Yonkers Renaissance: You Can Feel the Vibe
Soaring riverfront towers, hip new art galleries and trendy restaurants – they’re all part of Yonkers’ new vibe. The state’s fourth largest city is hot, with a star that is burning ever brighter. With more than $1 billion in private development, Yonkers is undergoing a renaissance unlike anything it has seen in recent memory, outshining Brooklyn, Jersey City and Hoboken as the next place to be.
Construction cranes rise above the buildings, assembling a grander skyline, with new residential and mixed-use projects from national and regional developers including RXR Realty, Ginsburg Development Companies, Mill Creek Residential Trust, Simone Development Companies, Collins Enterprises, Extell Development Company, Avalon Bay Communities and National Resources. Many are rising along the city’s scenic Hudson River waterfront, just minutes from Metro-North train stations.
The wave of construction is bringing 5,000 multi-family residential units that have been recently completed, are being built or have been approved for development, the city’s Department of Planning and Development reports. The city’s hotel market is also booming, with approximately 1,200 new rooms being added, including in properties by hospitality giants Hyatt and Marriott.
What’s Behind the Building Boom
A major residential development under construction is RXR’s $190-million Larkin Plaza, featuring towers 25 and 17 stories high. Offering a total of 442 residential units and featuring ground-level retail space, they will overlook Van der Donck Park and the daylighted Saw Mill River.
On the waterfront, Collins is building Hudson Park III, a high-rise luxury rental with 222 units, while National Resources is about to open Uno@iPark with 100 “micro units” designed for today’s fast-growing Millennial population. Just south of the Yonkers Pier, Mill Creek Residential is building Modera Hudson Riverfront, a waterfront rental community of 324 apartments with luxury amenities including a swimming pool and fitness center.
Farther up the Hudson, Ginsburg is completing River Tides at Greystone, a $100 million, 330-unit rental building overlooking the Hudson and the Palisades. And just north of River Tides, Ginsburg is building a 50-unit apartment building called 1177@Greystone. Both projects are a short walk to the Greystone Metro-North station.
In one of the largest development proposals approved by the city, Manhattan-based Extell Development is planning a six-building development with more than 1,300 residential units and commercial space on a waterfront site next to the MTA bus depot. Nearby, AvalonBay plans to build 609 residential units in three buildings on a 13-acre site along Alexander Street.
Meanwhile in Northwest Yonkers, Simone Development Companies is opening the Boyce Thompson Center, an 85,000-square-foot mixed-use complex of office and medical space, restaurants and banking. The building, which was the former Boyce Thompson Institute built in the 1920s, has been beautifully restored with classic architecture and state-of-the-art office and medical space. Major healthcare tenants include St. John’s Riverside Hospital and WESTMED Medical Group.
What’s Driving the Yonkers Renaissance
The Yonkers renaissance is being driven by many factors including a growing demand by Millennials for transit-oriented development; a diverse population; an abundance of affordable loft space; a lively restaurant and arts scene; and a scenic Hudson River location that is less than 30 minutes by train to Grand Central Terminal. (The commute to Grand Central is quicker from Yonkers than from Williamsburg!)
Companies are also attracted to the city’s business-friendly environment under the leadership of Mayor Mike Spano. To capitalize on Yonkers’ unique selling points, the city launched in 2015 its highly successful Generation Yonkers marketing campaign, an innovative economic development initiative created to position Yonkers as the next great urban frontier. The campaign has put Yonkers on the map!
“The secret’s out – Yonkers is the city to live, work and play in!” Mayor Spano proclaimed at a recent reception at the Hudson River Museum to announce the launch of a third phase of the Generation Yonkers initiative. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in our city over the last five years, thanks in large part to the Generation Yonkers marketing campaign and I am confident that this latest re-energized and refreshed campaign will continue the momentum. The future of Yonkers is now – we invite everyone to be part of it.”
A New Look for Generation Yonkers Campaign
Developed by the Westchester-based advertising agency Thompson & Bender, the campaign has a new look and feel from the previous two campaigns and features leaders in the fields of business, higher education, restaurants, arts and culture. The campaign includes TV ads on FIOS and Cablevision as well as 60-second spots on WCBS-880 radio and sponsorship of the WCBS-880 opening bell report. Print ads will run through the end of the year in local publications and interior car cards are appearing on the Harlem and Hudson lines of Metro-North. The campaign also includes a comprehensive program on a digital ad network. In addition, a new website for the campaign, www.generationyonkers.com, was recently launched.
