DOWNTOWN’S NEW DIRECTION
WILL SMART GROWTH
GET US THERE?
THURSDAY, MARCH 24
A compilation of pre-event coverage, speaker and sponsor information. PRESENTED BY WESTFAIR COMMUNICATIONS AND THE LAND USE LAW CENTER AT PACE LAW SCHOOL A supplement to the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals – March 21, 2016
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Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
WELCOME By attending this event, you will be part of a provocative discussion about how smart growth will shape real estate development and the future of our cities and towns. This event was developed by Westfair Communications, parent company of the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals, your resource for news about both headways and roadblocks in real estate development, and the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School, which fosters the development of sustainable communities and regions. The goal of this collaboration is to bring our in-depth, weekly coverage and Pace’s work to life, initiating a conversation with the stakeholders — government officials, real estate industry professionals and businesspeople. We invited national expert Parris Glendening, president of the Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, to guide the discussion. In his talk titled “The changing pattern of land development forces of change for the future,” he will address how the concepts of smart growth can be used to reignite rural, urban and suburban towns and cities in ways that are environmentally conscious and have a return on investment for the community — and what we need to do to make that happen. While Glendening has a national viewpoint, five local experts will bring their perspective to the discussion, citing their own work, the challenges getting there and where we need to go. We thank those of you who have registered, with special mention to those from governments in Fairfield, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties and the state. We hope this talk inspires you and we look forward to following where it takes you.
PROGRAM THURSDAY, MARCH
Tudor Room Pace University School of Law 78 North Broadway White Plains
Networking and light lunch.
Noon to 1:30 p.m.
The discussion opens with John Nolon and Jessica Bacher of the Land Use Law Center; Bill Mooney III, director of the Office of Economic Development, gives an overview of Westchester County’s Smart Growth initiatives and former Maryland governor Parris Glendening conducts the program. Panelists will respond to questions and statements by Glendening and the audience.
You are encouraged to participate and let your thoughts and observations known regarding Smart Growth. Thank you. For more information about the event, contact Danielle Brody at 914-358-0757 or email@example.com. S3
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Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
JOHN R. NOLON John R. Nolon is distinguished professor of law at Pace University Law School in White Plains; he teaches property, land use, real estate, environmental and sustainable development law. He is counsel to the Land Use Law Center and has been an adjunct professor of land use law and policy at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies since 2001. Nolon received his J.D. from the University of Michigan, where he was a member of the Barrister’s Academic Honor Society. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to develop a framework law for sustainable development in Argentina and has served as a consultant to both President Carter’s Council on Development Choices in the 1980s and President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development. Nolon received the American Planning Association’s 2009 National Planning Leadership Award for a Planning Advocate. In 2014,
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he received the International City/County Management Association’s Honorary Membership Award for his contribution to local governance: the highest recognition that the ICMA gives for an individual who is not a professional city manager. His writings include more than 160 publications, including 50 law review articles and a dozen books published by the West Group, the Environmental Law Institute, Cambridge University Press, the American Planning Association and McGraw Hill. He is a frequent guest speaker at national, state and local conferences. His scholarship has helped define the fields of local environmental law and sustainable development law and has garnered several academic awards. His most recent book, “Protecting the Environment Through Land Use Law: Standing Ground,” was published in September 2014 by the Environmental Law Institute, West Publishing and the American Planning Association.
SMART GROWTH AND THE NEW DOWNTOWN DREAM BY JOHN R. NOLON
hile single-family home sales are rebounding and office parks being renovated – aspects of the market that are familiar urban neighborhoods are catching up and fueling the economy by spiking construction and retail jobs, increasing real estate sales, brokerage commissions, financing, title coverage, and providing urban amenities to newly formed households looking for lively and livable places to work and live. These efforts in the cities and villages that host our colleges, hospitals, affordable housing, restaurants, and entertainment venues make both themselves and traditional suburban development more viable. Workers and residents, for example, are attracted to a transformed mixeduse office park on the Platinum Mile when they can access the shopping, night life, and services available in a rejuvenating White Plains, Tarrytown, or Port Chester. Our region is not alone in this transformation. In many places, urban development of this type is called “smart growth,” a term coined to describe the radical changes in state policy in Maryland at the hand of former Gov. Parris Glendening. He invested state funds in priority growth areas to foster new development and in conservation areas to preserve natural resources. Smart growth is criticized by some as being too vague but the reverse is true. It is very precise. Consistent with market trends, private investors and governments simply decide to grow and invest in designated growth areas and where to conserve, preserving the natural environment that is essential for ecological services, public health, and livability. There is nothing vague about it. This is a market-driven trend caused by changing demographics and aided by private-public partnerships that involve all sectors of the private market and a surprisingly well-coordinated effort on the part of the federal, state, and local governments. What was barely perceptible in the real estate market 15 years ago is rapidly becoming a booming business. Developers make it clear that they will invest in this new market but only where local mayors
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and councils are champions of economic development, where a clear local vision for development is in place, and where the local land use approval process works efficiently. Several of our cities and villages are leading the effort to attract development. Many real estate companies are transforming themselves into developers of mixed-use complexes, transit-oriented buildings, and sustainable neighborhoods. Those who serve real estate development are paying attention, changing their business models as needed to get ahead of and capitalize on this trend. Local governments set the stage for the zoning that permits smart growth by developing a vision for their future in a comprehensive plan, transit area plan, or local waterfront revitalization plan. Zoning that conforms to these plans makes it clear what type of investments will be approved. When this is complemented with a project review process that is transparent and predictable, the locality becomes development-ready and developers are all the more interested in investing there. These plans, regulations, and streamlined approval processes are clues to the market as to future opportunities. Gradually over the past few years the policies of the state of New York have caught up with our smart-growth developers and their municipal allies. The state has adopted a smart growth infrastructure plan, new energy plan and vision, complete street infrastructure policy, Main Street program, climate-smart communities program, and transit-oriented development policies and programs. Together, these state efforts create a clear target for local governments and developers to address. Nearly $800 million are made available annually through nearly a dozen state agencies, awarding projects that hit this mark. Here are some examples of those smart-growth projects in Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley: • The local waterfront revitalization plan in the city of Peekskill and the rezoning of land around the Metro-North station there where city-owned parking lots provide potential for new transit-oriented development. • An urban renewal plan nearing adoption in the village of Brewster, one of the
first urban municipalities in decades to adopt such a plan, which will also lead to the transformation of the downtown adjacent to the Metro-North station. • The initiation of a no-nonsense planning effort in the city of White Plains that will yield new ideas about how properties in the White Plains Multimodal Transportation Center neighborhood can be redeveloped to create an inviting gateway and new development opportunities. • The partnership between developers RD/RXR and the city of New Rochelle to use city-owned land and a newly adopted downtown renewal plan and zoning to jump-start the redevelopment of a large area centered on the Metro-North station in the downtown and opening up project opportunities for RD/RXR and existing owners - developments that meet the new market’s hunger for sustainable neighborhoods. • Several large-scale development efforts underway in Yonkers and Mount Vernon that now seem a reality in neighborhoods that the public sector has been trying to revitalize for decades. • In the northern part of the market area, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh both have become more development-ready through a variety of efforts including creating a land bank, revitalizing in-rem properties, selective demolitions, rezoning, and creating downtown revitalization plans attuned to the needs of the emerging market. • In Fairfield County similar smart growth efforts are underway. In Stamford, Building and Land Technology is transforming the former 500,000-square-foot Pitney Bowes facility overlooking Long Island Sound. This is an exciting component of the developer’s Silicon Harbor project, a “live, work, play” development that features offices, stores, restaurants and 2,360 residential apartments in nine buildings. The state of Connecticut is helping redevelopment in older industrial areas with a new grant program that will spur brownfield redevelopment throughout Connecticut. The program will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. Grants are intended to help communi-
ties develop implementation plans for remediating and redeveloping clusters of brownfield sites. As in New York, this is one of several state programs designed to revitalize urban neighborhoods, downtowns, and waterfront districts for businesses, housing, and public amenities that will generate jobs and revenues. In Norwalk, CBRE Group’s Westchester/Fairfield County office is marketing a 190,000-square-foot, 13-story building, to be called SoNo Place, in the revitalizing, mixed-use South Norwalk neighborhood. The building, constructed in 1972, is undergoing a complete renovation by Capital Equities Group, a private real estate investment firm working in the mixeduse SoNo neighborhood. Capital Equities Group is cooperating with the city to make improvements to a park adjacent to the building and to construct landscaping beds on the lot in front of the building. The company foresees similar external improvements at other properties it owns adjacent to this project. These are all examples of what happens when local plans and zoning designate priority growth districts and developers and municipalities form partnerships to develop intelligently in them. What is smart about these projects, in addition to being sensitive to powerful new market trends and utilizing existing infrastructure, is that they also greatly reduce, on a per household basis, water consumption, energy use, materials needed, and impervious coverage that causes storm water runoff and flooding. They can also be more affordable, particularly where localities offer bonus densities to developers in exchange for workforce housing, bringing office, research, retail, and service workers closer to where they work. This was the idea that Gov. Glendenning had in mind when he formulated his smart growth strategy. Glendening will be joined by a panel of government officials and a real estate developer in this region on March 24 at Pace Law School to discuss how this strategy works and, most importantly, why and where it is working in our region. John R. Nolon is distinguished professor of law at Pace Law School and founder of and faculty liaison to the law school’s Land Use Law Center. He can be reached at jnolon@ law.pace.edu.
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
JESSICA BACHER Jessica Bacher is the executive director of the Land Use Law Center. Established in 1993, the Land Use Law Center is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities and regions through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and dispute resolution techniques. As the executive director, Bacher’s responsibilities include development and implementation of projects relating to local land use practice, energy siting, distressed property remediation, transit-oriented development, sustainable communities, land use responses to sea-level rise and code enforcement, as well as providing strategic assistance to numerous municipalities. Most recently, she led Newburgh, N.Y., in the development of a distressed property remediation implementation plan that focuses on the creation of a land bank. Additionally, Bacher serves as a trainer for the center’s award-winning Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program that has educated more than 2,500 local leaders in land use strategies, consensus building and regional stewardship. Bacher also is chairperson of the Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee for the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Lo-
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cal Government Law and chairs its distressed properties sub-committee. At Pace Law School, Bacher serves as adjunct professor, teaching land use law, sustainable development survey and the advanced land use and sustainable development seminar. She also administers the center’s academic programs and guides student research. In addition, she is a clinic lecturer at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she manages the school’s land use clinic. Bacher authors regular land use features in New York and national publications and has edited numerous small books in the fields of land use and real estate law, including breaking ground and planning and building in priority growth districts. She also presents at regional and national conferences and served on the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force Legal Work Group. Bacher was selected by the American Bar Association to receive the Jefferson B. Fordham Award, an award presented to a young practitioner who has shown great promise through her contributions to the field. Bacher received her J.D. summa cum laude from Pace Law School in 2003, along with a certificate in Environmental Law.
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
PARRIS N. GLENDENING Parris N. Glendening – former governor of Maryland – is president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a technical assistance program run in partnership with the EPA-DOT Partnership for Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth America. In these roles, Glendening travels across the country and around the world advising state and local governments on smart growth, transit, sustainability, land conservation and storm water management policies and practices. He speaks regularly to business groups and professional organizations. Glendening served as governor of the state of Maryland from 1995 to 2003 where he created the nation’s first state-level smart growth policy package. Prior to being elected governor, Glendening served three terms as an elected county executive of Prince George’s County, Md. He taught political science
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at the University of Maryland, College Park, for 27 years and is the author of two books and more than 100 articles and conference papers. Glendening has received numerous awards and recognitions. He most recently was named executive advisor to the American Society for Public Administration and an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects. In addition, Glendening serves on a number of nonprofit boards and is a member of the AbTech Industries Strategic Advisory Board. Born in New York and raised in Florida, Glendening holds a doctorate degree in government and politics from Florida State University as well as eight honorary degrees. He lives in Annapolis with his wife, Jennifer, and their 12-yearold daughter Bri. His son Raymond, is a graduate of West Virginia University.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM SMART GROWTH AMERICA’S LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE’S RECENT REPORTS
ore Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown examines the characteristics, motives and preferences of companies that have either relocated, opened new offices or expanded in walkable downtowns between 2010 and 2015. Smart Growth America partnered with global real estate advisors Cushman & Wakefield to identify nearly 500 companies that have made such a move in the past five years. Of those, we interviewed representatives from more than 40 companies to gain a better understanding of this emerging trend. Their investments have taken a variety of forms. Our study included relocations, consolidations, expansions, as well as the creation of new offices or companies. Of the nearly 500 companies included in our investigation, 247 relocated from a suburban location (either within the metro area or from a different region), 92 opened a new downtown location or branch, 73 relocated within downtown, 41 expanded existing downtown office space, 20 consolidated a suburban and downtown location, 10 moved from a different downtown and nine were brand new companies. These companies’ new locations are dramatically more walkable than before. The average Walk Score of companies’ previous locations was 52; the average Walk Score of the companies’ new locations is 88. Similarly, Transit Scores went from an average of 52 to 79 and Bike Scores went from an average of 66 to 78. This trend is visible across the country, in big cities and small ones, in the middle of the country and the coasts, as well as in secondary markets within larger metropolitan areas. An online interactive map includes more information about where in the country these moves are happening. We also explored the motivations for these companies’ moves. Smart Growth
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America conducted interviews with senior-level employees at these companies to understand why they chose the location they did. In the course of our interviews six common themes emerged explaining why companies chose to locate downtown: • To attract and retain talented workers. As companies compete for new hires and the best talent, being located in a vibrant neighborhood is considered a crucial selling point. The businesses in our study report that current and potential employees want neighborhoods with restaurants, cafes, cultural institutions, entertainment, and nightlife as well as easy access by public transportation. • To build brand identity and company culture: A downtown location projects innovation, connectedness, uniqueness, and allows companies to literally be at the center of things. For many companies, moving downtown was a way to set themselves apart from their competitors and to inspire their employees to live up to related brand aspirations. • To support creative collaboration: Many companies chose locations in dynamic, creative, engaging neighborhoods to help inspire their employees and encourage collaboration among co-workers as well as with employees at other companies or in other industries. • To be closer to customers and business partners: Streamlining the process for employees who take in-person meetings with clients and partners downtown. • To centralize operations: A central downtown location, because of its proximity to everything, was a natural choice for many companies when consolidating multiple locations, particularly if those locations were spread out over a single region. • To support triple-bottom line business outcomes: For many companies, investing in a city’s center was an opportunity for good corporate citizenship and a way to use their sizable investing power for
good. Some reported that triple-bottom line business practices came with the ancillary benefit of making them more attractive as an employer.
reveals just how important Walkable Urban Places are,” said Chris Leinberger, president of LOCUS and author of the report. “As economic engines, as tal-
“Creating new Walkable Urban Places is a goal that elected officials and developers alike can get behind. Based on the trends in Foot Traffic Ahead, there is the potential for market demand for tens of millions more square feet of walkable urban development.” FOOT TRAFFIC AHEAD Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide, but certain metro regions are progressing faster than others, according to Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros. The report ranks the country’s top 30 metropolitan areas based on the amount of commercial development in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) and is written by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at George Washington University School of Business in conjunction with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors. Watch an archive of the live release event below. The study finds higher education levels and one-third higher GDP per capita in high-ranking cities. Additionally, a series of forward-looking metrics examine the future development patterns in these metro areas to predict how walkable or how sprawling their future development is likely to be. Major findings include: • The top ranking metros have an average of 38 percent higher GDP per capita as compared to the low-ranking metros. • Office rent in urban WalkUPs rent at a 74 percent higher premium per square foot over drivable suburban areas. • Projections for which metros will contain the most walkable places in the future. “In a sweeping survey of our nation’s top 30 metro areas, Foot Traffic Ahead
ent attractors and as highly productive real estate, these WalkUPs are a crucial component in building and sustaining a thriving urban economy. Cities with more WalkUPs are positioned for success, now and in the future.” While metro areas like Washington, DC, New York City, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago ranked among the top current areas for walkable urbanism, the report found that other cities, including Miami, Atlanta and Detroit are well positioned for future growth of walkable places given current efforts in those the communities. “Creating new Walkable Urban Places is a goal that elected officials and developers alike can get behind,” said Emerick Corsi, President, Forest City Real Estate Services and Development. “Based on the trends in Foot Traffic Ahead, there is the potential for market demand for tens of millions more square feet of walkable urban development— and hundreds of new WalkUPs—in America’s cities. Meeting that demand is an opportunity to create huge value for these communities.” For the full reports and more information visit: • www.smartgrowthamerica.org/ core-values • www.creativeplacemaking.t4america.org • www.smartgrowthamerica.org/foottraffic-ahead
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
NOAM BRAMSON Noam Bramson has served as the mayor of New Rochelle since January 2006 and has been reelected three times by landslide margins, most recently in November 2015. Prior to becoming mayor, Bramson served for 10 years on the New Rochelle City Council. At the forefront of efforts to strengthen New Rochelle’s economy, environment, safety and quality of life Bramson has worked successfully to forge public-private partnerships aimed at job creation and economic growth, including the most ambitious downtown development initiative in New Rochelle’s history. He has been a strong advocate for thoughtful community planning, spearheaded the creation of New Rochelle’s award-winning Sustainability Plan, promoted efforts to establish new public access to the Long Island Sound shore and adopted new land use policies to preserve open space and protect neighborhoods from overdevelopment. A strong advocate for his city, Bramson has secured grants for critical infrastructure priorities, including the enhancement of major transportation corridors and the rehabilitation of New Rochelle’s playing fields. And Bramson has worked in concert with public safety professionals to bring New Rochelle’s crime rate down to a 50-year low. In 2013, Bramson won the Democratic nomination for Westchester County Executive, but lost the general election
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to Republican incumbent Rob Astorino. During his campaign, Bramson advocated a regional strategy for economic growth and shared services, while emphasizing his support for reproductive rights and sensible gun safety laws. From 1992 to 2012, Bramson maintained a professional relationship with Congresswoman Nita Lowey, with whom he worked on both governmental and political challenges. A life-long Westchester resident and a product of the New Rochelle public schools Bramson went on to Harvard University, where he completed his undergraduate degree in three years and then received a master’s degree in public policy. Bramson has served in leadership roles in numerous civic organizations. He is a member of the government and finance working group for the Regional Plan Association, a member of the founding Board of Directors of Sustainable Westchester, and a past board member of the Westchester Jewish Council. Locally, he has served on the boards of the New Rochelle Campership Fund, the Castle Gallery, the Fund for Educational Excellence, the New Rochelle Council of Community Services and the United Way of New Rochelle. He is married to Catherine (“Catie”) Stern, Ph.D., a clinical pediatric neuropsychologist affiliated with Family Health Associates of White Plains and Manhattan. Their sons, Jeremy and Owen, are both pupils in the New Rochelle public schools.
OLD NEW ROCHELLE NEIGHBORHOOD LOOKS FOR ECONOMIC SPUR BY BILL HELTZEL
ew Rochelle’s p o o r e s t , most ethnic neighborhood may get an opportunity to capitalize on its hidden strengths, and on one rather obvious one, to overcome a constrained cityscape that has stymied development. The shift is being spurred by a plan to build an apartment building on Union Avenue in the West End. Before that can happen, the city must amend the zoning code to allow higher, mixed-use buildings. At first glance, the neighborhood does not look like a promising place for developers. “It’s a working-class, blue-collar neighborhood,” said Louis Trangucci, the council member who represents the district. Historically, the West End is the city’s ethnic gateway. Immigrants start out there, and as they prosper many of them move on to nicer places. It was settled first by Germans, then Italians and more recently Hispanics and Latinos. More than half of the West End residents were Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 census. Two-thirds of the residents speak a language other than English at home, according to a 2011 neighborhood assessment prepared for the city. The West End is the city’s most densely populated neighborhood. It has the highest concentration of low-income households. Per-capita income is around $20,500, versus $40,810 citywide. The land is jammed with multifamily housing, mostly in 3-story structures built close to the street on tiny lots. Storefronts are clustered on Union Avenue. “Most of it is over a hundred years old,” Trangucci said. But the old, crowded neighborhood has its strengths. It is “vibrant
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A six-story, 75-unit building is proposed for Union Avenue at First Street in New Rochelle.
and diverse,” said Luiz Aragon, commissioner of development, in a memo to the city council. Much of the aging housing is wellkept, according to the 2011 report. Residents can walk to downtown or to Metro-North train stations at New Rochelle Transit Center and in Pelham. The obvious asset is Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital, the city’s largest private employer. The Bronxbased hospital system bought out the bankrupt Sound Shore hospital in 2013. “But the neighborhood does not capitalize” on the hospital, Aragon noted in his memo. The zoning would allow mixed-use buildings, including medical offices, up to 7 stories along a 4-block section of Union Avenue, from 1st Street to Badeau Place. The proposed “neighborhood business-hospital district” was
spurred by Quintessential Land Development LLC. of New Rochelle Developer Louis Iacopetta paid $1.8 million for three small parcels on Union Avenue between 1st Street and Webster Avenue, including the Battaglia Brothers market and WinRite Plumbing Supply Co. store and warehouse. He plans to put up a $15 million, six story building with 75 apartments, some retail space and a parking garage. Rents would range from $1,400 for a studio, $1,600 for one bedroom and $1,800 for two bedrooms. “I saw a need for nice, safe affordable housing,” said Iacopetta, who was brought up in the neighborhood. He thinks the apartments would be ideal for nurses who work at the hospital, teachers, municipal workers and elderly retirees who want modern amenities but can’t afford the rents elsewhere in the city. Even millennials
who are being priced out of New York City might want to move to the West End because of its transit connections. For council member Trangucci, the proposed rezoning and apartment building offer a way to stimulate new housing and economic growth in a neighborhood that has nurtured his family for generations. His grandfather, Angelo, discovered the West End’s Italian enclave when he was bringing his son, Michael, for frequent appointments with a specialist at the hospital. He moved the family there in 1912, from Oyster Bay, Long Island, and the council member’s father was born there in 1926. “I understand the Hispanic culture here,” he said, “because of what we went through. I take a lot of pride in helping the neighborhood.” The City council is expected to consider the zoning proposal at its March 15 legislative meeting.
NEW ROCHELLE TAKES ADVANTAGE OF TRANSIT OPTIONS FOR SMART GROWTH BY AYANNA WAYNER
he city of New Rochelle has taken bold steps toward developing as a smart city. Reflected in every decision for the future is the aspiration to transform into a thriving 21st-century city that reduces negative impacts on the environment, grows commerce and economic vitality in ways that bolster opportunities for jobs and career development for residents and places a greater reliance on technology to enhance efficiency of services and an improved quality of life for members of our community. Currently, the city is on the path toward the most dynamic transit-oriented development in Westchester County with sustainability and green technology at the fore of the plan. New Rochelle issued a Transit-Oriented Smart Growth Study in 2014 as a result of its participation in The New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium that was funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant. The goal of the study was to promote sustainable mixed-use development, including the integration of mixed-income and energy-efficient developments and to offer recommendations on how to accomplish this goal. New Rochelle has the great benefit of close proximity to New York City as well as easy access to regional connections through the excellent transit options of both Metro-North and Amtrak. Such links make New Rochelle the perfect location for transit-oriented development and all the rewards that come with it. By attracting development to the area surrounding New Rochelle’s transit hub, the city can strengthen its economy, expand its tax base, create new jobs and enhance its civic image. With the TOD study as a guide, the
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city recently concluded a yearlong planning process to propose new zoning for downtown. The unanimously approved Downtown Overlay Zone is set to spur the conversion of downtown into a modern, more dense and commercially active environment; one that is walkable and pedestrian-friendly, offers green open space and is filled with a variety of options for enjoying entertainment, arts and culture. The new zoning embodies sustainable planning by situating the highest density and intensity of residential
tional building height will promote energy efficient design and development by incorporating green infrastructure improvements. The community benefit bonus policy also incentivizes the creation of affordable housing. A developer may choose to receive additional height through the development of affordable housing by the building greater residential options to lower income residents of the city. In addition to the new zoning, the city has taken several other steps to
Projected build-out of the Downtown Overlay Zone.
and nonresidential development within walking distance of an existing transit center. This in turn allows for modifications to the proposed parking ratios, which are reflective of typical downtown urban areas with mixed-use settings, where people tend to park once and then walk to one or more destinations. The Downtown Overlay Zone includes design elements that encourage walkability, shared parking, car sharing, the provision of electric vehicle charging stations, and payments to transit funds, all of which would contribute to a reduction in air emissions. Further, a component of the new zoning is the community benefit bonus policy that provides developers with additional floor area at development sites as an incentive to provide community benefits. One of the community benefits a developer can provide in order to gain bonus points for addi-
achieve smart growth. Presently, the city is crafting a bike-share program as a part of a design for a regional Northeast connection in partnership with leading technology and urban innovation firms. The goal here is threefold – allow commuters to leave the stress of traffic at the car park, provide residents and tourists the ability to enjoy the leisure of a bike ride and allow the environment a break from a reduction in vehicle emissions. Recognizing the necessity of expanded Internet connectivity for the future of the city’s economy, education and safety the city is taking steps to make New Rochelle a Gig City by installing hot spot Wi-Fi kiosks downtown that provide free public access to the Internet at any time. Further, as the city strives to retain and attract businesses now and in the future and help individuals and families get access to essential resources, New Rochelle and
its partners intend to design, deploy and operate the most technologically advanced telecommunications, broadband and wireless networks, including ultra-fast, ultra-high-bandwidth fiber-optic networks and wireless facilities throughout the city Growing commerce and the local economy is paramount and tied to every other initiative and goal for the future of New Rochelle. Accordingly, the city recognizes the great boost to the economy that a thriving arts community can generate and has plans to establish a special district dedicated to arts and culture that would help existing arts organizations, cultural groups, and artists thrive, connect, and grow, while promoting small-scale local manufacturing, economic activity and attract visitors and other businesses to the city. New Rochelle is employing a multipronged approach to growing the city in a smart and sustainable way. The city is poised for exciting and dynamic growth and welcomes all to come and join us in our city’s bright new future.
Ayanna Wayner. Photo by Sena Danquah.
Ayanna Wayner is the deputy commissioner for economic development for the city of New Rochelle. This column is part of a series about smart growth initiatives leading up to Westfair Communications’ and the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School’s event on March 24, “Downtown’s New Direction: Can Smart Growth Get Us There?”
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
MIKE SPANO Mayor Mike Spano is a lifelong Yonkers resident, husband, father of three and former state Assembly member, who has dedicated his life to standing up for Yonkers families. Elected in 1992 as the youngest member of the state Assembly, Spano proudly represented Yonkers for two decades, fighting for students, protecting taxpayers and supporting economic growth. He led the Task Force on Sex Crimes Against Children and Women (SAVE New York), fought for the passage of Megan’s Law, and secured legislation to protect children across the state. He also wrote the language enabling Yonkers to receive a direct portion of revenue from video lottery terminals at Empire City Casino. It was an enormous victory for Yonkers and its public schools, providing $20 million in direct aid annually for education in the city. Spano helped create the New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) program and Enhanced STAR, and worked with Governor Cuomo to pass New York’s property tax cap, bringing government in line with what taxpayers can afford. He fought to pass some of the toughest state laws in the nation to protect children against dangerous sex offenders
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and violent criminals. Since taking office as Yonkers’ chief executive in 2012, Spano has led the passage of three balanced, bi-partisan budgets, within the tax cap and without cuts to services, while providing historic investments to Yonkers schools. He launched one of the most ambitious and comprehensive energy plans of any city in the state — Yonkers Green City — saving taxpayers millions of dollars in energy costs, while protecting the environment. With a strong focus on job creation and economic development, Spano is leading Yonkers’ revitalization with innovative new projects that are transforming Yonkers’ growing waterfront, attracting new businesses, tech companies and the arts and creating hundreds of new jobs across the city. Today, Yonkers is the fastest growing city in the state outside New York City, sales revenues are up, home sales are up and property values are on the rise. Yonkers has recently been ranked among the safest cities in America and in the Top 100 Best Cities in which to live. Spano is committed to securing a strong financial future for Yonkers and building upon its greatest strengths — its location, its history, its pride and its people.
CARPET MILLS ARTS DISTRICT A WINNER IN STATE AWARDS ROUND BY JOHN GOLDEN
n his antiques-furnished office in his realty company’s Nepperhan Design Center, Randolph Rose rolled out on a carpet a prototype banner for the new Carpet Mills Arts District in Yonkers. The tall, colorful banners will hang along the perimeter of the former Alexander Smith Carpet Mills, the nearly 2 million-square-foot, 19-building industrial complex on Nepperhan Avenue. Rose and several other building
owners two years ago joined forces to brand the historic mill complex, once the city’s largest employer, as an arts district that would draw retailers and restaurants and more art-focused tenants to their properties. The red-brick complex already houses YoHo, a community of artists leasing work lofts at 540 and 578 Nepperhan Ave. YoHo landlord George Huang, co-owner of The Heights Real Estate Co. in Manhattan, spearheaded the arts district project with Rose. Yonkers planning officials liked and have supported the concept pitched by
the mill owners, although a needed zoning change to allow some retail uses and restaurants in ground-floor space on the sprawling site has not yet been approved by the Yonkers City Council. In December, Empire State Development officials in Albany indicated they too favored the Yonkers arts district as a revitalization initiative to draw investment, artists, arts-related businesses and tourists to the site. In the annual round of funding for regional economic development projects, the state agency awarded Rose Realty LLC a grant of up to $500,000. It will
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help cover owners’ costs this year for the artful banners, exterior lighting and other physical improvements, as well as a study of the site’s decrepit water and sewer infrastructure near the buried Saw Mill River that runs through the property. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the complex was also envisioned as a center for new technology in addition to its arts focus in the owners’ application to the state last summer. Rose’s realty company was the lead applicant for the state grant among 10 mill owners “because I was the forerunner who got this thing started,” he said. Rose with his wife and sons operates two other businesses at 500 Nepperhan Ave., The Randolph Rose Collection Inc., which specializes in custom-designed bronze sculptures, and FEA Home Inc., which restores and sells antiques and ancient works of art found and purchased by Rose and his sons in China, Japan and Southeast Asian countries. Rose this month is awaiting more details and paperwork on the matching state grant, which will be disbursed as reimbursements for owners’ expenditures to launch the Carpet Mills Arts District. “It may be 1 to 1, it may be 10 to 1,” he said of the funding match. Rose’s realty company last September closed on its purchase of another carpet mill property, the seven-story, 208,000-square-foot Worsted Building at 179 Saw Mill River Road. Built in the early 1900s, the former wool storage warehouse has only a few tenants. “I’m looking to bring in upscale people to upgrade the area,” its new owner said. Rose said he has turned down bids by a national auto parts retailer and a box factory to lease space in the warehouse building. “I’m very specific,” Rose said, as to the mix of tenants he wants to attract. They include arts, home furnishings, crafts and import-export businesses. “About 50 years ago they wanted to make that over into an outlet mall,” Rose said of the Worsted Building. An outlet mall featuring well-known furniture manufacturers and related retail businesses “would be ideal for that. I think it’s still viable.”
