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Thread: Renewal and Resistance in Yonkers

  1. #1

    Default Renewal and Resistance in Yonkers

    April 4, 2003

    Luxury Rentals on Yonkers Waterfront


    The first residential development in downtown Yonkers in more than 30 years, a luxury rental complex with 266 one- and two-bedroom apartments, is nearing completion on the city's burgeoning waterfront. Called Hudson Square, the $60 million complex includes 22,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space.

    For Yonkers, the opening of the apartment complex represents a major step in the rebirth of its downtown waterfront, a former industrial site that fell into disrepair in the 1950's and 1960's. According to Edward A. Sheeran, the Yonkers director of economic development, Hudson Park is the single largest private investment in the waterfront in the city's history.

    Larkin Center, the new 200,000-square-foot home of the Yonkers Public Library and the city's Board of Education, opened in October across the street from Hudson Park on the former site of the headquarters of Otis Elevator, which left in 1972.

    Next to the apartments, the Metro-North Railroad station is undergoing a $35 million renovation of its historic Beaux Arts structure. The revived waterfront also features the newly opened Esplanade Park, a 1.5-mile promenade with unobstructed views of the Palisades on the opposite shore.

    The developer of the Hudson Park complex is Collins Enterprises, which is based in Stamford, Conn. Collins, which specializes in the redevelopment of urban properties, has built a number of residential and office projects in Connecticut. The latest is an $18 million, 75,000-square-foot office complex on the site of a former American Cyanamid factory on the Stamford waterfront.

    Collins, in a joint venture with Avalon Bay Communities, built the Avalon, a 110-unit, $26.5 million rental complex completed in 1998 in Bronxville in Westchester County. A year and a half ago, Collins sold its interest in the project to Avalon Bay. Arthur Collins II, president of the company, said his concern, which also has several housing projects in Norfolk, Va., was actively considering other sites in Westchester.

    Because Hudson Park is situated next to the Getty Square Station on the Metro-North's Hudson line, the apartments are being marketed to professionals in their 20's and empty nesters, many of whom want to be close to Manhattan, Mr. Collins said. The express train from Getty Square to Grand Central Station at rush hour takes 28 minutes. But with the location convenient to major highways, Mr. Collins said he was also focusing on renters working in Westchester.

    The new apartment complex is comprised of two brick buildings, each of which are staggered in height from four to nine stories to maintain views of the waterfront for the public from other vantage points in the city. The apartments range from 697 square feet to 1,147 square feet, with rents beginning at $1,575 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and going up to $2,936 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with a den on the ninth floor with a full view of the river. Tenants are being offered the first month's rent free.

    Included in the rent are amenities like membership in a fitness center, use of an on-site business center and concierge service. All apartments include washers and dryers. Parking in a covered area costs $75 a month; in outside areas, it is $50 a month.

    The architect for the project, Do H. Chung of Stamford, who has worked with Collins Enterprises since 1975, said he designed Hudson Park so that as many apartments as possible had views of the Hudson. Because of the manner in which the buildings are massed and the way their heights are staggered, at least 80 percent of the apartments have at least partial river views, he said.

    Brick was used for the facade of each building, in four different colors and sizes to give the impression of many separate buildings, Mr. Chung said, and the style of the eaves and trim varies.

    He said his firm, Do H. Chung & Partners, followed design guidelines for the Yonkers waterfront established by Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, the firm that produced the master plan for Battery Park City.

    Under an agreement with the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency, Collins is leasing the two and a quarter acres of waterfront land on which its buildings sit from the city. The developer will make payments in lieu of taxes to the city for the first 15 years; for the first 10 years, these payments will be $70,000 a year, after which they will increase in steps to about $1 million. After 15 years, Collins will be responsible for about $1 million in annual property taxes.

    A rental office is open at the site, and occupancy is to begin on May 15.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

    Default Renewal and Resistance in Yonkers

    November 2, 2003

    Renewal and Resistance


    YONKERS--On a recent Thursday afternoon, a handful of diners lingered over elegant dishes of poached salmon and shaved fennel in an airy exposed-brick restaurant called Zuppa. Nearby, the Hudson River lapped serenely at the edge of a new apartment building with a 24-hour health club and a swimming pool.

    A few blocks away, in the heart of southwest Yonkers, shoppers picked through children's coats in C. H. Martin's, a discount department store. Sale signs papered the display windows of Easy Pickins and 99 Cent Dreams. Up the hill is Mulford Gardens, a housing project built in 1939, where a fifth of all families live below the poverty level, more than triple the rate in Westchester County.

    In many ways, Yonkers, the fourth-largest city in New York State, is a city that time forgot. As development boomed across Westchester in the 1990's, Yonkers languished, stained by corrupt politics and stinging accusations of racism. Downtown storefronts remained boarded up. Dollar stores did the bulk of the business in the impoverished area.

    But gradually, over the last year, Yonkers, Westchester County's largest city, has begun to re-emerge on the development map. Two new luxury apartment buildings have been built on the waterfront, just two blocks from Getty Square, the poorest Yonkers neighborhood. Zuppa, the city's first new white linen table-cloth restaurant in a long while, opened nearby. The city's long-traveling library was given a permanent home in a new glass building.

    "We're doing it," said Mayor John D. Spencer of Yonkers. "We're trying to take an area that for 30 years stagnated. It has never been done before. This is not the politics of old."

    But as the mayor's office, fresh with success, prepares for more downtown projects, including a minor league baseball stadium, some locals are eyeing the plans nervously. Residents say they fear rising rents. They do not want local discount stores to be replaced by pricier national chains. And they do not want traffic from a stadium clogging their streets. A local property owner is even trying to block plans for the stadium in court, with a suit filed in State Supreme Court that challenges how the city is handling the stadium development.

    "I think they are trying to get rid of the poor people," said Margaret Jessamy, 80, a cashier at C. H. Martin's, the discount department store, who has lived in the area since 1941. "They're trying to tell us to just go away. They want us to disappear."

    In the economic logic of development, more businesses in an area means an improvement in the life of people there. Mayor Spencer argues that increased business activity from the ballpark, and higher wage earners in the new apartments, will ultimately boost tax revenues and improve the school system. Southwest Yonkers, depressed for years, would benefit from an infusion of higher-wage earners, he argues, and the stadium, which will include 110,000 square feet of retail space, will draw crowds of new spenders to the neighborhood. Development is a big issue in the current mayoral race, with the Republican candidate, Deputy Mayor Phil Amicone, a Spencer protégé, pressing to continue the projects in his race against Joe L. Farmer, the former Yonkers school superintendent and a Democrat.

    "We're looking to elevate people who live there, not move them out," Mayor Spencer said.

