About 20,000 square feet of retail space, new public parking to replace an aging and obsolete garage, and more than 500 high-quality apartments, containing residents with annual spending power in the tens of millions. These are the essential features of a major new mixed-use project, proposed to be sited on the Church-Division and Prospect lots, half a block south of Main Street. If fully realized, this development would have a significant positive effect on the physical fabric and economic vibrancy of our downtown, while also helping New Rochelle overcome a recession-induced lull in private commercial investment.

The developer of this project would be the Albanese Corporation, a highly respected and successful team, responsible for designing and constructing much of Battery Park City, including the Solaire and the Visionaire, two of the most admired residential “green” buildings in the nation.

The project is enormously complicated in every respect. Construction and demolition must be coordinated in a delicate dance to provide adequate parking availability at all times. Housing must be introduced on a rolling basis to ensure that supply does not outpace demand. Federal, state, and local revenue streams would impact affordability standards and rent levels. And the first phase must be capable of standing on its own, in case the full project can not be accomplished. Tax incentives would be necessary to finance the project, but taxpayers would be in the black, especially when the cost of the alternative (that is, improving parking without a development agreement) is factored into the equation. In its totality, the project illustrates the difficult trade-offs that cities like New Rochelle must consider in order to attract beneficial investment. It’s quite a juggling act, but worth it.

You can find additional details in this presentation, made to the City Council on January 10th. As you view the presentation, please keep in mind that the pictures are NOT renderings of the project; they are intended only to illustrate massing and approximate scale.

Like all major developments, the Albanese project must jump over several regulatory and approval hurdles before it can proceed. A more careful examination could result in either the developer or the City pulling back. And the Council will not make a final judgment until a full environmental review is conducted, along with public hearings.

With all those caveats, I am excited. This effort is fully consistent with the City’s strategy of attracting transit-oriented development that gives residents, shoppers and commuters more choices in their lives, while gradually strengthening our economy and tax base.