Bordering on the Long Island Sound, Port Chester once toiled quietly in the shadow of more affluent neighbors like Greenwich, Conn., one of the wealthiest municipalities in the nation. But the historic shipping and trade center, also known in the mid-20th century as the home of the Life Savers Candy Company and other factory operations, is now moving full steam ahead with the emergence of a significant retail and service economy.
The changing face of the Village of Port Chester, which is part of the Town of Rye, has been partly the result of an economic makeover linked to a larger downtown revitalization strategy. Supported by the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC), business owners within a defined area of Port Chester have been securing matching grants for improvements ranging from new awnings and signage to reconstruction of building storefronts. As a result, the historic character of the downtown business district is being enhanced while economic and residential activity increases.
In 2002, Port Chester got a major lift with the opening of a dual-level, 148,000-square-foot Costco wholesale warehouse operation on Westchester Avenue. As the central focus of The Waterfront at Port Chester – a 27-acre, $100 million urban redevelopment effort along the Byram River – Costco was the first of several stores to make their debut. Retail developers G&S Investors soon secured other tenants such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Super Stop & Shop, Marshall’s and a 14-screen movie multiplex — all located near a half-mile-long pedestrian promenade. Kohl’s discount department store is another large retailer in the area.
Elsewhere in Port Chester, the former Boston Post Road location of New York United Hospital, which closed in 2005, is poised to become part of a 1.1-million-square-foot redevelopment project known as The Gateway. With sights set on a 2012 ground-breaking, Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich is interested in constructing five residential towers with 762 units, including an affordable housing component. A 2,000-space parking structure would also be built on the 15.4-acre property, together with commercial and office space.
Port Chester’s downtown Restaurant Row has gained a regional reputation as “the restaurant capital of Westchester,” offering international cuisine at dozens of critically acclaimed establishments. Port Chester is also building additional soccer fields and park amenities for the roughly 28,000 residents.
Meanwhile, the old Life Savers building has been converted into loft-style condominium residences, but the six-story structure remains a prominent Port Chester landmark.