The Armory Series – Lamenting Our Loss or How Did THAT Happen?

Written By: John D'Alois

There will be no room for remorse . That about sums it up when speaking of the consequences of misguided demolition . The fact is , there has been no actual review of the possibilities of an adaptive re-use of the Armory , by this or any other administration . The only consideration given was the City asking the most recent developer , Forest City- Ratner , what they want to do with the property . Hardly in-depth thinking . Granted the city doesn’t have much experience in this area , but that only reinforces the need to stop and take a closer look at just what might happen and what we will loose forever . There is no going back .

In giving up history for mediocrity we succumb to the fast food , news in a soundbite , instant gratification , sterilized growth that takes for granted the road taken towards becoming a noteworthy city . How do we stand out from the crowd if we behave just like the crowd . To have a thriving , engaging , cutting edge facility , one that nobody else has , is one step in the right direction . In an interesting story about what cities across America have traded for their growth , we can see how wishing you could go back seems like a good idea . In the story 6 more train stations lost to the wrecking ball we can see how change doesn’t always mean better . The Columbus Union Station probably couldn’t be saved , however , does it’s replacement seem like the kind of edifice you would want along Main St ?

THEN: A showpiece train station


NOW: A bizarre pastel-shaded convention center


If nothing else , realize this fact , the current plan from Forest City will have 5 story (at minimum) buildings along Main St from Echo Ave down to Lefevre Lane . The buildings are planned to be as close to the street as in the convention center picture . The only “view” of Echo Bay will be through the extensions of Stephenson Blvd and Pratt Street . So don’t expect to see any of the bay’s vista’s as you drive along Main Street. Instead , you will travel along a canyon of buildings , in the shadows cast by the buildings until midday . Mornings along Main Street will be abysmal . The whole East End section of town will loose the morning sun that so many people bought their houses for . If your lucky enough to be one of the 3000 or so people living in the Echo Bay “projects” , the morning sun will be all yours .

We are lucky right now to have the luxury of time to rethink just what we’re getting into . Imagine the Armory , beautifully landscaped , set back and instead of taking away from us ,returning history , music ,art , a future for the youth of New Rochelle and a link to the past . So let’s take another look at this area with an open mind . There is a better way for Echo Bay and the Armory , and it has no limit. You see , bigger doesn’t mean better , it just means bigger and the bigger the Echo Bay project is , the more it will cost the taxpayer in tax give aways . It will return nothing for decades and by then , who knows what the area will be like . Legally , it can become a private , gated community since Forest City WILL OWN EVERY SQUARE FOOT of Echo Bay , even the so called “open space” . The Armory will begin giving back to the city the moment we embrace the idea . What more could you ask for ? Historical significance , economic development , environmental sustainability , cultural growth , all good reasons to realize the potential already in place .

The Armory , “Use It – Don’t Lose It “

4 thoughts on “The Armory Series – Lamenting Our Loss or How Did THAT Happen?”

  1. If I was the head of NY
    If I was the head of NY State DGS I would excersice the reverter clause in the Deed between NY State DGS and the City of New Rochelle. I would then back Charge the City of New Rochelle for not maintaining the building. I would step in take it over repair and bring the building back up to the level it was handed to the City of New Rochelle.
    Then I would find a Non-Profit organization maybe run by Mr. Ron Tocci and others of like character to give the building the attention and care it needs.
    I would also place the City of New Rochelle on Notice that they will no longer be able to sign their name to any State Deed for a period of time.
    I am sure politics prevents such a thing.
    The City of New Rochelle had an obligation. They were and are remiss. I suggest that this remain Mayor Bramsons legacy as he would be the main person to start up the wrecking ball as he has zero vision except for his own political future.

  2. Pay Attention
    John D,

    I offer the following as an FYI and not as an opinion on the Armory debate.

    There is competition in NR in regards to the Armory and re adaptive use. Please view the latest city council meeting and the presentation of the NR Council of the Arts. It is there wish to use the Presbyterian Church on North Ave next to City Hall as a cultural center/performance space.

    The city council appreciated the idea but cleared no hurdles to make this happen. Right now it is a proposal and one subject to review, review review (that is what the city does best).

    I wanted to make you and the readers aware of this.

    Listen to:
    New Rochelle News and Views Radio Program
    Thursday Nights at 8pm
    WVOX 1460 am or

    1. A $2 Million Sham
      The conversion of the Presbyterian Church on North Ave next to City Hall as an arts center is a sham. First of all it is not on the Historic preservation list. Second the city wants to cut garbage collection to once a week while 5 DPW, 15 firefighters and 18 police officers face layoff if unions don’t accept raise deferrals so there is no way the city will get involved with this boondoggle. Besides, an arts center is not the only re-adaptive use for the Armory. Why not use the Armory as a Veteran Services Center? Retrofit the Armory to help soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to re-acclimate into society? Supply health, training, job placement, physical therapy and other services required by our true American Heroes. There are many re-adaptive uses for the Armory which requires little or no imagination.

      Forget Noam and city hall, the pressure needs to be applied to the State Office of General Services to enforce the deed restrictions PERIOD! Noam can’t see the forest from the trees, he conveys a “green” ideology yet ignores the basic “green” fact that recycling and retrofitting the Armory reduces landfills by eliminating destruction debris, reduce emissions from the lack of fossil fuel burning construction equipment and be cost effective under the binding deed restrictions. It will also provide public-use, park land space as intended which the entire community can experience in perpetuity.

      And the beauty of this brainstorm is that it will be grant pertinent requiring minimal city dollars. How can President Obama resist the opportunity to support our service men and women with some stimulus funds?

  3. Take heart, Restorations are still happening in the USA
    Travel to Lenox, Massachusetts and view Ventford Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum which is the editors’ choice of Yankee Magazine. This beautiful restoration clearly would not have happened if the people did not speak up to save this mansion. Even now it is still in a state of restoration because the damage was so extensive. There is an outstanding exhibit of wedding gowns and dresses dating back 200 years.

    If they can do it, so can New Rochelle which has a rich history to preserve. The Armory is a good place to start.

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