New Rochelle unveils sweeping downtown action plan

Westfair Communications, August 27th, 2015 | New Rochelle’s officials and its private master developer have released a recommended action plan for what would be the largest mixed-use redevelopment project undertaken in the community’s 327-year history.

The plan, prepared by the city’s master developer, RDRXR Realty LLC, calls for a mix of housing options, retail, commercial, office and hotel space as well as community facilities. Planners also proposed building a rooftop recreation facility above the New Rochelle Transit Center garage at Station Place.

The project, which New Rochelle officials called the largest economic initiative in city history, also calls for a new library, a cultural arts center, a winter garden atrium and an outdoor amphitheater at a planned city center at Ruby Dee Park.

RDRXR — comprised of two Long Island-based companies, RXR Realty LLC and Renaissance Downtowns — broke New Rochelle’s downtown area into six sections: Downtown Core, Downtown District, Gateway Transition Area, River Street Commercial District, Wellness District and North of Lincoln Street.

Planners said there is potential to build 1,500 residential units in the Downtown Core as well as 200,000 square feet of retail space and 250,000 square feet of office space. In addition, parking improvements would also be made to the train station.

For the Downtown District, plans call for investments in New Roc City, the privately owned entertainment and retail complex, and a livelier Main Street and North Avenue with the development of 2,900 residential units, 360,000 square feet of retail space and 475,000 square feet of office space. Plans for Gateway Transition Area — the area immediately east of Interstate 95 — call for the redevelopment of large industrial blocks as mixed-use buildings designed to enhance the employment of local craftspeople. The River Street Commercial District would see a multi-story retail location near Interstate 95 and retail and restaurant locations near the Echo Bay waterfront.

To develop the plan, the city and RDRXR used economic and demographic trend forecasts to project market opportunities in the area. The city identified 37 sites totaling roughly 15 acres for investment and redevelopment. Of that space, 14 sites totaling 11 acres are owned by the city and can be developed by RDRXR; the remaining 23 sites are privately owned.

An extensive public outreach process, including dozens of meetings and an online crowdsourcing effort, resulted in more than 100 ideas generated for downtown, with the most popular included in the plan. “This is an exciting time to be in New Rochelle,” Donald Monti, president and CEO of Renaissance Downtowns, said. “The culmination of this model public-private partnership will be a reinvigorated and revitalized downtown for all New Rochelle residents and visitors to enjoy.”

RXR Realty Chairman and CEO Scott Rechler called the plan an “important step towards creating a better future for New Rochelle.” RXR Realty LLC, headquartered in Uniondale, manages 90 commercial real estate properties and investments and had an aggregate gross asset value of $12 billion as of June 30. Renaissance Downtowns, based in Plainview, manages developments throughout the Northeast, with a focus on the tri-state area.