Economic Diversity Will Fuel Growth in Orange County
John Jordan | September 2019
GOSHEN—The Orange County economy is rapidly evolving into a diverse set of growing industries that are yielding significant investment and new jobs to the area.
A recent briefing by the Orange County Partnership to key business leaders and stakeholders at the Newburgh Brewing Co. in Newburgh showcased the various new projects on the boards and the host of new projects under construction—including the $350-million LEGOLAND New York project in Goshen and the more than $150-million Amy’s Kitchen project, also in Goshen, which broke ground this past June.
While the LEGOLAND New York project will no doubt bring in new business and jobs to the area when it opens in the spring of 2020, there are a large number of projects in the pipeline that will foster growth in multiple industries in the county going forward.
Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, noted that while the county is still seeing significant investment from developers looking to build warehouse/distribution facilities for e-commerce, retail, hemp and healthcare concerns, other economic sectors are emerging as avenues for growth.
She noted that there is currently 3.1 million square feet of commercial space either under construction or ready to break ground in Orange County.
Halahan reported at the August session that in terms of business attraction activity there were 34 firms studying possible projects in the county. Manufacturing was number one with 15 leads, followed by hospitality with five potential projects, distribution, tourism and agribusiness each with four possible developments and energy with two ventures in the works.
“Diversity is making us a bit ‘bullet-proof’ right now,” Halahan told Real Estate In-Depth. “It’s not just diverse in terms of industry, but also in terms of size and scope with small to medium-sized businesses and then there are extremely large businesses (looking to invest in Orange County).”
While manufacturing has always been a staple in Orange County, the distribution sector clearly leads in terms of the large scope of the proposals. The top two projects are both proposals in the Town of Montgomery. Medline Industries, Inc. is seeking approval from the Montgomery Town Planning Board for a $120-million, 1.3-million-square-foot distribution facility. The firm is moving operations from Wawayanda where it has outgrown its facilities there. Medline has sold the Wawayanda site to Morgan Stanley who plans to lease the building.
A project called “Project Sailfish” is also in the approval process in Montgomery. Bluewater Property Group is seeking approvals for its plan to build a 1,015,740-square-foot fulfillment center for the project that has been estimated to cost approximately $85 million to build.
The last of the mega-projects in the works in Orange County is the 500-megawatt Danskammer power plant project in the Town of Newburgh. The project, which involves a $400-million investment, is currently going through its Article 10 process.
The LEGOLAND New York, Medline, Project Shelfish and Danskammer projects would result in more than $900 million in new investment in Orange County, Halahan related.
The county is also seeing a host of major regional and national developers moving forward with new exciting ventures in the county, which Halahan believes indicates the strength of the county as a business location.
For example, Simone Development of the Bronx, has control of all of the industrial properties at New York Stewart International Airport. The development firm is marketing the complex it now calls “New York International Plaza” as an ideal location for a wide range of sectors including healthcare, technology, biotech & life sciences, academia, R&D, industrial, manufacturing, hospitality and retail. The vision for the campus includes Class A office; medical office; retail; restaurants; residential housing; hotels and conference center and a fitness center.
Matrix Development Group of Monroe Township, NJ has plans to build a 242,000-square-foot state-of-the art spec warehouse building in Wawayanda.
The Frassetto Companies of Upper Saddle River, NJ, which currently has more than 600,000 square feet of commercial space in Orange County, has proposed the development of two spec buildings at 85 Tower Drive (60,400 square feet) and 103 Tower Drive (76,800 square feet) in the Town of Wallkill.
Halahan related that the diversity of industries, the size of those looking to locate or expand in Orange County from small to large businesses, as well as new and influential developers looking to invest significant capital here, give her good reason to remain optimistic that Orange County is poised for significant growth in the years to come.