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Planning Board Suspends All Costco Activities, Property Owner Refuses to Sell

The big box store was expected to received approval at the end of May.

The Yorktown planning board Monday suspended all activities for the , citing lawsuits involving the owner of the land where it is to be built.

Owner Sammy El Jamal, president of Best Buy Rent Properties 202, recently informed the town of a lawsuit attempting to terminate his sale agreement with Retail Store Construction, the applicant for the Costco facility.

"It is disputed that Best Buy Rent Properties 202, LLC and Retail Store Construction Co., Inc did not timely enter into an extension of the contract prior to its expiration on August 31, 2010," El Jamal's letter to the town stated.

Costco's lawyers say this is wrong, citing an extension through June.

El Jamal is also the owner of about 100 gas stations in Westchester, including the Shell gas station on Route 202 in Yorktown and the Mobil gas station across the street from the proposed Costco site. He has expressed disapproval that Costco plans to put up its own gas station and is now refusing to sell his property. 

Joe Visconti, president of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, said this wasn't about a local business owner and his concerns. It was, instead, about "Big Oil [Mobile] ... telling Yorktown residents what they can and can't do. Competition is what it's all about." 

Visconti said the planning board tabling all activities going forward is a step back in the process, and that many people would be upset if Costco does not come into town.

The attorney for Retail Store Contruction, Robert M. Calica, in an April 6 letter to the town said El Jamal "falsely contends" the purchase agreement has expired, saying it was extended to June 30, 2011.

El Jamal is also being sued by his Best Rent partner Majed ("Mitch) Nesheiwat, "for wrongfully interfering with the Purchase Agreement." Nesheiwat wants to compel Mr. El Jamal "to cooperate with the pending zoning applications."

The cases are in Dutchess and Westchester courts.

"The Dutchess County Action arose by reason of Mr. El Jamal's wrongful and self-motivated efforts to trigger a termination of the Purchase Agreement because Costco's plans to include an accessory gasoline station for use of its members and because such an accessory gasoline service station will compete with Mr. El Jamal's own, unrelated retail and wholesale gasoline business," Calica wrote in the letter. 

A lawyer for El Jamal, Albert J. Pirro Jr., wrote in a letter dated April 8 that his client does not want the application to be further processed. 

"While this matter could have been settled awhile ago if the gas station component was dropped, it is now irrelevant—that ship has sailed," Pirro said. 

Al Capellini, the Yorktown lawyer representing the Retail Store Construction, said El Jamal claims he never agreed to a plan for a gas station at the proposed site. Approximately six months after the contract was signed, the lawsuit was brought up, according to Capellini. 

"My client has expressed to me that plans were known to all parties involved," he said.

"[Costco] has been put on hold because of the suspension of the processing of the application by the planning board. Delay doesn't breathe success. The lawsuit is an unfortunate occurrence for Yorktown because Costco would be a wonderful addition, but I am hopeful it will eventually come in," he said.

Supervisor Susan Siegel said the town is concerned there are no approvals. 

"[Costco] is a potential for a significant source of revenue for the town of Yorktown," she said. "We have a lot at stake. We'll keep abreast with it. The town board has no official position on this."

The only issue that can come up in front of town board members would be Costco's gas station, which would require a special permit approved by board members, Siegel said. Everything else is reviewed by planning board members. 

The nearly 19-acre  that once housed a hotel and nursery lies about 40 feet below the Taconic State Parkway overpass on Route 202.

Francis T McVetty April 13, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Particia, how about putting a wind farm on YOUR property to start with. All I hear from the "green people"is that we need solutions for the 21st century. Show us solutions that will replace fossil fuel NOW, when we need it the most. Do some research and see how many wind turbines and solar panels it will take to replace Indian Point alone, not to mention all the coal powered plants. Wake up to reality, you are living in a make believe world .
Jeanne Gilholm April 13, 2011 at 01:57 PM
I don't know about buying "junk" at Costco, I'm sure they sell some, but the reason I would love to have Costco be in Yorktown is food. That's not junk. Has Patricia noted the prices of food in all the supermarkets lately?? Has she seen what milk has been costing lately?? Costco has also been hightly rated on their costs of prescriptions as well, and that's certainly not junk. If she hasn't visited one, I suggest she might take a peek. As far as gas stations go, I drive out of my way to avoid buying at Mobil, and now I will add Shell to the list. They are owned by some pretty greedy people who care nothing for the general population, just their bankroll. Well, I don't want to add to it.
patricia sullivan-rothberg April 13, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Francis, I would love to put a wind farm on my property, I've enquired, but I don't own enough property. I only live on.66 of an acre. In addition I own a Pricis, I don't heat my home with oil and am doing my best to be part of the solution. It is my belief Indian Point will close, furthermore, Mr. Jamel is entitled to sell or not sell his property to whomever he chooses, this is America. With your thinking we'll only stay in the problem, change MUST come. The world you live in expects it to continue and it cannot. If we had put our minds to it in toe 70's when we were standing on line waiting for gas, we would have solved much more of it. I'm delighted Mr. Jamel is not selling. Thanks for the judgement on being green, it really helps. We don't need to build more, we need smart businesses to chose Yorktown, Cosco is simply not smart in my view.
Francis T McVetty April 13, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Patrica, all sound and fury, signifying nothing. By owing a Prius you think that you are green, but have you looked at the total carbon foot print of this vehicle? You may want to think again about this vehicle being green. I also don't think that your house runs without electricity. You do use electricity, right? On to the sale of the property. Mr El Jamal does have the right to sell or not sell his property. He does NOT have the right to change his mind after he commits to the sale without penalty. It is called a contract, obviously something that Sammy El Jamal has no regard for.
jo April 13, 2011 at 02:58 PM
good.. we do need need Cosco..nor the traffic..
Bill April 13, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Freudian slip? We DO need Costco.
Plamena Pesheva (Editor) April 13, 2011 at 06:03 PM
Hi everyone. To reiterate, Patch welcomes all comments but we want to encourage a lively and civil dialogue. Comments, such as running people out of town will be deleted. Please refrain from all personal attacks and resubmit your comments without such references.
patricia sullivan-rothberg April 13, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Why we need a Cosco when we have a BJ's half a mile down the road is redundant beyond belief! If America continues to only consume and not produce things we'll have these stores next to each other. Oh, that's right, they would be just down the road from each other! It is glutinous to want both a BJ's and a Cosco, they are essentially the same type of store. And if you really have it out for Mr. Jamel, start buying up property in Yorktown like he has done. So he'll pay a fine for breaking a contract, it happens everyday Mr. McVetty.
Bill April 13, 2011 at 11:36 PM
Why do you need Turcos in town when you have A&P? Why do you need Stop & Shop on Rt 6 in Somers when you have Decicco's a few blocks away and A&P a block from S&S? People like different stores. Costco is a different store than BJ's, and most people who shop at Costco will tell you that it is superior. It is not worth arguing with you about the merits of Costco because I'm sure you've never been in one and the only thing you've heard is that you can get a 25 pound bag of potatoes, or stuff like that. I know I am looking forward to having a Costco because that means I will be able to buy enough food to have 6 meals a day, and get extra flat screen TV's so I can have two in each room.
Bill April 13, 2011 at 11:37 PM
BTW is your comment about producing things an indication that you think we should get some sort of commercial manufacturing facility there instead of Costco? Good luck with that!
kathleen April 14, 2011 at 11:53 PM
I would love to see a Whole Foods come to Yorktown. I think Yorktown has enough discount type stores - we already have one large discount type warehouse - BJs, we have Kmart, we have the new dollar store...Enough. We pay a lot in taxes here to live in a nice community - I think more of these types of stores going up just brings the value of the town down.
Bill April 15, 2011 at 12:11 AM
What sort of indication do you have that Whole Foods has ANY interest in coming to Yorktown (and do you honestly think that there is a population here to support their high prices)??? They're building a new location in Danbury. Like Trader Joes (which I would love to see here), they seem feel that Northern Westchester is of no interest to them. K-Mart sucks, but sadly we are stuck with them. I don't see how you can compare Costco to KMart and dollar stores. Yet another person who has probably never stepped foot inside Costco and makes ridiculous claims about them. They sell lots of high end merchandise.
kathleen April 15, 2011 at 01:01 AM
I never said that I had ANY indication that Whole Foods had any interest in coming here. If you read what I said - I merely stated that I personally would love to see them here - Trader Joe's would be great as well. And I think you'd be surprised at how many people would support a store like one of these. I know many people that drive to Trader Joe's, Stew's and other such places. And I used to belong to the Costco's in Yonkers so I am not "yet another person that has never stepped foot inside Costco". I simply think that BJs is sufficient and it would be nice for the town to offer something along these other lines.
patricia sullivan-rothberg April 15, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Thank you Kathleen! I agree and think a Trader Joe's in the old Food Emporium would be great, no need to build new and I would shop there for sure! Bill I have been in a Costco, just to set the record straight, so please stop telling us where we have and haven't been , it is possible to disagree with you isn't it? We simply disagree about Yorktown needing a Costco.
