Riparian development on the verge of moving forward
When New Rochelle City Council passed changes to the downtown overlay area of the city on December 14, including creating a new waterfront overlay area, that was exactly what developer Twining Properties was waiting. Twining was selected by the city to create a 13-acre waterfront development that will include a rehabilitated and redeveloped armory in New Rochelle.
The city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) designed to select a developer for city-owned land in the waterfront area. The twinning envisioned a residential and commercial center with around 700 apartments and some 80,000 square feet of retail, plenty of parking, open waterfront spaces and eventually a hotel. He also offered to renovate the long-deteriorated old armory and make it a centerpiece of the project.
While Twining was able to move forward with stabilizing the armory and setting the stage for it to come back to life, moving forward with the final designs for the remainder of the effort had been slowed down by the ignorance of what would be allowed once the revised zoning is finalized. For example, Twining needed to know what building heights would be allowed, what setbacks would be required, and a myriad of other things any developer should know before seriously sitting down on the drawing boards to create plans that can be submitted. to move an approval process into higher gear.
The new waterfront zoning generally approves four-story buildings with additional height allowed through various bonuses.
“It’s a fairly large site and there is a master plan for streets and public services. The actual design of the buildings has not yet started, ”Philip Wharton, chief investment officer of Twining, told the Business Journal. “There is a 10 acre segment that is going to be developed commercially and there is a three acre segment that is going to end up as a city owned park.”
Wharton said the area of the park, known as the Esplanade, will run along the entire waterfront and include a bike path leading to an area called Armory Cove.
“We believe that the armory will be part of the identity of the project. It’s an interesting historic building and whoever tenant we move into it will respect that architecture, ”said Wharton. “We received a lot of ideas and suggestions from the community. We are chatting with many different groups about the different ways to use the arsenal and expect this to add a lot to the area.
Some veterans were concerned enough about the future of the armory to take legal action challenging the city’s transfer of ownership of the armory to Twining. Earlier this year, a state Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit.
The armory was built in 1932. It was used for some time for training the naval militia, and then abandoned. In 1997, New York State sold it to New Rochelle for $ 1, provided it was serviced for public recreation and municipal uses. Twining agreed to devote $ 1 million to the rehabilitation of the armory, with New Rochelle contributing an additional $ 1 million in state grants.
Wharton said the uses of the armory and the scheduled activities in the park are important to development and the community.
“We want to have a use in the armory that is sustainable in the long term and that could be for profit or not for profit and we want it to be incorporated into the new Pratt Landing project, including the sharing of the parking lot,” said Wharton. “It’s a very high profile project. We think the arsenal has a lot of appeal if revitalized the right way.
Wharton explained that the density of the project that Twining will build will be much lower than what is in the heart of downtown New Rochelle.
“It will have a different feel than downtown. It’s probably going to be a little quieter, a little less crowded, so it’s going to be a new neighborhood, but it’s a new neighborhood that will be a lot less dense and sort of bucolic, ”Wharton said.
Wharton said the mix of residential units is expected to include property opportunities such as condos or townhouses.
“So far there hasn’t been a lot of ‘for sale’ homes built in the downtown area, so we think this will be a good addition to New Rochelle’s offering,” Wharton said. “We believe there will be empty nesters from New Rochelle and neighboring communities who want to stay in the area but may prefer to own rather than rent.”
Wharton said energy efficiency will be a big factor in the designs.
“We want to make it a brand in terms of green technologies and we will be looking at LEED certification as well as other things and we think the waterfront park will be a great opportunity for kids and adults to get closer to the environment. “Wharton said.” It will be a place for people to linger outside, an open space, that there isn’t a lot in the downtown area right now. “
Wharton said that because they don’t have a final design and construction costs have been volatile lately, it’s not possible to know what the project is going to cost other than it being figure “in hundreds of millions”.
He pointed out that the armory building is available now.
“We have stabilized it and are now talking to potential tenants, so if we are able to find someone who is suitable, we could start building that space for them right away,” Wharton said. “For the rest of the project, we plan to build everything all at once rather than phasing. The construction process between excavating an underground garage and building above ground takes between two and two and a half years.