Few development companies currently have as much at stake in Westchester as RXR Realty. The tri-state area firm, now synonymous with downtown redevelopment, has big plans for both New Rochelle and Yonkers. We caught up with EVP Seth Pinsky to find out what to expect next.
Seth Pinsky (with mic) at the topping out of 360 Huguenot in March 2018.
Does RXR have an overarching philosophy that governs each new project?
Overall, our philosophy is to create top-of-class housing options that…build on the communities’ strengths while providing new jobs, services, and new tax-base resources for local governments.
Sawyer Place in Yonkers, RXR’s newest development, features studio to three-bedroom units and loads of amenities.
The supply-demand imbalance in New York City has created a crisis of affordability that offers a golden opportunity for communities that are well-connected [to the City] and have the qualities individuals and companies are seeking. Few communities have these qualities more than the cities of Lower Westchester, especially Yonkers and New Rochelle. For this reason, we are extremely bullish on both communities and continue to look here and elsewhere in Westchester for new opportunities.
Sawyer Place in Yonkers is generating a lot of buzz. What’s the plan there?
Our goal is to bring best-in-class quality and amenities to Yonkers in an architecturally distinctive yet contextual envelope at affordable prices to a wide range of households. Sawyer Place is located in downtown Yonkers, just steps from the train station serviced by Amtrak and Metro-North, only 30 minutes from Grand Central. The units are exceptionally well-designed, with spacious layouts, great light and air, and the Latch smart-access system. Apartments range in size from studio to three-bedroom units and benefit from high-end amenities, including a private rooftop terrace, an outdoor movie projection screen, a lobby concierge service, yoga studio, lounge and media center, on-site attended parking, and a Fitness Factory Health Club in the building.
What’s the latest update on the New Rochelle downtown redevelopment project?
The first development, 360 Huguenot, will start leasing [shortly]. This is a 28-story, 280-unit rental property with 16,252 square feet of retail at the base, as well as a 10,000-square-foot black-box theater, which we are contributing to the city. The second project, at the former Church Street/Division Street lot, will begin construction in the first half of 2019. The entire project will ultimately contain two 28-story towers, with more than 700 rental units, approximately 25,600 square feet of ground-floor retail, and 15,000 square feet of public open space.
The terrace at the 360 Huguenot project in New Rochelle.
RXR’s New Rochelle project could be used as a paradigm for small-to-midsize-city redevelopment around the US. Was that the plan from the beginning?
The process put forward by the City of New Rochelle in connection with our master development project can absolutely serve as a template for other midsize cities across the country. What has made the New Rochelle project such a success was the city’s decision to bring a developer to the table early, to help ensure that the rules and regulations would work in practice; to align our interests as master developer with those of the city; to insist on a lengthy consultation period before a plan was put forward; and to create a zoning plan that makes meaningful demands of developers entering the market while providing them with regulatory certainty.
With so much new residential and mixed-used construction happening in the county, are you at all worried about another bubble?
We are confident that the fundamentals in Westchester are strong. Also, though a number of multifamily development projects are underway, they’re being developed after nearly a decade of very little construction in a market largely characterized by aging and outdated multifamily stock and low vacancy rates. To ensure that we can ride out any potential market dips, we underwrite our projects conservatively and finance at sustainable leverage ratios.