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Tying Up Loose Ends In New Rochelle’s Downtown Plan

An artist's rendering of what downtown New Rochelle may look like by the end of the redevelopment.
An artist's rendering of what downtown New Rochelle may look like by the end of the redevelopment. Photo Credit: RDRXR

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- When the City Council approved New Rochelle’s downtown plan in December 2015, there were a few loose ends that still needed a little more attention. Although small in number, some of them were pretty important.

The city’s development staff presented to the council a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at getting these loose ends tied up. Here’s a quick run-down:

Architectural Review: To ensure that new downtown construction meets the highest architectural standards, the city’s existing process will be beefed up with architectural peer review. Charging a slightly higher fee to developers will permit us to engage a wider range of architects for a more extended period.

Parking Strategy: To get the balance right, the city will move away from a one-size-fits-all approach and focus on customized parking plans; developers will be able to buy-down a percentage of their normal on-site parking obligations, provided that they have sensible alternatives, like zip cars or shared parking.

Affordable Housing: The city already requires 10 percent of new housing units to be affordable. To help ensure that developers have a real economic incentive to construct the optimal form of housing, the city will significantly increase the affordable housing buy-out fee, which will range from $90,000 for studio apartments up to $200,000 for three-bedrooms.

Green Building Design: The city will use a widely accepted LEED checklist, with credit given to projects that attain the equivalent of LEED Gold or Platinum status.

Opportunity and Equity: The city will engage a not-for-profit partner to establish a First Source Referral Center — essentially a user-friendly pipeline to training and employment and update the city’s non-discrimination policies with enforceable standards to encourage fair, local hiring. Finally, they will establish a relocation assistance program to help residents or businesses that might be displaced by development.

These various efforts were led by Council Member Jared Rice and guided by a national-caliber expert retained by the city.

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