City of New Rochelle issues a Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”)

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City of New Rochelle issues a Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”)

June 13, 2014 - 21:00

City of New Rochelle issues a Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”)
Qualified Developers Sought for Downtown "Clusters"

In the release posted on the city web site it says that The City of New Rochelle is affirming that the City is “Open for Business”, New Rochelle today announced a Request for Qualified Developers for two key “cluster” parcels in the downtown - 1) The Transit Oriented Development Cluster (“TOD”) and 2) The Downtown Cluster, made up primarily of City-owned parcels but also including privately-held properties, in the heart of the City.

Posted on New Rochelle City Web Site: May 30, 2014
Qualified Developers Sought for Downtown "Clusters"

Through a number of studies and planning exercises held over the past year, the City has identified real estate development goals and objectives for the downtown, visualizing an active, mixed-use district with convenient, safe and pleasant access to the New Rochelle Transportation Center.

Mayor Noam Bramson states, "The energy and diversity of a city. The graciousness of a historic suburb. The natural beauty of the shore. And very soon the best commute in metropolitan New York,” and that “New Rochelle is the next big opportunity.” Read more and get more information and details on The City of New Rochelle’s Web Site:

The RFQ will be available at on May 30, 2014. All inquiries should be directed via email to [email protected]. Responses to the RFQ are due by July 31, 2014.

New Rochelle
Open For Opportunity
We invite you to participate!

“New Rochelle loves History” New Rochelle it seems that History Repeats itself. It is time New Rochelle created some updates for the history books.

It’s time New Rochelle tries something new so the RFQ is not a bad idea. It is what is done with the responses to the RFQ and the so called studies and planning exercises held over the past year. History shows us that information is not properly used and the people are miss-informed or kept in the dark all together. History has shown us where these same old methods get us, empty store fronts and housing for students and section 8. But, we now have a new Development Commissioner Luiz C. Aragon and there have been several changes in staff. These changes need to continue throughout all of City Hall and The City Council for New Rochelle to be reborn and to move out of the stone Ages of poor planning and Development.

The Mayor has said it before, “New Rochelle loves History”. Much is said that get us nowhere! It doesn’t matter how much you fudge the numbers or miss-interpret data, you just need to walk down Main Street for a true vision of New Rochelle’s history.

Mayor Noam Bramson on the day of his State of the City Address quipped he was a strong mayor because the City Manager Chuck Strome was out of town. The Mayor has a habit of using this technique to deflect people’s attention. Light hearted jokes about something many residents from New Rochelle have complained about for a while now and it’s No Joke. Strong Mayor, Weak Mayor, the debate goes on. Besides, Chuck doesn’t have to leave town. He is in the same building, on the same floor of City Hall. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Sorry Chuck, I know you do what you can with what you have. There are also six other City Council Members that have a voice but choose not to speak up and question these practices. We also have over 40,000 voters in New Rochelle that sit back and choose not to get involved. They are all culpable in this farce that is allowed to go on and continues to drag down this once fine city. I will say however, I am glad to see some eyes opening in the city and on The City Council. Some members of City Council, especially Council Members Ivar Hyden and Shari Rackman along with a few others at times have stepped up and started to ask the tough questions and request answers. This was seen during the fight to defeat the Echo Bay Project. There has been some positive change that can help change the course of the city.

If anything positive came out of the failed Echo Bay project and County Executive run, it was that during these processes, the past methods and actions of The City Council and The Mayor were finally exposed. It didn’t just start. For some time now in New Rochelle, we have all seen the games, bullying, favoritism, cronyism and back peddling politics that has played out behind closed doors and sometime in front of them. Go back and read some of the past articles on the subject, be informed. Information and knowledge are our best arsenal against poor planning and greedy politicians and developers with nothing but self-interest and dollar signs in their minds. This is no longer a perception!

Since Mayor Bramson’s State of the City Address on March 20, 2014 so much has gone on in many surrounding communities. I was waiting for other information but found it necessary to go for it now. Many of the surrounding communities are being touted for the way they have turned around their Downtown Areas creating retail areas with shops, restaurants, vibrant downtown and business districts. Now they are now expanding their residential growth. In New Rochelle we continue to look to major developments to bring growth and turn around our Downtown Area. It’s is the same old wrong recipe for success.

