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Officials Hope Massive Re-Zoning Project Will Revitalize New Rochelle's Aging Downtown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New stores, restaurants, and thousands of apartments are included in plans to revitalize New Rochelle's aging downtown area.

As CBS2's Lou Young reported, they hope to turn it into Westchester County's shopping and entertainment destination.

Just north of the Bronx line along I-95 lies what planners hope will be a new species of suburban city.

Downtown New Rochelle seems to be on the verge of a building boom that could change everything.

"Give me five years and there'll be a new New Rochelle," Development Commissioner Luiz Aragon said.

Aragon has ushered through a massive re-zoning project that's cleared away red tape, and put developer RXR Realty in overall charge.

"We have actually turned our downtown into a shovel ready site," he said, " All 274 acres."

The plan puts vacant lots, existing buildings, and city owned property into play allowing for new residential and office towers up to 48 stories with population density decreasing as you move out from the center.

"We have such good bones in New Rochelle, and the goal has been to access that enormous capacity," Mayor Noam Baramson (D) said.

Work is set to begin shortly on a 28 story apartment building and performance space at the site of the old Lowes movie theater. It will be the first $100-million of an expected $2-billion in construction.

To say that merchants are excited is an understatement.

"I've been here over forty years, and we've been waiting for this for a long, long time," businessman and city councilman, Al Tarrantino said.

Some are worried about the costs that can't be covered in dollars.

"I'm worried about the community getting a beneficial result for this development, not just a few wealthy people who are going to get these beautiful luxury apartments," Brian Garner said.

The developer has offered public spaces, affordable housing, and the like in exchange for zoning variances and access to New Rochelle city land.

It's an ongoing give and take, but the bet is that thousands of millennials commuting to and from the city on Metro North and suburban empty-nesters anxious to downsize will be moving in before long.


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