Eastern Consolidated Tour: New Rochelle’s Transit-Oriented Transformation
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Thirty minutes from Grand Central by train, millennials’ next live-work-play hub is taking shape. New Rochelle, once under the shadow of New York City, has come into its own as an affordable alternative to soaring housing prices in the city.
New Rochelle has invested in mixed-use development around its Metro North and Amtrak station. From luxury multifamily high-rises and experiential retail centers to a growing arts and cultural district, the Westchester County community is drawing a new demographic of residents and workers with greater disposable incomes — and keeping them there.
Development-friendly initiatives have fueled New Rochelle’s transformation. Under its Fast Track Program, developers can receive application approval within 90 days. In 2015, RDRXR, a joint venture between developer RXR and Renaissance Downtowns, was named “Master Developer” of Downtown New Rochelle.
The Trump Plaza condo high-rise is in the background.
At 26 Garden St., only the shell of a plastic fabrication company and a car dealership remain. The city of New Rochelle launched a request for proposals for the site in 2012, calling for transit-oriented development along Garden Street. The parcel, Site B of a two-site complex, is walking distance from a multimodal transit center and the New Rochelle Central Business District. Across the street, the Trump Plaza condo towers loom above.
Eastern Consolidated was retained as the exclusive agent for the site last month. The asking price is $22.5M, and the site offers a buildable area of over 900K SF. As for what will be built on Garden Street, the flexibility of zoning regulations in the downtown area allows for numerous building possibilities. The site can accommodate a mix of uses, from apartment units and offices to medical buildings and parking.
“The urbanization of suburban markets is continuing throughout the U.S. as millennials become an impact generation on real estate and urban planning,” Eastern Consolidated Chairman and CEO Peter Hauspurg said. “As a longtime resident of Westchester County, it’s very exciting to see the renaissance and development taking place in Downtown New Rochelle. I’m pleased that Eastern Consolidated is playing a role in the revival by marketing the development site at 26 Garden St. and arranging financing for a ground-up multifamily project now under construction a block away at 165 Huguenot St.”
“Everyone wants to see 26 Garden St. built because it’s multifaceted,” Eastern Consolidated senior director and principal Ben Tapper said. “Commercial opportunities and jobs are created during construction, and the new development will bring a new tax base and add more people with disposable income to shop in town.”
Main Street Reimagined
Garden Street’s development potential highlights New Rochelle’s commitment to transforming its downtown. Under new construction permits approved in 2015, a theoretical development scenario calls for 12M SF, which includes 2.4M SF of office space, 1M SF of retail, 6,370 housing units and 1,200 hotel rooms.
Developers have a toolbox of defined construction parameters and incentives set by the city to help meet that goal.
New Rochelle uses building height instead of floor area ratio to determine the maximum size project on each land parcel, but there is room for flexibility. Developers can choose what type of building use to construct on each site, and incentives like the Community Benefit Bonus Program allow for taller buildings in exchange for additional community spaces.
RXR took advantage of the program to build its 28-story residential tower at 587 Main St., adding a 10,500 SF black box theater. The first of RXR’s master development sites, the project will bring 280 rental residential units and 14K SF of retail space to Main Street.
Surrounded by a collection of small, pedestrian-friendly storefronts, the RXR development is one part of the New Rochelle’s plan to reinvigorate its main artery. Residents will soon have access to more than 100 bikes as part of an upcoming bike-share program. WiFi kiosks spread throughout downtown will turn streets into bustling community spaces.
The New Rochelle Business Improvement District has also worked with architect Susan Doban to make facade improvements along Main Street.
A decade before the current shift to experiential retail, New Rochelle had New Roc City. Replacing the New Rochelle Mall, New Roc City houses Westchester County's first IMAX theater, a Stop & Shop and a Barnes & Noble that acts as Monroe College’s bookstore. The shopping center has since strengthened its experiential retail offerings with an arcade and fitness center, among other tenants.
Across from the New Roc City garage, Adam Hakim and James Murad of Eastern Consolidated’s Capital Advisory Division secured construction financing through Bank of the Ozarks for a multifamily development at 165 Huguenot St. Dubbed The Printhouse, the six-story property, which broke ground in August, is being developed by Megalith Capital. It will have 71 rental units, seven of which will be designated as affordable. The Printhouse will also have 3K SF of ground-level retail space.
“The Printhouse will include a good mix of uses and, given its central location, offer a short walk to the Metro North and Amtrak station, Main Street and New Roc City,” Eastern Consolidated principal and Senior Director Peter Carillo said.
A Growing College Town
The city has also focused redevelopment efforts on supporting a growing student population. Along Main Street, Monroe College has expanded its footprint. The school opened Gaddy Hall in February 2016, a six-story, mixed-use building that houses 300 students and serves as the main campus dining hall. Next door, Allison Hall provides 200 beds and another 300-bed dorm received site plan approval earlier this year.
A few blocks down Main Street, an auto repair shop was transformed into a culinary arts facility for Monroe College’s School of Hospitality Management and the Culinary Arts. Susan Doban, who was also the architect for Allison Hall and Gaddy Hall, designed the space for visual transparency, in keeping with the college’s commitment to creating a culinary education showcase.
The culinary center, much like the city of New Rochelle, has become a case study for development possibilities in transit-oriented cities. Only a half-hour train ride from Manhattan, it is easy for New Yorkers to go and see for themselves.
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