PEEKSKILL, N.Y. ‒ Business owners in the Crossroads Shopping Plaza have started a petition against the city's planned use of eminent domain to buy the property as the site for a new firehouse.
Panio Wines and Spirits owner David Pacchiana is one of several business owners who will be forced to move if the city acquires part of the shopping center. He is collecting signatures at his store.
"We have over 1,500 signatures at this point," Pacchiana said Thursday. "About 85 percent of them are Peekskill residents, and the other ones are mostly customers who come in from out of town"
Signatures are also being collected online at ipetitions.com.
Pacchiana said he believes the whole acquisition will cost about $4 million, as opposed to the city's land-acquisition estimate of $2.75 million.
"Their offer to the [plaza] land owner here was $1 million, and if you look at the city's appraisal of the property, it's about $4.7 million," Pacchiana said. "The city wants to take about 40 percent of the rentable space, so that's about $1.8 million, and they'll only have about $1.5 million left in their budget. The property owner's appraisal is $6.5 million. I have no idea what he's asking, but it's probably about $3 million."
The city will also have to pay business owners to relocate. The city has already said it will provide $25,000 to each business, but Pacchiana said he believes the businesses are entitled to much more.
"We've spoken to attorneys and we know that down the road we will receive a claim based on the fixtures inside our individual [business] spaces."
The ownership group of the plaza, Heights Real Estate, has not been in contact with business tenants about the possible acquisition, Pacchiana said.
Pacchiana has told the Common Council at recent meetings that the city should instead build the firehouse on the vacant lot across the street.
"If they moved Park Street [south], this is all flat land they could build on," he said. "They could shift the whole thing down and wouldn't have to build into the hill ‒ there's plenty of space there."
Other business owners in the plaza, including Urban Beauty Supply's Steve Dade, also said the move would hurt them,.
"Nobody's happy about that," Dade said. "All of my customers, they don't want it, and I don't want it. It took me six years to build up this business, and I don't want to start over."
Like Pacchiana, Dade said the the $25,000 being offered by the city to relocate isn't enough.
"That isn't even enough to pay for one wall in this store," Dade said.
At Antonio's Pizza, Arif Ulatas said the project will take away much of the parking in the plaza and drive customers away from the stores that will be left with fire truck traffic and noise.
"It's gonna effect everyone ‒ Rite-Aid, the deli, the Chinese restaurant," Ulatas said. "It's gonna destroy us."