Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Building Up, Downtown - New York Times 

Building Up, Downtown - New York Times

The various small cities surrounding New York have big plans for residential and commercial real estate development. They include Yonkers and White Plains. The Ritz Carlton is even coming to White Plains. Yes, that's right, White Plains.

But Mr. Kaiser, who is based in Hoboken, where another industrial waterfront was transformed over the past 25 years into a gold coast thicket of high-rise towers, lofts, town houses and marinas, is only one of many developers now prowling the Yonkers waterfront and its sagging downtown. Whatever the fate of his proposal, projects worth $5 billion are in the pipeline in Yonkers, including as many as 17 high-rise residential towers planned for the city’s 4.5-mile-long waterfront.

“At the end of the day, you’ll look up and down the Hudson and all you’ll see are high rises,” said Louis R. Cappelli, another developer with big plans for Yonkers.

Young people and executives who have fled high-priced Manhattan for Yonkers can find apartments for half the price, with an urban ambience, waterfront views and a 20-minute train ride to Midtown. In what some residents regard as a sign of civilization akin to the day Starbucks opened in Jersey City, a chic restaurant, X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, opened last month on the Yonkers city pier, opposite the newly renovated train station.

To be sure, Yonkers is still four years or so behind New Rochelle, White Plains, Stamford, Conn., and other newly resurgent older suburbs and cities on the comeback trail. Luxury apartments are stacking up in ever taller towers in a thriving downtown White Plains, which looked like a ghost town after 5 p.m. as recently as 2001. And Stamford, where the mayor has promoted high-density residential development near the train station, is poised to become Connecticut’s largest city and a powerful financial center.

In New Jersey, the redevelopment of the factories, warehouses and rail yards that lined the Hudson County waterfront between Jersey City and Weehawken began in the 1970s. High-rise office towers started going up along the waterfront in the 1980s, slowed during a recession in the early ’90s, and then took off again a couple of years later as Manhattan surged. Now, development is seeping from the waterfront into downtown Jersey City, where residential towers are springing up. Rahway, to the south, is also getting its share of attention from developers, with projects like a 16-story hotel and luxury condominium building opposite the train station.

But it is the remarkable turnaround in Yonkers, New York’s fourth-largest city, that raises the question: Is there hope for still-down-on-their-luck cities like Paterson and Camden in New Jersey, Hempstead on Long Island and Bridgeport, Conn.?

Immigration is fueling the growth of many outlying cities and towns in the New York metropolitan region. Baby boomers are beginning to retire, and there is an increasing demand for young educated workers. Middle-age empty nesters and young adults have shown a new willingness to live in urban areas.


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