REDC Looks to Grow Economy With New Initiatives
John Jordan | December 2017
PEARL RIVER—Flushed from the record success in the annual Consolidated Funding Application competition where more than 10 critical projects in Rockland County secured state funding, REDC President and CEO Jeremy Schulman said the county’s economic development agency plans a host of targeted initiatives and programs geared at attracting new business and growing existing commerce in Rockland in 2018.
Schulman, a veteran economic development specialist in the Hudson Valley, was hired by the REDC to lead the organization in November 2016. In an interview with Real Estate In-Depth, he said that REDC’s 30th year of operation in 2017 was very successful and entering the new year the organization is now focused on some exciting new programs.
Doubling Down on Priority Sectors
Schulman said that REDC will “double down” by placing greater emphasis on expanding the following growth sectors in Rockland County: Advanced Manufacturing, Food & Beverage, High-Tech Data Centers, Hospitality/Tourism and Biomed.
Working in cooperation with Rockland County’s Director of Economic Growth and Tourism Lucy Redzeposki and other key stakeholders, REDC will also work to strengthen village and downtown centers with a particular focus on transportation corridors. The agency also is looking to continue to foster small business development in Rockland County.
Schulman said that at the close of 2017, RJ Brands, a New Jersey-based kitchen appliance firm was scheduled to close on the purchase of the 50,400-square-foot former Keebler building at 29 Corporate Drive in Orangeburg. The $6.8-million deal involves the relocation of the company from Mahwah, NJ to Rockland County.
“What we are finding is that any properties for sale within the 50,000-square-foot range and above are being snatched up at market prices and above, which demonstrates the strength of Rockland’s commercial real estate market,” Schulman reported.
Some of the other significant deals of note in the priority sectors include Linen Choice/Sanders Collection, an advance manufacturing firm, relocating its headquarters and consolidating its other facilities from across the country into 110,000 square feet of space in Orangeburg. That deal, according to the REDC, was valued at more than $14 million.
Other notable recent manufacturing deals include expansions by Caribbean Food Delights and Rockland Bakery to name a few.
In the biomed sector, Endo International plc, the parent of Par Pharmaceuticals, expanded the Par campus by acquiring the 24,400-square-foot 80 Schoolhouse Road property for $2.5 million. The company’s expansion plans also include an increase in the firm’s leased space.
In the Food & Beverage sector, there have been a host of craft beverage operations opening their doors in the county. Scheduled for opening in early 2018 is Gentle Giant Brewing Co. at 7 North Main St. in Pearl River. Another exciting development in this burgeoning sector is the planned RCC Culinary Center at the former Presidential Life Building in Nyack. At press time a lease agreement was pending for a total of 15,000 square feet of space that will feature classrooms, a training facility, a multimedia amphitheater and a proposed “Taste of NY Shop.”
In conjunction with the Food & Beverage Center, REDC is also promoting satellite higher educational resources; looking to help strengthen the Nyack village center, which is already a Hudson River destination and hub for food and beverage entrepreneurs; engaging in a public-private-partnership on the development of a Rockland Hops Yard concept in collaboration with Gentle Giant and RCC and also seeking to push forward a proposed Culinary Corridor in the Route 303 area in Orangetown to identify and market the food manufacturing cluster in Rockland County.
“The idea is to leverage the momentum of the organics sprouting up of all these Food & Beverage companies and manufacturers to be able to brand them as a cluster and help recruit others here and strengthen the existing cluster,” Schulman said. The initiative could also involve new signage, assisting with grant funding, property tours, etc.
Rockland is also seeing a host of mixed-use transit oriented projects take shape, including: a 1 million-square-foot proposal in Spring Valley to include residential housing, retail, office, as well as a parking garage and planned Spring Valley train station improvements; the Sheldon, a 92-unit apartment building in Suffern adjacent to the train station, and TZ Vista, which is developing a 128-unit apartment building on Gedney St. in Nyack.
Some of the other notable programs REDC is engaged in include: assisting Jawonio with a therapeutic hiking path and Hopper House with its growth campaign and proposed visitor center in an effort to advance their amazing social enterprises.
REDC is also collaborating with Pattern for Progress to host a charrette (visioning exercise) to assist Garnerville Arts & Industrial Center with a campus economic development plan in the first quarter of 2018.
REDC anticipates that the high level of activity combined with concrete support will translate into several key announcements in 2018.