New Rochelle Looks to Create Downtown Arts and Cultural District

Real Estate In-Depth | December 2016

An artist rendering of possible development of an Arts Center in Downtown New Rochelle

NEW ROCHELLE—As the city moves forward on its ambitious and far-reaching Downtown redevelopment plan, the city is also working on a master plan to create an arts and cultural district downtown as well.

City leaders say that the district is envisioned to be a “regional mecca for artists and innovators in line with the city’s vision to become the ideal setting to live, work and grow.”

The creative district will build on New Rochelle’s energetic arts scene by promoting a stable supply of performance space and affordable artist work and live spaces in combination with activities and events to draw in new audiences.

Specifically, outlined strategies for the proposed creative district include:

  • Encouraging the reuse of upper floor spaces for arts and cultural organizations and artist/creative studios;
  • Treating the entire ground floor of the district as an art gallery;
  • Promoting the creation of innovative maker space and multi-use black box performance spaces;
  • Creating an arts district overlay zone in the light industrial area to protect artist affordability; and
  • Activating the district with events, activities and public art to draw a diverse audience.

“The arts and cultural district promises to stimulate economic activity and attract new businesses and visitors to the City of New Rochelle,” said Luiz Aragon, New Rochelle’s Commissioner of Development. “As a key component of our downtown redevelopment plans, it will support the growing artistic population in New Rochelle by providing potential spaces and funding, and will give a face to the creative community of art, music, and dance.”

The proposed arts and cultural district is part of New Rochelle’s multi-faceted downtown development initiative. The program’s 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.

Boston-based urban planning firm CivicMoxie, LLC assisted in developing the plan for the new district. With extensive experience working on arts district plans and with arts organizations and artists, the firm has been involved with urban design, economic development, and other city planning projects.

According to the city’s website, the arts and cultural district master plan will include zoning recommendations for an area of the district to create live work space for artists. Concurrent to the establishment of an Arts and Cultural District, the city is working to update and implement a new Comprehensive Plan assisted by a state grant. The recommended zoning changes for the Arts and Cultural District will be a part of the Comprehensive Plan to be approved by City Council.

Photo credit: NRFuture.com