he city of New Rochelle and master developer RXR Realty hosted a pair of ceremonies on March 14 in recognition of two construction milestones. T
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at 26 S. Division St., a site that will become home to a two-tower mixed-use complex. The 28-story towers will feature a combined 730 rental apartment units. The $329 million, 904,000-square-foot development will also include 25,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 698 vehicles.
“For too many years, our region’s suburban downtowns have failed to attract the level of investment and economic activity needed to maximize their growth and economic vitality,” said Seth Pinsky, an executive vice president at RXR. New Rochelle, he said, responded to this by developing a public-private model “that not only allowed the city’s leaders and citizens to reimagine the future of their downtown on paper, but to put into place a plan that is actually rapidly bearing fruit in reality.”
Following the groundbreaking on a blustery morning, heavy machinery worked to bring down the remainder of the aging, municipally owned Church-Division Street parking garage.
“For many years, decades even, the garage that is behind us has been a burden for our downtown,” New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said. “Today we have an opportunity to celebrate the rebirth of this site into a location that will make all of us in New Rochelle extraordinarily proud.”
The groundbreaking comes just eight months after the project was announced. With the project, RXR hopes to create cohesiveness between the neighborhood, which is between the business district and residential streets that lead to the Long Island Sound and the rest of the city.
Just around the corner, a topping-out ceremony on the new 28-story building at 587 Main St. was held following the groundbreaking. That $122 million development broke ground in November 2016 and will include 280 rental apartments, with 28 that will be rented at below market rates. There will also be 17,000 square feet of street-level commercial space and a 234-space valet parking garage.
The Main Street development is on the site of the old Loew’s Theatre, a building that dates to 1926. RXR’s plans include the construction of a 10,000-square-foot performance space. It will be in the two-story portion of the old theater that was the lobby of the building. The main theater with the vaulted ceiling was demolished for the new 28-story tower. The old theater will be a key part of the city’s plan to transform Main Street into a cultural district that will include art galleries and studios.
“The city of New Rochelle has invented a new and dynamic formula for downtown development that’s worthy of emulation by cities nationwide,” said Michael Maturo, president of RXR Realty.
According to RXR, the 391,000-square-foot Main Street project has completed schematic design, and the company expects to attain the remaining planning approvals from the city in July. Vertical construction is expected for December, and the first tower could be completed by late 2020.
“We look to the completion of our first building and we’re excited about starting our second building,” Maturo said. “We have tremendous conviction in what we’re doing here.”
According to the company, the two projects will generate more than 1,000 construction jobs and an estimated 350 permanent positions upon their completion.
The Long Island developer is part of a joint venture that was selected as the New Rochelle’s downtown master developer in 2014. The city’s master plan also includes the rezoning of 279 acres of land around the downtown train station.
Officials say the reinvention of the city’s downtown is expected to attract $4 billion in new investment.
Bramson said these two projects are catalyzing the largest wave of real estate investment in the city’s modern history.
“With these two important milestones, New Rochelle is well on track to achieving our community-guided vision for a vibrant, successful, diverse and walkable downtown,” he said, adding that the city is seeing “an emerging skyline that reflects a resurgent and hopeful confidence in our future.