    But as development collides with the economics of poverty, maintaining that balance can be tricky. Development has swept across American cities over the last 20 years with a very mixed record of integration of poor and rich. Rising prices and rents often leave many longtime residents behind.

    "I don't care whether you're in Harlem or Westchester, if your area has been targeted by a developer, you're going to have these same things happening," said Nellie Bailey, head of the Harlem Tenants' Council. "The whole intent is to generate money, and you can't do that off of poor people."

    Yonkers had a grand and prosperous past. It was a shopping hub in the 1940's, when traffic flowed on railroads and rivers instead of highways. The Broadway musical "Hello Dolly" tells the story of a prominent Yonkers businessman. A 19th-century artists' colony is now a leafy enclave on the city's eastern edge.

    But in the 1960's, the demographics began to change, in part because of urban renewal programs in nearby areas that drove the poor to housing projects in Yonkers. According to the 1980 census, the mile-square area around Mulford Gardens contained 97.7 percent of the city's public housing and 80.7 percent of the city's minority population. Those families would later clash with the city's predominantly white local government.

    "Yonkers was stagnant, a political mess for 20 or 30 years, while other cities were developing," said Mayor Spencer. "It had such a failed, failed record."

    In the mid-1980's, the city of Yonkers announced an ambitious plan to revitalize its Hudson River waterfront. Six luxury apartment high-rises were expected to bring life back to the depressed area. An abandoned power station would be transformed into condominiums.

    The plans quickly unraveled several years later, when an emotional and public battle over school desegregation turned Yonkers into a poster child for dysfunctional local government.

    IT was not the city's first false start. The earliest plans for redevelopment date to 1953. One attempt at waterfront renewal was heralded by setting white Roman-style colonnades into the façade of a downtown building. The columns were later assailed as tacky and were ripped out. The development never began. The stately Carnegie Library was torn down to widen a road, and the books were stashed, for 18 years, in a building that was once a department store.

    In those years of stagnation, the quality of life for residents steadily declined. Neighborhoods in the area became infested with drugs. In Nodine Hill, a hilly neighborhood of old two-family homes, frequent fires left empty, burned out lots, giving the area a look of a jaw with knocked-out teeth. Street violence in the area tormented parents, who feared for their children's lives.

    Random gunfire last year claimed the life of the daughter of Julio and Alba Guzman, immigrants from El Salvador. Late one afternoon, as the toddler lay on her parents' bed watching a Winnie the Pooh video, the crack of an explosion and shattered glass shook the room. A neighbor with a high-power rifle had been shooting target practice from his window and missed, hitting the toddler in the head. She died on the way to the hospital.

    "It's dangerous here," said Mr. Guzman, who last month moved his family into a small, new home in a different neighborhood, built by Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit group. "It was an accident, but that kind of accident should never have happened. We can never feel safe here."

    Downtown development can help heal those social ills, argues Edward A. Sheeran, head of the city's Industrial Development Agency. The agency estimates that about $600 million in new investment has been added to the economy since the development began, along with a substantial number of new jobs. Graffiti has been scrubbed from the sides of buildings. Small banners fly from lamp posts and a colorful mural has been painted across the side of formerly forlorn downtown walls.

    "In 1997, we couldn't even get the developers to stop in Yonkers for a cup of coffee," he said. "It used to be you couldn't give away waterfront property. Now it's worth $1.1 million an acre."

    For Mr. Sheeran, rising rents, at least in commercial spaces, mean progress. But for the area's residents, it is a frightening new fact of life. For decades, southwest Yonkers was a last-resort area in an otherwise pricey county. Housing prices in Westchester have more than doubled since 1997, with the median home price at $530,000 from about $175,000.

    Peter Smith, director of municipal housing in Yonkers, called the situation in the county a "housing crisis." A 1997 home ownership program for residents of public housing never got off the ground because of climbing prices, he said. In all the city has 2,609 apartments for low-income people and another 1,700 apartments are currently accepting Section 8 certificates, federal housing subsidies paid to landlords. The waiting list for public housing is between 1,000 and 1,200 families. Another 70 to 80 families a year receive rent and mortgage subsidies. The waiting list for those subsidies is about 1,500 families.

    "In Westchester, there's a large population in need of affordable housing," said Mr. Smith. "Incomes here just have not gone up in any way, shape or form, commensurate with rents."

    Valerie Perez, 39, and her mother and sister moved to Yonkers last year, after their landlord in Sleepy Hollow sold their $900-a-month two-bedroom apartment. Their search led them to several different towns. They even saw apartments without bathrooms. Many landlords would not consider their application because Ms. Perez, who formerly worked entering data in the county clerk's office, is unemployed. Her sister, Salome, cleans apartments and baby-sits. Their apartment is on the edge of the proposed baseball stadium site.

    "We don't know where to go," said Ms. Perez, standing with a mug of instant coffee in her small kitchen. "Rents are changing so dramatically. We have found them astronomical. It's a very scary thing."

    But it would be hard to argue that in southwest Yonkers, nothing should change. Jonathan Rose, chairman of board of the Greyston Foundation, which has financed the construction of about 150 low-rent apartments in Yonkers, argued that drawing bigger wage-earners to the area was the best hope for progress among longtime residents. Mr. Rose, who is also president of Jonathan Rose Companies, a developer based in Katonah, has bid for a large site on the Yonkers waterfront, just north of the new luxury apartments.

    "It's not the gentrification that's bad, it's the lack of income diversity," he said. "When rents are low, building values are low and taxes are low. Communities find it hard to dig out. Having only low rents is condemning people who live in those communities to having low services and underfunded schools. It doesn't help their kids move forward."

    The stadium has raised a great deal of opposition from people who say it is a good idea in the wrong place, that it would be too hard to get to, and that the project too much a mix of goals. In all, the stadium would displace families in about 16 apartments, a relatively small number as development goes. The site spans four city blocks, and will stand on land that is now occupied by about 20 small businesses. Some want to sell out, Mr. Sheeran said. Others, including a women's clothing store, Suzy's Fashions, a photo developing service and C. H. Martin's, the discount department store that opened in 1979, have dug in to fight the development.

    "Show me a plan," said Martin D. Goldman, owner of C. H. Martin Company, a New Jersey-based chain of discount stores. "They're not telling us anything."

    He added: "I employ 35 people year round and 50 people during Christmas. I pay taxes."

    Mr. Martin said the city has yet to tell the businesses their new location or the rent they will have to pay. Others criticized the city for offering economic incentives and tax breaks to the new developers. The waterfront apartments, for example, are owned by Collins Enterprises, based in Stamford, Conn., which bought the land at about a fifth of the market rate, and made a one-time payment that exempted the project from up to 12 years of property taxes, said Arthur Collins, president of the company.

