NYC Developer Says Westchester Performing Better than Fairfield

John Jordan | October 2018

From left, Mike Traynor, Webster Bank, CID Breakfast Sponsor; Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO; Ann Garti, HGAR COO; Peter Duncan, President and CEO of George Comfort & Sons, Inc.; John Barrett, HGAR CID President

WHITE PLAINS—Peter Duncan, president and CEO of New York City-development firm George Comfort & Sons, told more than 80 attendees of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division, that the firm is bullish on Westchester and is seeking to redevelop a number of properties in the county.

The firm, recently acquired the former Reckson Executive Park in Rye Brook, now known as 1100 King St., in a joint venture with a fund managed by DRA Advisors for $55 million from SL Green Realty. The firm has office holdings and development rights for approximately two million square feet in Westchester County and another two million square feet in Fairfield County, CT, including the former UBS headquarters complex in Stamford, CT, as well as another 450,000 square feet in Southern New Jersey.

Peter Duncan, President and CEO of George Comfort & Sons, Inc

George Comfort & Sons has extensive holdings in Manhattan and has grown its portfolio to more than 14 million square feet.

In fact, Duncan said at the CID session on Thursday (Oct. 4) that one of the reasons Westchester is attractive to the firm is that there has been approximately six million square feet of outdated office space taken off the market in the last 10 years or so.

“I do think Westchester is ahead of Fairfield right now because Westchester, whether by design or whatever, bit the bullet and started transforming a lot of Class C and D properties into new uses,” he said. “So, I think the Westchester market right now—the commercial office side—is much sounder than the Fairfield market.”

He adds that market conditions in Greenwich are tightening, which will eventually benefit the Stamford office market. However, he cautioned that the turnaround will take some time. Duncan blamed at least some of the market’s troubles on the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy and said that there needs to be a “wholesale change of thinking” in state government.

Duncan briefed CID members on a number of the company’s redevelopment efforts, including the proposed redevelopment of the former Good Counsel High School campus in White Plains. The plan, which is currently in the approval process before the White Plains Common Council, calls for the sale of portion of the property to Sunrise Senior Living, which will develop 85 assisted living units. The plan also calls for the development of 95 units of graduate student housing for the adjoining Pace University Law School, and 370 market rate apartments in an eight to 10-story building.

Duncan also outlined the planned redevelopment of 900 King St. in Rye. Brook, a vacant 265,000-square-foot office building it plans to convert into a senior living (age restricted 55 and over) complex that will feature a total of 269 units—80 to 90 units of assisted living/memory units, 24 townhomes and 160 independent living units. The plan, if approved, will involve the demolition of the existing office building.

He also noted that the firm is currently in negotiation with a number of prospective tenants at 1100 King St. in Rye Brook that he believes could bring the percentage of leased space at the 560,000-square-foot complex from its current 65% level to the higher 80s by early 2019.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth