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Second Public Input Workshop - January 11, 2001


CROTON Comprehensive Plan

SUMMARY OF Workshop 2:
Commercial Issues and Opportunities

January 11, 2001

Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart, Inc.

On January 11, 2001, Croton’s Comprehensive Plan Committee and Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart (BFJ) conducted the second public workshop for the Comprehensive Plan, which focused on commercial issues and opportunities in the Village.  The workshop was designed to elicit residents’ ideas and input on ways to improve and strengthen the Village’s commercial centers and office areas.  

The workshop began with remarks by Mayor Robert Elliott and Ann Gallelli, chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee.  Paul Buckhurst of BFJ then gave a slide presentation highlighting issues in each of the Village’s four commercial centers and office districts.  

The four commercial centers discussed were: North Riverside, Upper Village, Croton Commons/Grand Union, and the Harmon shopping area (see Commercial Centers map, page 3, and a copy of the workshop agenda on page 4).  The office districts discussed were: the North End; Municipal Place; Route 9A/Grand Street; and South Riverside/Municipal Place.  

After a short break, participants separated into five focus groups, to discuss each of the four commercial areas and the office districts.  Each group was asked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the particular area, discuss the role the area played in the Village, and develop recommendations for how to improve that district.  After a 45-minute discussion period, each group presented its findings and recommendations to the workshop participants.  

The recommendations and ideas which developed in the break-out sessions are summarized on the following pages.  Many of these ideas focused on improving the visual appearance of the commercial centers, preserving the historic character of the Village, and addressing traffic and parking issues.  As with the previous workshop and survey, these ideas will be used to help shape the focus, and refine the objectives, of the Comprehensive Plan.

         Welcoming Remarks
         Workshop Agenda
 Commercial and Office Uses: Existing Conditions & Key Issues (Paul Buckhurst)


Office Districts
Upper Village commercial area
 North Riverside commercial area
 Croton Commons/Grand Union commercial area
 Harmon commercial area

*       Participants will sit at topic tables, each with a facilitator.  The note taker records the discussion on sheets of paper supplied.  

SHARING IDEAS AND VISIONS (30 min):  The facilitator from each table gives a summary presentation of the roundtable discussion

discussion summarIES:

·       north riverside

·       upper village COMMERCIAL AREA

·       croton commons/grand union

·       Harmon Commercial District

discussion summary:
north riverside


        Brook Street serves as a focal point and linkage to Upper Village
        Proximity to Hudson waterfront and waterfront parks, beautiful sunsets
        Well positioned for “bohemian” Soho-type use
       Attractive sidewalks, stonework at A&P shopping center
        Old clapboard facades reminiscent of old Croton
    Not a gateway from north or south; Riverside is a “sideway”

Areas for Improvement

       Unattractive fencing, screening, building facades (e.g. beeper store)
       Lights are too bright and are too close together
       No visual continuity between different features/uses
       Auto repair shop is “commercializing” Riverside and not improving street appearance


Character and Links
       Establish connection through street furniture (fencing) and stores to the water and to Croton’s   history as a river town; also can link theme to Croton’s history with stonework
       Replace chain link fence with fence depicting river-oriented theme
       Emphasize historic preservation and value of river

Visual Appearance
       Improve signage, especially with directions to Senasqua Park
       Develop incentives for property owners to upgrade facades
       Improve lighting and extend attractive street lamps

Commercial Uses
       Encourage restaurant/outdoor dining on Riverside that can draw people from riverfront parks
        Recommend addition of second or third stories to buildings (without blocking views of residents east of Riverside)
       Encourage “browsing stores” (e.g. kite store and picnic supply store) to link to riverfront
       Consider mixed residential and retail uses along Riverside

Regulations and Zoning
       Develop pre-emptive regulations to define appearance and uses at north end of Riverside before development occurs (setbacks, landscaping, signage, architectural regulations); prevent strip-like commercial development
       Consider architectural review boards and historic preservation ordinances

       Consider jitney services to bring residents to Senasqua and other measures to reduce traffic
       Improve parking in Upper Village

discussion summary:
upper village COMMERCIAL AREA


       Kennedy Building: attractive renovation of existing building
       Attractive street lamps
        More sidewalks than other areas of Village; strong pedestrian orientation
       Safe for kids to walk in area
       Retail mix: local stores, service-oriented, personal shopping
       No big box stores
       Upper Village is heart of Croton

