Another Big Win for New Rochelle

Testing out virtual reality at the New Rochelle Street Fair.

New Rochelle was just awarded a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies through the “Mayors Challenge.”  We are one of only nine cities throughout the nation — out of more than 300 competitors — to win this award.

Bloomberg recognized New Rochelle for our innovative use of augmented and virtual reality to help guide community development.  We’ll now utilize the grant to develop an interactive, open source application that will empower residents to better visualize and shape the city’s growth.  This tool aims to enhance both the quality and inclusiveness of public input — and could even make the planning process fun.

I thank and congratulate the Business Improvement District and IDEA New Rochelle, who partnered with the City’s Department of Development on this initiative.  Great job.

With this terrific news, New Rochelle is really on a roll.  After all, it was just a few weeks ago that we won the coveted Downtown Revitalization Initiative from New York State.  Now another big, big win.  It’s thrilling.

There’s more here, and a full press release follows below.

 

New Rochelle Wins $1 Million in Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge

New Rochelle is One of Nine Cities Recognized for Innovative Solutions to Urgent Local Issues

New Rochelle, NY- October 29, 2018: Michael R. Bloomberg today announced New Rochelle as a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Mayors Challenge, a yearlong competition that challenged city leaders to uncover and test bold, inventive ideas to confront the toughest problems faced by cities today. Nine cities will receive $1 million to begin implementation on potentially breakthrough solutions to homelessness, the opioid crisis, mobility, climate change, and economic opportunity.

New Rochelle was selected as a winner for their innovative approach to improving citizen engagement through the use of immersive technology (ie. virtual reality and augmented reality) to clearly present development plans for new buildings and public spaces to New Rochelle residents- a process all too often steered by private developers. By developing their own advanced tools, the City and its stakeholders will be able to efficiently envision and evaluate options.

“The Mayors Challenge has inspired our entire team to be more creative, entrepreneurial, and collaborative,” said New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.  “Our community will benefit enormously, not only from interactive tools that will help shape the most ambitious growth in our history, but also from the spirit of service and commitment to excellence that has been the hallmark of our interactions with Bloomberg Philanthropies.”

New Rochelle joins Denver, CO, Durham, NC, Fort Collins, CO, Georgetown, TX, Huntington, WV, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA, and South Bend, IN as winners of the U.S. Mayors Challenge.

“Mayors across the country are tackling the big issues that Washington is ignoring. This competition is designed to help them do even more, by incentivizing and supporting big – and achievable – new ideas,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. “Congratulations to all of the winning mayors, who represent cities large and small, in regions across the country. We look forward to seeing the results of their work — and to helping the ideas that prove most effective spread far and wide.”

The Mayors Challenge Selection Committee, co-chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns, is comprised of distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives, and social innovation leaders. The committee evaluated the cities applications based on their idea’s vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities to choose New Rochelle as among the nine winning cities.

New to the Mayors Challenge this year was a 6-month “test and learn” phase where each of the 35 Champion Cities received up to $100,000 and technical assistance to test and build support for their ideas. Cities tested core components of their ideas with residents, improved and refined their proposals, and developed a plan for implementation and impact measurement.

“Thanks to the stimulating opportunity from Bloomberg Philanthropies and its Champion City competition, our Interactive Digital Environments Alliance (IDEA) was able to assemble a diverse team of creative technologists, artists, planners, public officials, business people and community members to pursue using augmented and virtual reality technology for better communication between government and its residents,” said BID Executive Director Ralph DiBart. “We are grateful that IDEA New Rochelle will now be able to continue this work and develop an app and toolkit which will allow communities across the Country to access the power of these new immersive technologies to advance the ways that government can engage all its citizens in meaningful dialogue about planning the future of their community.”

The U.S. Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg Philanthropies-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). Previous Mayors Challenge winners include São Paulo, Brazil with a program to increase farmers’ income and reduce urban sprawl; Barcelona, Spain for work to create digital trust networks that support at-risk elderly citizens; and Providence, RI, for a program to measure and reduce the “word gap” among low-income children during pivotal brain development years. For more information, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org.

A Big, Big Win for New Rochelle

Big, exciting news.  New Rochelle has won a $10 million State grant through New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI.)  This afternoon, State officials visited the Remington Boys and Girls Club to make the announcement.

This highly-competitive program chooses only one winner per year from the entire mid-Hudson Valley, a huge multi-county region with dozens of municipalities.  New Rochelle’s selection is, therefore, not only enormously helpful in material terms — we can do a lot with $10 million! — it is also a powerful validation of our ambitious downtown development plan, which has received widespread, positive recognition.

NRHS students join in celebrating New Rochelle’s $10 million win.

New Rochelle’s application to the DRI focused on the Lincoln Avenue corridor and surrounding neighborhoods, with the goal of forging stronger social, economic, and physical linkages between this vital area and our downtown as a whole.  We want prosperity and equity to go hand-in-hand.

The precise use of the funding has not been decided and will be determined through a collaborative and inclusive partnership among State, City, and community representatives.

There is much more information in this press release.  And following below or at this link are my remarks from the Remington event.  (Governor Cuomo was originally scheduled to join us, but was called away at the last minute.)

Congratulations and thank you to everyone whose hard work and advocacy made this victory possible.  I have never been more proud of New Rochelle or more excited about our future.

 

Remarks of Mayor Noam Bramson

So let’s be honest – and meaning no offense at all to George and Howard, who are outstanding public servants – we’re all a little disappointed that our guest of honor was called away at the last minute, and I know that many people here adjusted their schedules, specifically to give the Governor a big New Rochelle welcome.