    Debra Cohen, a lawyer representing the small businesses opposed to the project, said: "People who live and work in southwest Yonkers feel like they're disposable, like they're yesterday's garbage. Do you really think the best philosophy of economic development is clearing the city out block by block or are you better trying to blend the old and the new?"

    The administration said it was working hard to accommodate current business owners. Mr. Sheeran acknowledged that no specific locations or rents had been discussed, but that is because the developer has not yet been chosen.

    "We're not coming in with bulldozers and disrespecting the life of the people," said Mayor Spencer. "We want all the businesses in the area."

    Many see the stadium as the city's last hope to draw big retail to downtown. In an emotional debate about the stadium at a recent City Council meeting, a council member, Gordon A. Burrows, compared Yonkers with White Plains, its neighbor and Westchester's capital. White Plains is experiencing a boom in its downtown in an aggressive development push led by the city's mayor. Downtown Yonkers, far from the highway, and bound on one side by the Hudson River, should instead fasten its hopes for economic progress on the stadium, he said.

    YONKERS housing advocates, however, do not have fond memories of past development in White Plains. An urban renewal program there in the 1960's and 70's, drove many of the lower income residents out of the city into Yonkers, said Mr. Smith. It was the exodus from White Plains, many argue, that helped make the early problems for Yonkers.

    "I'm afraid of a repeat of White Plains," said Lisa Best, a community advocate and resident of Mulford Gardens. "If you don't have the economics to keep up with the pace of the city, you'll be forced out."

    Blending the old with the new will indeed be the biggest challenge for planners in Yonkers. Kennedy Smith, director of the National Main Street Center, a Washington-based nonprofit group that helps communities revitalize, said planning by city administrations is the key to success. While the vast majority of development in the last several decades has pushed out longtime residents, more recently, preserving the present has become part of the planning process.

    "Ten years ago, no one recognized that it was a problem," said Ms. Smith. "It just seemed like, 'Great, new investment is coming in.' "

    Ms. Smith cited neighborhoods in Washington and Hollywood, where urban renewal has been inclusive, with loan and grant funds available to help existing businesses stay where they are.

    "The most common mistake is dealing with these problems too late," Ms. Smith said, "after market forces have already transformed the district."

    Harlem, where urban renewal has been booming for several years, is a case in point. Ms. Bailey, of the Harlem Tenants' Council, said development in Harlem raced ahead so fast that it left the poorest - those it had initially been intended to help - worse off. Local leaders, she said, put little thought or preparation into how to help the poor.

    "More landlords in newly gentrified neighborhoods are getting rid of people who can't afford to pay the rising rents," said Ms. Bailey. "It's almost politically incorrect to talk about them. The black leadership in Harlem simply takes the view that you are holding up progress."

    It remains to be seen how development in Yonkers will proceed. As the neighborhood waits and watches, the process marches forward. On a recent Thursday at 5 p.m., a band of residents, property owners and journalists sat on wooden benches in the City Council viewing galley. Ms. Perez sat with her sister. Mr. Goldman, dressed in a gray suit and gold-colored tie, reclined slightly, his left arm slung over the bench's high back. Council members were meeting to vote on whether to allow the mayor to begin the eminent domain process for the stadium. Of the six members present, two voted "no" - those from the districts that would be directly affected by the building of the stadium.

    "I live with the people who live and shop here," said Symra D. Brandon, one of the representatives who opposed the stadium, in a passionate address to fellow council members. "They don't frequent the Gap or high-end stores. There has to be some sort of a mix. Think about the people who live here."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  3. #3


    July 2, 2004

    Where Fixing a Problem Yields Anxiety


    Mulford Gardens in Yonkers, one of the nation's oldest housing projects, has 70 entrances, making security a challenge.

    YONKERS - Mulford Gardens is, by all accounts, a notorious public housing project: a cracking, leaking behemoth in southwest Yonkers that is teeming with crack addicts, reeking of urine, infested with mice and devoid of any soothing greenery or recreational space that its name might suggest.

    Now there is a plan to tear it down and replace it with cutting-edge subsidized housing: an architecturally winsome mix of town houses, single-family houses and apartment buildings. City officials had for years sought money for the plan from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and finally, last month, after a push by Representative Nita M. Lowey, they got it.

    Other large cities have greeted plans to demolish troubled housing projects with celebrations, and the replacement plan should bring praise in a city where the existing housing complex has long been a scene of crime and source of civic shame. But this is Yonkers, where a desegregation battle has raged for nearly a quarter-century, and where nothing is simple.

    For residents of Mulford Gardens, there is anxiety over where they will end up. For city officials, there is satisfaction that the Mulford Gardens redevelopment will cure one social ill while helping the city in its mission to revamp its waterfront and spruce up the neighborhoods leading to it.

    And for those who see Yonkers as a city that has failed to comply with a desegregation order, it is just another plan to keep black people segregated from middle-class whites.

    Whether it becomes the next front in the continuing war over housing desegregation here, a conflict many thought had receded, remains to be seen. But a lawyer for the Yonkers branch of the N.A.A.C.P., which joined the United States Justice Department in a discrimination lawsuit against the city in the early 1980's, says that replacing Mulford Gardens on the existing site would violate the desegregation order that was put in place by a federal judge in 1988.

    That order called for the creation of new public housing outside southwest Yonkers. Two hundred units of public housing, on seven scattered sites, were completed in the early 1990's.

    But the city has so far achieved just two-thirds of the required 600 units in the separate affordable housing category, even though the deadline has passed.

    The desegregation order, from Leonard B. Sand of Federal District Court, came in response to allegations that Yonkers, a city of nearly 200,000 people just north of the New York City border, had contributed to decades of segregated housing and schools by placing subsidized housing in the southwest.

    The dispute convulsed this sprawling city, the fourth-largest in New York, which was held up as a center of racism after local lawmakers at first defied the court order.

    The wounds had started to heal, however, as the order was quietly carried out. But now Mulford Gardens is threatening to become a new obstacle in the continuing conflict.

    "All it's going to do is recreate the segregation in somewhat nicer accommodations," said Michael H. Sussman, the lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P.

    He said that a lawsuit from the organization over the Mulford Gardens proposal was likely.

    City officials, for their part, believe they are doing the right thing by the residents there. They point to the opportunities for homeownership, as well as plans for on-site job-training, computer access and child-care programs.

    Indeed, lost amid the years of defiance and foot-dragging was another component of the desegregation order: to make living conditions better for the residents, most of them minorities, left behind in the public housing in the city's southwest.

    The Mulford Gardens plan comes at a rare moment in Yonkers's history, when the needs of the poor seem to dovetail with the desires of the city. After years of fruitless discussion about redeveloping the city's waterfront, upscale rental buildings, loft spaces and restaurants have started to rise.

    But Mulford Gardens sits just off Ashburton Avenue, a hard-luck road of vacant storefronts that happens to be a main gateway to the waterfront.

    By replacing Mulford Gardens, then, the city is hoping to upgrade the Ashburton Avenue corridor. "We want to make Ashburton Avenue a much more easily traveled and attractive route to the waterfront," said Mayor Philip A. Amicone. "We want new retail along Ashburton Avenue and to bring in not just low income, but middle income and upper income."

    Indeed, one of the precepts of the federal program known as Hope VI, which awarded Yonkers the $20 million grant in the spring, is reducing concentrations of poverty. In Yonkers, that will be achieved by adding a greater range of incomes and reducing the density on the current site.

    Built in 1939, Mulford Gardens is one of the oldest public housing projects in the country. From the 1940's through the 1960's, it was considered a desirable steppingstone for working-class families. It was safe, and there were even gardens. "When you moved here at that time, it was like an upgrade," said Emma Taylor, 64, a tenant since 1966. "They had trees, and they kept it up so nice."

    But today the 550-unit complex, made up of connecting three-story buildings of drab brick, resembles nothing so much as a detention center.

    Gregory Flowers, 41, said his two-bedroom apartment, which he shares with his girlfriend and their 3-year-old son, was so infested that he caught "at least six or seven mice every night with those glue traps."

    City officials say the project is beyond updating, with an antiquated electrical system, leaking steam pipes and cracking retaining walls. The city's Municipal Housing Authority recently spent $225,000 to fix a steam leak under one of those walls. "You didn't improve the quality of life one bit," said Peter Smith, executive director of the housing authority.

    In addition, the housing project has 70 separate entrances, making it difficult for the police to catch drug dealers who gravitate there. It is a menacing place, and the Police Department estimates that more than two-thirds of those arrested at Mulford Gardens do not live in the complex.

    The plan is to replace the 550 units with an equal number of residences. But only 187 apartments will be built on the 12-acre site. The remaining units will be built on a half-dozen sites nearby.

    Most of the apartments will fall into the standard public-housing category, with very low rents geared toward welfare recipients, the disabled and the elderly. The rest will be a mix of "home-ownership" units and so-called affordable rentals for those with slightly higher incomes. The developer plans to build some market-rate housing as well.

    Mr. Sussman of the N.A.A.C.P. contends that all of the new subsidized housing should go on the predominantly white East Side of the city. But many residents appear to have little interest in picking up and moving across town to make a political point.

    "We love our community, and we love the conveniences of the area," said Lisa Best, a longtime tenant who said the city's East Side offered less public transportation and fewer affordable day care centers.

    As for the old neighborhood, Kristin M. Miller, president of the Richman Group Development Corporation in Greenwich, Conn., which is developing the site with the Landex Corporation, said she hoped that "in five years, when you drive by Mulford Gardens, you won't look at it and say, 'That's a public housing project.' "

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  4. #4


    January 6, 2005

    Yonkers Plans to Uncover River Running Through It


    The Saw Mill River before going underground at Ann Street in Yonkers.

    YONKERS, Jan. 5 - In the mid-17th century, a young Dutch lawyer named Adriaen van der Donck cleared a patch of wilderness and built a house and a sawmill on a bend in a winding tributary of the Hudson River. Mr. van der Donck was known as "the Jonker" - or "young squire" - and the town that evolved around his property became known as "the Jonker's land," and later Yonkers.

    Yonkers became the state's fourth-largest city, but the tributary on which it grew - now known as the Saw Mill River - was channelized and diverted to make room for buildings and roadways. Around the turn of the last century, the section that runs through downtown Yonkers was almost totally covered over, relegated to a dark culvert that passes beneath the city's center.

    On Wednesday, however, Gov. George E. Pataki signaled that the rebirth of the Saw Mill River might be at hand.

    In his State of the State address before the Legislature, the governor said he would work with the City of Yonkers on a plan to uncover sections of the river and make it "a centerpiece of the city's redevelopment blueprint."

    The governor has approved a $25,000 grant to help pay for a feasibility study that will analyze the costs and practicality of the proposal, a spokeswoman said.

    "The Saw Mill River has been paved over, invisible and almost forgotten in downtown Yonkers," said Ned Sullivan, the president of Scenic Hudson, an environmental and conservancy organization that has been spearheading the effort to incorporate a restored river into the city's master plan. He said that a salvaged river "has the potential to transform downtown Yonkers."

    The 20-mile-long river begins in a pond in Chappaqua in northern Westchester County and runs south, passing through municipalities and running alongside 16 miles of the Saw Mill River Parkway. For most of its length, the river is open and visible.

    But at School Street in Yonkers, on the eastern flank of the open-air parking lot known as Chicken Island, it disappears underground. It briefly re-emerges at Henry Herz Street at the southern edge of the lot, curves sharply to the northwest to Ann Street, then disappears into another culvert. For its last half-mile, the river passes beneath stores and office buildings, Larkin Plaza and the train station, then spews into the Hudson on the west side of the train tracks at Dock Street.

    "If you look at a map, it's like the case of the disappearing river," said Carol Capobianco, coordinator for the Saw Mill River Coalition, an advocacy group that has campaigned for the revitalization of the river. "A lot of people don't know it's there."

    The plan calls for reopening the river where it skirts Chicken Island and incorporating it into the designs for a proposed minor-league baseball stadium. It would also be uncovered in Larkin Plaza, near the site of the old sawmill, where Scenic Hudson hopes to mimic the original s-curve of the river. A river walk would be built along its exposed lengths.

    Planners determined that trying to open the remaining downtown sections of the river would require tearing down too many buildings.

    Scenic Hudson and other proponents of the plan argue that a river walk would help to renew and enliven the downtown by beautifying the city, drawing visitors, and providing ecological and educational benefits. The proposal follows a national trend of recovering forgotten urban waterways: In the early 1990's, Providence, R.I., uncovered the Moshassuck and Woonasquatucket Rivers and San Antonio cleaned up the San Antonio River and turned it into an entertainment destination.

    "We want to return to the city not only an amenity but also a very crucial part of their history," said Raymond J. Curran, the senior urban planner for Scenic Hudson.

    According to Mr. Sullivan, Governor Pataki told Scenic Hudson several years ago that he wanted to uncover the Saw Mill River, and asked the organization to move the plan forward.

    Two summers ago, Mr. Curran did some initial reconnaissance, strapping on boots and wading into the spooky culvert beneath downtown Yonkers. "It's pretty nasty," he recalled. "All you see is what you see with a flashlight."

