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The revitalization of New Rochelle’s Lincoln Avenue corridor and surrounding neighborhoods took a major step forward yesterday as New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul joined New Rochelle City Officials to announce the specific projects approved for funding as part of the $10 million Downtown Redevelopment Initiative Grant. Once implemented, the six approved projects will allow New Rochelle to forge stronger physical, economic and social linkages between the Lincoln Avenue corridor and its burgeoning downtown.
“New Rochelle has a vibrant arts and culture scene, and the city is working to transform its southern neighborhoods to increase walkability and accessibility of its downtown district,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made the announcement. “Investment in these projects will improve connectivity, linking downtown with the Lincoln Avenue corridor, provide residents with new recreational opportunities, and enhance quality of life. We are focused on revitalizing the Mid-Hudson region by strategically supporting economic development that continues to attract businesses and strengthen the economy for generations to come.”
“The projects funded by the DRI will forge stronger physical, economic, and social links between our burgeoning downtown and the Lincoln Avenue corridor, provide for a transformative, historic investment in infrastructure, open space, and mobility, improve public safety, and help all people in New Rochelle benefit from inclusive growth and prosperity,” said New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. “With the State’s invaluable financial support, we will make this community-guided vision a reality, and I could not be more grateful or excited.”
“We began this process years ago as a grassroots, neighborhood-driven task force aimed at improving the safety and quality of life of families all across the Lincoln Avenue corridor,” said New Rochelle Councilman Jared Rice. “Yesterday’s announcement is a huge victory for the community and a testament to the tireless efforts and dedication of our residents.”
The Lincoln Avenue corridor is immediately adjacent to New Rochelle’s Downtown Overlay Zone (DOZ), currently in the midst of a major transformation attracting $6.7 billion in public-private investment including the creation of 6,370 new housing units, more than two million square feet of new office space and over 12 million square feet of new construction, all in a compact, walkable, transit-rich, mixed-use downtown district. The Lincoln Avenue corridor currently faces impediments including a lack of transportation options, rent burden and a widening age gap that, without additional support, would have prevented the area’s residents from capitalizing on New Rochelle’s downtown redevelopment initiative.
“With the help of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New Rochelle will achieve greater neighborhood development, improved community spaces, and new opportunities for education and workforce advancement,” Governor Cuomo said. “These targeted investments will further enhance the City’s dynamic culture and its intertwined professional and residential environments.”
In October 2018, the City of New Rochelle was selected as one of 10 cities to receive $10 million through the third round of the Governor’s transformative Downtown Revitalization Initiative, investing $100 million into 10 downtown neighborhoods across the state. Throughout the Downtown Revitalization Initiative process, the City of New Rochelle, the Local Planning Committee, the Lincoln Avenue Task Force and the public collaborated to identify, refine, and finalize a list of projects to propose for Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding.
Governor Cuomo’s $10 million grant will be allocated across six projects:
1) The Linc: Transform Memorial Highway into Public Open Space
New Rochelle has been awarded $6,000,000 to remove and re-purpose the eastbound portion of NYS Route 5 as public open space, providing residents with recreation opportunities and laying the groundwork for the development of the proposed recreation center. DRI funding will be used for temporary barriers, signage, striping, and the removal of asphalt and paving.
2) Install Complete Streets Amenities and Traffic Calming Measures
New Rochelle has been awarded $2,000,000 to improve the Lincoln Avenue corridor's accessibility, appearance, and safety for those traveling by foot, bicycle, or vehicle through complementary circulation improvements between Webster Avenue and North Avenue. Improvements may include new or improved crosswalks, pedestrian ramps, curb extensions, traffic calming measures, signage, a bike path, designated bike crossings, the elimination of parking at key intersections, revised road geometry, reconsideration of speed limits, and new and relocated bus stops.
3) Create a Black Box Theater and Art Education Center
New Rochelle has been awarded $830,000 to establish a new community performance and arts education venue on the second floor of a redeveloped former historic film house at 360 Huguenot Street to provide cultural programming to residents, attract visitors to the downtown, and serve as a cultural anchor on New Rochelle's Main Street. The project will include interior fit-outs to accommodate amenities such as a theater, exhibition space, and a coffee shop.
4) Install Amenities in a Park created to serve a New Affordable Housing Development
New Rochelle has been awarded $343,000 to install amenities in a park under development on the corner of Winthrop Avenue and Brook Street to provide residents of the new, adjacent 288-unit affordable housing development and the broader community with a safe, attractive, and accessible space for gathering and recreation. Examples of amenities include a playground, basketball court, game table area, grass lawns, shade trees, benches, and lighting.
5) Revise Zoning to Encourage Neighborhood-Scale Development
New Rochelle has been awarded $300,000 to establish a new zoning overlay district in the Lincoln Avenue corridor area to encourage a greater mix of residential and commercial uses and pedestrian-friendly urban design. This effort will include related planning studies, required environmental review, and a robust public engagement process.
6) Upgrade Lincoln Park with Public Comfort Station
New Rochelle has been awarded $277,000 to construct a public comfort station adjacent to the Lincoln Park pool house to serve users of the recently installed play equipment and basketball courts, and to support the implementation of the Lincoln Park Master Plan.
Accelerated by a novel, fast-track zoning process and the use of generic environmental reviews, New Rochelle’s unprecedented redevelopment initiative, which launched in 2015 with the signing of a Master Developer agreement with RXR Realty, has allowed for critical progress to be made in attracting investment to the City’s downtown. So far, 31 projects – totaling six million square feet and more than 4,000 housing units – have been approved, and 11 are already under construction. With the residential component of the downtown revitalization effort well underway, the City is now looking to attract commercial space and other nonresidential development. As part of the next phase of development, they aim to attract the construction of approximately 1.8 million square feet of new office space in the downtown area.
New Rochelle’s central location, unrivaled transit access, respected higher educational institutions, award-winning public schools, ultra-high-speed public access WiFi kiosks, diverse population, and physical characteristics together uniquely position the City to evolve into a thriving live-work-grow magnet for millennials and young professionals, while enhancing the overall region’s competitive status.
The Lincoln Avenue corridor – which contains open space, Montefiore Hospital of New Rochelle, market rate and affordable housing, the Metro North Train Station, and part of New Rochelle’s Arts + Cultural District – looks to build upon significant state, county, and private investments already targeting the area, including: a $1.6 million dollar 2017 Climate Smart Communities Grant Award for complete streets improvements on North Avenue, newly renovated housing, nearly $45 million in renovations to the Montefiore Hospital (NYS Capital Restructuring Financing Program and Essential Health Care Provider Support Program), and significant investments in parks and public spaces within the DRI project boundary.