In The State of the City Address Mayor Bramson said,

"Prospects had improved and developers and investors are looking for fresh opportunities." The downtown area is anchored" by Iona College, Montefiore, College of New Rochelle, Monroe and the Public Library. Smaller "anchors" were cited between Pintard and Echo, Sickles and Union Street," where he claimed "hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of people, and tens of millions in spending power" exist.

No wonder we can’t get The Downtown Area turned around, Our Mayor doesn’t know where it is. The closest of these businesses to downtown is Monroe College which barely meet the meaning of being downtown as they slowly creep up Main Street taking over empty businesses in that thriving area. Most of these larger businesses are tax exempt or have an audience that doesn’t or can’t spend money downtown. Let’s see, Iona College is on North Avenue. Students with meal cards that don’t drive up tax revenues. Monroe College is at the fringe of Downtown, same spending habits as Iona College except their students can barely afford college so they turn to Monroe for their federal assistance loans. At least Monroe pays taxes. The small anchors stores he speaks of are barely holding on in the downtown area as there is no parking and more vacant run down storefronts than anyone can count. Sickles and Union Streets are not even Downtown.

A simple examination of his "state of the city" speech amplifies and concerns the fact that he continues to speak of massive development in the Transit Operations Project as well as a part of the Waterfront Development initiative.

The Remarks of Mayor Noam Bramson’s
State of the City - March 20, 2014

If you keep using the same recipe no matter what you are making, you get the same product, just maybe some small variations as each time the ingredients are tweaked some by each maker of the cake. You have different bakers with the same stale product, salesman and pitch.

I spoke of this back in a POST from 04/07/2014 give it a read then come back to this and you will see what I mean.

New Rochelle Loves History, after twenty years it is the same old headlines!
By Bob McCaffrey on Mon, 04/07/2014

Look at some other towns, villages and cities around us and see that they have the formula right. Fix the problem that plague their respective cities, then look to develop more residential as the draw is customer base has been established. They in a way, created a need for the development. Not the New Rochelle way of build it with twenty year tax abatements and bad deals and maybe they will come. Which they didn’t! They sell and bailout all while the New Rochelle taxpayers are stuck with the bill and an inferior product than was promised.

Avalon has taken the money and run, look at New Roc and Cappelli’s sell out while promising more at another site. New Rochelle needs to start calling the shots and not the developers that make profits doing exactly what they have done in New Rochelle, build cheap and sell. You don’t hear any of them crying poverty, raising taxes and putting new fees in place for hidden income.

Avalon on the Sound "Sold", Tax Abatement to Continue for New Owner
By Anthony Galletta on Mon, 02/08/2010

In a recent Journal News Article speaks of the trend towards renting as opposed to buying or purchasing shares in a cooperative, which reflects today's trends in living close to New York City. They cite Ossining and White Plains as being the best examples of cities or towns that have, and continue to be active, placed this reality into their Strategic Planning process.

By Barbara Livingston Nackman 4/12/14 Journal News

The article speaks of how the construction work and the influx of residents benefit the City of White Plains, which has 57,000 residents but gears up for more than 200,000 during the workweek.

“We are a retail hub and these are customers,” Mayor Thomas Roach said in the article.

That is right, a Retail Hub with shops, restaurants, a vibrant downtown and business district. White Plains is a city that hustles and bustles day and night with activity, places to go and people to see, a warm and inviting downtown that attracts the young and old alike, a destination. Everything that New Rochelle lacks yet members of council and staff claims that we have in every pitch for more housing and development. It should not be a build it and they will come development process as used in the past. We need to fix what we have and make New Rochelle a destination, a place that can market itself as a Retail Hub with shops, restaurants and a vibrant business district. We must create a place an atmosphere that young professionals or new couples who want rental apartments over homeownership would consider as a choice for their new home. Then and only then can we consider building more. Fill the empty store fronts and apartments first, create a thriving downtown.

