The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Boulders make Bedford Village parkers fume

By JOHN ROCHE
JOHN ROCHE PHOTO

Boulders were placed in this lot in Bedford Village.

 

Boulders blocking off most of the parking lot behind the movie theater, a popular restaurant and other businesses in Bedford Village have put shoppers looking for parking in the hamlet between a rock and a hard place.

The dozen boulders, along with a handful of planters and several orange traffic cones, were apparently placed in the privately owned lot off Court Road to prevent parking. The measure has drawn the ire of several Bedford Village residents, including moviegoers, restaurant patrons and shoppers, and also prompted town officials to take action against the landlord this week.

“My wife and I just can’t understand why these big, unsightly boulders were put there, and if the new landlord is responsible, what’s the sense behind it,” said Jim Bowman, who has lived in Bedford Village for 45 years with his wife, Judy. “It’s not only hurting people who want to shop, eat, run errands or catch a movie, but it’s also got to be really curbing business for the theater, the Meetinghouse and all the other stores and businesses in the area. That’s tough, especially in this economy. It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

A violation notice was issued Wednesday to the owner of the property, Phoenix Capital Partners LLC, because the boulders block emergency access and also violate the town’s zoning code, according to Bedford’s building inspector, Steven Fraietta.

“There is a violation in terms of fire and emergency access to the road, as well as a violation because the required parking for the commercial tenants of that building is not being met,” Mr. Fraietta said. “The property owner has 10 days to respond to the violation notice once it’s received, and after that, we can issue a summons. Hopefully, we’ll hear from the owner and this can be addressed without the need for a summons to be issued.”

Calls and emails for comment this week to Frank Boccanfuso, a principal of Phoenix Partners, were not returned. Phoenix Partners, a commercial real estate investment and property management company with offices in Purchase and Manhattan, purchased the building and adjacent parking lot this past year.

The building on Route 22 has a mixed use, with the Bedford Playhouse movie theater, the Meetinghouse restaurant and a few other stores on street level, and apartments on the second and third floors.

The Town of Bedford had leased the Court Road parking lot for the past five years, and operated it as one of its municipal lots. Motorists paid hourly to park in the lot via muni-meters, which were removed after the town decided in mid-2011 not to renew its lease for the site.

In the course of severe belt-tightening by the town board during the budget preparation process, town officials said the decision to no longer operate the lot was a cost-saving measure, since doing so resulted in a significant loss of taxpayer money each year.

The town’s lease on the parking lot ended on Nov. 30, and the boulders appeared in December. The timing of the lot being closed, at the height of the holiday season and peak shopping period, also angered some residents.

Mr. Bowman and several other residents contacted The Record-Review about the boulders, raising concern about the possible impact the loss of parking might have on Bedford Village merchants, included the businesses located in the building now owned and operated by Phoenix Partners.

“I fear that with the loss of this parking lot and lack of parking spaces in the village, not only will the Bedford Playhouse suffer due to lack of patrons but so will the stores and restaurants in this area,” said another local resident, Betty Goodman, in a letter to the editor this week. “If you can’t park, you won’t stay.”

Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts said the town has also received a slew of complaints. “I am as distressed as the residents and business owners who have contacted my office about this, and we’re looking into it on several levels,” Ms. Roberts said. “Not only is this likely to have a negative impact on the merchants of Bedford Village, it appears that it’s also in violation of our Town Code, might pose a safety risk in terms of emergency access and also might not be permissible because it’s located in the hamlet’s historic district.”   

One of the business owners, who asked not to be identified out of fear of reprisal from the landlord, said the parking lot situation is frustrating customers and shopkeepers alike. “I don’t think the new landlord was anticipating that the town would no longer lease the parking lot when he bought the property,” the merchant said. “We hear gripes from customers because there’s already a shortage of parking in the village. Hopefully, this is a temporary thing that will be rectified soon.”

The Bedford Playhouse, at 634 Old Post Road, is now a two-theater movie house operated by Clearview Cinemas, and the centerpiece of the building. The theater opened in April 1947.

According to the Phoenix Capital Partners website, the company has owned, managed and developed in excess of 2 million square feet of commercial real estate property in the tristate area since it was established in 1999.

   


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January 6, 2012