Westchester IDA’s $49M in Incentives to Reap Nearly $882M in Private Investment

John Jordan | January 2019

The Westchester County Industrial Development Agency provided $3.77 million in incentives for City Square, a $146.5-million development being developed by Ginsburg Development Companies in Downtown White Plains.

WHITE PLAINS—The Westchester County Industrial Development Agency released its full-year 2018 activity report on Jan. 2 which showed that its $48.8 million in incentives are projected to create $881.4 million in future private investment capital in the county’s economy.

The report noted that the approved projects will create 2,680 construction jobs, 222 permanent jobs and 1,756 units of new rental apartments of which 97 will be affordable at 60% of the Westchester County area median income. In addition, the projects will create more than 73,400 square feet of commercial and retail space.

“This past year we have seen significant gains for economic development in Westchester County. The financial incentives provided by the IDA will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in private sector investment in our county while creating thousands of construction and permanent jobs,” said Bridget Gibbons, director of the Westchester County Office of Economic Development. “Several of the residential projects approved for IDA incentives are transit-oriented developments that appeal to the growing Millennial population in our region.”

Financial incentives offered by the IDA include sales tax exemptions and mortgage recording tax reductions as well as tax-exempt bonds with interest rates lower than conventional debt.

IDA Looks to Strengthen Project Workforce Regs

Not included in its report is any mention of discussions by Westchester County and the union building trades on a new stricter employment policy for projects that receive IDA assistance.

Westchester County government officials and leaders of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester & Putnam Counties Inc. are in negotiations on finalizing new tighter workforce rules for projects that secure funding from the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency, according to a report in the construction industry trade newspaper Construction News.

Westchester County Chief of Staff Joan McDonald, a former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, reported at an IDA meeting on Nov. 29 that talks are underway with the building trades regarding tightening employment regulations on projects that secure incentives from the IDA.

Edward Doyle, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester & Putnam Counties, confirmed that talks with the administration of County Executive George Latimer were ongoing to craft tighter employment requirements for companies that secure IDA incentives, normally in the form of lucrative mortgage and sales tax exemptions, according to the published report.

McDonald, who chairs the Westchester County IDA, told fellow Board members, developers and building trades representatives in attendance at the Nov. 29th IDA session that the County Executive and others in the administration “are in conversations with organized labor to see what we can do as a county because it is happening in other places (agreements on tighter employee wage requirements).” McDonald cited published reports that RXR Realty had recently agreed to a Project Labor Agreement on a major development project in Hempstead (Nassau County).

McDonald said at the November IDA meeting, “We are discussing many items that we will bring back to this (IDA) Board—Project Labor Agreements, pre-apprenticeship training programs, certified payrolls—because we would like what we do through this IDA to be not only a statewide model, but a national model.”

The building trades are promising to wage a campaign to try and convince other IDAs in the region to strengthen workforce rules, claiming that major development project work in Westchester County is being awarded to non-union, non-local contractors.

In that vein, more than 100 members of the building trades staged a protest at Yonkers City Hall last month against the recent decision by the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency and its chairman Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano not to renew a requirement to have firms proposing projects of $5 million or more that receive IDA incentives to secure a Project Labor Agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester & Putnam Counties.

The Yonkers IDA adopted the PILOT program that required PLAs on projects in December 2017 and the program expired and was not renewed effective Dec. 19, 2018. The program also established an apprenticeship program jointly run by the city and the Building and Construction Trades Council.

The next meeting of the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 10. No agenda was available at press time to determine whether the IDA would discuss the status of the talks with the building trades.

Major Projects Financed by Westchester County IDA in 2018:

• The Broadstone, $223.4-million, mixed-use development on the corner of Mamaroneck Avenue and East Post Road in White Plains that will feature 434 rental units in three buildings and 8,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. A total of 27 of the units will be affordable. The project is being developed by Lennar Multifamily Communities. Jobs created: 700 construction and 20 permanent. Total IDA incentives: $31.75 million.

• 440 Hamilton Avenue, a $203-million mixed-use development in Downtown White Plains that will feature 468 rental units in two towers and 2,240 square feet of commercial/retail space. Thirteen of the units will be affordable. Jobs created: 659 construction and 31 permanent. The developer is Rose Associates. Total IDA incentives: $5.02 million.

• The Collection, a $136.2-million mixed-use development in White Plains consisting of 276 rental units in two buildings on Westchester and Franklin avenues. Seventeen of the units will be affordable. The project, which is being developed by Saber Chauncey WP, will have 24,526 square feet of commercial/retail space. Jobs created: 250 construction and 91 permanent. Total IDA incentives: $3.35 million.

• City Square, $146.5-million development transforming the former Westchester Financial Center in Downtown White Plains into a mixed-use complex. The project, which is being developed by Ginsburg Development Companies, includes renovation of Class A office space at 50 Main Street, new restaurants and retail space along Main Street and Martine Avenue and conversion of the office building at 1-11 Martine Avenue into 188 rental apartments. Eleven of the apartments will be affordable. Jobs created: 300 construction and 15 permanent. The office space retains 750 jobs. Total IDA incentives: $3.77 million.

• Halstead Avenue, a $76.8-million mixed-use, transit-oriented development in downtown Harrison next to the Metro-North station. The project, which is being developed by Avalon Bay Communities, will feature 143 rental units, of which seven will be affordable, and 27,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. Jobs created: 410 construction and 8 permanent. Total IDA incentives: $1.35 million.

• 97-111 and 100-114 Hale Avenue, a $48.2-million rental project in White Plains featuring 127 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in two buildings of seven and eight stories. Thirteen of the units will be affordable. The developer is Hale WP Owner LLC whose members include Martin Berger of Saber Realty, the developer of The Collection in White Plains and the Rivertowns Square mixed-use retail complex in Dobbs Ferry. The development will include various green building features including a green roof on both buildings. Jobs created: 180 construction and 15 permanent. Total IDA incentives: $1.16 million.

• 101 Wolfs Lane, a $28-million mixed-use, transit-oriented development in Pelham near the Metro-North station. The project, which is being developed by MatriArch Development, will have 58 rental units and 7,370 square feet of commercial/retail space. Three of the units will be affordable. Jobs created: 144 construction and 26 permanent jobs. Total IDA incentives: $1.47 million.

• 138-158 Westmoreland Avenue, a $19.3-million mixed-use development in White Plains, with 62 rental units, of which six will be affordable, and 4,300 square feet of commercial/retail space. Jobs created: 40 construction and 16 permanent. The developer is Westmoreland Lofts. Total IDA incentives: $867,000.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth