Yonkers Mayor Spano Breaks Ground at City's Phase II of the Daylighting of the Saw Mill River
Daylighting at Mill Street Courtyard to Include the Unearthing of 100-foot Portion of Saw Mill River; Opening of 20,000 Square Feet of Public Space and the Rehabilitation of Adjacent Live/Work Space
Groundbreaking for Phase II of the Daylighting at Mill Street Courtyard
L-R: Matt Driscoll, President/CEO of New York State Environmental Facilities Corp.; Liam McLaughlin, Yonkers City Council President; Martin Brand, Regional Director, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Hudson Valley; Mike Spano, City of Yonkers Mayor; Wilson Kimball, City of Yonkers Commissioner of Planning & Development; John Gilstrap, Executive Vice President, NY Empire State Development; Christopher Johnson, Yonkers City Councilmember; Michael Sabatino, Yonkers City Council Majority LeaderYONKERS, NY – March 19, 2014 – Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano today broke ground at the City’s Phase II of the Daylighting of the Saw Mill River at Mill Street. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony commences the construction on the site which will soon include a 100-foot unearthed portion of the Saw Mill River, close to 20,000 square feet of open public courtyard space, and the start of the rehabilitation of adjacent buildings and property.
“The Mill Street section of our urban renewal daylighting project will attract residents and visitors alike to our downtown area,” said Mayor Spano. “The continued daylighting of the Saw Mill River will provide a more natural, open-air environment that offers ecological as well as community benefits while advancing Yonkers’ plan for social and economic revitalization.”
The new Mill Street Courtyard will transform the core commercial block within the center of downtown Yonkers into a beautiful European style piazza. The major public space will include a pedestrian and vehicular bridge, bike path, public artwork from artist Haifa Bint-Kadi and a new pedestrian gateway at 24 Warburton that will provide seamless access from the Saw Mill River daylighting at Van Der Donck Park.
In addition to the courtyard and the daylighting of the Saw Mill River, the $8.3 million project will spark the economic development and rehabilitation of live/work space in the surrounding area, including parcels at:
2 Mill Street, 13 and 27 Main Street (25-story 230 unit live/work tower with 33,000 square feet of commercial office space and 13,600 square feet of retail space facing the new daylighted river)
Wheeler Block: three key, centrally located buildings within the tripartite Wheeler Block building with three storefronts & proposed 24 residential units on the vacant, top three floors
Library Lofts: former Yonkers Public Library to be converted into vibrant living live/work space
“The rehabilitation of these several vacant buildings adjacent to the daylighted Saw Mill River at Mill Street is essential to the economic growth to downtown Yonkers, providing for renewed home and business space, becoming a centerpiece to downtown Yonkers,” said Mayor Spano.
The Daylighting of the Saw Mill River at Mill Street is partially funded by the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation’s Green Innovation Grant of $920,000.
“Like other projects funded by EFC’s Green Innovation Grant Program, the Yonkers daylighting will improve water quality through sustainable storm water management.”
Additionally, the Empire State Development’s (ESD) Restore NY program contributed $5.4 million to rehab the former Yonkers Public Library on Main Street, which allowed for the City of Yonkers to purchase it for $1.54 million, which is part of the rehabilitation of the Mill Street courtyard. Portions of an $8 million grant provided by ESD for Daylighting Phase III at New Main Street also have been appropriated to the Daylighting Phase II at Mill Street Courtyard.
“The daylighting of the Saw Mill River has transformed the area and as the next phase of work begins the project will continue to redefine and revitalize Yonkers,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “ESD is proud to support this important economic development project, which will attract new investments that will strengthen the local economy and lead to new jobs in the community."
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) also has been instrumental to the City’s overall daylighting initiative, providing $2 million in the initial phase of the daylighting at Van Der Donck Park.
"The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was proud to assist the City of Yonkers with phase one of the daylighting project to create a vibrant urban river park, which demonstrated how local-state collaborations benefit communities," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "We applaud efforts by the city to move forward with the next phase of this project and look forward to continuing to work with them and other partners to restore an important natural resource, revitalize the neighborhood and open up new recreational opportunities for residents and visitors."
“We thank our Governor, state delegation and agencies for their commitment to Yonkers for this inventive project, ensuring our City has the resources to provide for a modern, refreshed urban public space for our residents to live, work and play,” said Mayor Spano.
“I am pleased that the City of Yonkers is moving forward on the daylighting initiative of the Saw Mill River at Mill Street,” said Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “This project is a perfect example of how state and local governments are able to work together to provide funds and incentives to rehabilitate and restore communities. The Saw Mill River daylighting project will enhance the downtown area, serve as a boon to the environment, grow the local economy by bringing people downtown and provide a beautiful vista unique to the City of Yonkers. I look forward to continuing my efforts to ensure the City of Yonkers receives the state services and assistance that it deserves.”
“Saw Mill River daylighting project will certainly improve our standard of living by creating business opportunities, renewed living accommodations for our community and giving our visitors a beautiful atmosphere,” added Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (89th District). “This project will enlighten our city with economic growth and I’m proud to be of assistance with moving this project forward.”
“I'm proud to have played in a role in the initial successes of Phase I daylighting that gave us the beautiful Larkin Plaza we currently see,” Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin said. “I'm looking forward to working on the next segments of the project with the Mayor and the Council.”
The Daylighting of the Saw Mill River is a four-phase project which includes a new urban river and parks through the center of downtown Yonkers, in which the Saw Mill River was once buried beneath the City in the 1920s. The first phase of the daylighted River at Van Der Donck Park was completed in 2011. In 2013, the City of Yonkers received numerous engineering awards for the project including the New York State Society of Professional Engineers’ “Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award,” the “National Recognition Award” by American Council of Engineering Companies and “Project of the Year” by the Westchester/Putnam Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers.
Mayor Spano added, “As a result of the innovative thinking and planning of our engineers and environmentalists, the daylighted Saw Mill River has created an urban gem in our City. I look forward to the continued progress of Yonkers’ biggest success in recent years.”