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Ken Valenti, klvalent@lohud.com11:34 p.m. EDT October 8, 2014

The developers who would give the entire downtown a historic makeover told the City Council on Tuesday how they would do it.

And the key, they said, was to do it with the community.

"It's not just about a few new buildings," Mark Evans, head planner with the partnership RDRXR, told the City Council in City Hall on Tuesday. "It's about working with the businesses and property owners up and down the street."

The council unanimously chose the partnership to control development on huge clusters of parcels covering swaths of the core of Westchester's second-largest city, including the train station and its parking garage, and the New Rochelle Public Library.

"This is the most ambitious development proposal in New Rochelle's history," Mayor Noam Bramson said.

The team is a partnership of Renaissance Downtowns and RXR Realty. Both are based in Nassau County.

The representatives mentioned specific downtown ideas for the city of 79,500 people — a new library, a glass atrium at the train station to create a community gateway, and medical offices along Garden Street, as well as parks, plazas and a cultural arts center.

Donald Monti, chief executive of Renaissance Downtowns, said the team would probably suggest new zoning that could allow for more development. Team members said they would work with neighboring property owners to potentially build more space by joining together in partnerships.

But throughout the presentation, they stressed that everything would result from extensive conversations with the city and its residents and merchants, both through social media and in person.

Early in the process, they plan to open an office, perhaps on North Avenue, to offer information. It would be staffed throughout the week with someone who could answer questions, and would also be the site of meetings and events such as art exhibits to raise its profile.

The team was one of two competitors who responded to the city's call in May for developers to make pitches. The city offered the companies the opportunity to develop two collections of properties — one that includes the library and another that includes the train station.

The city Development Department chose RDRXR as the single team for both areas.

Councilman Ivar Hyden, who owns a business downtown, said that towers built as part of the plan should have signature architecture.

Councilman Louis Trangucci cautioned that the city can be a tough place for developers, but said he liked the approach. Councilman Barry Fertel also said he was more optimistic about this plan than previous ones that have failed.

"I guess we have to buckle up and get ready to take that ride," Fertel said.


Find the developers' presentation at: www.newrochelleny.com/index.aspx?nid=1015

Topics: westchester countyDOWNTOWN REVITALIZATIONNEW ROCHELLECommercial PropertiesREHAB,construction

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