TRANSFORMING YONKERS WITH SMART GROWTH BY HELIANA VERONICA HIGBIE
mart growth is a fundamental building block of sustainable communities. Embracing smart growth principles has improved the lives of everyone who lives and works in Yonkers. Soon after coming into office, Mayor Mike Spano signed into law a Green Building Ordinance, establishing a policy for the city to plan, design, construct, manage, renovate and maintain its facilities and buildings to be sustainable and to encourage certain commercial and residential developers to do the same. Yonkers has its own Green Development Workbook, including a checklist and standards including requirements for construction projects in downtown Yonkers. The workbook is intended to help decision-makers to improve the environmental performance of new construction and renovation projects. It addresses environmental impacts that are specific to Yonkers and it aligns with local, state and federal incentive programs and regulations. The goal of the policy is to conserve natural resources, increase energy and water efficiency and improve indoor air quality as a way to maintain long term value, reduce operating costs and ensure more comfortable and healthy buildings in Yonkers. Yonkers is the largest city in Westchester County, and the fourth largest city in New York state – and is just 25 minutes to midtown Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. Yonkers is highly desirable because of its livability. It is easy to get to and from Yonkers from practically anywhere. Yonkers is served by 10 Metro-North Railroad stations that lead to the Bronx and Manhattan, and as far away as Dutchess County, and even Albany. Five major highways connect Yonkers with the rest of Westchester County, New York City and beyond. Whether somebody is traveling by train, car, bus, bike or on
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Yonkers’ Hudson Park.
foot, getting around, to and from Yonkers has never been easier. Due in part to the success of its Generation Yonkers campaign, Mayor Spano recently announced that Yonkers currently has more than $1 billion in commercial and residential projects under development. Yonkers’
center and by redevelopment of existing sites and brownfields, the city has preserved open spaces and broken the past trend of sprawling development. Yonkers’ policies promote and encourage mixed-use development. The old Boyce Thompson Institute building and property in Yonkers sat
Anyone who has visited downtown Yonkers has witnessed its growth and transformation. The heart of the city has become the home of worldclass restaurants, modern apartment buildings, and a revitalized waterfront. zoning laws are designed to encourage transit-oriented development. Much of this redevelopment and new development is concentrated around transit hubs. Anyone who has visited downtown Yonkers has witnessed its growth and transformation. The heart of the city has become the home of world-class restaurants, modern apartment buildings, and a revitalized waterfront. By focusing development in the city’s
unoccupied for many years. Recently, the Simone Development Cos. began redevelopment of the site to build a $35 million mixed-use complex of office, medical and retail space. The site neighbors the South Westchester Executive Park, hotels, a hospital and the Greystone station of the Metro-North Hudson Line. Buried for nearly a century beneath the streets of downtown Yonkers, the Saw Mill River is now flowing in broad
daylight through Larkin Plaza thanks to a $19 million public works project that’s nearly complete. Comparable projects are rare and none have been done in the United States. The resulting economic development and job creation anticipates that approximately 950 permanent jobs will be created within five to 10 years as a result of the project. The Daylighting Project in Yonkers connects city residents with nature, restores habitat, and promotes economic development. Yonkers is 18 square miles where you would be hard pressed to find a corner where something positive isn’t happening.
Heliana V. Higbie
Heliana V. Higbie is the director of sustainability for the city of Yonkers.
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
Arthur Collins, the co-founding principal and president of Collins Enterprises LLC, is in charge of all development activities for the company. His responsibilities include sourcing new projects as well as budgeting, design, construction and timely delivery of the company’s redevelopment and development initiatives in all markets. Collins has 35 years experience in managing development and construction for major residential and commercial projects in the New York market and in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. As a planning and development feasibility consultant, Collins has also helped cities such as New Orleans and Yonkers and large corporations maximize their financial returns through innovative land use concepts and building design. Collins initiates company policy and
charts strategic direction along with other company directors. Collins is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and Collins Enterprises is a sponsor of the Connecticut/Westchester local chapter. Collins is asked often to speak at conferences and seminars dealing especially with creative land use and urban redevelopment. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in urban design from the University of Pennsylvania. Collins is a former trustee of the Conway School, a graduate institution in land planning in Massachusetts, is a real estate advisor for the Kent School Board of Trustees in Connecticut, a speaker at Columbia University, Pace University and Yale, and is active in the Land Use Law Center at Pace University.
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JOAN M. MCDONALD
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there? Joan M. McDonald has more than 30 years of executive experience in the public and private sector, leading diverse organizations. She is a skilled negotiator, strategic innovator, powerful speaker and decisive manager. In August 2015, President Barak Obama appointed McDonald to the National Infrastructure Advisory council. McDonald served as a commissioner in two states. From 2011 to 2015, she served as the 11th commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), an organization with 8,300 employees and an annual budget of $4 billion. She led the department through various weather events (Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and the 2014 Buffalo “Snovember to Remember”); instituted “the Forward Four,” a national model for capital planning and management and implemented NYSDOT’s New York Works program, a project delivery method utilizing design build and best value for procurement. As commissioner, McDonald chaired the Northeast Corridor Commission, cochaired the Tappan Zee Bridge Mass Transit Task Force and served on the executive committee of the Transportation Research Board. As commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development from 2007 through 2011, McDonald led the state’s economic
development efforts through the “Great Recession.” Under her leadership, the state developed its firstever strategic economic development plan, negotiated agreements with several Fortune 500 companies and initiated transit-oriented development in all of Connecticut’s major cities. During her tenure, McDonald also chaired Connecticut Innovations, investing funds in various start-up companies in the biotechnical, aviation and information technology sectors. McDonald chaired the Regulatory Reform Task Force and served on the UConn Board of Trustees as well as the Connecticut Development Authority and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. She served in senior management positions for the city of New York where she negotiated the 50-year lease with the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey for Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports; led the transfer and re-alignment of traffic enforcement agents from NYCDOT to NYPD and oversaw environmental reviews of the Harlem Line Third Track and the Hudson River Park. In the private sector, McDonald led the efforts of Jacobs Engineering in New York and New Jersey. McDonald received her Bachelor of Arts degree from LeMoyne College and her Masters of Public Administration degree from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
ALEX TWINING Alex Twining is president and CEO of Twining Properties with more than 4 million square feet of development in New York City and Boston. Projects include the three-block Mass+Main project in Central Square, the 300,000-squarefoot Watermark Seaport in Boston, 560,000-square-foot Watermark Kendall in Cambridge, Mass., 170,000-square-foot Watermark Court Square in Long Island City, the 1 millionsquare-foot mixed-use tower 440 W. 42 St. in midtown Manhattan and the 2.5 million-square-foot residential component of Seaport Square overlooking the Boston Harbor. Twining has been a real estate developer for more than 35 years. He has structured $2 billion in equity and debt capital transactions and negotiated numerous complex acquisitions, land assemblages and joint ventures. Twining was CEO of MetroNexus, a Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds Enterprise, which managed the redevelopment of a 3 million-square-foot portfolio in the U.S. and Canada. At Morgan Stanley he worked with its real estate, venture capital and telecom groups to launch a $1.25 billion global platform. Twining also managed $3 billion of Morgan Stanley’s most complex real estate investments, including $1.2 billion of acquisitions and more than $750 million of dispositions. Twining’s focus at Morgan Stanley was on large scale development properties, including The Woodlands, a 25,000-
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acre new town in Texas, John Buck Company’s 3 millionsquare-foot North Bridge, urban mixed-used development in Chicago and The Gale Company’s 6 million-square-foot national office portfolio, including the 1 million-square-foot One Lincoln Street. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 1998, Twining was an officer of AvalonBay Communities, a $4 billion multifamily REIT where he expanded the suburban garden apartment company into urban residential development, creating the management team and a pipeline of 3,000 apartments. For Colgate Palmolive he directed the development of the $2 billion, 8 million-square-foot Colgate Center in N.J. He was regional partner at FD Rich Companies’ Boston office overseeing a 2 million-square-foot mixed-use hotel, office and retail development and directed an 800,000- square-foot mixed-use hotel residential and office development for BF Saul Co., halfway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Twining is an Urban Land Institute trustee and governor, an architect and real estate broker and serves on the Dean’s Council of the Yale School of Architecture. He received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a master’s degree from Yale University. He has lectured and taught at Yale, MIT, New York University and Columbia.
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THINKING REGIONALLY SHAPES BRIGHTER FUTURE BY WENDY POLLACK
or decades, residential communities surrounding New York have lured residents and businesses with the promise of better housing values, safe streets and a high quality of life. In the second half of the 20th century, suburban towns in southwest Connecticut, Westchester, northern New Jersey and Long Island grew quickly as many people abandoned New York City. But in the last 20 years, this trend has reversed. People and jobs are moving back to cities, whether it is to the urban core of Manhattan or to nearby cities like Stamford, Jersey City and White Plains. And while the poverty rate remains higher in New York and the region’s other cities, it is growing much more quickly in the suburbs. Job gains in New York have been robust since the financial crisis and the recession, yet the suburban recovery has been anemic, especially in New Jersey and Connecticut. The recent decision by General Electric to relocate its headquarters to urban Boston from its longtime home in Fairfield was only the latest symbol of the flight of successful companies from suburban office parks and corporate campuses. Of course, many suburban communities in the tristate area are thriving, but the overall trend of suburban decline will continue unless we plan for the future. At Regional Plan Association (RPA), an independent research, planning and advocacy organization, we are working on a long-range, comprehensive plan for the tristate area, the fourth such plan since our organization was founded nearly nine decades ago. One focus of this plan will be to address the striking reversal of fortune between New York City and the suburbs. Our work is rooted in the belief that
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since our environment, travel patterns and commercial activity span city and state boundaries, we must address these issues from a regional perspective. We also believe that our biggest challenges — the high cost of housing, deteriorating infrastructure and threats to our environment — affect all our communities and that the best way to ensure our future prosperity is to work on solutions together.
in the making to remain relevant? Yet what hasn’t changed since RPA developed the concept of regional planning in the 1920s is that the things many view as developing organically — a successful economy, healthy communities, opportunity for residents and newcomers and a balance between urban density and open space — emerge partly as a result of careful planning. A comprehensive planning process
At Regional Plan Association (RPA), an independent research, planning and advocacy organization, we are working on a long-range, comprehensive plan for the tristate area, the fourth such plan since our organization was founded nearly nine decades ago.
The metropolitan region on the whole has made tremendous advances over the last 20 years. Yet there are threats to our progress. It takes us far too long to build new infrastructure,and we lag behind our global peers in implementing new technology. Our public institutions suffer from high levels of debt and cumbersome structures. High prices and high taxes pose heavy burdens for many residents. Businesses want more access to talent and to markets while keeping their costs down. Our coastal communities — including crucial facilities like hospitals, power plants and transit hubs —are vulnerable to flooding. Finally, too many people have been left out of the region’s success entirely, unable to access good schools, affordable housing or jobs. A question we often are asked is why these pressing problems need to be addressed by crafting a single vision. Surely in a dynamic, digital economy, issues arise too quickly for a plan years
offers another advantage: Individual residents, businesses, community groups and others who often find they have little say in how our built and natural environment develops can have a chance to participate in the planning process. Over the past two years, RPA has worked with residents around the metropolitan area through partnerships, public forums and meetings with local leaders and grassroots organizations to understand the needs of our diverse population. No single planning process could reach all the region’s nearly 23 million residents. Yet this sustained dialogue has shaped the objectives of the Fourth Plan. RPA’s 3 previous regional plans, produced in 1929, in the 1960s and 1996, came at a critical time in the region’s evolution and led to major changes in transportation, community development, environmental protection and social welfare. RPA has focused on Westchester and Fairfield counties since the orga-
nization’s inception. In 1929, the first regional plan proposed what became the Merritt Parkway as a way to alleviate terrible congestion on the old U.S. Route 1. In the 1960s, the expansion of the suburbs and the growing reliance on automobile travel posed a growing threat to the environment and to older urban centers around the region. In the second plan, RPA sounded the alarm on excessive sprawl and urged investment in places like Stamford and White Plains. RPA also campaigned for reinvestment in the region’s transit network, recognizing that our quality of life over the long term hinged on having a reliable rail and bus system. In recent decades, RPA has advised cities like Stamford, New Rochelle and Bridgeport on economic development and issues such as coastal protection from more frequent storms. In a region as vast and diverse as the tristate area, it sometimes can be hard to see how disparate communities are connected. Yet our job and housing markets, our roads and rail networks, and our environmental vulnerability transcend jurisdictional boundaries, and the best ideas for addressing these challenges will recognize both what is unique to individual communities and how our interdependence reinforces our success.
Wendy Pollack. Photo by Nancy Borowick.
Wendy Pollack is director of public affairs at Regional Plan Association.
BREWSTER SEIZES OPPORTUNITY WITH SMART GROWTH BY DANIELLE BRODY
rewster officials have been preparing for downtown revitalization for more than a decade. Now the village is reviewing an urban renewal plan that will put ideas into action. “We’re ready,” said Peter Brewster Hansen, the village’s clerk and treasurer. “We just need a specific plan.” Anthony Molé, the village attorney, said the village has been considering transit-oriented development in the past couple of years. With the help of the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School, the village conducted studies to revise its comprehensive plan and held public sessions. “We took the comments received and incorporated them as best we could into the comprehensive plan in a way that made sense for the village’s
future,” Molé said. The town had already implemented water mains and a new water treatment plant to support a doubling of the population about a decade ago. They are currently at half capacity. The village also worked with a developer to change zoning codes in accordance with the comprehensive plan, which will make it easier on future development, Hansen said. The revised comprehensive plan was adopted last year. From there, VHB, an engineering, surveying and landscape architecture firm with an office in White Plains, prepared an urban renewal plan for Brewster, building off the village’s comprehensive plan. Some of its objectives include redeveloping deteriorating and underutilized properties with residential, retail, parking and open space, creating new housing and generating economic activity. The village will host a town hall-style session about the urban renewal plan on Feb. 24, where VHB and Tecton
Architects will make a presentation. The urban renewal plan is expected to be adopted in March, Molé said. The village will most likely be developed in phases Brewster train station. Photo by Gianguzzi Photography. starting with the area directly in front of the train station, lage board zoned it to allow for multiHansen said. There will be a focus on ple uses and a broker is in touch with transit-oriented development around developers. On another unused space the train station, which is on one end of annexed to the village, approximately Main Street. One idea is to transform an 17 acres on Allview Avenue, the owner, often cluttered road structure in front B.O.S. Land Development Corp., plans to build a four-story office building with of the station into a pedestrian plaza. Some development has already been 64,000 to 80,000 square feet of space. “There’s already a transformation underway. A formerly abandoned building on Main Street was completely reno- underway with what exists,” Hansen vated and restored with 24 apartments said. “With the urban renewal plan we hope to spur more, large-mass change. and two storefronts, Hansen said. Village officials also are considering From a real estate perspective it’s a developing the vacant Garden Street good opportunity to invest in the vilElementary School building. The vil- lage now and be part of this process.”
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DANBURY TAKING HOLISTIC APPROACH TO SMART GROWTH BY SHARON B. CALITRO
ong before the phrase “smart growth” was coined, development strategies and incentives that promote intelligent and common sense growth were in place in the city of Danbury. Since its rebuilding after the British burning and looting in 1777, the Hat City has transformed and sustained itself. Currently ranked the seventh-largest city in Connecticut, it boasts a great location, about an hour from New York City, with attributes, transportation access and quality-oflife characteristics that continue to make it a desirable place to live, work and play. From its hatting factory heyday at the turn of the 20th century to now, Danbury has maintained a diversified economy. Its landscape is dotted with parks, lakes, trails and a variety of recreational opportunities. Housing is available and economical, providing an alternative to higher- priced locales in southern Fairfield County. Government policies, including those of current Mayor Mark D. Boughton, support growing smart and the city has reaped the benefits of this on its west side and downtown. Development on the west side of Danbury has continued at a feverish pace. Toll Brothers is developing various housing types within The Reserve with more than 600 units approved and under construction, Building Land & Technology’s 470unit Abbey Woods apartments are fully leased, The Matrix, the largest office building in Connecticut at almost 1.3 million square feet, is seeking to reinvent itself. Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut has constructed a new facility. A new
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boutique hotel is under construction by RMS Companies within The Reserve to complement its 70 townhouse units located on border with Ridgefield, and Belimo Air Controls recently opened its 200,000-squarefoot manufacturing facility. Roadways and utilities continue to be upgraded to support development efforts. Larger than a traditional neighborhood, but thoughtfully planned nonetheless, the west side has been
• An existing building on Main Street is being retrofitted for Naugatuck Valley Community College as classroom space for more than 1,000 students. • Western Connecticut State University continues to improve its downtown campus to accommodate an increasing enrollment. • Greystar is constructing 374 units of market-rate housing on a former brownfield site.
Within downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods many investments have been or are being made. Cumulatively, these add critical mass needed to support a compact urban center containing a mix of land uses, transportation options, a walkable environment, and public and private activities that promote public health and preserve cultural resources.
the focus of significant growth over the last decade. Meanwhile, within downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods many investments have been or are being made. Cumulatively, these add critical mass needed to support a compact urban center containing a mix of land uses, transportation options, a walkable environment, and public and private activities that promote public health and preserve cultural resources. • Danbury Hospital completed a $124 million upgrade to its campus, including a new emergency department and tower building.
• The Connecticut Institute for Communities is constructing a new 46,000-square-foot medical facility on Main Street. • The Danbury Ice Arena and Danbury Titans hockey team has a new local owner and is a continued draw downtown. • The unique Octagon House, a National Register of Historic Places property purchased by the city, will undergo study and renovation for public use. • The historic Palace Theater continues to provide entertainment in a unique venue. • Millions of dollars have been spent
on public streetscape projects and parking garages. • CityCenter Danbury, the downtown special services district, has a renewed focus on economic development with a new leader. Incentives are in place to encourage and promote development downtown, from tax deferrals to reduced permit fees and utility connection fees to a new facade improvement program. The city continues to work with property owners of old and new to maintain and improve the downtown to become the focus of city life. Growth continues in Danbury and the city of Danbury is committed to making sure it occurs smartly.
Sharon B. Calitro
Sharon B. Calitro is director of planning for the city of Danbury’s Department of Planning and Zoning. This is one in a series of reports on smart growth development in the region. The series will culminate in a March 24 panel discussion on smart growth trends hosted by Westfair Communications and the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School.
NEW CANAAN WAS EARLY PRACTITIONER OF SMART GROWTH BY STEVE KLEPPIN
he town of New Canaan embraced and enacted smart growth principles before the concept became part of our lexicon. New Canaanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s compact business district is surrounded by dense, multifamily residential housing that transition to less dense, single-family housing toward the periphery of the town. At the core of the downtown is the New Canaan train station, which is the last stop on a spur of Metro-North Railroad that connects downtown to the Stamford Transportation Center. While many of our surrounding communities have sprawling development along their major roadways, New Canaan zoning has not allowed commercial development along these state routes and has focused all redevelopment within the downtown.
In addition to the sidewalk plan, our POCD embraces and recommends increased housing density within the downtown. The town identified senior housing, workforce housing, housing for young professionals, as well as affordable housing options near the downtown. New Canaan is a community that is rich in architectural heritage that embraces sound planning. In 1950, when the town first enacted parking requirements, a portion of the down-
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Pocket park is used for town events.
town business district was exempted from having to provide parking and subsequently exempted from having to comply with a floor-area ratio (FAR) standard. By not requiring property owners in this zone to provide parking, we have eliminated unnecessary curb cuts and individual parking lots that detract from building design, allowing a near constant building faĂ§ade along the streets. Even the ideal development patterns present challenges. Exempting these areas from parking requires providing parking at strategic locations to meet the demand of the visitors to the downtown, the employees servicing the businesses and the residents that also reside in this area. The town has several municipal parking lots within and around the downtown and is presently studying tiered parking at two strategic locations to meet the demand for increased commuter parking and the additional parking needed for the new development we are seeing. Another smart growth concept embraced in New Canaan is walkability. Beginning in 2008, the town began a program of expanding, rebuilding and
enhancing the sidewalk network. This included brick sidewalks with granite curbing that range from 10 to 16 feet wide in the downtown core. These sidewalks not only accommodate recreational walkers and shoppers, they have also led to a vibrant outdoor dining scene that the town initiated in 2009. Sidewalks are not confined to the downtown business core alone. As part of our Pavement Management and Improvement Program, the town annually includes sidewalk repair and construction in the annual budget process. Within the 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), a formal sidewalk plan was included, allowing the town to identify the sidewalk goals for the next 10 years. In addition to sidewalks, the town has also begun completion of a five-mile pedestrian walk that will connect downtown New Canaan to a town park and the nature center. In addition to the sidewalk plan, our POCD embraces and recommends increased housing density within the downtown. The town identified senior housing, workforce housing, housing for young professionals, as well as
affordable housing options near the downtown. To achieve this increased density, the plan recommends increased building mass and density within mixed-use environments. In addition, the plan recommends looking at ways to reduce required parking through shared parking, feein-lieu and reductions for mixed-use developments. In response to these recommendations, the town has undertaken a series of neighborhood studies of the business district. The first study of Cross and Vitti streets was recently completed and the town is now undertaking a second study of Grove Street. As a result of the Cross and Vitti streets study, numerous zoning amendments are being considered and new design guidelines are being developed. More importantly this has spurred significant redevelopment interest in this area. Steve Kleppin is the town planner for New Canaan. This is one in a series of reports on smart growth development in the region. The series will culminate in a March 24 panel discussion on smart growth trends hosted by Westfair Communications and the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School.
NORWALK COMBINES SUSTAINABILITY WITH SMART GROWTH BY ELIZABETH STOCKER
he city of Norwalk and the N o r w a l k Re development Agency continue to elicit smart growth policies in the South Norwalk (SoNo) and downtown districts with the adoption of policies and plans and investment that promote development around the various transportation modes. Norwalk has the advantage of having four Metro-North rail stations that serve the community, a plan to increase bike and hiking trails and a transit system that connects all of the various transportation modes. Recent development has been focused around these transit modes, which ensure connectivity and have contributed to a more sustainable and vibrant pattern of growth, which continues to attract new residents and businesses to the city. Smart growth is not simply a term but it is a practice that has guided development over the past several decades to ensure the revitalization of the Norwalk’s urban neighborhoods in an environmentally sustainable manner. Efforts to redevelop the urban neighborhoods through the thoughtful integration of mass transit, pedestrian-friendly amenities and energy-efficient building design have successfully attracted redevelopment and new mixed use developments that contribute to the overall sustainability of the built environment. Further, Mayor Harry Rilling made a commitment to sustainable growth working with his Energy and Environmental Task Force to implement policies and programs that help residents improve the energy efficiency of their homes and to help further sustainability. A recent program that is underway is Norwalk's TOD Initiative. The initiative focuses on roughly a half-mile radius surrounding the SoNo railroad station. The goal is to foster an environment for walking and biking by offering a wide range of urban amenities within a few
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city blocks of this transit hub. The plan is to embrace the ideal neighborhood as an easy and appealing place to live, work and visit. Major public investments are being made by the city and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency to achieve this vision. Project Website: http://www.norwalkct.org/index.aspx?nid=1279 A number of improvements have already been implemented, including ADA-compliant enhanced crosswalks, a
A recent program that is underway is Norwalk’s TOD Initiative. The initiative focuses on roughly a half-mile radius surrounding the SoNo railroad station. The goal is to foster an environment for walking and biking by offering a wide range of urban amenities within a few city blocks of this transit hub. cyclist-accessible staircase with heating elements to prevent ice build-up and additional bike racks for cyclists as well as landscaping and other amenities such as way-finding signage throughout the district. Public investments and active partnership have been complementary to the private sector developments in the SoNo and Downtown areas. Examples of this development include the Ironworks on North Water Street where 20,700 square feet of retail and restaurant space as well as studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments to-
taling 108 residential units replaced the vacant Norwalk Company. Developed by Spinnaker Real Estate Partners LLC the Ironworks faces the Norwalk River on the east and Washington Street to the south; it encircles a cobblestone courtyard with a large water feature at its center and complements the neighboring Maritime Aquarium providing a welcoming gateway into SoNo. Just steps away the Pearl at 99 Washington St. is under construction by FD Rich Co. The Pearl will be a five story, 66-unit apartment complex. The development, previously a parking lot, will include 154 valet-assisted parking spaces and a residents-only roof deck. The Waypointe District This phased mixed-use development spans 10-acres and includes the repurposing of the former Bigelow Tea warehouse into a three-level parking garage wrapped by apartments and retail space. The project features a gateway on West Avenue with a pedestrian walkway leading into a large courtyard lined with shops and restaurants having apartments above. Altogether, more than 500 apartments and 100,000 square feet of retail and medical office space will be created. Project website: http://www.waypointe-norwalk.com. Head of the Harbor Located at the north end of the working waterfront on the Norwalk River, Head of the Harbor will transform an underutilized lot into 60 housing units, 6,000 square feet of office space, a public plaza, a public boardwalk along the water and new pedestrian connections to Mill Hill Historic Park. This project is an outcome of the 2004 Wall Street Redevelopment Plan, which laid the framework for the restoration of Norwalk's traditional center. Wall Street Place Phase One of this mixed-use development will include 101 residential units, 40 percent of which are affordable and 60 percent of which are market rate. The project will also include 16,000 square feet of commercial space, 23 surface parking spaces and an automated parking garage with more than
200 spaces available to residents and the public. This project is the result of a public-private partnership between the city, the redevelopment agency, and POKO Partners, which was initiated to implement Norwalk's Wall Street Redevelopment Plan. Project website: http://www.wallstplace.com. Wall Street Theater The Wall Street Theater redevelopment project, assisted by the city and the redevelopment agency, promises to bring new life to Wall Street. Initially opened in 1915 as a vaudeville stage, a combination of historic restoration and adaptive renovation to the building will provide space for traditional theater presentations, children's theater and event leasing. The initiative will restore this cultural and historical centerpiece of the Wall Street district and will serve as a critical step forward in the revitalization of the entire neighborhood. Project website: https://wallstreettheater.com. In sum, the city of Norwalk and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency are proactive partners in development within Norwalk’s Urban Core. Our work complements private sector development, as we commit extensive financial and technical resources to the revitalization of our redevelopment areas and the city. Our status as a major regional entertainment destination, combined with our growing population, presents a promising future for attracting new businesses and development opportunities.
Elizabeth Stocker is the director of economic development for the city of Norwalk.
DEVELOPING DOWNTOWN AND THE WATERFRONT IN PEEKSKILL BY DANIELLE BRODY
eekskill is developing its active downtown and its several-miles-long waterfront along the Hudson River and bridging the gap between the two. The city has seen a boost in downtown activity over the past several years and a tremendous uplift in its real estate outlook in the last year, said Jean Friedman, director of Peekskill’s department of planning and development. It has housed an artist district since the late 1990s, but more recently a few “pioneers” opened new restaurants, pubs and bars in the area, she said. “Downtown is blossoming into an entertainment capital,” Friedman said About half a mile away is the city’s Metro-North train station and waterfront area, which the city is trying to better connect to the downtown. Some businesses contributed to run a trolley between downtown and the waterfront on weekends, Friedman said. She said the city recently updated its Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan after conducting studies on zoning and transit-oriented development with help from the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School. The plan has guided development on the waterfront, including resources and shoreline protection. “We basically upgraded our waterfront plan and our plan around the train station to follow the current trends of how things are being developed,” Friedman said. “People are looking to locate around public transit.” Friedman said now that the city changed its zoning code, it is looking to promote the waterfront area for development with the goal of creating a walkable waterfront village with more residential units and multiuse buildings. The city is considering adding a parking garage at the train station and opening the existing lot for development. The city owns or controls nearly all of the waterfront property, making
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development easier, she said. Over the past 10 to 12 years, the city developed six waterfront park areas connected by a waterfront trail, she said. Riverfront Green South, opposite the train station, is in the final stages of completion but is already in use. A study on how to use the city pier for large ships for tourism excursions on the Hudson River is underway. The waterfront already boasts the Peekskill Brewery as an attraction and a couple of new restaurants will soon open across from the train station, Friedman said. A group of developers will turn a former restaurant on Charles Point into a catering space and family
entertainment venue. The restaurant is expected to open this summer and the entertainment portion in 2017, Friedman said. “That’s going to be our regional draw,” she said. Friedman said private residential development is growing. Downtown is already home to 1 Park Place, a 150unit luxury rental apartment building. An artist loft with 75 units has been approved for Main Street and another 50unit residence is in the early planning stages, she said. Just outside downtown, Ginsburg Development Cos. has plans to develop the former St. Mary’s Convent property
Peekskill waterfront park gazebo. Photo by Jim Pinto.
at Fort Hill into a three-building residential complex with 178 rental units, an inn and spa. “We’re definitely coming out of the recession and people are coming out of the woodwork to develop and buy properties,” Friedman said.
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YOUR BUSINESS…CAN BE LESS THAN AN HOUR FROM NEW YORK CITY! PEEKSKILL IS A VIBRANT, HISTORIC, HIPSTER COMMUNITY WITH A FLOURISHING ARTIST DISTRICT AND GREAT DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT. PEEKSKILL WELCOMES YOUR SPECIALTY SHOP, BOUTIQUE OR INDEPENDENT RETAIL BUSINESS TO OUR DOWNTOWN. INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST THROUGHOUT THE CITY. CONTACT: JIM PINTO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR CITY OF PEEKSKILL @ 914-734-4215 OR JPINTO@CITYOFPEEKSKILL.COM
RIVERFRONT RENEWAL HELPING POUGHKEEPSIE REVITALIZE BY PAUL HESSE
he city of Poughkeepsie, a city of 32,000 located 75 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River, is poised for a turnaround, and smart growth policies are at the center of the city’s revitalization efforts. Various planning initiatives, including a transit-oriented waterfront redevelopment strategy and a Main Street economic development strategy focused on complete streets principles, are helping to spur economic development and move the city into the 21st Century. Poughkeepsie is not without challenges, but as the city continues to recover from years of population decline and economic disinvestment, the city is beginning to see signs of forward momentum. More than 600 residential units are currently planned for areas in and around Poughkeepsie’s waterfront, including 384 units on a former brownfield site and 136 units on a long-vacant urban renewal site. Approximately 160 additional units are planned at several mixed-use development projects along Main Street and in the city’s downtown area, including the adaptive reuse of a former factory building, an urban infill development on Main Street and the redevelopment of a former department store. In total, investment of more than $160 million is planned for various residential and mixed-use projects in the city. In addition, Health Quest is about to embark on a $467 million expansion of its flagship hospital, located on the city’s south side. And the city is moving forward with more than $20 million in water and sewer improvements, one of the largest capital investments undertaken by the city in decades. All told, Poughkeepsie is about to experience the biggest construction boom it has seen since the early 20th Century. Now marks an important time for the city to
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establish a clear vision for smart, conscientious development with smart growth land use policies. In order to encourage continued economic development, and ensure development occurs in a sustainable and equitable way, the city has undertaken a number of different smart growth initiatives in recent years. Between 2014 and 2015, the city adopted a Waterfront Redevelopment Strategy and a new form-based zoning district in the area around the Poughkeepsie train station. The station, which serves as the northern terminus of Metro-North Railroad on the busy Hudson Line and also as a regional hub for Amtrak, sits at the western end of Main Street at the Poughkeepsie waterfront — the city’s “front porch.” The strategy encourages development on underutilized parcels around the train station, creating a regional destination center. To make the development process more predictable, the form-based zoning district clearly defines the city’s vision for development projects that promote a healthy spatial relationship between the built environment and pedestrians. To connect the city’s waterfront to the downtown business district, the Main Street Economic Development Strategy is exploring a number of different transportation-related interventions, including a dedicated Main Street transit route. The expanded transit service would run from the city’s waterfront and train station east to the Arlington District, connecting to Vassar College and encouraging transit-oriented housing at nodes along the way. Other strategies include converting Market Street, the city’s primary civic corridor, into a complete street and converting the city’s arterial highways, which cordon off downtown from the rest of the city, into pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets. Lastly, the city will draft new form-based zoning for the central business district, enhancing the walkability and livability of downtown while encouraging the redevelopment of the many city-owned and
Main Street, Poughkeepsie.
underutilized surface parking lots. Similar to the form-based zoning district around the train station, the city recently adopted a form-based district along Parker Avenue near the Walkway Over the Hudson entrance. The new district is intended to encourage a mixed-use, walkable neighborhood, emphasizing bike routes, pedestrian amenities and lively streets along the Parker Avenue corridor, interconnected with nearby recreational trails. Improved connectivity is the theme driving many of the city’s initiatives. The city is currently exploring the feasibility of connecting the northern and southern waterfronts around Kaal Rock, a sixty-foot rock outcropping that separates the two. Once connected, the city will have a continuous greenway trail spanning more than two miles along the waterfront. Another connection being explored is connecting College Hill Park to the Dutchess County Rail Trail. With all of the buzz around Poughkeepsie, businesses are taking notice. North River Roasters, a local community-supported social enterprise, launched in 2015 and will have its future home in a former factory building in downtown Poughkeepsie. Fourth State Metals, a custom metal and design fabricator based in Brooklyn, is moving its operation to an existing industrial site on the north side of Poughkeepsie, citing the city’s relative affordability and potential for future
expansion. And Digital Empire, a tech startup, has recently moved into the Indotronix building on Main Street in Poughkeepsie’s downtown. The Indotronix building is becoming a hub of tech activity with co-working space for other tech start-ups, programmers and developers, and the location is also the new Dutchess County home of HV Tech Meetup, a group of like-minded technology lovers whose membership is nearing 1,000 strong. Poughkeepsie’s potential is virtually unparalleled in the mid-Hudson Valley, and with a new mayor proclaiming that the “buzz is back” in the Queen City, residents, business owners and visitors are starting to feel the #poughtential.
