In the October 30 issue of the Westchester Guardian
New Rochelle City Council on October 7 approved allowing RDRXR to be a master developer for the largest project ever for the city’s downtown. The railroad station and downtown areas will be transformed. This company is being viewed as a master developer which will take a comprehensive view of downtown. RD or Renaissance Downtown, and RXR Realty.LLC are combining their services to focus on real estate investment.
The next night, October 8, at the Residence Park Neighborhood Association meeting, Mayor Noam Bramson addressed the members about this proposed RDRXR development proposal. He claimed “hard choices” were necessary to attract development. In order for the city government to make the city “better,” a “controversial decision” may be necessary. He urged the group to stand up and say something supportive, so the city can get to a better place. “Tough steps” in his view were necessary.
After speaking of the better days of New Rochelle, Bramson emphasized he did not want to make the city what it was. He faulted previous city leaderships for not having a sense the city was changing. If residents want better stores the prospective owners need to feel confident they can make money. Instead of lamenting about downtown New Rochelle, Bramson wants to do something about it.
Questions by members followed. Bramson said the Main and Huguenot Street area plus especially near the train station would be involved as a nucleus. Later private property might be acquired for development. An overlay zone would help “kindle the fire” for reinvestment in private property. One member of Residence Park was particularly adamant that the agreement with this new proposal should not allow any developers to go to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDA). However, Bramson while respectful of his viewpoint, answered, “We will never have any development without tax abatements.” He continued, businesses need to make money, and the city is competing with New York City, Stamford and White Plains. Tax breaks are given to companies so they will relocate here. Otherwise, Bramson said, we can “resign ourselves to a downtown that is the same as it is today.”
In answer to a question by another member, Bramson said to make a better city, “controversial decisions were necessary.” When asked about downtown development, Bramson reinforced he did not want to make it what it was, alluding to previous city leadership, he said they did not realize the city was changing. He then added, “If you want better stores” here, prospective owners have to feel they are in an environment “where they can make money.” Another member said he had an important question: would the city insist a developer could not go to the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) to lower their taxes from tax abatements. The answer by Bramson was, “We will never have development without tax abatements.” He added businesses come to make money. In closing, Bramson said New Rochelle had come a long way, but still had a long way to go.
Two councilman who attended this meeting commented briefly on this proposed downtown plan. Councilman Ivar Hyden wanted to assure a bipartisan sense for this project. Councilman Al Tarantino added that he did not want to “take control of private property.” Hyden brought up the increasing amount of panhandling in downtown. Tarantino alluded to previous developments in the downtown that had brought no benefits to the city.