Twining Properties presents New Rochelle waterfront plans

By Bill Heltzel

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A contaminated work yard, a decaying landmark and an industrial waterfront cut off from the city could become the front yard to New Rochelle’s downtown in a half-dozen years.

Twining Properties and Northwood Investors presented the city council with preliminary plans on Oct. 18 for Pratt Landing, a $300 million mixed-use development. The project includes an environmental cleanup that would decontaminate City Yard, find a new use for the New Rochelle Armory and connect the streetscape to Echo Bay.

The city had already decided in September to move its public works facility to make way for the development. And Twining’s exclusive rights to develop the property, scheduled to expire this month, have been extended to the end of January to give city officials time to evaluate the project.

This is not the first proposal for Echo Bay. Forest City Residential received the exclusive development rights in 2007. But after the firm scaled back plans and took on considerable opposition from residents, the city council scuttled the project in 2013.

Twining Properties, a New York developer that has built mixed-use projects from Boston to Washington, D.C., got the development rights in 2014. Its capital partner, Northwood Investors, is based in New York City and manages $6 billion in real estate assets worldwide.

Pratt Landing would be built on 12 acres at Main, Huguenot and Pratt streets, a 10-minute walk from the train station.

The plan calls for creating four city blocks.

Housing includes 450 units – townhomes, condominiums, apartment and lofts — that would attract a spectrum of ages and incomes, from millennials to empty nesters.

About 80,000 square feet of retail space would be built. Large stores would be on Main Street and smaller, mostly local and regional stores, would be grouped along Pratt Street extension in the middle of the project.

Plans also call for 25,000 square feet of offices, a hotel with 100 to 200 rooms and 1,000 parking spaces on the streets and in an underground garage.

The buildings are proposed to incorporate solar power, turbines and roofs planted with greenery. A three-acre park, courtyards, a dock at the waterfront and a wrap around esplanade would meld the greenspace with the cityscape.

Wide streets and sidewalks would open up views to Echo Bay and make it easy to get around by walking, biking and driving.

Company CEO and President Alex Twining told council members that the idea is to create a mix of uses that will give residents, neighbors and tourists a place to live, work, play, shop and dine.

He described his project as very different than the Forest City plan. That design was more of a private enclave that privatized the waterfront. His is more like a village that draws people to the waterfront, Twinings said.

It’s the difference between a private backyard and a communal front yard. “By having different uses,” Twining said, “it makes a more vibrant place all hours of the day. You feel safe there. You feel comfortable there.”

The armory at 260-270 E. Main St. became a contentious issue with Forest City. It was built around 1931, but has idled and decayed for several years. Veterans and other residents wanted the company to fix it and put it to use.

Twining said the grand old building would be restored, though a specific use has not yet been determined.

Twining’s PowerPoint presentation looks nothing like today’s site. City Yard was built in 1916, when shorelines were seen as places for industry rather than public amenities. Sprawling garages and repair shops, salt piles and recycling areas and a century of hard use have left an eyesore and an environmental mess.

The city is relocating most of its public works operation to 70 Nardozzi Place, near Interstate 95 and Costco, where a company affiliated with Bronx-based Simone Development Cos. will put up a five-story building.

The city council approved a $30 million bond to finance the project.

The city has applied for a $720,000 state grant to help pay for demolishing buildings at City Yard and for restoring the shoreline.

The grant would assure Twining that the city is a solid partner, the application states, and prepare a “shovel-ready site for development.”

When City Yard closes in mid-2018, Twining can begin cleaning up the 6.5-acre site. Last year, the state approved a brownfield tax credit that can be claimed if the work is done by 2019.

Removing contaminated soil will create a huge pit that will be used for a parking garage. The developer would begin building streets, sidewalks and utilities in late 2018, according to Twining’s schedule. Buildings will start to rise in early 2020.

Pending further approvals, Pratt Landing will be finished by 2021 or 2022.

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About the author

Bill Heltzel
Bill Heltzel has covered criminal justice, courts, government and sports – as a beat reporter and investigative reporter – for daily newspapers in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He worked for Bloomberg LP in training and sales. He joined The Business Journal in 2016.

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