For years, a portion of Yonkers’ downtown district called “Chicken Island” has been little more than a vacant lot. The area, which received its name in the late 1800’s for its use as a local chicken farm, seems long overdue for a makeover. Yet, proposal after proposal to develop Chicken Island has crumbled under a sluggish economy and unfeasible planning. We all remember the 2005 proposal, in which the city planned to include a minor league baseball stadium as part of a redevelopment project. Needless to say, that never came to fruition.
Now, though, Yonkers city officials are once again seeking proposals for a viable plan to turn Chicken Island into a revitalized hot spot for residents and shoppers. Mayor Mike Spano stressed the importance of developing the area while also urging developers to be realistic with their plans.
“Chicken Island is prime real estate in our city that will continue the revitalization of our downtown district,” Spano said. “We are asking for plans that are practical, that will improve the downtown experience and that have sufficient financial backing. It’s finally time for bricks and mortar on the ground.”
The mayor’s recent request for development plans comes as the latest in a string of projects that he believes will breathe new life into the downtown area. The Chicken Island Development Project aims to develop high-quality office buildings and new retail shopping opportunities, with the hopes of attracting local and regional visitors and workers. Spano insists that no matter what, though, the project will be in accordance with what makes sense for the people of Yonkers.
City officials seem fairly confident and enthusiastic about the prospect of developing Chicken Island, refusing to be discouraged by previous failures. Residents may have good reason to be wary of the new Chicken Island development plans after experiencing years of inactivity, but the city hopes to eradicate this doubt by setting the plans in motion as soon as possible.
Want to know more about Yonkers’ latest attempts at revitalization? Stayed tuned for our feature, Yonkers Downtown Redux, in the August issue of Westchester Magazine.