The New Rochelle City Council has unanimously approved a significant update to our downtown development plan. These amendments include an extension of the Downtown Overlay Zone (DOZ) to encompass the Echo Bay waterfront, provisions for new open space and parkland, additional housing to meet surging demand, and enhanced requirements/incentives for sustainable building design, green infrastructure, and climate resiliency, including an allowance for offsite improvements that advance environmental justice. The refreshed development framework is bolstered by parallel efforts to expand opportunities for local Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), strengthen New Rochelle’s affordable housing policy, and create new recreational and pedestrian amenities, such as the LINC.
At regional and national conferences, New Rochelle is often cited as a model of intelligent, successful planning. Our combination of a form-based zoning code, completed environmental review, and master developer for publicly-owned sites has created an ideal regulatory environment that reduces risk, ensures predictability, and requires every project to advance community-based goals and design criteria. Since the inception of this framework in 2015, New Rochelle has experienced unprecedented economic growth, attracting $2.2 billion in private investment, with thirty-two projects approved, totaling 9.2 million square feet. Six are already completed, with lease-up exceeding 90%, and twelve more are under construction, all within an area that is compact, walkable, transit-served, and highly diverse — exactly the kind of setting in which growth makes the most sense and does the most good. Ongoing development is also making a positive, and escalating, contribution to City and School District finances.
The amended DOZ will extend New Rochelle’s impressive economic momentum, while guiding the next wave of projects more fully toward principles of environmental and social governance (ESG) — achieving development that is sustainable, equitable, and inclusive, and also creating a powerful magnet for ESG-focused capital.
To be sure, New Rochelle’s redevelopment is still a work in progress: the growing pains of construction are widespread and intense; completion of all the approved projects is years away; and we have not yet experienced the street-level commercial activation that really makes a downtown come alive. There is much still to do . . . and yet every reason to be confident of our trajectory.
I am grateful for the outstanding teamwork and robust public engagement that made these accomplishments possible, eager to grab hold of the important work still ahead, and optimistic as never before about the future of our city.
Follow our progress at ideallynewrochelle.com.