New Rochelle City Council Approves Massive Downtown Development Plan
John Jordan | December 2015
NEW ROCHELLE—The New Rochelle City Council unanimously approved a new zoning plan on Dec. 8th that paves the way for millions of square feet of mixed-use development in the city’s downtown.
The adoption of the Downtown Overlay Zone and Community Benefits Policy by the City Council on Tuesday evening concludes a year-long research, planning and community outreach process, led by the City of New Rochelle and the downtown redevelopment initiative’s designated Master Developer, RDRXR.
The new zoning provides a clear and transparent roadmap for investment to developers and property owners, while also setting design standards and community benefit requirements intended to create a thriving, attractive, and sustainable city center, city officials stated. A new Fair Share Mitigation Fund will help ensure that development covers any public costs associated with growth and that taxpayers receive a net benefit. The new plan permits construction of up to 990,000 square feet of new retail space, 1,805,000 square feet of new non-medical office space, 420,000 square feet of medical office space and 5,500 apartments or 4.78 million square feet, hundreds of which will be affordable housing.
“This innovative development framework positions our city for success, especially combined with New Rochelle’s core assets – unrivaled location and transit connections, a talented and diverse population, and great schools, libraries and neighborhoods. There is no community in New York that offers a better opportunity today or a bigger upside tomorrow,” said New Rochele Mayor Noam Bramson.
New Rochelle’s downtown plan reflects extensive public input, gleaned through a Crowdsourced Placemaking program with over 1,000 members participating as well as multiple community meetings and two public hearings. More than 100 different ideas were generated for New Rochelle’s downtown, many of which were included in the Recommended Action Plan.
Following the approval of the RAP, the city and RDRXR completed the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act, thoroughly analyzing the impacts of the redevelopment plan and providing measures to mitigate those impacts. The results of the SEQRA review are detailed in the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement and Findings Statement. The completion of the SEQRA process will reduce financial and procedural impediments to future investment, city officials noted.
In the September 2015 edition of Real Estate In-Depth, Mayor Bramson said he was hopeful the rezoning could be approved by year’s-end. “If all those things are accomplished together, all of Downtown New Rochelle will become a shovel-ready site for any investor that shares our vision of what the future of Downtown could be,” the mayor told CN.
One expected investor in Downtown New Rochelle is Master Developer RDRXR, a joint venture of Renaissance Downtowns and RXR Realty LLC. As part of the master development agreement with the city that was approved by the City Council in December 2014, RDRXR has exclusive rights to a number of downtown parcels. The mayor told Real Estate In-Depth earlier this year that he expects RDRXR to submit plans for “some exciting and new catalytic development” once the key details of the action plan are approved.
The mayor said he expects proposals to be before the city in 2016 with the possible first shovel in the ground on a downtown project in early 2017.
The Downtown Development Project, including the Recommended Action Plan, all of the SEQRA documents, the new Downtown Overlay Zone, and Community Benefits Policy, can be viewed on the city website.