Paul Hesse is community development coordinator for the city of Poughkeepsie.
STAMFORD RECONFIGURES DEVELOPMENT FOR A NEW CENTURY BY THOMAS MADDEN
he city of Stamford continues to lead the Fairfield/Westchester region in developing projects that promote the concept of “smart growth” in cities. This mixture of new development takes advantage of mixing land uses by creating a range of housing opportunities and choices. It provides walkable, bikable neighborhoods that offer a real alternative to the typically suburb-commuter lifestyle. There is a combined $6 billion in new residential and commercial developments within three-quarters of a mile surrounding the Stamford train station, which now connects the city’s growing downtown with the emerging Harbor Point project. The new development puts Stamford at the epicenter of the “work, live and play” lifestyle that many people now seek. Stamford already enjoys a high concentration of Fortune 500 companies, but new companies are being attracted by the growing younger workforce that is emerging as a result of the increase in the number of apartments that are being constructed. The median age of Stamford is 36 years old, which is a full four years younger than the rest of Connecticut. The city is the home for leading employers across multiple industry sectors, including banking, insurance and reinsurance, office equipment, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, media and information technology, and retail. These new developments help strengthen the existing strong and diverse commercial, industrial and retail business base in the city that sees a daytime population of more than 225,000 people. The $3.5 billion, 82-acre Harbor Point is a transit-oriented, mixed-use development along the Long Island Sound consisting of more than 2,360 new apartments, office space, dining and shopping establishments, a community school, several marinas, publicly acces-
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Stamford’s south end.
sible waterfront areas via a waterfront boardwalk, and more than 11 acres of parks and public spaces. The project also provides a free trolley to the residents of Stamford that makes a continuous loop connecting the downtown and Harbor Point area. When completed, the project will add more than 4,000 new apartments to the city. One of the apartment buildings that highlights the city’s commitment to the smart growth initiative is the preservation of the historic Yale & Towne Lock Works factory buildings. These buildings were preserved through community collaboration that helped to guide the development decisions of the project. These buildings were ultimately preserved and upgraded to modern standards and retrofitted with the greenest technology and converted into The Lofts at Yale & Towne. Downtown Stamford has also seen the opening of nearly 900 apartments over the last several years and will see the start of construction over the next year of another 1,000 apartments. Summer House, 184 Summer St., a 22-story, 222-unit apartment building is set to open in the coming weeks; and 66
Summer St., a 14-story, 209-unit apartment building, opened last summer. The apartment buildings boast a Walk Score of 95, with connections to Stamford’s Restaurant Row, The Town Center, Mill River Park and popular downtown events such as Alive at Five/Jazz Up July and the farmers market. A new anchor for downtown is the development of the 31-acre Mill River Park and 3-mile greenway that connects to Stamford Harbor. The park is transforming the heart of Stamford and is providing a new model for redefining urban life and attracting young urban residents who want to work and live in close proximity without compromising quality of life. Mill River Park and greenway help to provide the natural balance to the city’s urban environment that will dramatically improve quality of life for Stamford as a whole and particularly for the many new residents. Lastly, to provide health service to these new residents, Stamford Hospital is undertaking a $500 million expansion and upgrade. This is no ordinary expansion of a hospital. Out of collaboration with the surrounding community and more than dozen organizations, the Vita
Health & Wellness District was created. The district to the south of the hospital was created with the goal of improving the health of the West Side neighborhood. One of the many highlights of the project is Fairgate Farm, which is celebrating the start of its fifth growing season this year. An area where blighted housing once stood now is a thriving urban farm, powered by volunteer workers and delivering farm-to-table produce for Scofield Manor residential care home, the New Covenant House community kitchen and other community agencies throughout Stamford.
Thomas Madden was named city of Stamford’s economic development director in 2014.
BUSINESS GROWTH WORKS WITH SMART GROWTH IN STRATFORD BY KAREN KAISER
tratford is strategically located between New York City and Boston with transportation access that has attracted and sustained economic development for many decades. Within Stratford’s boundaries you will find Sikorsky Memorial Airport, Metro-North Rail Service, Interstate 95, The Merritt Parkway, Routes 8 and 25 and 17 miles of coastline. Our diverse community of more than 51,000 residents offers world-class employers, a highly skilled workforce, excellent transportation access and reasonable cost of living in Fairfield County. Stratford has seen a number of existing companies grow and expand over the past few years. Two Roads Brewing Company has grown from seven to 78 employees and has become a destination throughout the Northeast. Connecticut Distributors Inc. added a 55,000-square-foot warehouse to its property and created 17 new jobs. Nouvo Pasta has more than doubled in square footage with the purchase of a new 40,000-square-foot building. They have grown from 80 employees to 100 with a 20 percent increase in revenue. Federal Express has purchased a property off Lordship Boulevard for $20 million dollars and is building a 225,000-square-foot warehouse. FedEx will create 68 new jobs and retain 85 jobs in the town of Stratford. Burns Construction plans to hire 175 new employees by April 1. Burns has been in Stratford since the 1960s and has grown to more than 380 employees. They are building a brand new state of the art building at their current location. Hubbell Electric Water Heater will be adding more than 30 new employees and will be expanding its footprint on Seymour Avenue. Hubbell has received $2.1 million from the state of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. Hubbell is a third-generation company in Stratford.
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Stratford had been recognized and awarded numerous grants and loans from the Environmental Protection Agency to The State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). These grant monies are being used to clean up some of Stratford’s worst brownfields to make these abandoned properties viable again. The State of Connecticut DECD awarded Stratford $2.85 Million to remediate 540 Longbrook Avenue, a former metal plating company. Demolition has occurred on a dangerous and blighted building at the site. The town will be seeking developers in a RFQ process in the coming months. The EPA awarded Stratford a grant to clean up and demolish a long standing eye sore on Stratford Avenue. The Mercer Coal Towers have been taken down and the property has been remediated. The Town Council and Zoning Commission have approved a new Transit-Oriented District Overlay Zone, which will encourage development within the half-mile radius of the Metro-North station. The state has awarded Stratford $1.25 million to remediate a 3.6-acre town-owned property within walking distance of the train station. The town will be seeking an RFQ to
develop a public/private partnership to revitalize Stratford’s downtown. A Complete Streets Improvement project has also begun in this area with a $200,000 grant from the federal government. In addition, Stratford businesses have received more than $3.3 million dollars in grants and loans from the State of Connecticut DECD, creating and retaining more than 500 jobs in Stratford. Developer Point Stratford Renewal is close to an agreement with the Army to develop the former Army Engine Plant, a 77-acre waterfront site. This will be one of the most significant developments on the entire eastern seaboard. The plan is for a mixed-use development with hotel, condominiums, retail, education and entertainment uses. The developer has received $700,000 in grant money from the state to assess the cleanup of this property. More than three dozen companies have relocated to Stratford over the past few years to capitalize on Stratford’s highly skilled workforce and its accessible location. Penmar Industries, Coating Design Group Inc., Saugatuck Kitchens, Nelson Ambulance, Nations Roofing, Norwalk Powdered Metals, St Vincent’s Urgent Care, Merrimac Build-
ing Supplies, Unicare Home Health Agency and Sunbelt Rentals to name just a few. Stratford stands out as a business-friendly community that has attracted top employers. The town of Stratford is one of the top towns in the state in terms of new jobs created and jobs retained. The unemployment rate in Stratford is at 5.4 percent down from 9.2 percent in 2012. While the rest of the state sees companies moving out because of the economic climate, Stratford is showing signs of economic strength.
Karen Kaiser is the director of economic development town of Stratford.
WHITE PLAINS TAKES ADVANTAGE OF LOCATION, ASSETS FOR SMART GROWTH BY TOM ROACH
he city of White Plains has long been at the forefront of both the smart growth and sustainable transit-oriented development movements. As the preeminent commercial and retail hub in the county as well as the county seat, White Plains is fortunate to have world-class public transit assets, which have supported and reinforced this role. The White Plains station is the busiest in Westchester County with the greatest number of daily reverse commuters from New York City in the entire Metro-North system. A robust local bus service network and the city’s being selected as the eastern terminus of the proposed east/west I-287 Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System upon completion of the new New York Bridge, reinforces White Plains’ status as a model community for sustainable transit-oriented growth. Over the past decade, the city’s multifamily housing market has produced more than 2,000 new housing units downtown with another 1,600 new units either in development or approved for construction. With an additional $2 billion in planned downtown investment for new mixed-use residential/commercial development, White Plains is poised to maintain its place as one of the region’s most dynamic and livable urban centers. In 2016 alone, I and the White Plains Common Council have approved over 800 new dwelling units in downtown, including the key redevelopment of a 3.5-acre parcel at the corner of Maple Avenue and South Broadway. The outdated 185,000-square-foot enclosed Westchester Pavilion Mall will be redeveloped into a new 857,000-squarefoot mixed-use commercial and residential development with two 24-story residential towers containing 707 residential units. This transforma-
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White Plains train station.
tive project will also include 77,000 square feet of ground level retail to enliven both the South Broadway and Maple Avenue streetscapes and a total of 16,500 square feet of restaurant space, inclusive of six outdoor dining areas. Just as exciting is the recent approval of the adaptive reuse of a historic manufacturing building into transit-oriented loft style apartments on Westmoreland Avenue (“West-Mo”), an up-and-coming transitional light industrial corridor just south of the White Plains Metro-North station. The project was catalyzed by both myself and White Plains Common Council’s progressive rezoning of the existing light industrial area to permit residential development as a means to incentivize the preservation of old industrial buildings and revitalize the neighborhood. This continued boom in downtown residential development has resulted in steady population growth over the last 15 years, outpacing both Westchester County and the New York met-
ropolitan area as a whole. Between 2000 and 2015, the downtown White Plains population grew at an annual average of 1.6 percent compared with only .27 percent annual growth for Westchester County and .36 percent for the entire New York metropolitan region during the same time period. This can clearly be attributed the city’s successful attraction of both the millennial and baby boomer generations to the downtown as well as White Plains’ role as a regional economic engine and job center. Finally, the city is currently embarking on a year-long White Plains Transit District Study supported by a $1 million grant secured from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Cleaner Greener Communities Program. The project provides an opportunity to reimagine the downtown White Plains Transit District area through a substantial public outreach and community involvement process. Emerging opportunities include the potential to create more pedestri-
an-scaled streets, transit-supportive land uses and engaging public spaces for commuters and residents alike. Of paramount importance is the enhancement of physical connections between various existing and future transportation modes in the district (bus, train, taxi, bike, BRT), as well as an improved pedestrian experience linking the district to Mamaroneck Avenue and the downtown core.
