Yonkers Mayor Spano Says City is Looking to Change its Image

John Jordan | October 2017

From left, Gary Klein, Houlihan Lawrence Commercial Real Estate Group; John Barrett, HGAR CID President; Barry Kramer, HGAR President-elect; Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Richard Haggerty, HGAR CEO. PHOTO BY JOHN VECCHIOLLA

WHITE PLAINS—Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who was the keynote speaker at HGAR’s Commercial Investment Division on Oct. 26, said that one of his administration’s main goals has been to change the city’s negative image that at least in part was caused by the school desegregation case that garnered national headlines in the late 1980s.

In addition, he charged the city’s image suffers from local media focusing too much on crime. Also, the recession nearly 10 years ago derailed a promised economic revival along the waterfront. Each factored into the decision by developers and investors to pass over the city for places like Brooklyn and Jersey City, despite the fact that Yonkers is closer to Manhattan. Spano said the administration knew it had an image issue it had to deal with for the city to bring in new investment.

The mayor noted that several years ago the City Council unanimously approved affordable housing legislation and his administration has worked daily to promote the positive news that takes place each day in Yonkers.

Now nearly three decades from when the landmark school desegregation played out in Yonkers, the mayor stressed to the more than 70 attendees of the CID session, that the city has markedly changed since then.

The mayor related that there are Yonkers residents that represent 100 nationalities that speak 60 different languages. “We have become a city that embraces our diversity,” Mayor Spano said.

During his presentation the mayor noted that there are 1,088 housing units under construction in the city at present, with another 966 units approved for development. He added that the development pipeline includes approximately 4,000 units that will be built along the city’s waterfront.

The city that was until recently shunned by developers “with deep pockets” has seen the likes of Mill Creek Residential, RXR Realty and AvalonBay Communities build rental apartment projects in Yonkers.

He also praised the redevelopment of the former Boyce Thompson Institute by Simone Development Companies as a “home run” for the city.

Mayor Spano noted that the city is once again attempting to secure additional funding from Albany lawmakers for its $2-billion school reconstruction program and plans to spend $500 million to rehabilitate all 2,000 city-owned public housing units.

The CID program also featured Philip Weiden, government affairs director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, who spoke on tax reform and the need for real estate professionals to contact members of Congress and express their opposition to the elimination of the local and state tax deductions that have been proposed as a part of the GOP-led tax reform plan.

The meeting was sponsored by Houlihan Lawrence Commercial. Gary Klein, regional manager commercial division and associate real estate broker for Houlihan Lawrence, who gave a short presentation on his firm’s third quarter commercial real estate report for Westchester County.

 

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth