Veterans Groups, Monroe College and Forest City in Preliminary Discussions for Blockbuster Deal on New Rochelle Armory

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Veterans Groups, Monroe College and Forest City in Preliminary Discussions for Blockbuster Deal on New Rochelle Armory

January 29, 2010 - 18:07

newroarm.jpgTalk of the Sound has learned that Monroe College is in preliminary discussions with local veterans groups to join forces to develop a plan that would transform the 77-year old New Rochelle Naval Armory into a spectacular state-of-the-art, multi-use facility. Monroe College spokesman Rob Seitz emphasized this was a very tentative plan, one of several options under consideration and that no commitments had been made. Under consideration is the possibility of rebuilding the interior of the cavernous Armory gymnasium to as a an up-to-date sports field house that would serve as the new home for Monroe's men's basketball team. Monroe College has been looking for a new home for its team as it makes plans to jump to NCAA Division II.

The Monroe College Mustangs which currently plays in the NCAAJ are one of the most successful junior college programs in the country. The Mustangs have compiled a remarkable .710 winning percentage going back to the 1991-92 season. In 2002-03, the Mustangs turned on the nation with a high-flying fifth-place finish in the NJCAA, Division I national tournament. They won four straight Region XV championships and appeared in four straight District III finals, winning the Title in 2005-06 and again advancing to the Nationals, where they finished eighth.

Forest City/Ranter would need to agree to carve out the New Rochelle Armory building and surrounding land from the parcels assembled to create the proposed mixed-use Echo Bay Development. That deal has been stalled to a tight credit market following the 2009 financial crisis. Funding for major real estate development has all but dried up over the past year. Forest City has indicated a willingness to consider such an approach, sources say.

Monroe is said to be prepared to commit millions of dollars to restore the New Rochelle Armory if all parties involved can come to an agreement.

For years, the veterans groups, led by former Assemblyman Ronald C. Tocci, have opposed any development plans that include tearing down New Rochelle's Naval Armory. Tocci, who served as Chairman of the Assembly's Veterans Affairs Committee and later as Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Veterans Affairs, arranged the 1997 deal under which New York State deeded the property to the City of New Rochelle for $1.00 with the provision that the property would be maintained as a public recreation and municipal space. In 2008, the City agreed to a project by Forest City Residential that calls for the armory to be razed as part of its Echo Bay Development plan and replaced by a community center.

While details remain to be ironed out, the initial plan is for the veterans groups to operate the Naval Armory facility with Monroe as a tenant, utilizing the facility for hosting NCAA II home games and basketball practice.

Peter Parente, a former Marine and member of the Save Our Armory Committee says other elements in a revitalized New Rochelle Naval Armory facility might include a museum dedicated to the military history of New Rochelle, a community center for youths and senior citizens. Tocci said the The VA Hospitals have expressed interest in using the facility to provide medical services to area veterans, reducing travel time to facilities located outside of Southern Westchester.

There are 6 Comments

You are correct to report that Monroe has held VERY preliminary conversations with the various interested parties with regard to the Armory's future. However, because of the formidable financial obstacles associated with this building and the resources it will take to convert the Armory into a multi-purpose sports arena for the College's sports teams, it is premature to say that the college is currently prepared to commit millions of dollars on this project. Because it will take millions of dollars, as noted in your report, the conversations to date have been preliminary.

As for our fantastic Mustangs, basketball fans who love to watch exciting games can catch the next home game of the Lady Mustangs (17-4) on Saturday, 2/6, 12 Noon at our home court, Mt. St. Michael's in the Bronx (just over the Mt. Vernon city line) and the men's team (17-3), "away" at Westchester Community College, this Saturday, Jan. 30, 1:00 PM. Go Mustangs!

