Danone North America Finalizes HQ Move to White Plains

John Jordan | February 2017

The Source at White Plains

WHITE PLAINS—Danone North America announced on Feb. 7 it will be moving forward with a planned relocation of its corporate headquarters from Greenburgh to approximately 100,000 square feet of leased office and retail space at 100 Bloomingdale Road in White Plains.

The North American operations of The Danone Co., known for Dannon and Evian yogurt brands, currently occupies approximately 75,000 square feet of space at 100 Hillside Ave. in Greenburgh. The firm will relocate to leased space at the Source at White Plains complex at the corner of Bloomingdale Road and Maple Ave.  Other major tenants at the property include Whole Foods, Raymour & Flanigan, Dick’s Sporting Goods, The Cheesecake Factory, and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, which relocated to approximately 16,000 square feet of office space on the fourth floor of the Source at White Plains, also known as One Maple Ave. last year.

Danone North America revealed its plans back in October 2016 when it filed an application for incentives in connection with the headquarters relocation to White Plains with the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency. At that time, Danone officials said that it was also considering a possible relocation of its headquarters to a site in Stamford, CT.

Since its appearance at the IDA, Danone secured a necessary zone change from the City of White Plains to allow the firm to operate a food laboratory on ground floor retail space at the Source at White Plains. The White Plains Common Council approved a site plan and special permit for the lab space at a session on Feb. 7.

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said in a prepared statement after the city granted Danone its necessary approvals for the relocation, “The amenities available in our downtown, including restaurants, retail, housing, Zipcar, bike lanes, and proximity to transit I believe are a great fit for Dannon and its employees. I look forward to Dannon becoming part of the White Plains community.”

The Westchester County IDA had previously approved $1.273 million in incentives for the relocation project that Danone has estimated would cost approximately $30.4 million to complete. The company in a press announcement on the relocation stated that it would begin relocating its more than 400 headquarters employees to 100 Bloomingdale Road by early 2018. In its application with the IDA, Danone also said it expected to hire another 150 workers at its headquarters over the first five years after the relocation project is completed.

“We prioritized efficient and flexible design solutions for the changing style of our workplace that we envision for our future,” said Dessislava Miteva, the company’s chief people officer and VP of human resources.  “Increasingly we are working in open and flexible spaces that can adapt to the continually evolving needs of our company and our people. We want as much open space as possible to maintain the sense of community we currently have, to encourage informal and ad-hoc communication, and to ensure as much freedom and autonomy as possible in an energetic and exciting workplace. Additionally, being within walking distance to restaurants, shopping and mass transit are important for our company.”

Company officials also cited the development of a modern, flexible workplace that will “fully leverage technology, enhance collaboration, and align with the company’s unique culture and global brand, along with the location in a vibrant community accessible via mass transit,” as other key factors in the relocation decision.

In addition to IDA assistance, Danone also received incentives from the State of New York, Empire State Development through its Excelsior Jobs Program and Capital Grant programs.  The incentives the company noted, will allow the company to expand its operations, attract new talent, update its office design, and retain its Research & Development team’s accessory food laboratory.

“We are deeply grateful for the support and patience of the city, county and state, which have helped to keep our company in the area and allow us to significantly update and upgrade the setting in which we work, which will allow us to continue to be a significant contributor to community stability and growth here in White Plains,” said Danone’s Miteva.

The fine points of the 15-year lease deal with building owner that was not finalized by press time include Bloomingdale Road Investors LLC, an affiliate of UBS, include Danone relocating to approximately 60,000 square feet of existing space on the fourth floor of the Source at White Plains property and building another 23,000 square feet of “mezzanine space” atop its fourth floor offices. In addition, Danone would lease another approximately 20,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of the 240,000-square-foot property. The ground floor retail space, currently leased by Morton’s Steakhouse and formerly occupied by Destination Maternity, would be used for a food laboratory and cafeteria space. Morton’s and Destination Maternity leases expire in the spring of 2017. Morton’s Steakhouse at the Source at White Plains will be closing in late March, but will reopen at the former Legal Seafoods space on Mamaroneck Ave. this summer.

Robert Ageloff, international director with JLL, represented Danone North America. Glenn Walsh, executive managing director and Lawrence Ruggieri, senior managing director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, represented the building owner in the deal.

“Danone North America is a terrific company,” said Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino. “Westchester is proud to be a past partner and is excited to be part of its future success. Many thanks to Danone for its continuing investment in Westchester.”

Danone North America has operated its headquarters in Westchester for more than 20 years and has leased space at the Greenburgh property since 2004.

The company moved into the 100 Hillside Ave. building in 2004. The company relocated its corporate offices from 120 White Plains Road in Tarrytown.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth