New Ro to Enhance MWBE Support

Like many other communities, New Rochelle strives to support Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs), with the goal of sharing the benefits of economic development and public sector procurement as broadly and equitably as possible.  Despite best efforts, however, MWBE participation often lags behind our goals.  To help meet this challenge, New Rochelle is teaming with a group called “Tough Leaf” to build capacity among MWBEs, assist with the often cumbersome certification process, and enhance communication about opportunities.  This presentation contains much more information.

Another Downtown Groundbreaking

Rendering of 33 Westchester, viewed from Huguenot

New Rochelle’s downtown continues to make historic strides, with the groundbreaking of 33 Westchester Place, a new 27-story tower at the site of the former Modern Hardware.  This is the last of three adjoining developments from Allstate Ventures of varying scales that will together surround an entirely redesigned Westchester Place (now little more than an alley between Centre and Division), with significant arts and cultural components, including artists’ housing.

In addition to ceremonially shoveling some soil at the construction site, City officials and I also explored the nearly complete Arc building at 64 Centre with spectacular views of the emerging downtown skyline and Long Island Sound beyond.  You can take a neat virtual tour here.  More from the Patch.

New Garage Opens Downtown

Even as New Rochelle strives to shape a walkable, transit-served, less car-dependent downtown, we still recognize that cars are a dominant form of transportation in our region and that adequate parking facilities are part of the overall equation for a successful business district.  That’s why I am happy to report the opening a brand new public parking garage at 25 Maple Avenue, incorporated into one of our new developments.  Featuring 200 municipal parking spaces, as well as 20 electric vehicle charging stations, the Maple Avenue garage will be an important asset for local businesses, visitors, and residents.  More in this press release.

Talking Housing at the WCA

I was honored to join New York Housing Conference Executive Director Rachel Fee, North Castle Supervisor Mike Schilliro, and former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy for an excellent conversation about housing.  The Governor’s Housing Compact was not included in this year’s State budget, but there is broad agreement that a comprehensive, effective strategy is needed to address a serious regional housing shortage.  Thank you Michael Romita and the Westchester County Association for organizing an important discussion.

Big Plans for New Ro Transit Center

New Rochelle has initiated a comprehensive redesign of our transit center, designating the talented team at fxcollaborative to be our partners in the planning process.

A vital resource for our community, the New Rochelle Transit Center nonetheless suffers from a variety of flaws: hidden below grade, with entry points that are obscure or unattractive, poorly connected to nearby neighborhoods, challenging to navigate, especially for pedestrians, and aside from its core functions, mainly inactive.

New Rochelle deserves better.  So, in addition to confronting these problematic conditions head-on, our vision aims to preserve, restore, and celebrate the station house itself, a true gem of the 19th century, while bringing the rest of the Transit Center fully into the 21st in its amenities, sustainability, appearance, and connectivity.  The local benefits are obvious, and this initiative has regional significance, too, with Penn Access soon bringing many more travelers to New Rochelle.

There’s more information in this presentation to the City Council.  You can also watch our announcement from earlier this week or read my full remarks.

Design is only step one.  Successful execution will require time, public dialogue, and resources.  But having proven that we can set big goals and achieve them, New Rochelle is more than up to the challenge.  I look forward to creating a true community hub, ready to serve our growing, thriving city.

New Rochelle in Crain’s

New Rochelle features prominently in this article from Crain’s New York Business, which considers the obstacles and opportunities surrounding housing growth.  Although the Governor’s proposed Housing Compact was not included in the recently approved State budget, the initiative did successfully stimulate a long overdue conversation, and I am hopeful that elements of the plan will find their way into future State policy.  The Crain’s article is behind a paywall, so if you can’t read it in its entirely, my contribution follows below.

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson described the initiative as “very positive,” with growth targets that were “reasonable and achievable.” He was disappointed but not shocked that such a big potential change to the suburbs didn’t make it over the finish line on its first attempt.

New Rochelle is generally seen as one of the more pro-development areas of Westchester County. The city has already welcomed at least two new apartment buildings with more than 100 units this year alone . . . Bramson took issue with the general perception of adding housing to an area as a necessary hardship for communities to endure, instead framing it as a positive move with far-reaching advantages.

“I do not regard well-planned growth as a burden. I regard it as a benefit,” he said. “If it’s done properly, it breathes new life into downtown areas. It creates new job opportunities. It moderates the upward pressure on housing costs and makes our region far more accessible.”