Those featured in the latest campaign include: Mike Brady, President & CEO of Greyston Bakery; Jason Evege, Founder and Owner of the Linoto textile company; Christian Petroni, Chef and Owner of Fortina Restaurants; Kanwal Singh, Dean of Sarah Lawrence College; Melissa Starke, Curator of Urban Studio Unbound Gallery and Masha Turchinsky, Director of the Hudson River Museum.
Here are some of leaders featured in the campaign who how offer their perspectives on why they chose to be part of Generation Yonkers.
‘Yonkers Just Makes More Sense’
Jason Evege, founder and owner of Linoto, a high-end textile company, is a classic entrepreneurial success story. Evege started his company in his New York City apartment and later leased space in Manhattan’s Garment District. But when that building was sold, he had to move out. “I started looking around and realized I was going to have to spend $7,000 -$8,000 a month for comparable space,” he recalls.
After visiting a friend in nearby Riverdale, he began looking in Yonkers for space to relocate his growing company. “What surprised me about Yonkers was how close it is to Manhattan. If you live in Upper Manhattan, you can be in Yonkers in just 10 minutes,” he said. He was also surprised by the business-friendly atmosphere he found there. “As a business owner, it’s so refreshing in Yonkers. People are more receptive to what you need to keep your business going. When you look at Brooklyn and you look at Yonkers, Yonkers just makes more sense.”
‘The Arts are Flourishing’
Masha Turchinsky, who recently became Director of the Hudson River Museum, offers a personal viewpoint on the renaissance under way in Yonkers. Born and raised in Yonkers and a proud graduate of the city’s public schools, Turchinsky went on to have a successful career in the arts. Most recently, she served 19 years with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, working with renowned curators and collections. She and her husband, an architect in Manhattan, returned to live in Yonkers and raise their two children.
“I’m living proof that you can go home to a city that’s ever changing,” she said. “I love what’s going on here. I love the diversity of people. I love the diversity of ideas. And that’s critical to the arts. I couldn’t think of a more exciting time to become the Director of the Hudson River Museum. The arts are flourishing. I am so energized by the local community of artists and the vitality they bring to the museum. There’s a billion dollars of development going on in the city right now and frankly, the arts are leading the way.”
‘Yonkers is in the Center of this Renaissance’
When you ask Christian Petroni, renowned chef, restaurateur, TV personality and owner of Fortina, how business is in Yonkers, he has one word to describe it – BOOMING!
This spring, Petroni will open the newest of his Fortina Restaurants, known for their wood-fired pizzas, at the Boyce Thompson Center in Yonkers. The new restaurant will boast soaring ceilings, exposed brick walls and expansive windows. “This building is over a hundred years old. It is the dream of every chef, restaurateur, anyone who’s ever opened a restaurant. They dream about a space like this, and we have it,” said Petroni.
He is eager to add Yonkers to the family of Fortina Restaurants that already includes locations in Armonk, Rye Brook, Stamford and Brooklyn.
“I grew up very close to Yonkers. Now, Yonkers is in the center of this renaissance,” he said. “It’s happening. We really wanted to be part of it and I’m honored to be here. There so much great stuff going on. That same energy that started happening in Brooklyn about ten years ago and has taken off into the stratosphere is happening here. I feel it germinating. I feel the excitement,” he added.
The Generation Yonkers campaign is resonating beyond the regional market. Yonkers was one of only three cities in New York State to make the list of “Top 150 Cities for Millennials” recently released by millennialpersonalfinance.com. In another recently released survey, this one by WalletHub.com, Yonkers ranked 35th in the nation as the Most Culturally Diverse City and was ranked 15th among midsize cities.
Mayor Spano celebrated the city’s rising star at the recent launch event.
“When we first launched Generation Yonkers, we set out to answer the question, ‘Where is the next Brooklyn? Where is the next Hoboken?’” he said. “The answer, I think, is pretty clear – Generation Yonkers is what’s next.”