Westchester IDA, LDC Fueled $560M in Investment in 2014

John Jordan | April 1, 2015

WHITE PLAINS—2014 was a banner year for the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Local Development Corporation (LDC) which provided financing and incentives for 20 projects whose private investment totaled more than $560 million and created or retained more than 4,600 permanent and construction jobs.

The 16 IDA projects, which included residential, retail and commercial developments, are projected to create or retain 3,826 permanent and construction jobs. The $435 million in private investment is the highest year-end total for IDA projects since the beginning of the Astorino administration. Financing and incentives totaled $98.1 million and transaction fees paid to the IDA will generate an estimated $1.3 million, which will be used to support small businesses and stimulate job creation.

“This year’s record level of IDA activity for private development projects is unprecedented,” said Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino. “The message is Westchester is open for business and the product of that message is thousands of construction and permanent jobs and a more vibrant economy.”

Among the major projects assisted by the IDA in 2014 were headquarters expansion of Acorda Therapeutics in Ardsley, Harbor Square luxury rentals in Ossining, Saw Mill Lofts rental apartments in Hastings-on-Hudson, the Rivertowns Square mixed-use retail center in Dobbs Ferry, the Hilton Garden Inn in Dobbs Ferry, a new condominium building on Kensington Road in Bronxville and an affordable senior housing complex in Mamaroneck. The 2014 breakdown for financing and incentives was $84.5 million in tax-exempt bonds and $13.6 million in mortgage recording and sales tax exemptions.

Since 2010, the Westchester IDA has approved projects with a combined private investment of more than $1 billion, spurred by nearly $224 million in financing and incentives.

The four Local Development Corporation (LDC) projects last year are projected to create and retain 800 permanent and construction jobs. The $129 million in private investment was entirely supported by the LDC through tax-exempt bond financing. Transaction fees paid to the LDC on the projects will be an estimated $276,250.

Since the LDC was established in April 2013, it has approved $430 million in tax-exempt bond financing for nine nonprofit projects in Westchester, generating an estimated $840,625 in transaction fees, county officials stated. The projects are projected to create and retain 1,864 permanent and construction jobs.

Nonprofits that were approved to receive LDC support in 2013 and 2014 included Kendal on Hudson, Phelps Memorial Hospital, Northern Westchester Hospital, Purchase College, White Plains Hospital, Pace University, White Plains Housing Company and YWCA of White Plains and Northern Westchester. Pace University’s more than$100 million expansion project was the largest to be approved by either the LDC or IDA in 2014.

“By providing highly responsive and friendly customer service, the IDA and LDC have gained the confidence of the business and nonprofit communities as a valuable resource for financing and incentives,” said Jim Coleman, executive director of the Westchester IDA/LDC. “In the case of Pace University, the LDC was able to issue $101 million in tax-exempt bond financing for its Pleasantville campus modernization project in just 28 days.”

Coleman also highlighted the 2013 IDA financing of the White Plains Hospital capital improvement and expansion project as a prime example of how county government can provide assistance that helps facilitate capital investment and job creation. In 2015, the IDA also provided assistance to the owner of 101 East Post Road in White Plains—Unicorn Contracting—in redeveloping the office building. The IDA’s incentives will allow construction to begin on the project shortly. The building has since been fully leased (50,000 square feet) to White Plains Hospital.

“In the past before that decision by the (IDA) Board last year we would help the tenant at 101 East Post Road so that developer would have to make that investment on their own, roll the dice and hope that they could find a good Class A tenant,” Coleman said. “By doing this we felt like we could help the developer, and any other developer, to fast forward their projects.”

So far in 2015 some of the major incentive transactions, in addition to the 101 East Post Road project, have included the IDA’s approval of a series of incentives that will help Flexjet relocate its fractional jet charter operations from Teterboro, NJ to Westchester County Airport in White Plains.

The move will bring an initial 38 high-wage permanent jobs to Westchester and create an additional 55 permanent jobs over the next five years. In addition, 20 construction jobs will be created during the four-month renovation of Flexjet’s new home at hangar “F.”

“We are thrilled that Flexjet has decided to move to Westchester,” said Astorino. “Flexjet is rolling out a red carpet runway to corporate executives and entrepreneurs from around the globe, which will encourage further investment and job creation in Westchester.”

The financing and tax-exemptions made available through the IDA help defray the cost of the move from Teterboro and support the $5-million renovation project. The construction project is expected to begin in May and transform the hangar into a state-of-the-art facility and convert the current office space into a modern, technologically advanced passenger lounge.

In addition, Lennar Multifamily has an application pending with the IDA in connection with its proposed purchase of the Westchester Pavilion in White Plains. The Miami-based real estate development firm, was on the agenda for the IDA’s March meeting, but decided to postpone its presentation to the IDA board.

Lennar Multifamily, a subsidiary of Miami-based Lennar Corp. is proposing to demolish the 185,000-square-foot shopping center to make way for a high-rise mixed-use project that will include rental apartments and retail. The application before the IDA is filed by Maple and Broadway Holdings, LLC (care of Lennar Multifamily Communities). The developer is expected to make a presentation to the IDA Board in the future in the hopes of securing incentives in connection with its estimated $275-million project.

Coleman said he is very pleased with the pipeline of projects that could be before the IDA sometime in the near future. “We have a couple of projects, some who haven’t presented their applications as yet so I can’t talk about them in detail, but we’ve got about three or four massive projects like that (the Westchester Pavilion proposal). So stay tuned.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth