What is happening to Port Chester?
Communities change. Sometimes the rush to promote progress overlooks the very things that have sustained a community for decades. We believe that the financial incentives are excessive and that there is a lack of effective rules governing development. And "Plan the Port" resulted in a form-based code that is ineffective at doing the very thing that it set out to do, which is to preserve the charter of the village while creating new development opportunities. The result is that the character of Main Street - the very thing that makes Port Chester a destination for local tourism and new families, is being lost forever.
Do we need demolition making way for giant new buildings all over Main Street?
The short answer is NO. Port Chester struggles with housing needs and has endured financial difficulties for years. But, we are not the only community dealing with that, and there are alternative solutions to the hyper-development currently proposed. We have collected some relevant examples here
Why are there so many projects being proposed?
Recent changes to the Form-based Code have made it easier, and more profitable, for developers to buy up multiple building sites. This allows for much larger developments, often drastically out of character for Port Chester. Read more the details and concerns regarding Port Chester’s Form-based Code
Where did the plan to change so much of Main Street come from?
Port Chester hired CGR, a consulting firm specializing in providing research to communities faced with a variety of issues, to explore the idea of changing the Village government to "City" status. The report concludes that "...without city status, the most likely path to fiscal stability is aggressive upzoning and the resulting gentrification". Port Chester officials are actually pursing both remedies at the same time: changing the status to City, and allowing aggressive upzoning. This will lead to urbanization - raising the prospect of inner-city problems in the near future. Read the entire CGR report
Are these projects legal?
Yes, they are. The village cannot deny a developer a permit simply because residents don't like the appearance or size of a project. The CGR report notes that Port Chester's new Form-based Code "attempts" to grow the tax base, but there is nothing in the report that recommends destroying occupied retail buildings in order to achieve that, and there is nothing in the report that recommends large scale projects as the only option available.
What can we do about some of the run-down buildings on Main Street?
That's why we're here - to provide real-world examples and direction so that development can succeed without the need to drastically change the unique, historic character of Port Chester. We don't want a village full of museums. We do want our village to be attractive and strong. Port Chester has real, immediate challenges. Our position is that tearing down Main Street will not solve them. In fact, a 2012 City Planning report paid for, and signed off by the Village Board of Trustees, specifically recommends protection and improvement to historic buildings on Main Street. Read the 2012 BFJ report
What happens to locally-owned businesses?
Local building owners and their businesses will be pushed out of Main Street in the long run. When individual buildings are locally owned, they are part of the local economy. Taxes, improvements, wages, and all of the associated economic benefits of local jobs all stay in the local economy. When developers buy up multiple lots, the larger buildings are no longer local economic properties. Local owners cannot compete with developers for the properties. Taxes are often subject to abatement or other incentives to make the projects profitable for developers. Local business owners become tenants, and local jobs become lower-wage positions with companies that have no local connections.
What projects are being planned?
The recent "upzoning" which permits very large buildings will transform Port Chester into a city. Projects that impact Main Street and other hallmark streets of the Village are listed here.