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New Rochelle nixes David's Island plan.

Eleven years and $23 million later a development partnership has lost its exclusive rights to develop David's Island in Westchester.

Despite downsizing their plan only three weeks ago, Xanadu Properties Associates was unable to win a five-year extension from the New Rochelle City Council.

The Council was convinced the large-scale project would not be approved by either the county or the Secretary of State and unanimously voted not to extend the developer's exclusive rights.

The move paves the way for other developers to make proposals for the 78-acre island, off New Rochelle on the Long Island Sound. New Rochelle Mayor Timothy Idoni said he has inquiries already but does not expect the Council to be ready to even think about an RFP for at least a month. "We need a vacation from this," he added.

New Rochelle first designated the island for urban renewal in 1977. Xanadu, a partnership between Gordon Marshall, a Mamaroneck attorney; the late Herb Rein who was his golfing friend; and Bruce Stark, a Hawaiian developer, began creating ideas for the site in 1980 and in July of 1981 was designated the eligible sponsor.

The last version of the luxury development was to have contained 1,750 condominiums in three 15-story buildings and one 19-story building, with about 80 percent of the units in low and mid-rise buildings and townhouse units. A marina with 800 boat slips, a heliport and a high technology tertiary sewerage treatment facility that removes nitrogen were also to be located on the island and provided by the developers.

Twenty acres were designated to remain as public open space and the island was to be connected to the Westchester mainland by a 3,465 foot bridge designed by Eugene Figg. The county board of legislators were opposed to using a quarter acre portion of the county-owned Glen Island park on the mainland for the $40 million bridge. The land which is rocky and underwater during high tide, would have to be purchased from the county.

The proposal initially started as a number of 55-story towers and a secondary sewerage treatment with no public access and no bridge to the former Army post. Davids Island currently contains Civil War era barracks which have been ravaged by arsonists over the years. Idoni said it was his fear of fires in high-rise towers that led to the city's insistence on a bridge.

Pro-development forces in the Westchester community also turned against the Davids Island proposal when Long Island Sound became polluted and local beaches were being closed.

Lloyd Kaplan, a spokesperson for Xanadu said $10 million was going to be paid to New Rochelle in two installments. A few weeks ago, Xanadu agreed to pay $6 million rather than $4 million as its first payment. "The city wanted more money up front," he said, "and Marshall did agree to pay out more."

Kumagai Gumi, Kawasaki Steel and the Aoki Corp. were said to be involved in the funding of the David's Island project.

"The council has made a decision and they respect that process," Kaplan added, "although they believe it's an unfortunate result. The Mayor [of New Rochelle] indicated the plan was a good one and in denying the contract extension said good things about it and urged them to resubmit when the process begins again." Kaplan said Xanadu will make a decision about submitting a proposal after it sees what New Rochelle requests.

Mayor Idoni said Davids Island is not his number one priority but "Main Street is." New Rochelle is currently being courted by K-Mart for a Pace Warehouse store and is itself courting UNICEF for urban renewal sites in the Downtown area. A plan for Starrettbuilt housing is also scheduled to be presented in April.
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Title Annotation:New Rochelle City Council, Xanadu Properties Associates loses exclusive rights to develop David's Island in Westchester, NY
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Mar 18, 1992
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