Ten Hurdles the Harmon Proposal Cannot Overcome. A Checklist
The Expressway. This limited access 9.2-mile highway bypasses Croton, leaving it cut off from the main north-south flow of traffic. Croton has never been the same ever since it opened in 1967. Some 40,000 vehicles detour around Croton daily at 55 miles an hour or more. Croton’s customer base is thus essentially reduced mostly to Croton’s population, approximately 8,000 persons.
Five widely separated shopping areas. These have their roots in Croton’s history, as described in Nos. 4 and 5 of this series. The lack of a single, cohesive shopping area creates special problems of geographical separation for Croton that can never be overcome.
Higher taxes for owners, more than 50% of which are school taxes.
Higher rents for renters.
Lack of a “magnet.” A bank or post office draws shoppers to a shopping area. Croton Commons, ShopRite and Van Wyck all have this added benefit. Harmon does not.
Less-than-ample traffic. “Traffic” in this sense refers to traditional foot traffic. Strolling shoppers are important to the economic health of shopping neighborhoods. Only Grand Street has a semblance of foot traffic and leisurely shopping. Harmon has no foot traffic, in part because of the presence of three of Croton’s four gas stations. The Harmon proposal will not give Croton a “downtown,” as candidate Restuccia claimed.
Inadequate parking. Finding parking spaces in some Croton neighborhoods is always a problem, notably Harmon, the Lower Village and Grand Street. The Harmon plan anticipates multiple use of parking spaces by residents and shop customers, a solution fraught with problems.
Competition. The huge Town Center and Jefferson Valley Mall and the smaller Beach, Arcadian and Chilmark complexes continue to give all Croton merchants competition. Newer Harmon merchants without an established clientele would suffer more than long-established stores.
Low level of community loyalty. For years, the Leo family owned The Video Connection in Croton Commons. When the Blockbuster chain opened a store nearby, The Video Connection tried to hang on. Did Croton residents support the local, family-owned business? They did not. They flocked to Blockbuster. The Video Connection closed soon after. So much for community loyalty.
Overly ambitious zoning. Croton may currently have too large an area zoned for commercial use, resulting in more retail spaces than there are potential tenants to fill them. This is a topic Croton has never wanted to explore, but perhaps it should do so now before it considers adding a large number of additional commercial retail spaces than are needed by its comparatively small customer base.
— Robert Scott