HGAR’s Haggerty Calls for In-Person Showings At Economic Recovery Task Force Virtual Session

Real Estate In-Depth | May 2020

Virtual Town Hall meeting of the newly formed Business Council of Westchester’s Economic Recovery Task Force. Photo Credit: BCW

RYE BROOK— A host of business and non-for-profit executives offered their recommendations on how best to restart the Westchester County economy at a virtual Town Hall meeting of the newly formed Business Council of Westchester’s Economic Recovery Task Force.

Formed on April 24, the task force is made up of more than 40 high level leaders from real estate development companies who are part of the BCW’s Coalition for Smart Development, as well as representatives from key economic sectors including retail, hospitality, healthcare, biotech, technology, higher education, professional services, finance, insurance, transportation and government.

Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester

Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, said, “Over the coming weeks and months as Westchester reemerges from the shutdown, we will face daunting challenges. Through a series of sector specific sub-committees, the BCW Task Force will explore specific challenges and promulgate recommendations and programs to the governor and county executive that meaningfully address needs in practical and achievable ways.”

At the state level, Governor Andrew Cuomo has formed the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board, which includes members of the BCW as the state pursues a phased plan to re-open New York on a regional basis. Westchester County Executive George Latimer is leading the county government’s response, and Westchester Director of Economic Development Bridget Gibbons is a member of the BCW Task Force.

“As we emerge from this crisis it is critically important that we have the strategies and plans in place that will let us hit the ground running,’’ Gordon noted. “We are confident that the impressive group of leaders we have brought together can and will provide the wisdom, insight and creative thinking to enable the creation of constructive and practical plans for moving forward.”

Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO

Richard Haggerty, chief executive officer of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, shared at the Town Hall session that most aspects of the real estate business are currently being performed on a virtual basis.

With the state moving towards the phased reopening of the Mid-Hudson regional economy in the coming weeks, Haggerty, a member of the task force, called for the state to allow in-person property showings, which he said would help move many properties to closing. He said that the real estate industry could adhere to all necessary safety protocols, including social distancing and limiting viewings to two prospective purchasers at a time during in-person showings.

“At the end of the day, we have a lot of prospective purchasers who want to move to Westchester County and the Hudson River Valley and want to bring their tax dollars with them,” Haggerty said. He noted that in 2019 New York State collected more than $3.2 billion from real estate transactions. He noted that even if current prospective purchasers enter into contracts to purchase a home in June, it will take another few months before that deal progresses to closing.

“So, the sooner we can get in-person showings so buyers and new residents can move to Westchester and the Hudson River Valley, the better off we are all going to be,” he added.

Sean Meade, president of the Westchester Hotel Association and general manager of Cambria Suites in White Plains, discussed the beleaguered hotel market in the county that is also suffering from the COVID-19 restrictions. He said the hospitality and tourism sectors are among the hardest hit from the pandemic.

Meade, a member of the Business Council of Westchester’s Economic Recovery Task Force, said that consumer confidence needs to be restored for hospitality and tourism to recover. At present, hotels are trying to remain “cash positive so we can continue to operate.” He noted that while Cambria Suites and other facilities remain open, a number of other hotel properties in the county have suspended operations until July or August.

“We also need help in marketing, that is going to be a key success factor for us,” Meade related. He also called for additional tourism funding to overcome challenges and to get people to feel comfortable once again in traveling to Westchester County.

The following are the members of the Business Council of Westchester’s Economic Recovery Task Force:

Joseph Apicella, Macquesten Development – Real Estate*

Luiz Aragon, City of New Rochelle – Government

Bill Balter, Wilder Balter Partners – Real Estate*

Greg Berger, Robert Martin Company – Real Estate*

Liz Bracken-Thompson, Thompson & Bender – Marketing/ Communications

Peter Chavkin, Lighthouse Landing Communities – Real Estate*

Robert Cioffi, Progressive Computing – Technology

Tom DeCaro, Benchmark Title Agency – Professional Services/Title Insurance*

Neil DeLuca, Fareri Associates – Real Estate*

Heidi Davidson, Galvanize Worldwide – BCW Board Chairman/Marketing/Communications

Taryn Duffy, Empire City by MGM Resorts – Gaming/Entertainment

John Fareri, Fareri Associates – Real Estate*

Tim Foley, Builders Institute of Westchester – Construction/Real Estate*

Michael Fosina, NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital – Healthcare

Susan Fox, Westchester Institute for Human Development – Not-for-Profit

Ken Fuirst, Levitt-Fuirst Associates – Professional Services/Insurance

David Garten, RXR – Real Estate*

Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County – Government

Martin Ginsburg, Ginsburg Development – Real Estate *

Larry Gottlieb, Robert Martin Company – Real Estate*

Richard Haggerty, Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors – Real Estate

Jeffrey Haydon, Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts – Arts

Peter Herrero, NY Hospitality Group – Hospitality

April Horton, Verizon – Technology

Tim Jones, Robert Martin Company – Real Estate*

Anthony Justic, Maier Markey & Justic – Professional Services/Accounting

Marvin Krislov, Pace University – Higher Education

Joseph McCoy, People’s United Bank – Finance

Sean Meade, Cambria Hotels/Westchester Hotel Association – Hospitality

Jeff Nelson, RXR – Real Estate*

Kevin Plunkett, Simone Development Companies – Real Estate*

Liz Pollack, Cross County Shopping Center – Retail

George Poth, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals – Biotech

Joseph Saccomano, Jackson Lewis – Professional Services/Law

Michael Shiffer, MTA Metro-North Railroad – Transportation

Joseph Simone, Simone Development Companies– Real Estate*

Howard Stein, Small Business Development Center- Small Business

Edward Stoppelmann, Red Oak Transportation –Transportation

Joseph Stout, Westchester Parks Foundation – Recreation

Jim Surdoval, Ginsburg Development – Real Estate*

Geoff Thompson, Thompson & Bender – Marketing/Communications

Mark Weingarten, DelBello Donnellan & Weingarten – Professional Services/Law*

Budd Wiesenberg, CBRE – Real Estate

Roger Woolsey, Million Air – Transportation

*Member BCW Coalition for Smart Growth in Westchester