    Supported by the governor, Scenic Hudson persuaded the city of the plan's merits. The developers of the baseball stadium also embraced the idea and agreed to shift the footprint of the complex to the east to incorporate the river into its plans for an adjoining pedestrian and retail plaza.

    The effort is part of a wider campaign by Scenic Hudson and other groups to help towns and developers integrate the natural ecosystem of the Hudson River into new developments and to restore the Hudson and its tributaries as public and natural resources.

    Mr. Sullivan, an optimist by vocation, envisions a day when people will fish and swim throughout the Hudson River estuary. He can even picture children one day tubing down the length of the Saw Mill River. "Why not?" he said, unflinchingly. "Why not dream?"

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  5. #5


    January 16, 2005


    A Dowdy Mall Warily Awaits Its Makeover


    YONKERS - The venerable Cross County Shopping Center has developed a local reputation for being the oldest shopping center in the United States. The truth is that it only looks as though it has been around forever.

    Cross County opened in 1956, well after other shopping centers were already operating around the country. But it was a rarity in the New York suburbs and quickly became an important part of the community's emotional tapestry, the site of shopping expeditions for prom dresses and first communion outfits, family outings and first dates.

    Eventually it grew old and dowdy, as other malls sprang up elsewhere in the region and tugged at its clientele. But Leonard Marx, the center's managing partner for about 25 years until he died in April 2002 at the age of 97, ignored the supplications of retailers and city administrators to modernize the place.

    The shoppers were still coming, he would say, so why change anything? And, indeed, the shopping center remained profitable, in spite of its looks. Mr. Marx expanded it from 27 stores in the late 1970's to more than 100 at the time of his death.

    But Mr. Marx's successors, sensing that time may finally be on the verge of overtaking the center, are planning a $100 million overhaul and expansion that they hope will keep the complex abreast of other newer, more polished malls in a robust regional retail market that analysts say is only going to become more competitive.

    The center's facelift also coincides with a major push by Yonkers city administrators to renew the worn out city with billions of dollars in mostly private development.

    The physical problems besieging Cross County are readily apparent to any visitor: The entire place sags. The parking lot, which was built on a marsh, now has the rolling contours of a golf course fairway. Fissures snake through the walkways. Many of the stores' facades are remnants of the mid-20th century. And where newer shopping centers have integrated enhancements from the natural world, like landscaping and foliage, much of Cross County remains a giant slab of unadulterated concrete. It is aggressively un-hip.

    "It's bad," said Gregg Sanzari, a partner in Street-Works, a development and consulting group based in White Plains that is designing the overhaul of Cross County. "Everybody knows it. They did Band-Aid fixes repeatedly."

    But for whatever it has lost in aesthetics and panache over the years, it has gained in location, analysts say. It sits at the intersection of two major highways, Interstate 87 and the Cross County Parkway. While many retailers, particularly the national, big-box stores, have found it difficult to penetrate the Westchester County retail market because of the scarcity of large tracts of available real estate, Cross County sits on a 74-acre parcel with an abundance of parking spaces.

    Retailers jealously guard their sales numbers, but some indication of the center's retail potential comes from Juan Rivera, the general manager of the Sears that serves as one of the mall's anchors. The store is ranked among the top 10 Sears stores nationwide in sales volume, Mr. Rivera said.

    Still, the center's primacy in the southwestern corner of Westchester is now threatened. Forest City Ratner Companies is planning to build a huge mixed-use retail, business, residential and entertainment complex in Yonkers, called the Ridge Hill Village Center, about three miles from Cross County.

    In addition, some national retailers are finding creative ways of sliding into the space-deficient retail market in Westchester. Target has opened a store, for example, in a basement space in the new City Center project in White Plains, forgoing its preference for a ground-level and highly visible shop front.

    Retail experts in the region say Westchester still has plenty of room for new retail stores.

    According to calculations by Peter Ripka, a partner in Ripco Real Estate, which is brokering retail leases for the Ridge Hill project, there is one Target, Wal-Mart or Kmart for every 80,000 to 100,000 people on Long Island. In Westchester, he said, there is one of those big retailers for every 250,000 residents.

    "Competition has increased so much that centers have to constantly renovate or expand to keep themselves fresh in the consumer's mind," said Malachy Kavanagh, vice president for communications at the International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York-based industry trade group.

    Al DelBello, a lawyer who represents Cross County's ownership group, Dollar Land Syndicate, said that the Ridge Hill development had helped motivate Mr. Marx's successors to renovate. But he said Cross County would continue to cater to a middle-class clientele, particularly shoppers from the Bronx, Mount Vernon and Yonkers. Ridge Hill, he said, would probably be focusing on a more upscale market.

    Philip A. Amicone, mayor of Yonkers, said the Cross County overhaul would mean more jobs, revenues and shopping opportunities.

    It will also help freshen up the city. The Amicone administration has been promoting several billion dollars worth of development in the city, particularly along the downtown waterfront, including the construction of thousands of rental apartments, office space, restaurants and other commercial businesses, a public esplanade, a library, a parking garage and most recently a plan to uncover portions of the Saw Mill River.

    His goal, he said, is to restore the round-the-clock vitality of downtown Yonkers.

    The Cross County renovation plans call for adding 200,000 square feet of retail space to the existing 900,000 square feet and for refurbishing existing buildings. The owners also intend to rebuild intersections to make access easier and unsnarl traffic, construct a parking tower and redesign and beautify the streetscapes.

    If the governmental review process goes smoothly, Mr. Sanzari said, the investors hope to break ground in the spring of 2006 and complete construction by the end of 2008.

    But the facelift at Cross County is not welcome news for everyone there. It promises not only to change the appearance of the center but also, some retailers suspect, to alter the essential nature of the place.

    Many stores are independently owned, and proprietors fear that the renovation will increase rents, driving them elsewhere or out of business.

    "A lot of mom-and-pop stores are going to be deep-sixed," said Adam Lauzar, who owns the Florsheim Stratford Shoe store, one of the oldest businesses in the mall.

    The mall, Mr. Lauzar said, had always had a friendly and communal atmosphere, a tone set by Mr. Marx, who would drop by the stores to talk business with the proprietors and always seemed to have their best interests in mind. The new ownership group, Mr. Lauzar said, seems more aloof.

    "It's been a great mall," he said, the wistfulness in his voice suggesting that an era was coming to an end.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Mieres, Asturias, Spain


    More or less I know about what talk this post, and I can't read it all because my english is so bad for it and I haven't enought time (My exams are near and I have tons for study) ...but... why anyone write??
    Why only Kris write in this post?
    Oh.. I think I'm getting crazy this weekend.. I have to stop to study hehe.

