New Rochelle, a town in Westchester County just north of the Bronx and New York City, was the fictional home of Rob and Mary Petry, a.k.a. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 1960s. Then, it was a suburb, though it had a substantial downtown. Over the years, that downtown deteriorated, so much so that the neat suburban homes that were the fantastical backdrop for that show were selling for far less than similar homs in the tonier burgs a bit further to the north. Some would argue that New Rochelle had become more of a city than a suburb. Now, it is looking to take a big step toward making that perception reality. The Wall Street Journal reports:
For more than a generation, the suburb of New Rochelle, N.Y., has been struggling with a stagnant economy, closed storefronts and tax revenue that has fallen even as New York City has boomed just 15 miles to the south.
Now this bedroom community is forging ahead with a plan to remake its low-slung downtown into a landscape checkered with office towers, high-rise apartments and new retail. Over the past year and a half, it has changed its zoning and signed on a team of developers to start building some of the planned towers—all in a bid to attract new employers and residents and breathe life into the local economy.
In short, this suburb is trying to look urban. And it isn’t the only one. Urbanization efforts in New Rochelle, a city of 79,000, offer a glimpse of changes taking shape in suburbs around the country. While the approaches vary, what they share is a general desire for urban-style development meant to appeal to youth and attract employers who might otherwise gravitate to cities.