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Demonstrating the interest and excitement growing around New Rochelle’s massive redevelopment initiative, more than 250 prominent real estate and business professionals gathered as the City of New Rochelle hosted Bisnow’s first-ever New Rochelle event, “The Best of Both Worlds.”
With 15 projects underway, and the launch of several cutting-edge partnerships and initiatives in formation, New Rochelle’s ambitious downtown redevelopment initiative has made significant headway since kicking off in 2015.
In his opening keynote interview with Greiner Maltz Principal Ayall Schanzer, Mayor Noam Bramson explained, “New Rochelle has put in place what we think is the most powerful development framework in the entire Hudson Valley… We are trying to create an area that’s appealing not just to millennials, not just to empty nesters, but to everyone.”
The Mayor further explained how naming RXR Realty as Master Developer, adopting a form-based zoning code, completing a generic environmental review and paying attention to quality urban design and community needs have allowed New Rochelle to become an ideal place to invest, work and live.
He added, “New Rochelle is … a model for what an urban/suburban area can look like.”
The event’s first panel discussed the City’s $4 billion redevelopment initiative in-depth.
Led by Moderator Michael Gilbert, Business Development Manager at Con Ed of NY, panelists included:• Joe Apicella, Managing Director of Development at MacQuesten Development;• Bill Balter, President of Wilder Balter Partners, Inc.;• Jerry Bermingham, Executive Vice President of Development/Acquisitions at National Realty & Development Corp. (NRDC);• Jose Cruz, Senior Managing Director & Co-Head of NJ Office at HFF; and• Alex Twining, President and CEO of Twining Properties
The developers, most of whom have projects underway in New Rochelle, discussed their rationale for investing in the City, what differentiates New Rochelle from other neighboring municipalities, and the importance of sustainability in planning.
“You have a walkable downtown… you want people who want to go the restaurants and cafes… that’s what New Rochelle is focused on,” said Joe Apicella, Managing Director of Development at MacQuesten Development. “For me it’s like one big family. You really get this feeling when you develop here and do your business here.”
“It’s a huge difference to come to New Rochelle in today’s world and do business,” said Jerry Bermingham, Executive Vice President of Development/Acquisitions at NRDC. “If you’re going to do one or two [developments] in the right place, this is the right place.”
“It’s a Brooklyn before Brooklyn was Brooklyn,” explained Bill Balter, President of Wilder Balter Partners, Inc., who also noted how New Rochelle is, “starting off in a better place – compared to other cities.”
Experts on the second panel discussed how the City has infused art and technology into its redevelopment plans.
Led by Moderator Sadie McKeown, EVP/COO of the Community Preservation Corporation, panelists included:• Luiz Aragon, New Rochelle’s Commissioner of Development;• David Brause, President of Brause Realty;• Anthony Hammel, Managing Partner & CEO of ELD Properties;• Seth Pinsky, EVP, Metro Emerging Markets & Public Affairs Director and Fund Manager at RXR Realty; and• Oshi Rabin, Executive Director of Mahlstedt Gallery
“To us the arts include technology,” said New Rochelle Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon. He explained how the City is focusing on, “…creating a vehicle through which VR, AR, Molecular Gastronomy can be part of the fabric of a new industry that’s coming here.”
Aragon noted, “We have an incredible live-work art space that’s ready to go,” and described how the City’s efforts in the art and technology space have led it to become one of 35 champion cities in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayors Challenge.
Seth Pinsky, EVP, Metro Emerging Markets & Public Affairs Director and Fund Manager at RXR Realty explained how the arts are an investment with a triple return: cultural; economic; and the ability to attract the best and the brightest – which companies will undoubtedly follow.
In speaking about New Rochelle specifically, he added, “Zoning is flexible, letting downtown evolve into what markets and nature want it to be, within parameters that make sure community needs are met as well.”
New Rochelle’s unprecedented redevelopment initiative, which launched in 2015 with the signing of a Master Developer agreement with RXR Realty, allows for more than 12 million square feet of new construction including up to 2.4 million square feet of prime office space, one million square feet of retail, 6,370 housing units and 1,200 hotel rooms. On the residential side alone, more than 1,400 residential units are already underway.
Beyond focusing on new developments, New Rochelle launched a series of partnerships and initiatives to help bolster its downtown efforts. New Rochelle and the Business Improvement District (BID) announced an exciting new partnership with IDEA (Interactive Digital Environments Alliance), a newly formed not-for-profit organization aimed at establishing the City as the next immersive technology hub. The goal of the alliance is to provide creative space and foster an innovative environment for artists and technology entrepreneurs, while in the process developing, promoting and maintaining a vibrant new arts and technology district in the City’s burgeoning downtown area.