Loew’s Theater Groundbreaking a Precursor to Building Boom

John Jordan | December 2016

NEW ROCHELLE—A groundbreaking was staged at the long-shuttered Loew’s Theater in New Rochelle on Nov. 30 for a much-anticipated $120-million mixed-use high-rise tower. However, while definitely cause for celebration, city officials and the developer say the event was just the first of what they expect will be a host of new commercial developments that will revitalize the Queen City’s downtown district.

The expected building boom is being fueled by the city’s downtown rezoning and expedited approval process approved a year ago by the New Rochelle City Council. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and City Manager Charles B. Strome, III both told Real Estate In-Depth that there are other commercial projects in the pipeline in the downtown district. Mayor Bramson hinted that he expects several major development announcements in the near future.

Officials from RXR Realty, Brause Realty and ABS Partners Real Estate— the partners in the 587 Main St. project—joined top city officials to break ground on the mixed-use building that will be comprised of 280 rental units, 28 of which will be affordable; 10,000 square feet of arts and cultural space; 17,000 square feet of commercial space; and 234 on-site parking spaces. In connection with the project, the developers have agreed to preserve the original theater’s historic Main Street façade and to create a new marquee that will recall the building’s historic marquee. Leasing is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018. Construction was scheduled to begin on Monday, Dec. 5.

New Rochelle’s overall redevelopment plan is ultimately expected to attract more than $4 billion in new investment, according to city officials. The plan was originally launched in 2015 with the signing of a Master Development agreement by the city and RDRXR, a partnership between RXR Realty and Renaissance Downtowns.

The long-dormant historic building at 587 Main St. had been the site of a Loew’s Theater that closed in the 1970s and later operated as a nightclub. To advance the project, RXR entered into a joint venture agreement with the site’s existing owners.

The New Rochelle project is part of RXR’s “Public/Private Partnership Strategy.” RXR has approximately 3,000 residential units in its development pipeline, with projects in Yonkers, Connecticut, on Long Island and in Brooklyn. RXR Chairman and CEO Scott Rechler noted that his firm has scheduling groundbreakings for its projects in Glen Cove in Nassau County and Yonkers later this month.

Hugenot Street Night Tower
Hugenot Street Night Tower

“This project is about more than just bricks and mortar for us. It is a sign of RXR’s commitment to New Rochelle and our belief in the transformative impact of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Plan,” Rechler said. “We are confident that, with this plan, New Rochelle is well-positioned to be one of Westchester’s premier economic engines, serving as a center for job generation, unique retail and dining establishments, office space for new and established businesses, new arts and cultural institutions and first-class quality affordable housing options for young professionals, empty nesters and others. We are proud to be launching the next phase in New Rochelle’s evolution, building on this city’s many wonderful attributes.”

He praised the city’s efforts that led to the rezoning of the downtown district and the expedited approval process. He related that while its New Rochelle project plan took 10 months to secure approvals, its Glen Cove development took 10 years.

Rechler told Real Estate In-Depth that his firm is also currently studying two city-owned downtown New Rochelle parcels for future development and expects to move forward on one of the properties.

Under New Rochelle’s multi-faceted downtown development initiative, total build-out will extend to 12 million square feet, including up to 2.4 million square feet of prime office space, one million square feet of retail, 6,370 housing units and 1,200 hotel rooms. Designated developer RDRXR has rights to city-owned downtown parcels that could yield approximately 4.5 million square feet of new development, according to Rechler.

“The ambitious development plan and process New Rochelle adopted last December is working,” said New Rochelle Mayor Bramson. “Today’s groundbreaking is an important step toward fulfilling our vision for a thriving 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.”

“This new building distinguishes our downtown’s western gateway, and demonstrates the caliber of things to come,” said City Manager Strome. “The combination of historic elements and modern amenities, public and private benefits, and creative partnerships showcase our development objectives. We look forward to working with RDRXR to further revitalize New Rochelle.”

Additional groundbreaking participants included City Councilmembers Albert Tarantino, Lou Trangucci, Jared Rice, Ivar Hyden, Barry Fertel and Liz Fried. Also present were Commissioner of Development Luis Aragon and Bureau of Buildings Deputy Commissioner Paul Vacca.

Photo Credit: A rendering of the $120-million project at 587 Main St. in New Rochelle.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth