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.