is a serious issue, especially for blue-collar workers, civil servants,
and those on fixed incomes, including the elderly. New Rochelle
shares problems of affordable housing with its county, Westchester,
where the median housing price is $400,000.
New Rochelle is undergoing
a residential building boom, but the primarily luxury and upper-middle-class
housing being built does not address affordable housing questions.
As reported by the New York Times, "Avalon Bay Communities,
a real estate investment trust, is building 1,000 market-rate rental
apartments near the train station - the first housing of this type
in downtown New Rochelle since World War II. Fred Harris, a vice
president of Avalon Bay, said the project would not have gone forward
without New Roc City. City officials say the new apartments will
have a bigger impact on downtown than New Roc City because they
will attract young professionals who have been priced out of the
New York City housing market." The cost of Avalon-on-the Sound
will be $95 million, and studios will range in price from $950 to
$3,000. The developer is getting a deal on the property and taxes.
"'We've worked out a 30-year payment plan with the city for
the land and taxes on the property,' Harris, Avalon's vice president
for development said. 'The payments are based on our net income,
and it's no secret that it works out to be a lot less than if we
were paying up front and were taxed at the full rate.'"
The upper-priced housing
boom extends to other areas of New Rochelle. One real estate agent
said in an article published last year, "Even our high-end
buyers in the $900,000 range keep losing homes because houses are
getting multiple bids by buyers willing to pay $50,000 to $75,000
over asking to live here in magnificent Tudors and large, old colonials."
Fortunately, the city is considered to have a varied housing stock,
especially for Westchester: "This is one of the few places
in Westchester where you can still find a small, starter home on
a small corner or near the railroad for between $155,000 to $225,000,"
according to Beryl Zawatsky of Beryl Z. Realty. Other housing options
include 41 co-op complexes, eight condominiums, 268 multiple-family
houses, and 70 apartment buildings. A two-bedroom co-op ranges from
$60,000 to $150,000, and a two-bedroom condominium from $135,000
to $255,000. A two-bedroom apartment rents for approximately $1,100
Among the fine, old houses
in New Rochelle is the former E.L. Doctorow House, which the author
sold in December 1999 for $695,000. The old Victorian inspired Doctorow's
Aimed at young professionals,
loft living, SoHo-style, has come to New Rochelle. Lofts at the
old G. P. Putnam's Sons building, next to I-95 and the Metro-North
Railroad, rent for $1,475 per month.
The county and city have
made an effort in recent years to increase affordable housing stock.
In January 2001, Westchester County announced that it would spend
$4.8 million to acquire property in downtown New Rochelle on which
it would build senior assisted-living units and single-family homes.
According to the New York Times, the county, with the city of New
Rochelle, will buy 16 properties in what the article described as
a "rundown neighborhood" and turn them over to the New
Rochelle Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation. The Corporation
will coordinate the construction of a seven-story building with
102 rental units aimed at people 75 and older with incomes of about
$25,000 per year, and up to 20 single-family homes. A significant
impediment to building affordable housing in Westchester has been
the cost of acquiring property. The article said, "Residents
living in New Rochelle's ethnically mixed low-to-moderate-income
urban renewal district, who are mostly renting, will have the first
chance to own the new units."
Private development of
low-cost housing in New Rochelle has been led by the New Rochelle
Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation, which has constructed or
renovated 1,000 housing units over the past 20 years. Among its
projects have been the MacLeay apartments, a former public housing
development located across Fifth Avenue from the proposed Ikea site.
According to Frank Garito, head of the Corporation, "Taking
a public housing complex private was unique in subsidized housing
development. We bought it from the Housing Authority and paid the
outstanding taxes, completely rehabilitated it inside and out, including
the community center for use as an after-school homework center,
with teachers from a local middle school, and a computer center,
which links the local schools to the apartment complex." The
Corporation has also completed the Lawn Avenue project, including
10 two-family colonial houses near downtown, which "has already
helped turn a blighted and deteriorating neighborhood around."
New Rochelle Housing
Median price of a one-family
Taxes on median-price house: $11,000
Median price a year ago: $335,000
Median price five years ago: $295,000
Median price of a two-bedroom co-op: $75,000
Median price of a two-bedroom condominium: $160,000
Midrange rent of a two-bedroom apartment: $1,100