BCW President and CEO Marsha Gordon and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who co-chaired the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Local Planning Committee, were on hand this week as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office announced six transformational projects to receive funding under a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Grant. The Local Planning Committee was responsible for leading the vision, strategy and selection process.
“These projects will play an important role in continuing to position New Rochelle as a thriving city with a dynamic environment to live, work and play,” Gordon said. “Together with Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Noam Bramson and everyone who worked so hard on the Local Planning Committee, we are excited to take another smart step forward here today.”
The strategic investments in downtown New Rochelle will further enhance and highlight the community’s strengths, including regional accessibility, vibrant arts and culture, and the city’s Downtown Overlay Zone, which has catalyzed five new private developments in the DRI Area since 2015. The investments are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the economy and create more opportunities for the Mid-Hudson Valley region.
“With the help of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New Rochelle will achieve greater neighborhood development, improved community spaces, and new opportunities for education and workforce advancement,” Governor Cuomo said. “These targeted investments will further enhance the city’s dynamic culture and its intertwined professional and residential environments.”
“New Rochelle has a vibrant arts and culture scene, and the city is working to transform its southern neighborhoods to increase walkability and accessibility of its downtown district,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made the announcement. “Investment in these projects will improve connectivity, linking downtown with the Lincoln Avenue Corridor, provide residents with new recreational opportunities, and enhance quality of life. We are focused on revitalizing the Mid-Hudson region by strategically supporting economic development that continues to attract businesses and strengthen the economy for generations to come.”
New Rochelle was named a DRI Round 3 winner in September 2018. New Rochelle will connect its evolving, prosperous city center with the mile-long Lincoln Avenue Corridor that contains mixed-income residential housing, a newly renovated hospital, green space, a Metro-North Train Station, and part of the city’s Arts and Cultural District.
The Downtown New Rochelle Strategic Investment Plan will build upon significant public-private investment over the past few years to spur commercial, residential, and mixed-use development in the city. DRI investments will leverage city resources and private investments to forge connections between residential neighborhoods in the northern portion of the corridor with commercial, institutional, and cultural resources to the south. The city envisions infrastructure improvements that will improve pedestrian and traffic circulation and extend the downtown’s walkable, sustainable, transit-oriented design into this corridor to create a bustling environment in which to live and work.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said: “The projects funded by the DRI will forge stronger physical, economic, and social links between our burgeoning downtown and the Lincoln Avenue corridor, provide for a transformative, historic investment in infrastructure, open space, and mobility, improve public safety, and help all people in New Rochelle benefit from inclusive growth and prosperity. With the State’s invaluable financial support, we will make this community-guided vision a reality, and I could not be more grateful or excited.”
The specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:
Install Complete Streets Amenities and Traffic Calming Measures along the Lincoln Avenue Corridor: Improve the Lincoln Avenue corridor’s accessibility, appearance, and safety for those traveling by foot, bicycle, or vehicle through complementary circulation improvements between Webster Avenue and North Avenue. Improvements may include new or improved crosswalks, pedestrian ramps, curb extensions, traffic calming measures, signage, a bike path, designated bike crossings, the elimination of parking at key intersections, revised road geometry, reconsideration of speed limits, and new and relocated bus stops.
Revise Zoning to Encourage Neighborhood-Scale Development: Establish a new zoning overlay district in the Lincoln Avenue Corridor area to encourage a greater mix of residential and commercial uses and pedestrian-friendly urban design. This effort will include related planning studies, required environmental review, and a robust public engagement process.
The Linc: Transform Memorial Highway into Public Open Space: Remove and re-purpose the eastbound portion of NYS Route 5 as public open space, providing residents with recreation opportunities and laying the groundwork for the development of the proposed recreation center. DRI funding will be used for temporary barriers, signage, striping, and the removal of asphalt and paving.
Create a Black Box Theater and Art Education Center: Establish a new community performance and arts education venue on the second floor of a redeveloped former historic film house at 587 Main Street to provide cultural programming to residents, attract visitors to the downtown, and serve as a cultural anchor on New Rochelle’s Main Street. The project will include interior fit-outs to accommodate amenities such as a theater, exhibition space, and a coffee shop.
Upgrade Lincoln Park with Public Comfort Station: Construct a public comfort station adjacent to the Lincoln Park pool house to serve users of the recently installed play equipment and basketball courts, and to support the implementation of the Lincoln Park Master Plan.
Install Amenities in a Park created to serve a New Affordable Housing Development: Install amenities in a park under development on the corner of Winthrop Avenue and Brook Street to provide residents of the new, adjacent 288-unit affordable housing development and the broader community with a safe, attractive, and accessible space for gathering and recreation. Examples of amenities include a playground, basketball court, game table area, grass lawns, shade trees, benches, and lighting.
New Rochelle developed a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan for downtown New Rochelle examined local assets and opportunities and identified economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, go to: www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative.