The Riverspace Board presented a bold vision for a revitalized downtown Nyack Thursday night, presenting a $100 million plan for a “public spirited…community fueled” retail, commercial and residential development to replace the current arts center. The new plan includes two parking garages, a public piazza, a new arts center and new a restored street grid.
“The village needs a gathering place and in Nyack it should be an arts center” says Riverspace board member Josh Goldberg, adding that Nyack still suffers the effects of an misguided urban renewal project 50 years ago. Architect Daniel Heuberger, a principal at Dattner Architects, says the project’s goals dovetail with the 2007 Village of Nyack Master Plan that call for a friendly pedestrian environment, redesigned parking and enhanced river views. Heuberger says Riverspace Downtown maximizes retail frontage replacing “the world’s ugliest building,” with a new arts center and a public piazza.
Key features of the plan include:
- 250,000 square feet of new space: 100 new apartments will take up 100,000 SF. Retail/Commercial development account for 110,000 SF with the arts center making up the rest.
- Two parking garages: The 271 existing spaces will increase to 550 spots in two garages operated by the Village of Nyack. One story of each garage will be underground. The parking garages will be screened from street views with a vertical trellis.
- The new arts center consists of several theaters stacked on top of each other. Theater lobbies will be transparent from the street to create an open feeling, allowing people inside to see the downtown and pedestrians on the street to see activity in the theaters.
- A new green space / piazza / plaza will connect the architecturally old Nyack with the new design. This community space, created on Cedar Street between Main and Artopee, can be used for the Farmer’s Market, outdoor theatre/performances, concerts and outdoor cafÃ©s.
- The current M&T Bank building at Franklin and Main Streets and the Veterans Memorial Park at Cedar and Main will be relocated to accommodate the new development.
Goldberg and fellow board member Michael Arougheti presented their vision on how the public/private development could be funded:
- Public financing of $25-27 million for street improvements and the new parking garages. Sources could include federal, state and county funds as well as Orangetown and the Nyack villages.
- Private: Residential, retail and commercial spaces will require $75 million to develop. Riverspace will ask the Village to freeze taxes at the current rates + cost of living increases for the exiting properties. without including an additional assessment for the $75 million investment.
- Goldberg emphasized that the not-for profit venture seeks to balance the needs of the community without building out to the legal maximums for commercial and parking space. Regarding who would take the lead on construction, Goldberg said, “we need to find a developer who is willing to do it for the sake of doing it.”
Riverspace hopes to break ground for this effort in two years with the work to be completed in phases over the next three years. Riverspace Artistic Director Elliot Forrest says he has verbal commitments from other area venues to share their space during the construction period.
Based on the enthusiastic support from the crowd of 250 in attendance, the arts community and local politicians firmly support the project as evidenced by one speaker during the Q&A who asked, “to whom do I write the check?” However, convincing skeptics concerned about increased traffic, higher taxes and public safety will be almost as much of a challenge as twisting the arms of government officials to help fund Riverspace’s new vision for downtown Nyack.