$1 Million Granted to New Rochelle’s Virtual Reality City Plan

$1 Million Granted to New Rochelle’s Virtual Reality City Plan

New Rochelle is one out of only nine cities to be chosen for a $1 million innovation grant. The city is a winner of Bloomberg’s U.S. Mayors Challenge, which offers funds for “innovative urban problem solving.” The Mayors Challenge is a competitive grant, part of a $200 million initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies called the American Cities Initiative. More than 300 cities applied, 35 finalists were announced, and only nine cities won. A few weeks prior to receiving the award, the city was granted $10 million in state revitalization grant funding.

New Rochelle’s project will focus on the use of virtual reality technologies, which will allow city planners and residents to visualize development plans for buildings the public spaces. The hope is that this will allow for an expansion in the amount of feedback public and private development proposals will receive.  After being named a finalist, Bloomberg gave the city a $100,000 fund for the city to run a six-month “test and learn” phase to test out ideas. New Rochelle is teaming up with IDEA New Rochelle, which is a public-private nonprofit partnership, to incorporate the virtual reality aspect of the project.

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New Earned Sick Leave Bill Signed by Latimer

Westchester County executive George Latimer signed the Earned Sick Leave Bill in early October. This new law states that any company with five or more employees is required to provide employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Under the bill, which was introduced last year, eligible workers will be able to claim up to five sick days a year. The bill was signed in hopes of increasing worker productivity and reducing the spreading of contagious illnesses. The bill was approved through a 12-5 vote; those who voted against it worry that it will be problematic for small businesses. Before this bill, more than 100,000 employees of Westchester County would not receive pay for sick days.


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Harrison Playhouse Lofts Breaks Ground

The groundbreaking for Harrison Playhouse Lofts in downtown Harrison marked the beginning of Verco Properties’ latest project. The old Harrison movie theater will finally be put to use after 12 years of closure. Instead of a movie theater, the area will be transformed into 36 luxury rental units. The project is also aiming to make a new street-level café on Purdy Street and to refurbish stores on Harrison Avenue. Designed by Stephen Tilly Architects, who is known for their ‘green building’ projects, this will be one of the first buildings in Westchester County to fulfill the FitWel™ standard, a leading healthy-building certification. The project is to be built by Murphy Brothers Contracting of Mamaroneck and funded by Sterling National bank.


Generation Yonkers Marketing Campaign Switches Gears for Its Fourth Year

It’ been nearly four years since the Generation Yonkers (Gen Y) marketing campaign  was launched. Thomas and Bender, a Westchester based advertising agency, helped create this economic development initiative, which this year is set to feature small business owners and new residents of Yonkers.

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“The Generation Yonkers campaign has transcended our local community,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “Our message has reached new businesses, young families and millennials across the region because they can relate to those who have invested in Yonkers and can attest to the burgeoning renaissance happening here. The latest iteration of our GenY campaign is the next step in telling our story of how Yonkers has arrived and is THE place to live, work and play.” Yonkers is the midst of an economic renaissance with $2.5 billion in commercial and residential projects underway.


IDA Funding Continues in White Plains

The Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) recently approved a resolution of intent for White Plains to provide financial incentives for $203 million in mixed-use residential development. The plan is for vacant or unused buildings at 440 Hamilton Avenue (rendering shown above), in downtown White Plains, to be put to various uses. Plans include 255 apartment units, a green grocer, and a surface parking lot on Baker Avenue. The IDA predicts that there will be a total tax abatement of $5,021,030 and the creation of 659 construction jobs and 31 permanent jobs over 24-28 months.  Developer Rose Associates of NYC, will incorporate green building technology such as LED lighting, car charging stations, bicycle storage rooms, low-flow kitchen and bathroom features, Energy Star rated appliances, and others.


Mack-Cali ends their Two-Decade Presence in White Plains Office Market

Mack-Cali Realty Corp. recently sold two six-story buildings in separate deals, for a combined price of $16 million. The 1 Barker Avenue office building sold for $9.3 million, while the 3 Barker Avenue office building sold for $6.7 million. Spring Valley’s Executive Management will manage both properties. Last year, Mack-Cali sold the Westchester Financial Center, which consisted of two office buildings on Main Street and Martine Avenue in White Plains. Ginsburg Development Cos. and Robert Martin Co. plan to convert the 570,000 square foot property into apartments, a green space, restaurants, and retail and renovated offices. Both of these deals signify the end of Mack-Cali’s two-decade presence in the White Plains office market. The company plans to focus on transit-oriented markets in New Jersey, closer to their corporate headquarters.  They sold more than $500 million in assets last year and plan to sell another $400 million by the close of 2018. Mack-Cali’s Westchester property includes: Cross Westchester Executive Park in Hawthorne and office space at the South Westchester Executive Park in Yonkers.


Failure of “Chicken Island” Makes Way for New Epicenter in Yonkers

From a 1940s chicken coop, to a failed plan to make a minor league baseball stadium, Chicken Island is finally being put to use. The six-acre lot is being sold to developer AMS Acquisitions LLC for $16 million. This fairly new real estate investment firm signed a letter of intent to the city recently, gave a deposit of $800,00 and is waiting for City Council approval to pay the balance.

“The City has tried for more than 40 years to develop Chicken Island without success,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said. “This is a game changer for Yonkers, because it proves economic development and a growing tax base is possible beyond the waterfront.” AMS plans to recreate Chicken Island to provide a shopping, dining, multifamily buildings, an office component, and a luxury hotel. Located north east of the Yonkers City Hall, the site is a downtown mixed use zoning (D-MX) which permits the development of up to 25 stories. This provides a wide variety of options ranging anywhere from colleges to personal service establishments, so many in between. Surrounded by the new Fire Station I and the river restoration project, Saw Mill Daylighting, this new epicenter will form a new sense of community.


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