Areas for Improvement

       Parking is inadequate; traffic would be a problem with more retail success
       Merchants are parking in spaces that should be used for shoppers
        Residents are leaving Croton to shop elsewhere, need to attract them
       No visual unity of streetscape, windows, signs
       Building maintenance should be increased and improved
       No ATM in entire Upper Village
       Streets are too narrow for school buses


       Strengthen identity of Upper Village as the heart of Croton, by improving overall aesthetics, streetscape, signage
        Bring ATM to Upper Village
       Improve traffic flow/consider one-way flow to allow for additional parking
       Improve the mix of stores to attract shoppers, e.g. specialty stores, breakfast places, hardware store (Wondrous Things, Book Hut, Blue Pig cited as positive examples in Upper Village)

discussion summary:
croton commons/grand union


        Commercial hub
       Post Office, Grand Union, Croton Diner

Areas for Improvement

       Needs more interesting retail stores
       Poor traffic flow/congestion
       Inadequate parking
        Sidewalks are inadequate, difficult to cross road to get to other stores,
shoppers often have to drive from one store to another


        Add sidewalks within different shopping centers, and create better
        pedestrian connections between them
        Link this area via new sidewalks to Upper Village
        Add pedestrian crossings for safety
        New sidewalks to link the area to Senasqua Park
        Address overall traffic and parking deficiencies
        Add more interesting retail stores
        Bury electrical wires, especially near Croton Dodge
               Future of Empty lot:
Town acquire land for common use, create open space/gazebo
        Or use for commercial use, but still include open space and gazebo

discussion summary:
Harmon Commercial District


        Retail potential, pedestrian orientation
        Easily accessible to local neighborhood, local links
        Proximity to railroad station
       Proximity to tourist center (Cortlandt Manor)
        Attractive planters

Areas for Improvement

       Streetscape: overhead wires, telephone poles
       Short-lived trees along street
       Car storage, car testing on streets in neighborhood
       Poorly marked crosswalks
       No pedestrian access to Shop-Rite
       Not bike-friendly


       Provide safe, convenient pedestrian/bike links to nearby residential community  
        Put ornamental clock on approach to train station
       Improve lighting (similar to that along bike path to Ossining)
       Provide bike lanes
       Provide street elements aesthetically tying train station to Croton Point
       Commercial shopping bordering train station parking lot
       Critical shortage of apartments: place some over existing shops
       Bury overhead wires, remove telephone poles
       Shuttle bus from train to shopping area  
        Better markers as “gateway” to Croton
        Sidewalks in Shop Rite area and on both sides of Croton Point Avenue

discussion summary:
office districts


       Upper Village area charming and accessible, good area for offices:
         has synergy, people oriented, some former retail now office space
       Kennedy Building, good renovation work
       South Riverside has potential as a gateway location
       North End largely undeveloped, excellent access, has office potential

Areas for Improvement

       Office districts throughout Village are small, little available space
       Need for mixture in size of offices, especially incubator type space to support
      small businesses transitioning out of home offices
       Requirements for home businesses requirements sometimes conflict with Village ordinances
               (realtors must have certain signage for example)
        Parking constraints and poor traffic flow in Upper Village pose obstacles for small office businesses


       Encourage mix of office and building sizes to accommodate a range of businesses, e.g. small    offices for solo professionals and larger offices for firms
       Emphasize sensitivity when remodeling existing building stock
       Home Businesses: coordinate requirements with Village laws
        North End: undeveloped properties present opportunity; good access to North End
       Upper Village: improve parking and poor traffic flow
       North Riverside: consider rezoning as multi-use district
       South Riverside and Municipal Place: this small office area acts as gateway to Village; encourage small office building and improve traffic access
       Consider incubator space for offices, per the Ossining and Peekskill models
       Encourage historic preservation and attractive renovation
        Improve parking and access throughout Village
       Bury overhead wires, install fiber optics
       Improve visual appearance of streetscape with flowers, plants, street furniture, better curbs