Plans are underway for the southern Westchester County cities of New Rochelle, Yonkers and Mount Vernon to accelerate population and economic growth, while expanding opportunity and improving affordability for their residents. By taking advantage of their walkable downtowns, diverse populations and neighborhoods, and close proximity to New York City, these cities can provide Westchester and the larger region with room for the economy to expand in places that are both accessible and energy efficient.
New Rochelle’s ambitious redevelopment plan calls for nearly 12 million square feet of new mixed-use development near the train station, including more than 6,000 new homes. This plan is backed by a community benefits policy that allows developers additional building height in exchange for such things as historic building preservation, affordable housing, educational facilities, parks, or pedestrian passageways.
Mount Vernon has plans to build hundreds of new rental apartments, with both market-rate units and units that are affordable for households making between 60 and 80 percent of the median income in the area. Yonkers is also encouraging development in its downtown and near the train station, having just broken ground on 600 new rental apartments on the waterfront.
This type of transit-oriented, equitable growth in the region’s downtowns is very much in line with the Fourth Regional Plan. The plan aims to support these efforts by calling for the three states to provide more resources and flexibility to municipalities seeking to create mixed-use, mixed-income downtowns and neighborhoods. The plan encourages local governments to partner with anchor institutions such as hospitals and colleges to benefit both the institutions and the surrounding neighborhoods. These partnerships could help push, for example, for creating more complete streets that balance all users in these transit-oriented downtowns.
Recommendations in the Fourth Plan include ways to increase participation in local government, which would give the diverse populations of these three cities a stronger voice in development planning. Improving broadband services and adopting better data policies would help cities going through this type of major transformation, giving them the tools they need to analyze and optimize growth.