COLUMBUS RETAIL PLAN NIXED

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By Dan Rivoli

An expansion of property on Columbus Avenue and West 95th Street that would have dramatically changed the block’s landscape has been dropped.

The Witkoff Group pulled its application to renovate a 248-apartment building on 95 W. 95th St. called Columbus House.

The plan called for building a two-story structure that would have wrapped around the base of the 33-story residential tower. That addition would have created 4,950 square feet of retail space along Columbus Avenue between West 95th and 96th streets. But it also would have closed pathways between buildings and have been built to the property line, eliminating a wide patch of sidewalk on Columbus Avenue.

The office of Council Member announced that the proposal was withdrawn. Brewer was pleased that the project would spare trees that would have been removed.

“The broad sidewalks and double rows of trees along Columbus Avenue are vital aspects of the entire Columbus Avenue Urban Renewal Corridor stretching south from 96th Street to 88th Street,” she said in a statement.

Nearby small businesses feared they would be edged out in favor of new chain stores, similarly to the retail scene on Columbus Avenue just three blocks north. (Scott Alper, a partner at the Witkoff Group, denied this and emphasized its support of small businesses.)

Anne Cottavoz, the owner of Columbus Natural Food, had collected signatures and posted signs in nearby businesses to organize opposition to her landlord’s plan. “Now that the project is shelved, we have a chance to run our business normally,” Cottavoz said.

Alper, the partner at Witkoff Group, did not return repeated requests for a comment.

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