Hot Spot: A Look At New Rochelle

The royal ambitions of Queen City.

New Rochelle, Westchester’s second-largest city, has teamed with a master developer to overhaul key areas in the city’s downtown. If all goes as announced, shovels will start throwing dirt in 2016.

“This arrangement will be a catalyst for development by other parties,” says New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. “Any rezoning will apply to private properties not covered by the agreement… The mere announcement of this partnership has already stimulated a much greater level of communication with our department of economic development.”

The city chose RDRXR, a partnership including Long Island companies RXR Realty LLC and Renaissance Downtowns (RD) to redevelop the stagnant downtown area. The two companies specialize in building and operating properties across the country. RXR claims $7 billion in assets and 22 million square feet under management in 89 properties, while RD points to 80 projects completed in the last 35 years and $10 billion worth of new ones in its pipeline.

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Several property clusters were identified in the agreement with the city, with two detailed for immediate action. In the first cluster, the New Rochelle train station is the center of a development district where I-95 and North Avenue intersect. The library will anchor the second area, which includes several parking lots and other city-owned parcels.

A recent TOD study commissioned by the city points to the potential for an additional 1.5 million square feet of office and medical space, 2,000 apartments, and 500,000 square feet of retail space downtown. Picture gleaming high-rises and a rooftop recreation facility above the train station parking lot, and a new “City Center” at Ruby Dee Park with a library, cultural arts center, outdoor amphitheater, and other amenities. The potential economic impact of the development plan (based on similar plans on Long Island) includes 12,000 construction jobs and 5,000 permanent full-time jobs for the city, generating $39 million in new tax revenue.

Bramson adds, “This will enable us to accomplish a sweeping and dramatic vision that would fundamentally transform our downtown and reshape the image of our city as a whole.”

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