  7. #7


    February 19, 2006
    In the Region | Westchester
    Expanding New York City Into Yonkers


    IF it is approved by local officials, a $3.1 billion proposal unveiled earlier this month to revive major areas throughout this gritty city with new residences, a ballpark and stores would be the largest municipal revitalization effort in Westchester County, far outstripping even the construction that is transforming downtown White Plains.

    Indeed, the cost of the proposal here is almost as large as the plan for the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, which has been described as the biggest project in the borough's history and the third-biggest ever in New York City.

    Parts of the Yonkers plan have been unsuccessfully proposed before. The catalyst for the latest version is Louis R. Cappelli, the Valhalla-based developer who is behind $2 billion in residential and commercial projects in White Plains and New Rochelle.

    For Yonkers, Mr. Cappelli has joined forces with Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse of Baltimore and Fidelco Group of Millburn, N.J. The two companies last year outlined a proposal for a 6,500-seat ballpark that would be home to an expansion franchise in the independent Atlantic League. Proposals for a minor league ballpark here have stalled under two different developers since first being put forth in 2002.

    Mr. Cappelli said he was trying, in effect, to expand the northern residential boundaries of New York City by building high-rise apartments in economically depressed cities in the southern tier of Westchester, just beyond the upper reaches of the Bronx.

    One dispassionate expert endorsed the notion that Yonkers is a good candidate for significant renewal. Christopher Jones, vice president for research at the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit planning group in Manhattan, said, "If you look at places where you'd like to see intensive redevelopment, Yonkers is one of them."

    "The region needs more housing, Mr. Jones said. "New York City can't accommodate all the demand." In particular, he said, the region needs residences for moderate- and middle-income people. Whether such projects would be created in Yonkers is not clear; the developers have not yet worked out those details, according to Geoff Thompson, a spokesman for the three.

    Apartments in Mr. Cappelli's new high-rise condominiums in White Plains and New Rochelle are marketed as being in the luxury category, but they cost less than comparable residences in Manhattan.

    Like White Plains and New Rochelle, both within a 35-minute commute of Manhattan, the city of Yonkers is along major transportation routes, and its downtown has deteriorated in recent decades as suburban shopping malls expanded.

    "The idea is to also create a mix of offices, hotels, retail shops and entertainment to complement the residential development, including a nightlife and things to do on weekends," Mr. Cappelli said. "It makes a complete package."

    In Yonkers, the development being proposed would fall in an area a mile north and a mile south of the Getty Square neighborhood, in the heart of downtown from the Hudson River to the Saw Mill River Parkway.

    Most of the property affected is privately owned, and the developers may have to invoke the city's power of condemnation to acquire them, although, according to Yonkers Mayor Philip A. Amicone, they will try to buy them first.

    The new development team, called Struever Fidelco Cappelli, will begin a six-month planning process, which will include public meetings.

    Alfred DelBello, a former mayor of Yonkers and currently a White Plains lawyer, who represents all three developers, informally brought them together some months ago, Mr. Cappelli said. "We're better attacking this as an army than as individuals," he explained. "When we got together, we discovered that there was a chemistry between us, and that we have the same priorities."

    According to their agreement with Yonkers, the new developers could build the downtown projects themselves or form partnerships with other developers. After the study in coming months, the partners will submit a comprehensive redevelopment plan to the City Council.

    The plan would be carried out in three stages. The first would encompass the ballpark and surrounding area in the heart of the downtown. It would also uncover the Saw Mill River, which now runs under a 2,000-foot stretch of city streets before it empties into the Hudson, and create a riverfront promenade along it

    Preliminary plans for the first stage call for 750,000 square feet of mixed-use buildings; stores would be on the ground floors and offices and up to 800 units of housing above. The tenants might include a major retailer, movie theaters and possibly a hotel. This phase would include development of two riverfront parcels south of the Yonkers train station that have already been zoned for new residential construction.

    The second phase calls for new waterfront residences on industrial properties north of the Yonkers train station, between the Hudson River and the Metro-North tracks, and mixed-use redevelopment — including commuter parking and office, residential and retail space — for an area surrounding the post office between Main Street and Larkin Plaza, near the waterfront.

    The third phase would redevelop a residential area near the Ludlow station, another Metro-North Railroad stop in Yonkers, and in the Nepperhan Valley, an economically distressed industrial area. The area encompassed by the three phases could reach 526 acres, said David Simpson, a city spokesman.

    But no timetable has been set for the new development, and in past years, Yonkers has had a poor track record with developers. "There was too much bad politics and a lot of haggling," Mayor Amicone conceded. "It turned off the private sector. But that's changed in the last eight or nine years."

    Indeed, several new apartment projects have been completed on or near the waterfront in the last decade, along with other commercial development downtown.

    Residents, meanwhile, want more say in how development moves ahead, "especially now that there's a feeding frenzy of developers in Yonkers," said Robert M. Walters, a long-time activist and Hudson River environmentalist here.

    He wants to ensure that developers listen to the concerns of existing residents. With that in mind, a dormant neighborhood group, the Hudson River Community Association, was reactivated a few years ago "to create more of a dialogue" with government officials, he said.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  8. #8


    February 27, 2006
    Civic Fights Subside as Yonkers Hopes for $3.1 Billion Project

    YONKERS, Feb. 23 — On the west side of this old mill city, a place defined not by what it is but by what it could be, prosperity is measured by the number of new buildings scattered along the Hudson River waterfront: a $53 million library, finished under budget and ahead of schedule; the refurbished Yonkers train station, with its arched windows and domed tiled roof; and two luxury condo towers and the restaurants, bars and banks that have sprouted around them.

    Step across Warburton Avenue, just three blocks to the east, and the pulse of a budding neighborhood suddenly flat-lines. There are boarded-up homes and empty storefronts, rotten wood and peeling paint. The shops in Getty Square, the heart of downtown, sell little beyond cheap furniture and dollar goods to the mostly poor, immigrant families who are their last loyal patrons.

    Standing outside her home on nearby North Broadway, where the stoop wobbled under a visitor's feet, Graciela García, 29, said dejectedly, "I've given up hope that anyone can change the way things are around here."

    "It's like we've been forgotten," Ms. García said, "like no one really cares."

    But earlier this month Mayor Philip A. Amicone stood beside the City Council president, Chuck S. Lesnick, to promote a $3.1 billion plan to turn downtown, the waterfront and dozens of acres of abandoned mills into an expansive network of new homes, offices and stores.