Tom Roach. Photo by Rory Glaeseman.
Tom Roach is mayor of White Plains.
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
Established in 1993, the LAND USE LAW CENTER AT PACE LAW SCHOOL is dedicated to fostering the developmentof sustainable communities through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and collaborative decision-making techniques, as well as leadership training, research, education, and technical assistance. Through its many programs, the Center offers municipalities, land use leaders, citizens, advocates, planners, attorneys, real estate industry leaders, and other land use professionals assistance that enables them to achieve their development and conservation goals. Its activities provide opportunities for students of Pace Law School to gain in-depth, practical experience that allows them to become practice-ready attorneys serving private, public, and non-governmental clients. The Land Use Law Center is the preeminent center of its kind offering extensive research and consulting services; conferences, seminars, and clinics; law school courses; practitioner and citizen-leader training programs; continuing legal education programs; multimedia resources; and frequent publications on sustainable land use and community development. OUR WORK The Center provides research, training, technical assistance, support, and strategic planning services to communities and individuals. Working with trained law students, the Center quickly, affordably, and effectively develops techniques to remedy nearly all types of land use problems that afflict urban, suburban, and rural communities. The Center enjoys a track record of successful implementation in partnership with local land use leaders, state and federal agencies, and other change agents. It accomplishes this through its programs and cata lytic demonstration projects, which cover a range of topics related to land use planning and regulation, including: • Local Environmental Law and Natural Resource Conservation • Historic Building and Agricultural Land Preservation • Smart Growth • Community Economic Development • Urban Revitalization • Fair, Affordable, and Workforce Housing • Vacant and Distressed Property Remediation
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• • • • • • • •
Transit Oriented Development Sustainable Site and Neighborhood Development Green Buildings Local Wind and Solar Energy Sea Level Rise Community Resiliency Climate Change Mitigation Collaborative Decision-Making and Facilitation
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
RSM US LLP (formerly McGladrey LLP) is the leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, with more than 8,000 people in 80 offices nationwide. It is a licensed CPA firm and the U.S. member of RSM International, a global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms with more than 38,300 people in more than 120 coun-
tries. Our national real estate practice provides a full range of services to real estate investment trusts, private equity funds, institutional investors and advisers, operating companies, lenders and intermediaries, construction companies, hospitality companies and timberland investment funds. For more information, please visit www.rsmus.com/realestate.
THE WESTCHESTER COUNTY INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (IDA) is a public benefit corporation created to promote and encourage economic development in the county with the primary goal of assisting in the creation and retention of jobs.The IDA offers such benefits as: • Mortgage recording tax exemption on the purchase and financing of land or a facility; • Sales tax exemptions that support construction, renovation and expansion; and • Taxable or tax-exempt bonds. In 2015, the IDA supported projects, which account for more than $750 million in private investment in a wide variety of sectors, including housing, biotech, communication and hospitality as well as relocation and reconstruction efforts. These projects will also account for more than 4,000 new or retained permanent and construction jobs. Recent projects included a $150 million expansion of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which will account for 300 new jobs; a $275 million 700-unit housing project in White Plains by Lennar Development geared toward attracting young professionals and empty nesters; the new construction and relocation at the Westchester County Airport
by aviation companies FlexJet and Million Air, as well as a number of housing projects county wide. Created in 2013 by County Executive Robert P. Astorino, the Local Development Corp. (LDC) provides low-cost, tax-exempt bond financing for nonprofit organizations. From 2013-2015, the LDC provided more than $430 million in tax-exempt financing to hospitals, schools nursing homes and social service agencies. It has helped to renovate critical infrastructure expansion for nonprofits, which has created more than 1,500 permanent and construction jobs since 2013. In its largest financing to date, the LDC recently approved $340 million in financing for the Westchester Medical Center Health Network’s plan to build a 280,000-square-foot Ambulatory Care Pavilion adjacent to Westchester Medical Center on its Valhalla campus. It is the largest health care construction project in the county in decades. Any corporation, small company or nonprofit organization looking to access the low-cost and tax-exempt project financing made available through the IDA or LDC should contact Bill Mooney, director of the Office of Economic Development, at 914-995-2943.
March 21, 2016
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
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ordinate every financial need of your business and its key executives — from credit needs to cash-flow management to personal banking. This wide range of services brought together in a customized package helps you make the best decisions for your business. We offer a wide range of ways for you to access capital, including commercial loans, SBA loans, asset-based lending and equipment finance, to name a few. To manage your accounts, you’ll experience the ease and efficiency of leading technology. Our Business Online Banking solution was designed with your business needs in mind. Our cash-management services offer simplicity and security. These are just some of the services we offer to make your banking simpler and more productive. When navigating the complex business world, you need a resource for candid perspective. At Sterling, you’ll have an expert at your side to whom you can turn for an honest and straightforward conversation about the challenges facing your business and the environment in which you’re working to thrive. You can feel confident that the advice you’re provided comes from insights carefully derived from an extensive knowledge of your business, industry and marketplace, as well as a genuine interest in helping you succeed.
KBE BUILDING COMPANY has managed more than $4 billion in construction volume during the past two decades and is ranked among Engineering News-Record magazine’s top 400 construction companies nationally. With offices in Norwalk and Farmington, Conn., as well as Columbia, Md., KBE Building Corporation is a full-service, single-source commercial construction company strategically positioned to serve the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. Founded in 1959 and incorporated in 1966, the $300 million firm provides preconstruction, construction management, design-build and
general contracting services to clients in the retail, educational, senior living, federal, corporate, hospitality, health care and institutional markets. KBE’s team of 120-plus construction professionals and support staff is deeply committed to the firm’s corporate philanthropy program: 50 Ways to Make a Difference. Established in 2009 to celebrate the firm’s new ownership, name change and 50 years in business, 50 Ways has helped KBE associates donate more than $1.7 million and 11,474 volunteer hours to charitable causes benefiting children, seniors and military veterans in Connecticut and Maryland.
March 21, 2016
Downtownâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
In 2007, SL GREEN acquired Reckson Associates Realty Corp. and added over 9 million square feet to its portfolio. Included in this total is over 4 million square feet of Class A office space located in Westchester, New York and Stamford, Connecticut.
These suburban portfolios serve as natural extensions of SL Green's core ownership in the Grand Central submarket of Midtown Manhattan. The Company has since made selective additions and dispositions to the holdings in these areas.
WESTFAIR COMMUNICATIONS INC. (Westfair), a privately held publishing firm located in White Plains, publishes tabloid-sized business newspapers online and in print: the Westchester County Business Journal, the Fairfield County (Connecticut) Business Journal, HVBiz, and WAG magazine, a glossy monthly publication. With the exception of HVBiz the Business Journals are nearly 50 years old and are the only weekly countywide business newspapers. They were founded by former Westchester resident David Moore, a grandson of celebrated New York publisher Joseph Pulitzer, and John Smith, a former Wall Street Journal editor. In keeping with its foundersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; principles, the newspapers focus only on the local business community with news and information that are helpful to business people and profiles on entrepreneurs and professionals, which are inspirational to the readers. The papers have gained credibility and respect in the region for their information, integrity, relevance and usefulness to readers.
March 21, 2016
WAG, a lifestyle magazine with unique upscale content, has become a popular and successful must-read for the savvy residents of Westchester and Fairfield counties. The company also sponsors interactive programs for its readers, some of which are joint-ventured with other businesses or community organizations. These programs cover a variety of subjects and take different forms, including seminars, expos, conferences, roundtable discussions and debates. For more information, visit westfaironline.com or wagmag. com or call 914-694-3600. A Division of Westfair Communications Inc. 3 Westchester Park Drive, White Plains, NY 10604 Telephone 914-694-3600 westfaironline.com
Downtown’s New Direction: Will smart growth get us there?
BUZZ CREATORS INC. is a Westchester-based boutique public relations and marketing firm servicing the metro New York area and beyond. At Buzz Creators, we believe that every business has its own unique and special story. Our goal is to help clients tell theirs. Buzz Creators helps its clients with developing strategic PR campaigns, media relations, social media, writing and editing, special events, thought leadership, start-up branding and more. The Buzz
Creators team has helped develop strategic communications programs for many well-respected global organizations, such as MasterCard Worldwide, HEINEKEN USA, Level 3 and UBS Financial Services, in addition to leveraging their PR, social media and marketing expertise to help many small businesses and nonprofits increase their presence in the marketplace. For more information on Buzz Creators, please visit: www.buzz-creators.com.
GREGORY SAHAGIAN & SON INC., a family-owned business established in 1990, provides high-quality shading products to a residential and commercial clientele. Innovative awning systems help transform any outdoor area into a useful space. The company’s goal is to create visibility and promote a business’s brand to its clients. GS&S crafts awnings incorporating custom lettering and logos to enhance storefronts and building entrances. HIGHLIGHTS: • The premier awning company in the tri-state area. • Proven project success over 25 years of experience. • Continually meeting and exceeding client expectations. • Proficient in residential, commercial, and industrial projects. SERVICES: • Coordinate with design professionals and landscape architects. • Validate project specifications by working alongside
certified engineers. • Develop frame design for CAD implementation. • Conduct detailed site survey with full construction knowledge. • Execute permit processing and filing with town boards. • Develop applications using UV rated and eco-friendly fabrics. • Provide excellent customer service with flexible scheduling. • Employ qualified and highly commended installation team. AFFILIATIONS: • AIAWHV (American Institute of Architects Westchester Hudson Valley). • IFAI (Industrial Fabrics Association International). • PAMA (Professional Awning Manufacturers Association). • NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business).
March 21, 2016
Your FREE 6-week trial MEMBERSHIP
is right at YOUR fingertips Visit westfaironline.com or contact
Audience Development Department | (914) 694-3600
March 21, 2016
DOWNTOWN’S NEW DIRECTION: WILL SMART GROWTH GET US THERE?
11:30A.M. TO 1:30P.M. BUFFET LUNCH INCLUDED
Tudor Room Pace University School of Law 78 North Broadway White Plains FEATURING
To RSVP go to w e
FORMER GOV. PARRIS GLENDENING President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design
ARTHUR COLLINS II
JESSICA A. BACHER
JOHN R. NOLON
Mayor, New Rochelle
CEO and President, Twining Properties
Co-founding Principal and President of Collins Enterprises LLC
Former Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in NY and Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Department in Connecticut.
Executive Director, Land Use Law Center Adjunct Professor of Law, Pace Law School
Distinguished Professor and Counsel to the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School
WESTCHESTER & FAIRFIELD COUNTY
For more information call Danielle Brody at 914-358-0757, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.