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It's Here! Development Committee Proposal For Re-Use of Armory

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It's Here! Development Committee Proposal For Re-Use of Armory

July 23, 2012 - 08:55
18 comments

A Development Committee has released details regarding the adaptive re-use of the iconic Armory on Main Street. The long neglected historic building may get another lease on life thanks to the efforts of some prominent local supporters. The Armory's history of being the place for the community to come together would again be realized through programming such as performing arts, veteran's services and fine dining. Sparking life into the otherwise sluggish local economy, the Armory would revitalize the now dormant Echo Bay area with a mix of events and services not found in the area. A win - win for New Rochelle and it's residents. You can see more detail and plan about the proposal by clicking HERE

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Without a steady stream of taxpayer funding, this project will fold with 18 months or whenever the original funding runs out. Eric at Wildcliff is trying to do the same thing and struggling is putting it mildly. Wildcliff is struggling and the cost to run it are probably 1/100th of what the armory expenses would be. It's a nice Idea but not practical without the surrounding area drawing more people first. The field of dreams mentality doesn't work in New Rochelle. Build it, and you will fold.

You can vote down the post all you'd like, however, certain truths can't be overlooked. When the Speckled door on Main Street opened I gave them 18 months. I don't think they lasted that long. When Moe's opened on Memorial i gave it a year. It was opened a little longer than that. After New owners opened i gave them less than a year. I think i hit that one on the head. Avalon 1 and 2, i predicted would end up glorified apartment buildings that eventually housed section 8. Trump building I just didn't understand. Now getting to the armory. Where is the funding coming from? Not the private sector. Do you know why? Because the private sector wouldn't fund a project with a 95% probability of failure. Only a gov't grant of some sort would be willing to fund this project. If the goal is to save the armory and rehab the building, then the project will succeed. However, as an arts center it is destined to fail. Perhaps a day care center of Charter school will take its place. Those that back this plan just don't understand New Rochelle.

Valid points, where does the money come from after initial project cost are met?

The money issue will likely be handled as any investment issue under development. Of course, you might expect that the winners of the Armory RFP would only get City support if they were hooked up with the proposers.

However, if the winner has City roots, they have community roots and I would do two things immediately. First is to collaborate with any losing bidder that also has City or community roots; that lesses the admiinistration for behaving too laissez faire or if predisposed, vindictive.
The odds of office holders being vindictive is slim given the high visibility this project will have.

Ok, the thrust of the question concerns costs. It will be reasonable to conclude that the collaborators will both provide funding and many will be for profit entitities or if non-profit, have gate receipts that will support. It is also very possible that the nature of the selected bidders will contain fundable planned occupants -- for example, veterans are very fundable now depending on what is placed in the Armory. There are federal and state agencies looking to agencies who will provide training, employment, counseling.

If the use contains a dinner theatre, an opera house, or something similiar, the question answers itself as well as opening up potential high visibility candidates for the board of directors.

If the City backs away from supporting some part of usage by senior facilities, youth opportunities, or the like, it would speak volumes for officeholder negligence; far worse than even allowing the Armory to lie fallow all of these years.

If that is the case.... that is why you vote, you confront your elected officials, you cannot nor should you disallow community cultural, recreational or essential services for the poorer among us using the wearying cry of "no money."

Yes, you have more bananas, you just don't know where or how to pick the fruit. Try culling the roster at 515 North, cutting salaries, adding up executive salaries and paring 30% or so from the two office holders.

And, folks, there are ways to get start up funding and if the RFP people are on the ball, they already expect that NYSERDA, and others will very much want to contribute to a gut renovated building that could visually impact the community with the newer technologies.

There are merchants like Home Depot and Costco to explore, there is the community giant Jim of Habitat who can turn up volunteers faster than giving credit for.

Ok, much much more..... my view is a simple one. I want it community developed and community based and serve as a leading edge to further restoration and renewal. And if it the RFP goes to entrant 1, not entrant 2, I will be a pain in the ass in encouraging the winning bid to remember (1) working collegially with the losing bidder to show unity and increase options and (2) failure is not an option and it should not even be a problem... you need to work WITH the administration and partner, cut out any distraction from Monroe, Echo Bay, etc. and do it for the City by the City.

Said more than enough. John D in this posting put his finger on other salient points. Read and react. If you disagree fine, but maybe we all should take one for the community at large.