Avalon Bay Communities is a major player in some of these plans and are not getting any tax abatements from some of the other locations as they did in New Rochelle. It is plain and clear in the Ossining FEIS that No Tax Abatements will be given. Have you ever given thought as to why Avalon Bay Communities would abandon The City of New Rochelle in search of other locations to market a product with proximity to New York City, plentiful retail and other commercial applications, and excellent and growing cultural attractions? New Rochelle lacks these types of amenities along with safe and secure streets with ample parking. All they got in New Rochelle’s Avalon Towers was Section 8 and students housed for Iona College and Monroe College.

Look at all the developments around us and read their descriptions and background stories and you get a good picture of what they did and how they did it. It doesn’t even take a college student to figure it out. Read some of the descriptions from Avalon Bays Web Site of some Avalon Properties near us.

Avalon Rockledge at White Plains:

You'll never be bored at our White Plains apartment community because the surrounding neighborhood has so much to offer. Your day-to-day needs will be met by plenty of conveniently located local businesses and services such as banks, grocery stores and schools. There are plenty of things to do for entertainment in the neighborhood, as well. Visit the White Plains Performing Arts Center to take in a play or wander over to Clearview 100 Cinema to catch a blockbuster. Our Westchester County apartments are close to plenty of delicious restaurants including Dooley Mac’s, Graziella’s, Morton’s and the Melt Sandwich Shop. Best of all, you can reach each of the wonderful destinations via a wealth of transportation options including the Metro North Line, Bee Line Buses, the Bronx River Parkway and Cross Westchester Expressway.

Avalon Willow Mamaroneck:

Our luxury Mamaroneck apartments are conveniently located in a neighborhood that is overflowing with fun things to do. Spend a day exploring Weinberg Nature Center or Mamaroneck Historical Center or feast at the amazing restaurants, splurge at the shopping centers or take a trip into the big city to take it all in before returning to your quiet home at Avalon Willow.

The Avalon Bronxville:

Our luxury Bronxville apartments may be secluded, but just outside the community you’ll find the city’s best restaurants, shops and natural beauty. Visit the scenic coastline, stunning woodlands, amazing landscaped country clubs and countless other sites away from the bustle of the city, Enjoy the easy access to grocery shops, movie theaters, schools, bookstores and so much more by the apartments in Bronxville. And commuting to Manhattan, the Bronx and the rest of New York City is easy with the nearby highways and the Bronxville Metro-North Train Station.

Avalon Green Elmsford:

Avalon Green in Elmsford, N.Y., broke ground in October 2010 and is slated to be completed by November 2012. The 444-unit apartment community encompasses 602,000 square feet on a 63-acre parcel.

Everything you need in your neighborhood is nearby the Elmsford apartments. This amazing town has great schools, banks and grocery stores conveniently located only a short distance from Avalon Green. Delicious Elmsford restaurants like A'Mangiare, Ichi Riki, and El Dorado Diner and exciting entertainment options like Greater Hudson Heritage Network and Sportime USA are close as well, meaning you'll never have to venture far from the apartments for any of your day-to-day needs. You'll enjoy living in a neighborhood that takes care of your necessities, but also offers enough recreation and culture to keep you engaged. The ideal location also places the apartments in Elmsford just 30 minutes from New York City, perfect for commuting and daytrips.

Look at the Renaissance that has and is continuing to take place in White Plains and Ossining, under Mayor’s Roach and Jaeger. The City of New Rochelle has experienced an exodus since Mayor Paduano and it is reaching its full bloom under Mayor Bramson. You don’t need any committee’s or studies to see this just drive Downtown and take a look. Just be careful where you park and make sure the meter works.

Recently, College students did their own study at little or no cost. College students surveyed by Iona College say New Roc City should have a Starbucks, an Apple or Microsoft technology outlet and a bookstore.

Look at the Journal News Article from May 21, 2014:

New Roc City could use a Starbucks, students say
Ernie Garcia, [email protected] 11:04 p.m. EDT May 21, 2014
Journal News:

As the mayor said, there are some challenges ahead. Before we go reinventing the wheel there must be some clean-up, evaluation and action in City Hall and Downtown before we go jumping on any new grand plans. Continue with the RFQ Idea for interest Downtown. I hear a lot of big plans and ideas which were proposed but no method of review and follow up for the process. We cannot have the same plans, people and committees as in the past. We have some new talent in City Hall and there should be changes to the flawed practices of the past. City Council Members must be part of the oversight of these projects and change. There needs to be representation from every district to ensure the people are being heard, while ensuring that government respects every penny that comes from the taxpayer.

