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Friday, February 3, 2023

Developers looking for innovative programming to fill Mount Vernon community space – The Journal News

Community space, including a full gymnasium, is a major part of a planned development near the Mount Vernon West train station.
And the goal is for much more than just recreational opportunities. Who will run the space and what it will offer is the focus of an aggressive search by the developers to find innovative ways to serve Mount Vernon’s children and teenagers.
“We want to see who can deliver great programming that makes sense for that space in that area,” said Jonathan Gertman, senior vice president for development at NRP Group, a Cleveland-based company. “We’re truly hoping to hear all proposals. That’s the fun of this. There’s no preconceived agenda.”
NRP has partnered with Forward Thinkers Development and Grandview Consulting Group on 115 S. MacQuesten. The project is expected to be completed by 2027 and will include 315 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space in two buildings along Grove Street between South MacQuesten Parkway and South Terrace Avenue.
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According to the development’s website, MVWestHub.com, 1,100 square feet of community office space would be leased at below market rents.
There would also be 8,000 square feet of recreation space and 2,000 square feet of amenity space at the corner of Grove Street and South Terrace Avenue. That would be for residents of the development, with selected organizations providing programming that would also be made available for Mount Vernon children and teenagers.
Representatives from about two dozen organizations went on Zoom Monday for the first of two informational sessions. Kenneth Plummer, of Forward Thinkers Development, said one idea that was broached was for several smaller nonprofits to join together to operate some of the space.
He said the developers are eager for the Mount Vernon project to be a success similar to a workforce housing project in New Rochelle that will also rebuild the Remington Boys & Girls Club. 
“It’s our mission to build quite a few youth/community facilities in Westchester and we believe this team has a financially viable template to accomplish just that,” Plummer said in an email. “We can build quality housing and simultaneously partner with experienced community partners to provide programs that will have positive multi-generational impacts.”
The second session is June 28 at 2 p.m. at 11 W. Prospect Ave. Registration is required and can be done by emailing mvwesthub@gmail.com. 
Those expressing interest should be established organizations with plans in areas like after-school and STEM programs, career planning, creative and performing arts, youth employment services and entrepreneurship. Proposals must be submitted by July 18.
Nesta Felix, a basketball coach and mentor who runs NewFlex Youth Programs in the city, said she was excited by the prospect of a “fresh and new” location for youth services. 
Debra Stern, executive director of the Amani Public Charter School, said the school could be interested in having its performing arts program in the new space.  
Stern said she was encouraged by the prospect of several organizations offering programs. “That totally enhances the opportunity to provide after school space that would be multi-purpose,” she said.  
The developers have approvals from the city planning and architectural review boards and expect to seek tax breaks from the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency. They are seeking state financing and expect to begin construction in the next two years.
Gertman said starting now to find the right programs for as far off as 2027 meant they’d end up with quality organizations, the ones that think ahead in five-, 10- and 15-year cycles.
Twitter: @jonbandler

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