They'll look for arts funding, they'll do fundraisers, they'll look for private donations etc... but when the bills pile up for utilities, insurance, workers comp, repairs, maintenance etc.. And the revenue isn't there, It'll turn into a burden for the city because it has to maintain a public use. It'll be shut down. I really don't have time to explain the realities of business and economics 101. But this is exactly what will happen.

Jeff-
You and I and others, have gone back and forth a few times on this blog. If I didn't know better, I'd assume you were somehow personally going to share in a financial profit if there was a successful (and I'll use that word "successful" under advisement) Forrest City Daly development at Echo Bay. And even though I don't personally know you, we both know that's not the case here.
So, I have to ask, what is it with you and this campaign you seem to be on, to see this Condo/Restaurant/N.Y.C Off-Campus-Tourist Hotel idea, to the exclusion of anything else, brought to fruition on Main St.? It sounds a lot to me like you've got a visceral, emotional reaction to any other scheme for that Armory property, combined with some kind of omniscient conviction, in it's guaranteed failure if it were allowed to go forward.

Alongside this, as it appears to me, is your seeming absolute assurance that THIS project, this one, is the one we've been waiting for to finally turn the financial corner for the City of New Rochelle. Based on what, Tom? The last four decades worth of projects green lighted by City Hall? This one, is the one to be the difference maker?

So, I would say this to you Tom if we were both standing on the sidewalk right now, looking up at the Armory.

"A citizens group wants to put a deal together to rehab and turn this building into something this city and all of it's citizens could use and be proud of. It might work. It might not. Just like everything else that's been tried here in the last forty years."

"What's it to you?"

And I am not in favor of Forest City. Forest City should be banned from any City projects. As for a citizens council. John Verni just bought the old Mamaroneck train station and partnered with Brian MacMenamin, with a reputation long known in the area to not be so good. Is Mr. Verni planning on bringing in his partner in a restaurant? A partner with a long list of debts and partners that won;t speak to him again? I'm just trying to get some people to see reality. It looks good on paper but won't work. Mr Verni's family has money. Give him first shot at private investment. Give the entire council investment opportunity with a reasonable deal. I doubt highly that without gov't money and a special deal any private money would go to this project. Like I asked before, when and where was the last time anyone here has been to a dinner theatre, museum or arts center?

I believed it is closed and bankrupt. Certainly people will line up to visit an armory. Perhaps we can force the schools to visit it 2x a year and overcharge the school system for the entrance fee, return of the haunted house or maybe even the Bazaar that was held there years ago. Just because a citizens group comes up with an idea doesn't make it any less feasible or misguided than if the council came up with the idea.

?

Like your amazing clairvoyant skills? What if private sector does come forward with the funding? It's a win either way for the city. What does it mean when you say "If the goal is to save the armory and rehab the building, then the project will succeed." Why would you rehab it and then not do something with it? Maybe it's the people who have stopped caring about the quality of life and have decided the only way to help New Rochelle is for someone on the outside to come to our rescue. The way to build a vibrant, forward moving local economy is from within. Make the city the best it could be before you try to make it the biggest. How many hotel rooms would you suggest 100, 300, 500? What's the magic number that would really make a difference? If You understood NR you would want to clean up the crap like the 100 students living in the Avalon. Or if your clairvoyant skills can be corroborated about the section 8 housing, the city stands to make millions because they lose their pilot by housing sec 8. Can you substantiate anything you say or is it just Kreskin based economics?

The problem is if the Private Sector does not do it then its left to the City to adopt and Maintain.
The City has a pretty poor track record with property under their control. They can't even find the funds to deal with the train station and the now famous bathrooms. Look at every property they have been charged with upkeep and ownership of. Its quite compelling I hope they stay out.
I believe under this City Manager that we would all be better off with Private Management.

John, the statement is clear. If the main goal of this project is to get gov't funds to rehab the building ( it contains asbestos, lead etc..It will cost 4+ million to rehab) so the city doesn't knock it down, then it'll succeed. They will achieve the goal of getting gov't funds to fix it up with some half baked plan of future success. However, the plan to make it a going concern will fail. Restaurant will fail, arts center will fail. But they will have saved the building. The restaurant across the street from it is now closed, the Boat store next to the Waterfront is shutting down, the waterfront restaurant had to bring in another investor to save it from shutting down, the Fitness and boxing gym next to McDonald's closed up last week. Wildcliff has held dinner theater events and arts and cultural events for the last few seasons, how many have you attended?

I am going to be briefer than even I thought possible. This is right; it rings of what a community needs, was, and can be.