We need to inject new thought, vision, ideas and faith not only to Downtown but all of New Rochelle. New Rochelle for some time has lacked leaders and staff with creative vision, an understanding of cultural sophistication, the arts and how to bring a community together. This needs to change, in the word of Mary Jane Reddinington when she retired from the school board, “Change Things and Continue to Change Things”. Our City Government is reflective of the school board and suffers some of the same ills and miss-trust. Both need to change fast before there is no remedy. New Rochelle needs to get more physically and financially fit before any other major projects are undertaken.

Insight, foresight and oversight are the responsibility of all of New Rochelle Council, Staff and most of all the citizens. Nothing should be done by one person group or committee. We must inspect what we expect and hold everyone accountable.

I think we have seen a turn around with some new staff members and a change in some council members. Hopefully these changes will continue to grow and spread. Get it right the first time; protect the interests and the future of New Rochelle. Use what is needed to fix The Downtown Area as a template for the success in The City of New Rochelle and The New Rochelle Community. That’s right, Community, A community that grows and flourishes. That is history to be proud of!

There are 4 Comments

TOD BS. The race to save the planet. Climate change. Agenda 21. All a bunch of nonsense to waste taxpayer money.

New Rochelle has lacked adequate parking and meaningful retail for at least two decades. Meanwhile, every community around NR has been able to secure retail development. Not us. We keep chasing residential so we can cram people into downtown apartments near the train station. We are doing our part to get people out their cars and close to mass transit. We want to socially integrate them so we can all live as one, big happy family.

And while we are chasing this Agenda 21 pipe dream, the American Dream is becoming a nightmare. The middle class is being wiped out. Home ownership
among the middle class--once a sign of our prosperity--is on the decline. We become more and more dependent on government benefits--foodstamps, Obamacare, etc. American jobs that once helped the middle class prosper are in China. Here, Americans get replaced by cheaper, foreign labor who manage
to get into the country on visa loopholes.

Save us, Mayor Bramson. Save the middle class from ever-increasing property taxes. The bulk of which go to fund never ending pay increases for city
workers. Save us from all the "fees" and the library taxes that helped line the pockets of Avalon developers and Louis Cappelli. Save us from more traffic in the downtown thanks to TOD, From more crime, more dorms, more college takeovers. Restore the middle class suburban lifestyle that NR
used to have. This is a suburb of NYC. It is not
NYC. Stop cramming us in like a bunch of sardines.

In short, stop taking the quality of life away from the middle class property owners who built this city and forking it over to transients and rich developers. Stop taking our money in the form of
fees and taxes and we will have more to spend on goods and services which, in turn, would benefit the city economically. You're saving the planet by killing off middle class Americans. I rather die from climate change.

Actually, the description of New Rochelle's downtown including Iona College, Montefiore, College of New Rochelle, Monroe and the Public Library, Pintard, Echo, Sickles and Union Street" is correct.

However, downtown also includes US Rt 1 as far west as I-95 Exit 15 (near Home Depot), and east to the Larchmont Border.

Traditionally, west New Rochelle including Union and Washington Ave was the original downtown of the old village of New Rochelle. It's still part of downtown New Rochelle.

Along North Ave, downtown exists as far north as the south side of Eastchester Rd. The 'North End' of New Rochelle traditionally begins on the north side of Eastchester Rd, and is not downtown.

West of North Ave, downtown's northern border is Lincoln Ave.

Drake and Weyman Ave, north from Elm are part of downtown too.

It's easy to spot downtown New Rochelle, as its where most of the stores and colleges are, and is entirely in the 'South End' of New Rochelle.


Correct but from which century?

I am sorry but it has been a long time since we were The Old Village of New Rochelle. From what you say because I live by Iona College and live South of Eastchester Road, I therefore live Downtown? No I don’t and the way that Iona College is buying up property, I may actually live on campus in a few years! I wonder what the people out on Premium Point would think about your saying that the entrance to their exclusive estates by the Larchmont Border is in Downtown. Same goes for the homes in The Rochelle Park-Rochelle Heights Historic District and for home up Beechmont and back into the Historic District as they too are within the area you describe.

I too am a long time citizen born and raised in New Rochelle. I have seen the days of RKO, Town, Lowes, Bloomingdales, Arnold Constables, Palace Shoes, Grants, and F& W Woolworths and Schrafft’s Ice Cream. Those were the days that the people with disposable incomes would shop at Bloomies and go to lunch at Schraff’s. My grandmother was one of them. The people from the North End and many surrounding cities would shop Downtown. It is these businesses and the many others like Lillian Vernon that brought people into Downtown every day to work and shop. Sadly, they are all gone now but I.B. Cohen and a few others. But they are going soon as well.

The Downtown Business District of the past with an old village type shopping and restaurant spaces was largely replaced by suburban malls like the we see in White Plains parts of Pelham/Mount Vernon and several other communities that used smart planning and development. Because New Rochelle fell short in all the vital areas of Downtown Planning and Development many residents shop outside of New Rochelle choosing convenience and parking over rundown stores and empty spaces with little to no parking and getting tickets when a parking spot was found.

New Rochelle did not change with the times and kept giving the place away with tax abatements and poor planning to a point where shoppers from New Rochelle and the surrounding area found that The Downtown Business District had eroded and was barely hanging on. Many of the shops closed up, choosing to move to a mall and the spaces were replaced by redundant nail palaces, one dollar stores, perhaps ethnic cafes, photo and cell phone shops.

It took me a while to reply to your post as I was working really hard to find someone who thought your description of Downtown was accurate or current, which it’s not! I asked my aunts, uncles and several other long time New Rochelle residents who grew up in New Rochelle in the twenties and thirties what they thought, they don’t agree with your description. I can never remember my grandparents who settled here in the early 1900’s refer to anything other than the area around Main Street and Huguenot Street as Downtown. The train station was sometimes included when they spoke of Downtown. But they mostly spoke about Downtown as the area from the Macy’s/Harrison Street to Pintard Avenue where Huguenot Street and Main Street meet.

You like the Mayor and some on The City Council have to realize this is not and has not been The Old Village of New Rochelle for some time now. Oh say fifty to one hundred years. As I said, I too grew up here along with my father and his father before him. As a matter of fact, if you look at the side of the building across from the Transportation Center at 301 North Avenue you can see my other grandfather’s Raymond Porter's Real Estate and Insurance sign is still there. They all had a different description of downtown. But it never fit what you claim and it hasn’t for some time now. If you look at the maps for the New Rochelle BID and many other projects, even some of the most recent ones, Downtown is the area that runs from Harrison Avenue or maybe to Echo Avenue up Huguenot and Main streets to where they meet at Pintard Avenue. You can say the parts by the train station and up Center Ave to Blessed Sacrament Church. You could say one block north of Huguenot Street and one block south of Main Street. Here is a description or definition of Downtown from Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia:
Downtown is a term primarily used in North America by English speakers to refer to a city's core (or center) or CBD (Central Business District), often in a geographical, commercial, or communal sense.

The terms downtown and uptown can refer to cardinal directions, for example, in Manhattan, where downtown is also a relative geographical term. Anything south of where the speaker is currently standing, in most places, is said to be downtown. Anything north of the speaker is uptown. In the common New York City phrase, "We're going to take the subway downtown," downtown refers to traveling in the geographic direction of south.

So by that definition you are correct. But we are not and never will be New York City or even White Plains. Many people from New Rochelle can barely admit that New Rochelle has become a city. If you are at Iona College you are not Downtown but if you are going south on North Ave past Iona College, you can say you are headed Downtown. Here is some info from The 1996 Plan. Excuse the typo’s but I took it as was written.

From the 1996 Plan:

II-18 Parking;
Surface lots located between Main Street and Huguenot Street ~serves
The New Rochelle Library and other downtown uses. These surface
lots may be interim land uses subject to redevelopment for other
purposes as part of downtown development plans.

II-28 Characteristics of Major Arte.rials
Traffic activity within the
downtown area and along the major arterials leading into it can be
significant, particularly during peak periods. Redevelopment activity
in the downtown, including development of the Intermodal
Transportation Center, is only expected to increase this activity.

