$1.2B Bioscience Project Clears Major Regulatory Hurdle
John Jordan | April 2017
WHITE PLAINS—In what county officials say is the largest public-private partnership in Westchester County history, County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz announced the approval of the $1.2-billion Westchester Bioscience & Technology Center project on 80 acres of vacant land in Valhalla.
The two county leaders staged a press conference on Monday in advance of the County Legislature’s 17-0 unanimous vote last evening approving the 99-year lease of 60 vacant acres of county-owned land on its Grasslands Campus to Greenwich, CT-based development firm Fareri Associates. The development, known in local circles as the “North 60,” at full build-out will total nearly three million square feet of commercial space. The project also includes 20 adjacent acres owned by Fareri Associates.
With the go-ahead from the Westchester County Board of Legislators, Fareri Associates, after securing a necessary approval from the Westchester County Medical Center, will apply for site plan and sub-division approvals from the Town of Mount Pleasant.
Neil DeLuca, a consultant and partner with Fareri Associates, said the developer expects the approval process, which will include compliance with New York State’s SEQRA regulations, will take 18 months to 24 months to complete. A groundbreaking on the first phase of the project is expected within three years.
“Today is truly an historic day for Westchester County,” said County Executive Astorino. “It is a great example of what we can do when we work together in a bi-partisan manner.” He later added, “This initiative will create a bio-technology hub that will position our county as a leader in the field, will create thousands of jobs, and produce a revenue-stream to help pay for parks, roads, day care, public safety and other services for years to come.”
Board of Legislators Chairman Kaplowitz, D-Somers, said, “Passage of this North 60 project is a tremendous win for everybody in Westchester and the surrounding region. Turning this tract of vacant county property into a hub of scientific research and innovation will create significant new revenues, economic and scientific activity and create thousands of permanent and construction jobs. Thanks to developer John Fareri, the County Executive and all my legislative colleagues for their work on this magnificent project.”
The development comprises three major development components: the West Research Village, Central Village and East Research Village. Fully built out, the new center will include 2,252,600 square feet of biotech/research space; 400,000 square feet of medical offices; a 100,000-square-foot hotel with 100 rooms; 114,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and a 34,000-square-foot Children’s Living Science Center.
The first phase of the project will total 500,000 square feet and will feature 220,000 square feet of biotech/research space, 100,000 square feet of medical space, 80,000 square feet of shopping/ground-level retail space and a 100,000-square-foot hotel.
Significant infrastructure work will be required prior to the construction of the commercial space. Fareri and county officials pegged the cost of improvements to the road network, water supply and service, sanitary waste system and storm water management at approximately $40 million.
County officials touted the many economic benefits the bioscience project would bring to the area. In particular, they noted that the total project would create 4,000 construction jobs and more than 8,000 permanent jobs. In addition, the project would bring in approximately $9 million in estimated new real estate taxes annually to Westchester County, the Town of Mount Pleasant and the Mount Pleasant School District and $7 million in estimated new annual rent to Westchester County. In addition, about 50% of the property or nearly 44 acres will be preserved as open space.
“The opportunity to create a hub for the county’s already strong position in the vitally important life sciences sector is real. The unique location and facilities will foster innovation, collaboration, education and a wide range of employment options in a beautiful and vibrant environment,” stated John Fareri, president of Fareri Associates. “This project will place Westchester in the economic forefront providing benefits for the town, school district, county and state. We thank the County Executive for his leadership and the Board of Legislators for their thoughtful study and willingness to take this bold and exciting step. We now look forward to working with the Town of Mount Pleasant to make this long dreamed of concept a reality.” John Fareri is founder of the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at the Westchester Medical Center.
Fareri Associates has more than $1.5 billion and more than five million square feet of real estate completed, owned or under development. The company’s projects in Westchester include 19 Bradhurst Ave. in Valhalla, a 220,000-square-foot medical office building leased to the Westchester Medical Center and 3030 Westchester Ave. in Purchase, an 85,000-square-foot medical property leased to WESTMED Medical Group.