Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, Under CEO Shelton Haynes, Finalizes Riverwalk Neighborhood with Developers

Shelton Haynes

Roosevelt Island is a small island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, directly across from Long Island City, New York City. Today, it is a mixed residential neighborhood with some commercial development. In addition to its diverse housing options, Roosevelt Island offers a variety of recreational locations for residents. The community has four parks, one of which is the 18-acre Roosevelt Island Park (Ripley Castle). The park hosts annual events, including the popular “Roosevelt Island Day.” The Ripley Castle has been featured on numerous television programs.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), a New York City public benefit corporation, manages Roosevelt Island. RIOC was formed in 1984 by The New York State Legislature to address the island by an act of law. CEO Shelton Haynes, a former city planner from the NYC Department of City Planning, leads it. Today, RIOC manages Roosevelt Island Operations Office and develops land for private development and residential and commercial uses. For Shelton Haynes, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation is a way to help create a better community. “It’s a wonderful opportunity; we have the opportunity to make this place special,” said Haynes.

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation has been redeveloping the island; the island’s river walkways and waterfronts are central to this redevelopment. Currently, there are several plans for waterfront developments. RIOC is currently finalizing one of these developments with developers, who will bring a residential and office complex to the site. This completed project will be one of the first to utilize the recently established Roosevelt Island Promenade, which serves as a linear park along the island’s riverfront. The promenade will serve as a pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists, and it has been completed in part by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT).

Riverwalk is a 1.5-mile path running through the island’s northern tip to its southern tip through its park. In addition to providing an aesthetically pleasing route for pedestrians and cyclists, Riverwalk will also serve as a waterway for boat traffic. Shelton Haynes’ dream is to create a unified and cohesive neighborhood; “Riverwalk is going to be that park, that very important link between the island, the waterfront, and the residential community.” The current river walk model is one of RIOC’s first endeavors in this direction. “It’s a great link to get people on and off,” said Haynes.

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