II-29 Road Classification:
The major arterial roadways in the city provide relatively high capacity
Routes into, through and around the downtown and adjacent areas.
Through downtown,
Main Street is one-way heading east with three lanes of traffic and on street
Parking on both sides in selected areas where expanded
Sidewalks limit parking.

II-30 Road
Main Street. Main Street is the major east-west arterial carrying traffic
From the city's east and west borders through the downtown where it
Is a paired one way system with Huguenot Street? Main Street links
New Rochelle with the Villages of Pelham and Pelham Manor to the
West and the Town of Mamaroneck and Village of Larchmont to the

As stated, “The Request for Qualified Developers for two key “cluster” parcels in the downtown - 1) The Transit Oriented Development Cluster (“TOD”) and 2) The Downtown Cluster, made up primarily of City-owned parcels but also including privately-held properties, in the heart of the City”.

The plan speaks of the Huguenot and Main Street area for the Downtown area. The only anchors Iona College has in Downtown are the students they house in the building formerly known as The Avalon and The Marriott at New Roc. I would also love to confirm his numbers where he claimed "hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of people, and tens of millions in spending power" exist around Sickles and Union Street. Which are in the West End of New Rochelle not Downtown? So I would say that you, The Mayor and anyone else who still believes as you do needs to wake up and get into the 21st Century. Update your maps, your minds and your logic!

No wonder we can’t get The Downtown Area turned around,

What has to happen first and can be done right using this RFQ Process, is to plan for a revised version/vision of a Downtown Business District Model. You have to plan and invest in vertical parking structures to service these shops as well as the expected growth rate. Just because you live near a train station does not mean people will not drive. They will and that has been part of the demise of the current downtown. They will drive straight to White Plains or just shop in New York City before they come home to New Rochelle.

Precede any further large residential developments with a total update of the zoning laws, addressing the issues caused by current realtors and developers. Build the correct foundation by providing protection (police) clearing away vacant small businesses that just do not meet the cut. We must fix and cleanup what we have. We can’t continue the build it and they will come models. Ask the right questions and get the right answers as so many cities and towns around us have.

As stated, create a Retail Hub with shops, restaurants, a vibrant downtown and business district. A city that hustles and bustles day and night with activity, places to go and people to see, a warm and inviting downtown that attracts the young and old alike, a destination. Everything that New Rochelle lacks yet members of council and staff continues the pitch for more housing and development. We must get it right this time as New Rochelle can only have so many second chances which we have today. We have a chance for change, a change of mind, heart and direction for all of New Rochelle and the future to come.

I am not going to get into the North End debate. Yes I will! The North End is just that, the section of New Rochelle in the Northern most part of The City of New Rochelle.

End /end/noun
Noun: end; plural noun: ends
1. The furthest or most extreme part or point of something.
"A length of wire with a hook at the end"
Synonyms: extremity, furthermost part, limit; more
2. A final part of something, especially a period of time, an activity, or a story.
"The end of the year"
Synonyms: conclusion, termination, ending, finish, close, resolution, climax, finale, culmination, denouement; more
Epilogue, coda, peroration.

The North End has always been everything from Quaker Ridge Road North. Hence, The North End. Heading South of Quaker Ridge is the Wykagyl Section which goes into the Pain Lake/Pain and Forrest Avenue section and then the High School which is the where the North Side of New Rochelle ends at Eastchester Road. Then from Eastchester Road which has been considered the center point or dividing line of New Rochelle converts into the South Side of New Rochelle and so on to Downtown New Rochelle and finally into the South End of New Rochelle. There are also the East and West Ends which again by definition are the points at the end of each side of the town not the center points or they would be the center of town and not the North, South, East or West Ends!

The days of Bloomingdales, Arnold Constable, Woolworths, Grants, etc. would still be here if the middle class wasn't stripped of all its "disposable income."

New Rochelle was typical middle class suburbia 40 years ago but the ever increasing cost of living and declining incomes crippled the city. Contributing to that are the non-stop property tax increases and fees. It is a shame that our mayor wants to bring a new class of people into the downtown who have higher wages and thus disposable income to replace displaced the middle class New Rochellians. We should be focusing more on bringing good paying manufacturing jobs back to the US and cutting government spending so the middle class can be rejuvenated.