You might think the development in New Rochelle grinding to a halt is a bad thing, but some would say it’s a blessing in disguise. We have been given a rare opportunity to take a longer, closer look at just where things are headed. If you look at the existing downtown development and try to find how it has benefitted this city economically you wouldn’t find much. Yes, the old buildings where replaced with new ones, however, given the way the I.D.A.(Industrial Development Agency) hands out tax breaks and PILOT programs you would be hard pressed to see any ,if at all, economic boon to our local economy. The citizens have been subsidizing all of the development without any return on their investment. These grand projects just haven’t turned out to be as successful as they would have liked. Maybe it’s too much, too soon. Maybe things need to slow down and recalibrate to what makes sense for the city. Does the downtown really need more traffic and density or does it need to be smaller to be effective? Does Echo Bay really need to have 700 + housing units with large scale retail (Big Box) and a hotel at the cost of destroying an historical building? Getting things done is not the same as getting it right. Twenty six acres, on the waterfront, is a gold mine for any developer no matter how you look at it, but how does it truly benefit New Rochelle? This is the perfect time to rethink where things are going. The future of the Armory would have more effect on the public, and give back to the public, in any form far more than the 100 or so condo’s that would replace it. Would the city engage and support the Armory if it didn’t cost us anything? It can happen. For years the Save Our Armory organization has been trying to move forward with this concept, only to be met with indifference and misplaced priorities. They are ready to step up and help as soon as the city would agree to listen to them and allow them to bring forward some very good ideas.
Everyone is being asked to do more with less. Everywhere. Cut backs in every budget, paring down benefits, wage concessions. It’s bad. So why can’t we expect that from developers who come to town in pursuit of their own interests. New Rochelle’s location makes it a jewel and developers wouldn’t be coming around if they didn’t think it was worth it and it’s time for this city to focus more on being the best, not the biggest.
Things are bad. For many, it’s as bad as it will ever be in their lifetime. But, it will get better, and perhaps it will have more to do with what we do rather than what the politicians do.