FAQ about NR Future

FAQ about development, answers from RDRXR

FAQ about NR Future

1. What is NR Future's relation to master developer RDRXR and the City of New Rochelle? NR Future is a program sponsored by RDRXR, but not managed by RDRXR or the City of New Rochelle. It's intent is to include the local community in downtown planning, development and programming decisions often predominantly reserved for just developers and municipalities. It’s managed by CSPM Group, a consulting firm that pioneered crowdsourced placemaking. The NR Future liaisons are employees of CSPM Group.

2. How has NR Future included the local community in decision making?In 2015, 1300 people cast 13,000 Likes to determine 18 ideas that were incorporated into the Recommended Action Plan that conceptualizes the development plan for downtown. You can see a summary of those results here. In 2016, $1750 in monthly grants are awarded to residents, chosen by residents, based on five categories (the NR Future Five) voted on by residents. NR Future, named by the community, also organized a petition to get public support for a State of NY $10 million downtown revitalization grant and established a Facebook Group of 800 millennials supporting downtown revitalization.

3. How can the 15,000 Likes and 2100 members on the NR Future website to date represent New Rochelle's 79,000 people? Like any survey, the Likes and members represented the people who most wanted to participate, including both online and offline via paper surveys. Everyone was allowed to participate, and all the results were transparently displayed in real time (and still are) so that everyone had an opportunity to make sure their voices were heard on ideas where they felt it wasn't, assuming there was a constituency to support them. While the initial survey campaign lasted three months to help determine what went into the Recommended Action Plan that was submitted in 2015, the survey is still live and publicly displayed to communicate ongoing and current priorities. That's also 15,000 Likes and 2100 members more than nothing, as even having such a transparent survey in shaping a downtown in the first place is unique to New Rochelle.

4. What is the future of NR Future and its website?
The potential is there, if the community is so willing at an appropriate point in the future, for NR Future to eventually become its own self-sustaining organization, managed as a nonprofit by the people who are the most trusted by the community to do so. That will come once NR Future establishes a strong leadership core and is widely recognized as a reliable and legitimate force for positive change in the community, as well as securing the significant amount of resources required for a full-time liaison, regular events and website maintenance.

5. Is NR Future sponsoring a crosswalk design program? No. The City of New Rochelle is looking to sponsor a crosswalk design competition that communicates a more creative brand for the city, utilizing a paint system that lasts. NR Future's only role is to allow residents to have a voice in what design principles should go into the request for artists, and naming the process: The Creative Crosswalks survey.

FAQ about development, answers from RDRXR

1. How is this any different than past development efforts in downtown New Rochelle?
This partnership between New Rochelle and RDRXR differs from past efforts in two ways: First, unlike former efforts that focused on one building or a single site at a time, this partnership is taking a comprehensive Master Developer Approach, which will allow elements of the redevelopment plan to be phased in a manner that is most responsive to market and community demand. Second, whereas former efforts were “top down”, with developers coming up with their plans and then seeking to convince the community of their wisdom, the partnership between the City and RDRXR takes the opposite tack, with RDRXR actively involving the community, the City and local businesses every step of the way, thereby producing a co-created vision for downtown that can be successfully implemented.

2. How can we be sure this will be a tax/economic positive?
The leadership in New Rochelle has made clear to RDRXR that, even if public investment is required in connection with the redevelopment plan, accounting for this, the project must ultimately generate more new tax and other revenue and economic activity for the city than it requires. As this will be a transparent and inclusive process, RDRXR and the City’s leadership will have the opportunity to explain how this will be accomplished to the community and the community will have the ability to stay involved and informed as the process unfolds.

3. Who is financing the project?
The developer will not only be fully responsible for financing any development that it ultimately undertakes in New Rochelle, but will even assume its costs and the City’s out-of-pocket costs associated with the planning of and public outreach efforts for the creation of the redevelopment plan. Once the redevelopment plan is adopted, it is possible that the City will be asked to make public investments to help bring specific projects to fruition (e.g., by building needed infrastructure), the City has made clear to the developer that any such public investments must ultimately generate net positive tax revenue for the City.

4. How many new school-aged children in New Rochelle will result from this process?
While it is too early to predict the specific impacts of the redevelopment plan, as we are just beginning the process, a few points can be made:
- RDRXR will support and cooperate with the consultant selected by the City of New Rochelle and the NR School District to develop an appropriate student generation model to more accurately project student enrollment as a result of Development. During these studies there will also be an evaluation of the school’s physical capacity to determine what measures must be taken to address any additional students that would join the district.
- The goal for the plan is to create a mixed-use development, not one that is purely residential. In addition to creating a vibrant downtown, the advantage of this approach is that it will generate significant incremental tax revenues and economic activity for the city to help offset any costs associated with the redevelopment.
- With respect to residential development, much of it will likely cater to young professionals and empty nesters with a greater number of smaller units (including studios and one bedrooms), responding to market driven demand -- again, all of this will be addressed through the co-creation process.
Finally, in connection with the approval of the proposed redevelopment plan, the SEQRA process will require an examination of the various impacts that the plan could have on the city, as well as a discussion of potential mitigants for these impacts.

