Mid-Hudson Region Begins Phase One; Real Estate Industry Awaits Phase Two

John Jordan | May 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on May 26 marking the reopening of the NYSE. The exchange commenced operations with less traders on the trading floor who were wearing masks and complying with mandatory safe practices.

ALBANY—On Tuesday, May 26th, segments of the construction and manufacturing sectors of the Mid-Hudson regional economy were allowed to go back to work after being shut down under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” restrictions imposed in March to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced on May 22 that pending the required training of contact tracers over the Memorial Day weekend, the Mid-Hudson regional economy could begin phase one of its economy’s reopening on Tuesday, May 26. The morning of May 26, Gov. Cuomo confirmed that a portion of the Mid-Hudson region’s economy was reopened after the region met all the necessary seven metrics related to COVID-19. Mid-Hudson became the eighth region in New York to reopen. Long Island reopened on Wednesday, May 27, leaving only New York City as the only region yet to qualify for phase one reopening.

For 86 days, the Mid-Hudson regional economy had been all but shut down, with the exception of essential businesses that included some segments of the construction industry, since the governor put “New York on Pause” on March 22. The real estate sector for the most part had to operate on a virtual basis. While some transactions have progressed to closing, sales have fallen sharply since the pandemic began in March. Second quarter sales statistics will be released by OneKey MLS in early July.

The first phase of the reopening loosens restrictions imposed back in March on the construction and manufacturing industries, as well as the wholesale supply chain. In addition, certain retail operations can be expanded for curbside pickup and drop-off or in-store pickup. The phase one designation also affects the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.

“Reopening has been different in different regions all across the state, but each region has to meet the same criteria to reopen and we are keeping New Yorkers informed with where each region stands,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We don’t want a region to reopen before its ready, and the Mid-Hudson Valley region has now met all the criteria necessary to begin reopening on Tuesday. This has been a tough situation, but New Yorkers are tough and we’ve shown how tough we really are here.”

Campgrounds and RV parks were allowed to open statewide over the Memorial Day weekend and veterinarian practices were allowed to open on May 26.

A major part of a significant construction project in the Hudson Valley—LEGOLAND New York—was shut down back in late March due to the governor’s executive order.

The governor’s Executive Order in March shut down the construction of the theme park, but did not halt infrastructure-related work, particularly on the construction of a new exit on Route 17 leading to the $350-million resort property.

It appears work will begin soon on the theme park, based on a statement released by the developer after the governor’s announcement that the Mid-Hudson was to enter phase one.

“We are excited LEGOLAND New York Resort has resumed construction for its 2021 opening following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval for the Mid-Hudson Region to begin Phase 1 of reopening. Safety remains our highest priority and enhanced safety procedures to our operations have been introduced, in full compliance with the New York State requirements and best practice guidelines,” said Stephanie Johnson, general manager of LEGOLAND New York Resort.

The governor’s announcement of the reopening on May 26th for the Mid-Hudson was welcome news to business leaders, government officials and unemployed workers in the Mid-Hudson that have been anxiously awaiting the beginning of the phased reopening of the region.

In recent days, county executives and other politicos, including U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, have said the Mid-Hudson region was poised and ready to begin the first phase of the reopening.

“All of the cranes that you’ve seen that had to stop because they were not considered essential construction projects can now get restarted,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer said. “The men and women that work on those projects, the carpenters, the plumbers, the electricians, they go back to work.”

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said that post COVID-19, residents and some businesses now based in New York City may look at counties in the Mid-Hudson as an attractive lifestyle alternative.

“I think that folks in New York City are going to find places such as Westchester, Rockland and Orange and other counties in the Mid-Hudson region very attractive to them when they find they don’t have to go to New York City to work,” Day said. “They can come up to Westchester and Rockland and other places nearby and earn a living.”

It is believed that in two weeks the Mid-Hudson could qualify for phase two of the reopening, which would involve the professional services, retail, administrative support and real estate/rental and leasing sectors, which would bring the real estate industry from its current virtual status to in-person transactions, including showings.

It should be noted that governor’s office has stated that it has the discretion to move a region into another phase. Westchester County Executive George Latimer at a press conference on May 26 said he believes it will take at least two weeks for any region to qualify for an advancement to a higher phase.

Phase three involves restaurants/food services businesses and the final phase reopens segments of the arts / entertainment / recreation and education sectors.

New $100M Small Business Loan Fund Launched

On May 22, the governor announced the launch of the $100-million New York Forward Loan Fund to provide flexible and affordable loans to help small businesses, focusing on minority and women owned small businesses, that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance.

Officials noted that the state will take a smart, targeted approach for distributing these loans, focusing on businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues.

Businesses interested in receiving a loan should visit esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth