After several decades of blight, Port Chester began a revitalization in 1999 with the construction of the Waterfront at Port Chester mall, with its 14-screen multiplex and big-box stores. In 2011, the Thomas Lamb-designed Capitol Theater reopened downtown. Since 2012, three luxury rental buildings have been erected nearby, attracting tenants looking to walk to the train station and the village’s array of ethnic restaurants.
Richard Conway, Port Chester police chief, said that commercial development has led to increased employment and prosperity and, in turn, decreased crime. “If you saw this place 15 years ago and came back today,” he said, “you’d hardly believe it.”
The village is reviewing a proposal by Starwood Capitol to convert an abandoned hospital campus into a 16-acre retail, commercial and residential development. Another initiative aims at providing public access to Port Chester’s mile-long waterfront for nonmotorized craft. “We have a very urban downtown,” said Daniel Brakewood, a village trustee for 11 years. “We want to add a bit of an outdoor feel, so people can get in a kayak and go out and enjoy the sound.”
What You’ll Find
According to the Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey, there are approximately 10,000 housing units in the village. About a third are two-, three- and four-family homes near downtown. Another third are single-family capes, colonials, Tudors and raised ranches, many of them farther north, where streets are wider. Near the harbor, the Grey Rock neighborhood is a cluster of homes with private access to the water.
Denise Knauer, assessor for the town of Rye, said Port Chester has 957 cooperative apartments in 13 buildings and 750 condominiums in 16 complexes, among them the converted Life Savers Candy Company factory. Almost half of the properties were built before 1940 and are being renovated by buyers “at a pace that is unprecedented,” said Bonnie Stein, a licensed real estate saleswoman with Julia B Fee/Sotheby’s Realty in Rye. “The demand is greater than the inventory.”
What You’ll Pay
As of Feb. 1, there were 26 single-family houses on the market. The least expensive was a 1,380-square-foot, three-bedroom attached home listed at $299,000. The most expensive, at $6,999,000, was a 9,859-square-foot, six-bedroom waterfront property in Grey Rock. There were 13 multifamily homes for sale, from $315,000 to $600,000; 24 cooperative apartments priced from $39,000 to $245,000; and four condominiums, from $269,000 to $425,000.
The median sales price for single-family homes for the 12-month period ending Jan. 31 was $486,000, compared with $467,000 for the previous 12 months.
Christine E. Hazelton, a licensed real estate saleswoman in the Rye branch of Houlihan Lawrence, said that while sales are up, it is neither a buyer’s nor a seller’s market: “Priced right, a home will move, and move quickly, with multiple bids.”
Emma Deehan described Port Chester as “a sweet mix of a suburban neighborhood feel and a bustling downtown.” In October, Ms. Deehan, 28, and her husband, Shane Deehan, 30, moved from a rental in Rye to a four-bedroom cape, bought for $465,000. The couple (he owns a trucking business; she is temporarily unemployed) enjoy their proximity to restaurants like Rye House, Mario Batali’s Tarry Lodge and Bartaco.
Port Chester is renowned for its restaurants. It is also known for its award-winning high school marching band and for the Clay Art Center, celebrating its 60th year promoting ceramic arts. The village has six parks and a post office on the National Register of Historic Places, adorned inside with dramatic New Deal murals.
The Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District encompasses all of Port Chester and part of Rye Brook and serves 4,933 students, including 275 pre-kindergartners. Kindergartners through fifth graders attend one of four elementary schools. Sixth through eighth graders attend Port Chester Middle School before moving on to Port Chester High School. In 2013, the high school became the fourth in Westchester County to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma program.
Seventy-nine percent of students are Latino; for about 30 percent, English is a second language. Nearly three-quarters qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Mean SAT scores for Port Chester’s 2016 graduating class were 451 in critical reading, 475 in mathematics and 445 in writing, versus 489, 501 and 477 statewide.
Rush-hour trains between Port Chester and Grand Central Terminal take 38 to 51 minutes on the Metro-North Railroad New Haven Line. Monthly tickets are $279.
Incorporated in 1868, Port Chester was called Saw Pit throughout the 1700s, named for the large holes in which tree trunks were sawed into lumber used to build ships. It remained a shipbuilding center and a trading port until the arrival of the railroad in the second half of the 1800s. By the mid-20th century, the village was home to factories, including the Life Savers Candy Company and Fruit of the Loom, enticing immigrants from Europe and Central and South America. Today, the community is one of the most dense and most diverse in the county.