” There were four incidents of property damage: a stop sign, two landscaping and fencing.

Simoes also presented comments from the County Planning Department along with some of his own:

  • Concerns with traffic congestion at the property’s entry way off of Route 59 across from Rockland Shopping Plaza. Possible traffic congestion may back up traffic onto Rt. 59 because of “high vehicular and pedestrian traffic.” Also, with that particular entry way funneling directly into the “more constricted” L-shaped Main Street, that could further congestion problems on that Main Street.
  • “The applicant should consider several redesigns of the circulation of the site” such as “removal of vehicular circulation between the shops creating a pedestrian boulevard, realigning the Rt. 59 entrance so that the traffic does not naturally flow directly to the highest pedestrian area, but rather move traffic around the shops.”
  • Possible traffic confusion that is typical of most malls where those entering the mall assume they have right of way over those leaving
  • Make sure the tree density meets the Town’s Tree Preservation Plan.
  • Rockland County Department of Public Transportation wanted to know about Simon’s proposed bus circulations, facilities and the “applicant’s plan to temporarily or perhaps permanently eliminate the Park and Ride facility.”
  • Bike racks should be provided at certain key areas on the property.
  • Attempt to integrate with Nanuet’s Main Street or Middletown Road in terms of the look and design of building treatments, signs and sidewalks
  • Separate pedestrian plan to get pedestrians from Middletown Road to the shops
  • Pedestrian signals at site entrances and intersections and possible retiming of traffic lights
  • Plans for emergency evacuations and Emergency, Medical and Fire access
  • Outline energy and water conservation plans such as heating, cooling, recycling, etc.
  • Water Wells must be shown on the site plan and unused wells need to be decommissioned
  • Light level needs to be looked at so that there’s no “spillage” of light that will shine into the county roadways
  • Simon must contact appropriate health, transportation, and sanitary departments on the town and county level on certain issues
  • Sidewalk connection needed from Sears Auto Center to the shops for those waiting for cars being serviced
  • Need to show snow pile areas to avoid snow being plowed onto vegetative islands, which can damage the plants through snow weight or salt content
  • Will construction occur in phases? When will a phasing schedule be provided?
  • Temporary bus shelter during construction period?
  • Park and Ride’s current location is not feasible with the current site plan. An alternate location needs to be designated
  • Back up generators need to be provided to the grocery store so if there’s a power outage due to a storm-related incident, the produce and frozen foods will be preserved and available to the community

Response:

Schneider said their traffic engineers have worked on the design for more than 18 months and they’ve looked at that particular entryway intersection.

They’ve looked at different configurations and solutions such as round a bouts. One building at that originally sat at the southeast corner of that Rt. 59 intersection was removed to help with the traffic.

This is one of four entries. “We feel comfortable with the design.”

Schneider said Simon has bike racks at most if not all of their centers, but they’re rarely used.

Bike racks have been integrated but not drawn in yet.

Sidewalks are difficult to configure because people tend to walk the shortest distance from where they park. “It’s hard to anticipate where they’re needed and where they’ll be utilized.”

Simon has talked to public transportation on plans for bus routes and shelters. “They seem to be very supportive of the plan.”

Emanuel said the tree preservation plan and traffic control devices will be discussed later

Thormann read off comments from other groups:

  • Sewer District comments were skipped for time and will be put into the minutes
  • Chief Fire Inspector: access to site, existing buildings, hydrants need to be clear at all times. Construction materials, debris and vehicles cannot block emergency access during construction.
  • Traffic lights are recommended to be upgraded for emergency personnel
  • Traffic Consultant John Sarna’s comments:
  • Traffic studies may be misleading if not updated. Traffic volumes entering the Nanuet Mall has dropped and Simon needs to look into why that is exactly.

Planning Board Member Chris Carey raised concerns on possible outdated data being used to design the mall’s projection of traffic and configuration.

———

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on Wednesday’s meeting between Simon and the Clarkstown planning board. looked at the Banchetto Feast resolution, the Nanuet Mall's transformation by the numbers, Simon's progress and a timeline

Joanne Snider December 02, 2011 at 01:13 PM
Please let it be a Fairway Market coming in!!!
Bruce Cohen December 02, 2011 at 04:26 PM
How about demolishing the entire thing, Macy's and Sears included and making the entire thing a "mini-Central Park", without the muggers and assorted slime.

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