Major Downtown Milestone: Groundbreaking at 587 Main

587 Main Street
587 Main Street

Today, New Rochelle took a giant step toward achieving our ambitious downtown development plans, as we broke ground for a new 28-story building at 587 Main Street, the site of a former Loew’s theater.

Renovated theater facade leading to cultural center.
Renovated theater facade leading to cultural center.

This is the first major project from our master developers.  When completed, it will feature almost 300 apartments, 17,000 square feet for commercial uses, and – in an especially exciting touch – a 10,000 square foot performance space.   The positive and transformative impact on both Main and Huguenot Streets should be dramatic.

A nighttime perspective from Huguenot Street.
A nighttime perspective from Huguenot Street.

You can read more in this press release or in this article from the Wall Street Journal.  And here’s the text of my own remarks at the groundbreaking.

Bottom line: our downtown development plan is working, successfully attracting both large-scale and small-scale investment.  As a result, during the next few years, New Rochelle will become a healthier city, where residents and visitors of every kind can find a place to shop, a place to work, a place to meet, or a place to live.

New Vision Unveiled for the Waterfront: Pratt Landing

Unveiled just last night, here’s the new vision for the New Rochelle waterfront at Echo Bay, as proposed by the City’s designated developers, Twining Properties.

Pratt Landing, viewed from Echo Bay.

Called “Pratt Landing,” the project would include a blend of retail, office, hotel, and residential space, view corridors to the water from East Main Street, a modern architectural sensibility, and a continuous public promenade and park at the shoreline.  Here’s the full power point presented by the development team.

Compared to the last proposal for the site, which was turned down by the City Council in 2013, this vision is more active, with an urban street grid intended to bring New Rochelle’s downtown to the water’s edge.  It reminds me a little of Battery Park City – but, of course, at a much lower scale.

Last month, the Council voted unanimously to relocate our Public Works Yard, which clears away the biggest obstacle to waterfront improvements.  But many steps must still be taken before this new vision can be achieved (or even approved) and lots of changes are possible as we move through the environmental review process and receive public input.  In other words, please view these images and plans as preliminary, not final.

The next decision point comes early next year, when we consider a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Twining Properties.  There’s more information about the process in this press release.

An open, vibrant, clean, active waterfront would benefit our entire city enormously, so I am very excited about the possibilities.  But even under the most ambitious timetable, infrastructure work could not commence until late 2018, with above-ground construction beginning in early 2020, so patience and careful deliberation are still required.

Council Approves City Yard Plan – Big Step Clears Way for Waterfront Improvement

Moving the City Yard will open the Echo Bay shoreline to public access and economic development.
Moving the City Yard will open the Echo Bay shoreline to public access, environmental improvements, and economic development.

Last night, after many years of intense debate, the New Rochelle City Council came together on a unanimous, bipartisan basis to approve a location and to dedicate funding for a new Public Works Operations Center (or “City Yard.”)

Through a public-private partnership, the City Yard will be situated in the ground level of a new structure at the Home Depot/Costco retail complex.  The upper levels of this same structure will be devoted to commercial uses.  A smaller portion of our public works activities will be sited remotely along Beechwood Avenue in the West End, mainly on property already owned by the City.

This is a very significant step for two reasons:

First, it is a necessary and overdue investment in critical infrastructure. 

Our existing City Yard is in deplorable condition and requires a constant stream of emergency appropriations to keep it up and running.   Think of it like a beat-up old car with 200,000 miles on the odometer – risky to drive and urgently needing replacement.  The new City Yard will enable us to deliver essential public works services efficiently and effectively for decades to come.

Second, it opens the Echo Bay waterfront for public access, environmental improvements, and economic development. 

The existing City Yard was sited on East Main Street a century ago, at a time when the shoreline was seen as an industrial access point, but no rational person would choose to put a public works facility on the waterfront today, where it completely blocks access to Long Island Sound.  The City Yard has been the principal obstacle to positive changes at Echo Bay.  Now this obstacle is being swept away, allowing us to activate the waterfront for higher and better uses.

The total price tag, a combination of debt and lease payments, comes to about $1.5 million per year.  But because development on Echo Bay and on the upper levels of the Yard structure will generate new revenue, the net cost to taxpayers will be lower – and certainly a lot lower than rebuilding the Yard where it is today.  In short, in addition to making good planning sense, this is a fiscally responsible move, too.

I congratulate and thank our professional staff and all the members of the City Council, Democrats and Republicans, for addressing this vital issue.

And I look forward to the day – now just about 18 months distant – when it will be possible to stand on US 1, look to the south, and – for the first time in our lives – see an unobstructed view of the shore.

 

 

Barnes & Noble Coming to New Rochelle!

Noble“When can we get a book store in New Rochelle?”  For twenty years, I have heard that question from countless residents, and I’ve never had a good answer . . . until now.

Barnes & Noble is coming to New Rochelle.

Their new 9,000 square foot store (complete with a Starbucks cafe) will open in New Roc City this fall.  Here’s a full press release.

Big thanks are in order for Monroe College, which has partnered with Barnes & Noble to make this happen.

Of course, no single store can transform an entire commercial area.  Achieving our vision for downtown New Rochelle will require patience, persistence, and many other investments and openings.  But this sure helps!