    "You're going to see the kind of development that we couldn't even dream of five years ago, the kind of development that will finally provide the city of Yonkers the much-needed revenues, the thousands and thousands of jobs, the kind of excitement that we can only talk about and that will now become a reality," Mayor Amicone said on Feb. 2, when he unveiled the plan at a City Hall news conference.

    It was an instance of political cohesion in a city that hardly ever achieves it.

    Attempts at improving the once-alluring west side go back as far as 1964, when city officials devised a plan to turn the Getty Square business district into a pedestrian mall that would compete with the Cross County Shopping Center, which opened a decade earlier near Yonkers Raceway and shifted the axis of retail to the east side of town.

    The pedestrian mall never materialized, nor did many of the other plans devised to resuscitate this dying commercial hub. They were doomed, in most cases, because the city had no money or because its politicians could not get along — or both.

    It is remarkable that the redevelopment plan exists at all. But in a city known for racial and ethnic volatility, lawsuits, upheaval and feisty political brawls, even more surprising is that opposition to it remains muted so far.

    "This development is our last best hope," said Joan Jennings, 60, assistant director of the city's Downtown/Waterfront Business Improvement District and a native of Yonkers, who moved out in 1958 but returned five years ago and has since lived downtown.

    "The business owners, the residents, they're tired of being disappointed," Ms. Jennings said. "This city has endured 30 years of broken promises. We can't wait another 30 years for an opportunity like this to knock on our door."

    Many downtown merchants, who are likely to see their weary shops replaced by shining office towers, new storefronts and apartment buildings, seem resigned — and, in some cases, eager — to accept the plan.

    "I'm in favor of change because if there's no change, there is no progress," said Elbert Shamsid-Deen, 63, who has owned Thruway Insurance Brokerage in Getty Square since 1987 and is one of many minority business owners downtown.

    "However, the city should make some provisions for the people who are here, the people who stayed here during the difficult times, so that they can have a place in the community," Mr. Shamsid-Deen said. "These people — and I'd like to include myself in this group — deserve a piece of the pie."

    The $3.1 billion project would cost almost as much as the $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, a planned complex of 9.1 million square feet of residential towers, a basketball arena, offices and retail space, which has been described as the third-largest ever in New York City. The Yonkers project would be financed by a combination of state and federal money, which still has to be secured, and investment by the developers.

    The first phase consists of developing two large blocks downtown, including Getty Square and a nine-acre parcel known as Chicken Island, which has functioned for at least 20 years as a municipal parking lot.

    If all goes as planned, a minor league baseball park will rise above two floors of stores. Around it, there will be a hotel, a multiscreen movie theater and at least seven other buildings with 500,000 square feet of retail and office space, as well as 800 apartments.

    To make room for the new construction, the developers have, over the past four months, bought two-thirds of the mainly commercial properties that line Palisade and Nepperhan Avenues and New Main and Elm Streets at a cost of nearly $30 million, said Louis R. Cappelli, president of Cappelli Enterprises of Valhalla, N.Y., one of the three companies that will execute the project. (The two other companies are Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse of Baltimore and Fidelco Realty Group of Millburn, N.J.)

    The developers and city officials said they are hoping to proceed without having to invoke eminent domain. So at times, the developers said, they have offered some merchants twice the market value for their property, and then offered to help the merchants move their businesses along the edges of the development — close enough for the businesses to benefit from the foot traffic the new stores might generate, Mr. Cappelli and several downtown merchants said.

    "Remember, all of this is just about money," Mr. Cappelli said. "These are businesses — there are a lot of 99-cent stores, there are a lot of small restaurants — that can move and use the money they got from selling their old shops to create a better business a block away or two blocks away."

    To the merchants whose businesses lie within the limits of the new development, the question is whether to sell and retire or sell and move up the street. To those whose businesses are just outside the boundaries, it is a matter of how long it will take until someone offers them big money for their piece of land.

    One recent morning, from behind the busy counter at the Galaxy Restaurant, which is cater-corner to the northwestern edge of the development, Louis Vlahopoulos said he did not plan to move, but wondered, "just out of curiosity," how much the business he has owned for 24 years would be worth.

    Five years ago, Mr. Vlahopoulos, 56, bought three buildings on Main Street, in the long block that separates Warburton Avenue and Getty Square. Recently, he said, someone offered him $2.5 million for the buildings, but he decided to wait it out, hoping he could sell for a lot more once the new development gets off the ground.

    "One way or another, everybody is trying to get their hands on something," he said. "The big guys want to buy land, the little guys want to get as much as possible for the land they own."

    The optimism is palpable among merchants and residents, many of whom say that this time downtown Yonkers is finally going to get its groove back. But there is also a sense of discomfort in the air, a feeling that the locals might become the outsiders once the crowds come back to shop and live downtown.

    Mayor Amicone himself said in an interview that he hoped the new apartments would lure couples whose children have left home and young professionals who work in New York City but cannot afford to live there. He is banking on these people, and on the added sales and property tax revenue, to lift Yonkers from its financial black hole. The city faces a $100 million deficit in its 2006-7 budget and the mayor has been making the rounds in Washington and Albany to raise money to close the gap one last time, he hopes.

    Meanwhile, the agreement signed this month between the mayor and the developers is under review by the City Council, which needs to approve it before the project can move forward. In spite of a few squabbles over the value assigned to municipal property to be sold to the developers, a deal may not be too far on the horizon.

    "The mayor and the City Council know that this project is good for Yonkers," said Mr. Lesnick, the Council president. "And we've realized that it's much better for us to work together and fight for the credit each one deserves after the project is done than stop the project because we can't agree and then say that the other is to blame."

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  9. #9


    July 26, 2006
    Yonkers Plan Clears Hurdle, but Still Faces Opposition

    YONKERS, July 25 — Now that the developer Forest City Ratner Companies has won approval for its ambitious Ridge Hill Village development here, officials representing the city and the developer are turning their attention to resolving an environmental challenge to the project from neighboring Greenburgh.

    Construction on Ridge Hill is expected to begin by the end of the year, according to the developer. The $660 million residential, retail and commercial project, near the New York Thruway in the northern part of this city, is expected to create 7,000 jobs and generate $24 million a year in gross revenue for Yonkers — a virtual lifesaver that might just pluck the city out of its perpetual financial pit, its supporters say.

    But Ridge Hill has also generated fierce opposition from the Town of Greenburgh, which abuts the project and has battled Yonkers before over development along the town’s border.

    In April, Greenburgh filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court challenging the adequacy of the project’s environmental review. The pending suit does not prevent the Ridge Hill project from moving forward, but it could deter its progress down the line, city officials said.

