The City of Yonkers is set to launch one of its largest investment initiatives to transform the downtown center into a vibrant mixed-use hub of commerce and residency. New developments will be primarily located at the confluence of the Hudson and Saw Mill Rivers.
Referred to as The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the funds would largely focus on four major development projects: the Floating Dock, phase four of the Saw Mill River Daylighting, Chicken Island, and the Yonkers Greenway.
A municipal floating dock along the southern end of the historic City Recreation Pier now serves as a destination for environmental education ships and Hudson River cruise ships, among other public and private uses. The city envisions constructing a second floating dock along the pier’s north side to foster the growth of water-borne tourism. This includes possible ferry service to and from New York City.
The Saw Mill River Daylighting project was conceived as a means to expose the Saw Mill River to natural light. Between the 1890s and the 1920s the Saw Mill River was buried under concrete to support the expansion of the city. Phases one through three saw the completion of a 2-acre urban plaza, a 20,000-square-foot Italian-style piazza, and a new 1.25-acre gateway park for those entering the downtown area from regional parkways to the east. Phase four would include extending the riverfront area through the existing Chicken Island parking lot.
According to the city, the first phases of the Daylighting of the Saw Mill River generated over $1 billion in private and public investment, created vast new employment opportunities, grew the local property tax base, and provided outdoor green spaces that were previously nonexistent within the area.
Chicken Island is a city-owned, six-acre vacant lot located east of City Hall along the Nepperhan Avenue corridor. The property was recently purchased by AMS Acquisitions, which intends to construct an expansive multi-tower complex spanning approximately 2 million square feet. The $800 million project will introduce a mix of affordable and market-rate housing, office space, retail and dining area, a parking structure, and a new pedestrian plaza that feeds into the riverfront extension.
The Yonkers Greenway was founded in 2008 by the Committee of Seven, a coalition of local residents and non-profit organizations that sought to improve the quality of life for the Lawrence Street neighborhood. Ten years later, the Greenway achieved a large investment from the City of Yonkers and Groundwork Hudson Valley to construct a new playground and a community garden.
The next phase of development includes redeveloping the abandoned Old Putnam rail line into 2.4 miles of trails that will connect Yonkers to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The proposed trail will provide residents and commuters with an alternative, cost-free travel route.
To jump start the initiative, the City of Yonkers is working in collaboration with Local Planning Committee, a consortium of stakeholders that includes multiple city agencies, leaders from two business improvement districts and historic sites, community activists, the Yonkers Riverfront Library, the chambers of commerce, and an unnamed private developer.
At this phase of planning, it is unclear when construction might break ground on any of the four major initiatives outlined in city documents.