New Rochelle, New York, is a dramatic example of how zoning reform can attract investment and generate economic growth for a community:
- The city employed innovative planning processes to reduce uncertainty for everyone involved.
- Private investments in the billions have surged into the once-stagnant city.
- After a public/private process put zoning reforms in place, economic activity followed, including job creation across many sectors, new building fees and incremental taxes to the City.
- And the new jobs, fees, and taxes generated from that investment have already greatly improved the fiscal health of New Rochelle, at a time when the health of many municipalities is in peril.
Two ingredients in New Rochelle’s success stand out: the master developer and the Generic Environmental Impact Study (GEIS). By selecting a master developer — and compensating it with real estate options — the city guaranteed that at least one builder would have a vested interest in the city’s success. The GEIS replaced the usual uncertainty of project-by-project studies which may result in significant changes in cost and timing. Instead, New Rochelle offers an upfront fee formula, so potential bidders know the costs and every competitor has the same information.
New Rochelle took a look at its zoning, picked a developer and together streamlined its process— and the results have been extraordinary.