|Over the rainbow and up the Metro-North Hudson line, a $685M, 1.3M SF mixed-use center opened on 81 acres in YonkersThursday. Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill serves the under-retailed Westchester market with stores and restaurants that are new to the region, giving the nearby Cross County Shopping Center (with its$300M renovation) a run for its money.
|We snapped Forest City Ratner's Andy Silberfein and CEO Bruce Ratner aboard the Ridge Hill Express trolley, one of the complex's odes to ânew urbanismâ in the 'burbs. Andy says Westchester is the third-wealthiest county in the US and was under-retailed by 5M SF. But the Ridge Hill retail wasn't so much cobbled together as it was curated, with a lot of healthy-lifestyle and destination-retail tenants like Whole Foods, Sur La Table, LA Fitness, REI, and L.L.Bean. And in the spring, upscale-crowd-favorite Lord & Taylor is opening its first new store in a decade, an 80k SF, two-story affair.
|Across the street from Lord & Taylor is Ridge Hill's town square, where L.L.Bean just held a fly-fishing demo and where seasonal events like ice skating will occur. There's also a Tom Otterness-designed slide similar to the one at Silverstein's Silver Towers on 42nd Street in Manhattan (and that, in retrospect, makes all our preschool slides seem woefully substandard). All these beyond-the-cash-register activities will aid Andy's vision of families spendinghalf a day at Ridge Hill. The pay-per-six-hour garage parking helps in that endeavor, too, though there is street parking.
|The 12 to 15 restaurants like Havana Central, Brio Tuscan Grille, and The Cheesecake Factory—where we almost forgot to take a picture of this carrot cake before devouring it—will motivate folks to stick around, too.
|This 150k SF office across the intersection from our cheesecake haven is leased to Westmed Medical Group, which will move in sometime this year.
|We also snapped these shrubs, part of the opening party entertainment. Look closely and you'll notice THEY'RE ALIVE! Parents of first graders who just got cast as the second tree from the left in the school play, your kids have a bright future waiting—and a graceful one, too, considering these women did better on stilts than we do in flats. You can also watch video we took of the entertainment finale: fire breathers and dancers. (We can't do that in flats, either.)
|Waiting in line for the after party at Yard House (first one in New York, with 150 beers on tap), we snapped ING's Michael Shields andCraig Bender. ING was one of 12 financial backers for the project.
|Also spotted was the development team for the Monarch condos: Horizon Group's Jill Gardner (sales director for the 500 residences), president David Marom, and CEO Eldad Blaustein. They expect to house 1,000 residents, who can take a shuttle to Metro-North.
|Phase 1 has 162 units, and residents will start moving in any day. Green features (they're going for LEED Silver) include wind turbinesthat will help power the garage and bamboo floors (Jill says bamboo takes six to eight years to harvest compared to 30 to 40 for timber). One-bedrooms start at $350k, and two-bedrooms go for as much as $900k.
|Down the stairs from the lobby is what you wish your parents' basement had looked like. A bar-style kitchen, TVs, video game consoles, an iPod docking station with speakers in the ceiling, a pool table, a poker table, a movie room with those recliners you've always wanted to buy but significant other wouldn't let you, and a golf simulator (under way, above).