But even though we can’t express our gratitude in person, it does not diminish the gratitude we feel.  Because think about what’s just been announced. This is a great day for New Rochelle.

So let’s give it up for the Boys and Girls Club for hosting us this afternoon and for serving our children every afternoon.

Let’s hear it for the advocates, the residents, the neighbors, young and old, black, white and brown, here on the Lincoln Avenue corridor, who have stood up for this community – for our community – with passion, and vision, and determination.   This is your success.

Let’s acknowledge the drive and energy of our development staff, who created the most innovative and effective strategy for growth in the entire Hudson Valley. It is working, unfolding before our eyes, almost by the hour.

Thank you: Chuck and Luiz, Gina and Kevin, Kathleen and Suzanne, Adam and Chris and Max, and the entire City team.

Let’s give it up for our great community partners. What a cross-section of leadership is here today. Schools and libraries, our hospital and our colleges, investors and builders and business people, houses of worship and providers of service, and planners throughout our region. And an extra shout out to Marsha Gordon and the Business Council of Westchester for always believing in New Rochelle.

And I have to say a special word for my colleague Jared Rice, who was instrumental in making our case to the Regional Council. He couldn’t be here today, but he’s got a good excuse – he’s celebrating his 10th wedding anniversary a couple thousand miles away. I told him: “ten years, a million dollars per year, why don’t you bring Jasmine and celebrate with us.” He said: “love, before money.” And he’s got that right. But let’s give him a round of applause anyway.

And it’s not just Jared. Every member of the City Council, Democrat and Republican, is joined together in pride and satisfaction on this exciting afternoon.

And let’s be clear about why this announcement matters so much. It’s not just the money – although that sure helps, we’re not turning it down; we’re going to accomplish a lot with $10 million.

It’s something bigger. It’s a validation of the hard work we have done together to bring New Rochelle back. And an affirmation of the core belief that we’re all in this together. That a healthy city doesn’t leave anyone behind. That prosperity and equity can, should, and must go hand-in-hand. That’s the New Rochelle we know and love.

Now, I am sure some of you are already asking yourselves: how exactly are we going to spend this grant?  Good question.

So let’s be perfectly transparent: beyond promising that I will not be redecorating my office, that is still to be determined.

There’s going to be an inclusive process, with State officials, local officials, and the community. All of us thinking through the possibilities together, with guidance from the best planners.

But make no mistake about the goal. It is to take the center of our city, where we are today, with all of its promise and all of its challenges, and link it together – socially, economically, and physically – to the growing prosperity of our downtown. To lift up this vital part of New Rochelle, in a way that benefits all of New Rochelle.

What a thrilling opportunity for every one of us.

In that spirit, and on behalf of 80,000 grateful residents, I say to Governor Cuomo, to Howard and George, to our great State delegation, to the Regional Council, and to the entire Administration: thank you.

Thank you for conceiving a program that benefits not just New Rochelle, but dozens of cities like New Rochelle all across New York. For understanding that smaller downtowns – from Kingston to Middletown to New Rochelle – are vital to the economy and character of our entire state. For knowing that when we invest in our downtowns – in jobs, in homes, in opportunities to live, work, play, and grow, where we can walk to the store and take the train to the office, and see people every day whose lives and traditions are different from our own and reflect all the beauty and diversity of humankind – that when we do these things, everyone wins.

So this is truly a great day, one of the best. A day of excitement and satisfaction, with a sense of a job well done . . . and an even larger job still ahead.

Friends, neighbors, colleagues, and partners: let’s roll up our sleeves and together make the most of this moment.

God bless New York, God bless New Rochelle. And thank you all so much.

Hotel Proposed for Cedar Street

New hotel proposed for 115 Cedar Street in New Rochelle. Click to enlarge.

A new hotel, with a design reminiscent of cutting-edge buildings along the High Line, has been proposed for Cedar Street, adjacent to I-95 (at the site of the former Don Conqui and Got Soul restaurants.)  225 rooms, together with dining and other amenities, in an ultra-modern tower rising above a rehabbed historic structure at the base.  In a presentation last night to the City Council, the developers also proposed to enhance the appearance and pedestrian accessibility of Garden Street to better connect this site to the downtown and train station.

Given the prominence of its location, one of the most visible in our entire city, this project would have a dramatic (and I think positive) effect on perceptions of New Rochelle.  It’s also a great example of how the successful execution of our downtown development plan is generating buzz about New Rochelle as a whole.

That said, there are plenty of steps ahead, including a review of zoning, an examination of environmental impacts, and an analysis of parking and traffic issues.  Too soon to provide approvals, but the proposal is certainly encouraging.

New Rochelle Bike Share is Here

Mayor Noam Bramson, following a ride from City Hall to Anderson Plaza.

New Rochelle’s Bike Share, the first in Westchester County, officially launched today.  100 bikes, 11 stations throughout the city.  Learn more in this press release or join our bike share program at www.bikenewrochelle.com.

We actually had a soft launch back in March, just to test everything out, and already more than 400 people have signed up, taking thousands of trips!  That’s way above expectations, especially in light of the iffy spring weather, and a positive sign of public enthusiasm.

This morning, I joined about twenty other cyclists for a maiden ride from City Hall to Anderson Plaza, and (following a three decade break from bicycles — shhh, don’t tell anyone) aim now to be a regular user.

By offering a fun and sustainable way to get around, we help make New Rochelle a healthier, stronger, greener community.  It’s also part of our larger effort to compete for the next generation of residents and businesses.

Try it out, and have fun.