Throw a dart at a map of Westchester and you’ll likely hit the spot of a future transit-oriented development (TOD). Many towns—Yonkers, Harrison, Ossining, White Plains, Mamaroneck, Tarrytown, Rye, Port Chester—are either in the throes of developing a TOD, or flirting with the idea. What are TODs, exactly? Though they vary a bit, they all feature mixed-use developments (market-rate and affordable housing, commercial space, entertainment) within walking distance of bus and train stations.
The main idea behind TODs: Keep empty-nesters and the younger members of the workforce—who prefer walkable communities—pooled closer to home and, in the process, revitalize aching downtowns.
A few of those heading up local TOD projects help us break down the thought process behind building these hubs.
Ten percent of Ossining’s planned 188-unit waterfront TOD will be affordable housing. In downtown Mount Vernon, The Modern will offer 80 units of affordable rental workforce housing. “We think it’s ideal for young professionals,” says Joe Apicella, managing director of development for MacQuesten Development, which is handling the building of The Modern. In Port Chester, most units (the village has four TOD projects in total) are market-rate, Millenial-friendly studio and one-bedroom rental units because “all studies show Millenials will be buying real estate later in life than Gen X or Baby Boomers did, and that they value sustainable transit-oriented living,” says Director of Port Chester’s Planning and Development Christopher Gomez.
The Modern in Mount Vernon will have nearly 10,000 square feet of retail space, which Apicella says will most likely go to medical facilities to attract seniors. Harrison has a whopping 47,000 square feet of commercial space planned for its TOD project, which it hopes will attract restaurants, as well as chains like Starbucks. “Hopefully, it’ll be a complete renaissance of our downtown area,” says Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont. Ossining plans nearly 5,000 square feet for commercial purposes, which the town plans to fill with a restaurant. Says Village Planner Valerie Monastra, “We’re hoping it will bring people from other communities as well.”
“The approach is to attract the sorts of residents—empty-nesters and Millenials—who are commuting to NYC or Greenwich and aren’t using cars that often,” says Gomez. Says Apicella, “TODs get people out of their homes and on the street without having to be in a car.” Proximity to the train is important because “the ability to get to NYC via Metro-North is one reason people are attracted to Tarrytown,” says Village Administrator Michael Blau. Also, “there’s a tremendous benefit to reducing the need for additional cars in Tarrytown, where parking is at a premium.”