5. Will there be housing that residents can afford?
To the extent the project includes new residential uses, they should be available to people at a mix of income levels. This goal can be accommodated by providing homes for our workers, young professionals and empty nesters by creating workforce and attainably-priced homes (both rental and ownership). To the extent that the law requires affordable housing that will obviously be provided according to statute.

6. Will there be displacement of residents or businesses?
RDRXR’s contract provides for the development only of City owned property. As such, for the land for which RDRXR is in contract, there is projected to be no displacement of residents or private businesses. To the extent a private property is developed in partnership with RDRXR, phasing will be taken that allows for temporary or permanent relocation strategies – RDRXR to work diligently for relocation options. As Master Developer, RDRXR will utilize its “Unified Development Approach™”, which is designed to foster partnerships with local property owners, to produce phasing strategies that, where there may be development-related displacement (likely only on privately-owned sites for which RDRXR is not currently in contract), will reduce such displacement, including by seeking to provide temporary or replacement permanent space for those who need such space
Finally, in all development in the City, residents and businesses will continue to have the benefit of the rights provided under their existing leases and under law.

7. Will there be eminent domain?
RDRXR is committed to a process that fosters partnership and collaboration with existing property owners in the communities in which it operates. With respect to eminent domain, RDRXR’s approach has proven to be successful in fostering partnerships with property owners, avoiding the need to explore legal remedies such as eminent domain, not only neutralizing potential conflicts, but increasing support for its efforts and shortening the time frame needed before construction can begin. The goal is to make the land use rules governing New Rochelle provide all property owners with the opportunity to redevelop their properties to higher and better uses, thereby realizing higher values.

8. Will there be PILOTs or other IDA assistance?
To the extent that the developers seek PILOTs or other assistance from the City, the City will ensure that, overall, the project generates substantially positive incremental value to the City, including net positive tax revenue, as well as job creation, new services and amenities for New Rochelle residents and new daytime and nighttime activity throughout downtown.

9. Will there be residential? If so, how much?
The full project will be a holistic and comprehensive mixed-use development, not be a purely “residential development”
Ultimately, whatever role residential development plays will be worked out through the public process and CSPM, with the extensive input from the community and necessary market analysis. It should be noted that residential uses are often necessary to support existing and new retail businesses and to help create sustained activity day and night. Any impact from residential development (and any other development, for that matter) will also need to be evaluated as part of the SEQRA process, with various mitigants to those impacts also evaluated and described.

10. Is the City handing the developer the keys? What is their recourse if the plan is not what the community wants?
The City has full control of this process. Throughout the process the City will be able to determine how RDRXR’s co-created vision is evolving with input from us and our community. Long story short, if the City cannot collectively agree on what should be built, then the project will not be approved by the City’s leadership and will not move forward. The City certainly doesn’t expect failure and has, to date, worked in a collaborative manner with the RDRXR team; but, rest assured, the needs of the City and the community will be met before the redevelopment plan is approved and the project begins. The City and RDRXR must agree to a development plan and zoning and any subsequent construction must abide by those documents. The zoning that is approved by the City takes into consideration market forces in terms of what development will be most successful, and when.

11. How much will the developer pay for the land?
The specific price will be determined through an appraisal process to ensure that the City is appropriately compensated for its land. The appraisal will take place after zoning is complete, to ensure that the price is representative of the post-entitled value of the land. The actual sale price will be determined in the context of the overall project.

12. Will there be assurance of local jobs created, such as through a Community Benefits Agreement?
RDRXR has shown in their other downtown projects not only a willingness to create, but a dedication to creating Community Benefit Agreements that focus on local hiring and local contractor participation, along with job training programs and other benefits. In addition, the project will abide by existing City Law in regard to community benefits agreements and policies

13. Will this be a Union Labor job?
RDRXR has shown in their other downtown projects dedicated interest in working with the Building Trades. As importantly, RDRXR has also been (and is, in New Rochelle) 100% dedicated to local hiring goals – with these goals enshrined in RDRXR’s other projects in community benefits agreements that seek to put local men and women to work, while including local contractors in the entire construction process. The details with respect to Union Labor and Local Hiring goals will be worked out and disclosed publicly before the project is finalized and approved. There will also be consideration for MWBE involvement throughout this process.

14. When is construction projected to begin?
Currently aiming for 18-36 months, but will depend on market conditions, though the Master Development Agreement provides milestones to ensure that development is proceeding.

15. How long will construction last?
Currently projecting a 7-10 year phased build out, with economic benefits that will give birth to additional development moving forward. As with all large-scale development projects, however, the precise timing will depend on market conditions.