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ELD Recruiting Millennials Fleeing NYC To New Rochelle With Aptly Named 'Millennia'

Although apartment rents are not growing as rapidly as they once were in New York, they still are astronomical compared to most major markets in the country. For millennials weighing the city's convenience and fun against other areas' price, one New Rochelle developer is recruiting as directly as it can.

A rendering of ELD Properties' Millennia apartment building in New Rochelle

ELD Properties is in the midst of a seven-building multifamily development just on the other side of Interstate-95 from New Rochelle's Metro North train station, and the next one under construction is to be called The Millennia — putting in no uncertain terms its target market.

Its first two buildings, already completed and leased up, are collectively called The Hammel, with an emphasis on spaciousness and high-class style. ELD Managing Director Tony Hammel said that while the target demographic for The Hammel is the oldest edge of the millennial bracket, 35- and 36-year-olds, younger millennials rented most of its studios due to the bargain relative to the city and the ease of access to transit into it.

“If you take a look at where my current customers are coming from, regardless of demographic, we’re getting a lot more people from Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan," Hammel said. "[New Rochelle has] always had people coming up from Manhattan for the price difference, but for the Hammel, we had more people coming from Brooklyn and Queens than I’d expected.”

The Millennia will be geared toward tenants a little younger by focusing heavily on the amenities — not just the classic ones like a roof deck, fitness center and green space (with the more unique touches of trees and a putting green in the building). The Millennia will feature a tech package that turns the apartments into smart homes, and will include thermostats, lights, TVs and audio speakers that can all be controlled from the tenant's phone. In addition, the units boast USB ports in the wall outlets and keyless entry for the building, units and amenity spaces.

The Millennia will also have a 2K SF co-working center with open desks, offices and conference rooms. New Rochelle is very much a commuter town, Hammel says, but taking work home is as millennial as it gets.

An overhead view of ELD Properties' planned developments in New Rochelle

Though Hammel acknowledges rents in the Millennia — ranging from $2,100/month for a 650 SF studio to $3,800/month for a two-bedroom unit with a 500 SF balcony — are above what longtime residents of New Rochelle can pay, he notes that it is the fastest-growing city in New York State, primarily due to New Yorkers fleeing city prices.

“Once you get all these new buildings coming in, in about five years you won’t recognize the place any more," Hammel said. "There’s tremendous growth happening, and I believe it will increase further.”

Much of that growth is undoubtedly due to New Rochelle's $4B development master plan with RXR Realty, which Hammel said is evidence that it is the friendliest suburb of New York to developers, saying "the shackles have come off."

“[The city] gives you a road map for how they want development to go, and they tell you upfront that you’ll have to put X number of dollars into the community fund for them to invest in the city to create the elements of the downtown that millennials look for,” Hammel said.

The most crucial element of any downtown for millennial appeal is walkability. Without an assortment of retail, dining and entertainment options within walking distance, a downtown cannot replicate a lively, urban environment.

“The [thing that is] not developed at this point in time is a nightlife. I think the city needs to upgrade some retail options, and that’s what will be coming with the new construction,” Hammel said. “Retail is coming — not as fast as I would like it to, but [at] warp speed when you compare it to normal suburbs, where residents don’t particularly like change.”

ELD Properties' tenant roster is already accustomed to walking, thanks to the train station.

“Nobody drives to the city that lives in our development, and I’d say half our tenants work in Manhattan,” Hammel said.

Construction on the Millennia is expected to complete in January 2019, with leasing starting three months before. For NewRo Studios, a development consisting purely of studios geared toward younger millennials, completion is expected in March 2019. Hammel expects both buildings to be leased up by the end of June, a prediction in line with the attitude that led ELD Properties to buy 22 contiguous lots to build all seven properties next to each other.

“It’s a little bit risky if you’re all in one place, but we’re so confident in what this city can offer," Hammel said. "The proximity to the train is so important for millennials, and [the station] is centrally located in the downtown area, which the tri-state area just doesn’t have.”