Bill April 15, 2011 at 02:03 AM
It would be great if Trader Joe's went in where Food Emporium was. Only problems are that A&P is apparently not interested in letting another food store come in (and they own the location and are already Turco's landlord) and Trader Joe's has no interest in coming to Yorktown. Other than those minor obstacles, they could start construction tomorrow.
Bill April 15, 2011 at 02:09 AM
It's not a matter of the town offering something. There has to be a developer interested in building something, and they have to find a retailer interested in moving in. Other than the upscale shopping center which I believe never got past their initial presentation to the town board, Costco is the only retailer that has apparently shown interest. And as retailers go, Costco is one of the best around. And there is none in the area. And if BJ's and Costco were so similar, there would not be thousands of Yorktown residents (not to mention those in surrounding towns) who apparently have Costco memberships and shop in Brookfield, Nanuet, Port Chester or Yonkers.
JD April 18, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Hey, I went to BJs this weekend and spent an hour buying junk. I bought eggs, milk, bread, coldcuts for my junk sandwiches, and lettuce for my junk salad. Did anyone else get to go there to buy their junk?
Jeanne Gilholm April 18, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Yes, we went to BJ's and noticed the prices are going up there just like all the other stores. I do admit that some items are the same as a year or two ago, but others don't beat "sale" prices at Shoprite. That's why having some competition would be good for the consumer of both food and gasoline. There is very little in the way of competition in that particular area when it comes to food shopping. It can use a good supermarket of some kind. Trader Joe's would be a good possibility. (I prefer Costco).
Francis T McVetty April 18, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Jeanne, you think you seen the prices going up, wait. The fuel prices have gone up drastically. The cost to ship product to these stores has gone up. The new bill proposed by the President wants to add MORE tax to fuel. Doesn't he know that the costs will be passed along to us, the serfs? He fly's here and there using jet fuel and not really worrying about it. Does he really know how much each flight that he takes to promote himself, costs? Sorry about getting off subject, but every day I see my life style being diminished. I see my children's also. What have they and their children to look forward to? The saying used to be " our brightest days are ahead of us ", can we really say that today?
Jeanne Gilholm April 19, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Francis, your remark about seeing our lifestyle diminished, and that of our children's really struck home. I have been saying that a lot lately myself. I don't think we'll live long enough to see the end of this "depression". I agree with you 100%. On another note, have you noticed the quality of clothing for sale, the high prices for same and then look in your closet at your "old" duds and think, "Hey, these may be old, but they're in good shape and look a lot better than the stuff in the store"? I have a blouse, bought at Plymouth Shops, that's old as the hills or maybe older??? but it's in great shape and is not going anywhere soon.
Francis T McVetty April 19, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Jeanne, my wife points that out all the time . The price of the cloths are going up and the quality is going down. I just showed my wife your last posting and she laughed. her mother used to work for a Plymouth shop in the Bronx years ago. Thanks for the memory.
Jennifer23 July 12, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Sammy el jamal, some how with 0 experience, in the jobber business got his hands on the shell deal package over major corporations, this is obviously a red flag...he is now in court with his partners and investors because he does no have the money to pay for the 88 shell stations, which is now being taken away from him...figures...he must of spent it all on paying off people to get the bid
Bill December 01, 2011 at 08:34 AM
Is this alive again? I noticed it was on the Planning Board's agenda this week.
Katie Ryan O'Connor December 01, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Hi Bill, Thanks for stopping by. We will certainly check that out!
Francis T McVetty December 01, 2011 at 12:50 PM
If it is Sammy El Jamal, president of Best Buy Rent Properties 202 that is in fact holding up this deal then someone should post a list of the gas stations he does own and we should start a BOYCOTT of them. How about someone on the town board posting something about this?
Bill December 01, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Jeanne, you posted something but apparently deleted it. I think Sammy owns Mobil stations locally, but his recent deal (that got him so many stations) was with Shell.
Francis T McVetty December 01, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Sammy didn't read the agreement he signed. It stated that Costco was going to sell gasoline. He missed it and then wanted to re-nag on the whole deal. again, does anyone know of the outcome of the court case?
Jeanne Gilholm December 01, 2011 at 08:06 PM
I think he owns many different stations with various "brands" . I think you should google his name and read more about the person, especially one article by the State Attorney General's office. I think he's wrong, but the saddest part is that we may lose a chance to have Costco come to Yorktown. I do think as I have written before that we should all boycott Mobil stations in our area and make a statement that way. Also make note of the new law about posting the price of gas whether cash or credit. We have been fooled into driving into a Mobil station and paying ten cents more per gallon. Many stations are charging the posted price for cash or for credit. Let's give them our business.
Francis T McVetty December 01, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Jeanne, why should we punish ALL Mobile gas stations? The only person that should suffer from this boycott is Sammy. As I have said before it is up to the consumer to check the prices BEFORE he/she pays the bill.
Jeanne Gilholm December 01, 2011 at 09:52 PM
I see it more like rewarding the stations that don't try to fool the customer with their signs. I think you should google Sammy and read how many stations he owns in our area. It's very informative, and I think you'll enjoy it.

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