This is community based from every aspect and it would be the LEADING edge to further much needed downtown development and possibly, depending on the skill and will of the Administration, points both across the street to East Main Street all the way to Davids Island. You can read my thoughts in brief in the recent I posted respectully disagreeing with the post, "Why Our Water Front Should be Hotels, Convention Center, Condos.

I again see all of thing as a natural outcome of where the 1996 Comprehensive Plan brought us to (see Section III -1). The men and women on this committee deserve our support and the City Fathers should approve this as the beginning of the move restore and rebuild our City in our 325 Anniversary.

You don't have to like every nook and corner of this proposal; but you ought to consider the healing aspects in a City abiding in a nation that needs healing. You ought to collaborate as a community on its potential end state as well as extending benefits.

I urge my Council Members to put form aside and stick to substance. Much help will be needed but more help than might appear evident, is available. For one, it is a perfect "fact creating" project restoration project for Sustainability. If there are people in City Hall, or our representatives in State and federal government, this can attract money. It has the ingredients they are looking for. In addition, Con Edison, will assist under NYSERDA and elsewhere. In addition, we have one of the great citizens of New Rochelle, Jim Killoran, who can assist and provide contacts and manpower. Then there is my lovely wife, who runs one of the major training programs in New York City on green applications and training in building trades and has the tools and contacts in VESID in New York State.

What a project to involvve our high school kids in clearing ground or otherwise communication, perhaps ovffering their own perspectives on youth activities or tutoring, etc.

ENOUGH... it is here and put together by very solid citizens among them Ron, Peter, John and others. Support this and you support the renaissance that can take place here. And a side note, but critical to me... I am an opera buff and have attending first rate performances by our local Opera Guild.

Sometimes a great day follows on the heels of a tragic one.

So Tom, I guess I've figured it out. Finally.

Only your recommendation has any chance of success regarding the Armory project in New Rochelle.

European-to-N.Y.C-Tourism, based here in Echo bay.

Kind of like "Return of the French Huguenots'"

Good to know it's as good as done.

Got a line on American League batting champ, too?

How 'bout Senate majority? Romney's V.P.?

Mark Rubio - Mike, I could sit here and tell people what they want to hear. I could support a project I know is destined to fail just so Bramson doesn't include it in the Echo Bay development fiasco, but I can't. I'm just trying to voice my opinion. New Rochelle's proximity to NYC and the property potential is a 1 in a million opportunity for Tourism developers. You can continue to make the silly sarcastic jokes but they show me your ignorance. You wouldn't last 2 minutes in a high level meeting. I'd be willing to hear you out on why you think the development teams plan has a possibility of success. Please explain the funding, the revenue stream and demographic of the target clientele. The success rate of similar projects in the area etc. I'm all ears.

Not to worry, Tom. I probably woudn't make it even for one minute in a Mid-level meeting, never mind a High-level one, as I have about as much experience in tourism development as you probably have in current politics. (that's M-a-r-c-o Rubio, not Mark Rubio btw).
Your astonishing over confidence level with this NYC tourism gambit for New Rochelle is off the charts Tom, just in case nobody's mentioned that aspect of this to you yet.

It invites the sarcasm. So shoot me.

I was thinking tonight that I've been to Paris six times, Rome four times. Munich four times. Hamburg, Barcelona, London, Venice, Florence, Milan, Carcassone, Bayuex and Normandy, twice. Never once in any of this travel has it ever occurred to me to stay 42 minutes by train outside of the city proper.

I guess it just proves I'm not a European.

Whew.

Mike, I'm pushing the tourism angle because it's the only thing we can offer, we have waterfront, we have location (no we're not 42 minutes to Grand Central- we are 27 Minutes on the express). White Plains has the shopping, even Mt. Vernon has shopping now, Larchmont offers a mix. New Rochelle needs an identity.
You may not have stayed 25 minutes from the main attraction when traveling, but then again those other places don't get 50 million visitors a year, they can provide necessary space. NYC tourists already stay in Brooklyn, New Jersey, Queens, etc. I don't think I should have to continually explain and link to these facts. Either you get it or you don't. PS. The Thomas Paine museum was located across from NRHS next to the Girl Scout House. It is bankrupt. A Museum/dinner Theater can not survive in New Rochelle. We do not have sufficient foot traffic nor do we have the demographic to support it. The expenses for a building of that size can not survive on Friday/Sat nights and Sundays. If they took their business plan to a bank they wouldn't get a loan.
I really don't know why anyone would be opposed to presenting a Hotel/Convention/entertainment center to large Hotel chains to get a response. It costs nothing.

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