I believe the City of New Rochelle had a responsibility for upkeep on the Armory as of the date in 1997 that the State sold them the building for 1.00.
They purposly allowed the building to rot and further compounded the problem when they allowed training excercises for Police and Fire. They even seemed to look the other way when Murals and other artifacts were removed. Blighting on Purpose a Strome specialty.
The City now has a liability but the Mayor has yet to come on board.
Grants could bring the building back. The planning could be the aspect $$ that Monroe can afford along with being a tenant who pays the Armory rent.
The City would have to pony up some $$$ also.
Forest City in my opinion is looking to cut and run. They may be looking to save Mayoral Face and recoop some of their prior investment. Anyone doing deals with Forest City in Westchester County will attract major Federal scrutiny as the Feds are a watching. I believe Latimer, Oppenheimer, Paulin have to sit their buddy Noam down and force some hands as time is ticking away for the buidling and the artifacts. Either he can wake up and get on board or watch his future decay along with the armory.

of course forest city is going to cut and run. I recall talking about that a year or so back when ratner was being hurt on his brooklyn shenanigans. I expect he will also come up against it in Yonkers when the Ridge situation becomes more known.

Hard to think this was not known earlier by the City. No matter, suspect John D and a few other good citizens were active in negotiatons. Marc Jersone is a good business man; if there is a deal to be done, he will get it done.

Great news and when the City Administration puts it into context, they will see that they did not have firm footing with Forest City. My advice to them is to see the glass half full.

warren gross

The city (Bramson/Strome) had no knowledge of the VERY preliminary talks between the Veterans, Save Our Armory and Forest City (Abe Nappersac). That’s why Noam has his skivvies twisted. If Noam can get past his hatred toward Tocci and see the light of day this is a very interesting compromise. It has the potential to be a win, win, win, win situation. The City respects the Armory & Veterans with a renovated Armory (WIN). Forest City no longer has the headaches of fighting the public, remediating the Armory and building a community center (WIN). Monroe College gets a big time sports facility to become the upper echelon in the NCAA rankings (WIN). The Veterans save the Armory and have a home in perpetuity (WIN). The devil remains in the details. Marc Jerome is a great businessman, if he invests million$ he will expect to control programming and rightfully so. As long as the Veterans have a substantial dedicated space and ample use of the “main hall/gymnasium” for annual meetings and fundraisers I say go for it. Marc Jerome’s business know-how will guarantee a self sustaining opportunity for all. This will also divide the Echo Bay project in half making it much more manageable to develop and ensure getting it right the first time.

Anthony Galletta

Doesn't the deed say the Armory is to be used for the people? Can anyone explain how letting a college take over control of the building accomplishes that criteria?

Yes the deed does say the Armory is to be used for the people and it will with some help from the community. I think this is nothing but a positive for all of New Rochelle. The wish list is to have our local Veterans able to run to day-to-day daily opperations,opening and closing the building,scheduling events and some maintainance on a voluntary basis. Monroe College, who hopefully will be willing to help with financing the project, will have a proud home court for their Mustangs, who are rising stars in the college basketball circuit. New Rochelle can finally have something we can all utilize and be proud of.

Our Community Center wish list would include a Military Museum with a Hall of Honor for over 300 of our neghbors whom have given the ultimate sacrifice, A New Rochelle/Huguenot Historical Museum and a Norman Rockwell Gallery. We have such a rich history, it should be preserved and passed on with accuracy. It can be self sustaining by having events like flea Markets, possible farmers markets,computer expo's,conventions,sporting events-obviously including The Monroe Mustangs home court. Flag football & floor hockey leagues and also the possibility of an ice rink. The uses can go on for ever. We hope a restaurant or some kind of food service will also help support the center's existance.

Our local Veterans will have an office and meeting space. Most Veteran organizations in New Rochelle have no place to call home. We would like to see a VA Clinic or sattelite medical office so our local Vets can come and renew perscriptions,check their blood pressure or maybe get an eye exam.

Come together New Rochelle,lets do some good. I think this is what New Rochelle needs,a glimmer of light in a darkened city.

Peter Parente