    “Our goal is not to be obstructionists, it’s not to kill the project,” Greenburgh’s supervisor, Paul J. Feiner, said in an interview. “Our goal is to negotiate a settlement,”

    Officials in Greenburgh have voiced concern about the increased traffic that might result from the project, as well as about the accompanying noise and air pollution.

    “Obviously, we’d like a much smaller project and we’re going to do all that we can to protect the quality of life in our town, but we’re realistic,” Mr. Feiner said. “And I’m optimistic that by the end of the day, we’re going to come to an agreement.”

    Plans call for Ridge Hill to have 1,000 high-rise apartments, movie theaters, a convention center, a hotel and 1.3 million square feet of retail space. The retail part has been a cause of contention. Opponents in Greenburgh want to see the retail space cut by half, but the developer and the city have refused to budge, saying that doing so would doom the project’s economic prospects.

    David Simpson, a spokesman for the city’s mayor, Philip A. Amicone, said that “there are always going to be issues with any development, such as increased traffic, but that’s the price you pay for broadening the city’s tax base.”

    Forest City Ratner, the development partner in building the new Midtown Manhattan headquarters for The New York Times Company, has agreed to contribute $3 million for a new firehouse in Yonkers and to pay an extra $10 million in property taxes to the city over the three years that it will take to build Ridge Hill. It has also pledged $10 million for a road linking the project to the Sprain Brook Parkway.

    For the past decade or so, Yonkers has relied on state aid to balance its budget, partly because of its limited success in attracting development. This year, the State Legislature earmarked $74 million for the city, helping it fill a $100 million budget gap. The city is now banking on Ridge Hill, among other plans, to stabilize its economy and spur growth.

    The 81-acre site where Ridge Hill is to be built is nearly vacant, save for an office building in its southeast corner. Forest City Ratner first proposed the project four years ago, but political infighting, legal challenges and accusations of backroom deals stalled its progress.

    “This process had a number of flaws,” said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Westchester County legislator who represents Yonkers. “Many of the parties could have been brought to the table way earlier and many of the deals could have been brokered more transparently so as to avoid a lot of the problems that came up along the way.”

    The City Council voted once before, in December, to change the zoning to allow residential and retail use on the site. But the three council members who opposed the rezoning filed a lawsuit, charging that the vote was based on an illegal change in the number of votes needed to overrule the Westchester County Planning Board’s rejection of new zoning. Originally, such an overrule vote required the approval of five of its seven members, but the rule was changed to require a majority vote.

    A State Supreme Court justice agreed, and annulled the vote in May, forcing the city and the developer to start the approval process over. This time, the council voted 5 to 2 for the new zoning.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Jackson Heights


    The New York Times
    Westchester - Editorial
    Hustle and Flow in Yonkers
    Published: October 1, 2006

    Gov. George Pataki went to Yonkers last week and announced that the state would spend $34 million to expose the Saw Mill River to daylight. It would mean ripping up thousands of feet of concrete and blacktop under which the river now slinks unseen into the Hudson. A drainage culvert would thus become a second riverfront, with shady walkways and the burble of flowing water through the heart of downtown.

    Of all the development projects being dreamed up for this proud but slightly sagging city — and there are a great many — the “daylighting” of the Saw Mill might have the richest combination of exemplary traits, qualities that should guide any effort by a community to reinvent itself. First, it’s democratic, creating a public amenity that charges no admission while promising to greatly enhance life downtown for everyone. It’s respectful of history — downtown and the river have not been acquainted for many generations — and the environment. Finally, it’s unexpected, even a little audacious, using the imaginative thinking not always associated with contemporary urban planning, which too frequently involves a depressingly similar mix of big-box retail stores and cookie-cutter housing and offices.

    But the rest of Yonkers’s renewal plans may be another story. Huge changes are coming to this little city, from Ridge Hill in the north, where Bruce Ratner wants to build a $600 million “village” of shops, apartments and offices, down to the Hudson, where Collins Enterprises is erecting the second phase of a complex of hundreds of luxury apartments and a renovated ferry terminal will start sending commuters to and from Manhattan in the spring.

    The biggest chunk in this wholesale overhaul is a $3.1 billion partnership of three developers — Cappelli Enterprises of Valhalla; Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse of Baltimore and Fidelco Realty Group of Millburn, N.J. — to bring homes, offices and stores across dozens of acres downtown. The developers have a pedigree (Cappelli Enterprises has helped make downtown White Plains gleam again, and the other developers have created admired projects in places like Baltimore, Providence and Newark), but it’s too soon to tell whether all the moving parts will add up to a successful whole.

    The most troubling component of the plans is a riverfront high-rise that threatens to be 30 stories tall and loom over the water like a misplaced and stranded chunk of lower Manhattan. The environmental group Scenic Hudson, which has long been a voice for sensible and proportional development, opposes the tower at that oppressive height, and the City Council and mayor should listen to its concerns.

    Yonkers is a big city, but one of its most lovable traits is its small-town density and intimacy, the hustle and flow of its streets lined with mom-and-pop shops and its funky aura of bygone heavy industry. The people guiding Yonkers’s renewal should not forget that the best kind of development — like the long-overdue return of the Saw Mill River — takes place on a humble, human scale.

  11. #11

  12. #12


    April 3, 2007
    Alsop Makes U.S. Debut in Yonkers
    C. J. Hughes

    The latest European architect to hop the pond for a U.S. debut is Will Alsop, a Brit who hopes to transform a long-unused power plant along the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York, into a sweeping residential complex featuring a museum, restaurant, and park.

    Under the plans, which Alsop unveiled to a 50-member audience at a public hearing in Yonkers last week, the hulking 80,000-square-foot power plant will lose its two smokestacks and gain a large residential tower. A third of the 400 units will be luxury condos and the rest rentals, with some reserved for low-income residents, said Erik Kaiser, principal of developer Remi Companies.

    The $250 million project also calls for adding a contemporary art museum, located in a former switch-house, and a new apartment structure, nicknamed the “magic tower,” with a boxy upper portion balanced on tentacle-like stilts.

    “Good architecture does make a difference,” Alsop said at the hearing. But some audience members expressed concern that the main building, at 25 stories high, will block river views. Others said they favor preserving the power plant as it is now. Alsop countered, “the building will fall down if nobody does anything about it.”

    These issues could surface again as the zoning-approval process begins in May. What went unchallenged, however, is the whimsical style of Alsop. In 2000, he won his country’s top architecture prize, the Stirling, for London’s Peckham Library and Media Centre. A red, tongue-like decorative disc tops the building’s hefty cantilevered main volume.

    “World class architecture should be in Yonkers,” Kaiser said. “You should be demanding something that is not typical.”

  13. #13

  14. #14


    It looks like a joke.

  15. #15
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    That Alsop nut should stay in Britain.

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