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New Rochelle OKs Review of City Yard/Echo Bay Development

The length of the restated memorandum of understanding was pared down from 18 months to 9 months.

A last-minute amendment means Forest City Residential can proceed with a study that could provide New Rochelleans with more access to the waterfront.

The City Council unanimously approved Tuesday an agreement with Forest City that sets in motion an environmental review of a proposed development on the 11-acre site located on Long Island Sound.

The last-minute amendment reduced the length of agreement between the city and Forest City from 18 months to nine months.

"What we have before us is essentially a framework," said Mayor Noam Bramson. "There is a lot of detail that must be worked out."

He said the memorandum of understanding was not a final step in the process but an important one nonetheless.

"We recognize the hardwork ahead of us," Bramson said.

Abe Naparstek, Forest City Residential's vice president, was pleased with the council's vote.

"We are excited to get started," he said. "It was a long time coming, but this is an opportunity to restart the project and an opportunity to deliver on the public benefits that we are committed to doing."

Naparstek said as the environmental review unfolds the project might evolve further. 

"It's natural for things to change," he said. "Some of them will be directed by the community, some of them directed by council members.

"There are certain principals we have committed to meeting: delivering access to the waterfront, delivering open space and providing a continuous walkway along the water of Long Island Sound and making sure whatever we do has a net beneficial effect on the community," Naparstek said.

The developer proposes to 200-300 residential units at what is now City Yard on East Main Street. The retail space had been upped from 25,000 square feet to square footage up to 50,000. Representatives of Forest City said the company continues to revise its plans and now have decided to add a second level of parking that could accommodate more retail space.

Under the proposed agreement, the city will deal exclusively with Forest City in connection with developing the site for no more than nine months.

With the new agreement, both the city and the developer will be under time constraints.

The city will have one month after the agreement has been executed to draw up a request for proposals for the adaptive reuse of the Armory. The city must also approve a scoping document—or outline—for the developer to follow in its environmental review in two months. A design for the relocated City Yard would have to be completed within four months after the MOU is executed and financing arranged two months after that.

After the scope is approved, Forest City would have six months to come up with a draft environmental impact statement, and then two months after that to enter into an agreement with the city to purchase the affected parcels.

The environmental study will be paid for by Forest City. The developer will also be required to set up an escrow account initially at $75,000 to cover any of the citys third-party costs.

Martin Sanchez April 18, 2012 at 11:19 AM
I was there last night. When I arrived, Al, Lou , the Mayor, The Forest City guy and Michael the development commissioner were huddled in the hallway making their last minute agreements. Seemed quite odd and mysterious as I walked by they entered another room as the Mayor suggested they all speak softly. The agreement was fine and a good thing for the Armory. We MUST remain vigilant. Since the whole project has now shrunk from 20 acres of development to about 10 acres, I see no reason why the City Yard can't remain there! Fix & Refurbished - let's have the public work guys do some public work on their public building - I cannot imagine that it can be much of an effort - don't they have the civil service skills to build, hammer some things together?. In the end, the City Yard must not be imposed on the West End neighborhood.
warren gross April 18, 2012 at 01:30 PM
it may work out to benefit the community on the yard. However, I will fight any failure by GOP or Democrat council to ignore our most blatant issue which is the restoration and restoring of downtown business district. I have written extensively on this. Only total absence of planning, development skills would ignore this basic fact. who wants to come to a deteriorating city? There is time to do the right thing and huddling in a corner and a7-0 vote means a deal has been done.
Billy L April 18, 2012 at 04:27 PM
We're losing some of our newest residents too, because of the failure of the city to rebuild the downtown. People I know who live in both the Avalon towers and the Davenport (Formerly Bloomingdale's) are all moving out because of crime and a poor retail district downtown. New Rochelle sold itself to these new residents in a way that made it look like another White Plains, a vibrant, attractive place to live and it's NOT. Just drive down Main Street and you will see.

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