Eco. Development Experts Say Regional Economy is Humming
John Jordan | April 20, 2023
WHITE PLAINS—The Commercial Investment Division of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors recently presented its Annual Economic Development Roundtable that featured the top officials in the region charged with attracting and retaining business here. If there was one recurring theme from the program it was that despite talks of an economic slowdown or possible recession later this year—the Hudson Valley’s economy is very strong.
The March 23rd panel, moderated by CID President Clayton Livingston, featured Marlene Cintron, Atlantic Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration, representing The Bronx, New York City and New York State; Steve Gross, Economic Development Director, Orange County; Mike Oates, President and CEO, Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation; Kathleen Ables, President, Economic Development Putnam County; Lucy Redzeposki, Director of Economic Growth & Tourism for Rockland County and Bridget Gibbons, Director, Economic Development, Westchester County. The event was held at the HGAR offices in White Plains.
Oates of the HVEDC said that some projects in the region that were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now moving forward. However, he said there is some concern that economic headwinds, such as high-inflation, labor costs, etc., could alter some plans in the future.
In spite of that, he related, “The Hudson Valley is on fire with a tremendous amount of activity.” Oates focused on the planned redevelopment of the former Tech City campus in Kingston by National Resources dubbed “iPark 87,” as well as the Bellefield at Hyde Park project in Dutchess County.
Earlier this year, Zinc8 Energy Solutions, a long-term energy storage firm, announced it would be developing a nearly $80-million project at the iPark 87 campus that will bring 500 new jobs to the region. The firm will be leasing approximately 237,000 square feet of warehouse and outdoor space at the complex. In addition, another energy-related firm is looking to occupy approximately 550,000 square feet of space at the property. He said that the project could involve another $200 million of investment and another 700 new jobs. In addition, a number of food and beverage companies are also considering locating operations at iPark 87. The redevelopment plan also will include approximately 600 units of housing that will be geared for the iPark 87 workforce. He added that there are also academic institutions that are considering establishing a campus on the Kingston property, as well as film production companies.
He reported that the first of two planned hotels is under construction at Bellefield at Hyde Park. The culinary and hospitality-oriented project, located across from the Culinary Institute of America, is envisioned as a $1-billion development that could feature as much as 2 million square feet of space, which would involve 1 million square feet of commercial space and 1 million square feet of residential space.
He also noted that the Hudson Valley will see the benefits of the Biden Administration’s CHIP Act as Micron will be investing $100 billion in New York State, and others will invest in New York State due to the federal initiative.
Abels said Putnam County has a number of projects in development and a host of others in the pipeline. She singled out the long-anticipated revitalization of Downtown Brewster, which will be developed by National Resources of Greenwich, CT. She said that she is confident the project will move forward with National Resources at the helm. There are several properties owned by the Town of Southeast that need to be sold to the developer. Abels said that once those transactions are complete, it should be “all systems go” for National Resources to begin the transit-oriented project dubbed iPark Brewster that will feature a new parking garage and more than 400 residential housing units.
She also noted a number of warehouse development projects in the pipeline in Brewster and Southeast, the expansion of Ace Endico, as well as a host of senior-housing projects in the county.
Gibbons, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency, noted that the county’s IDA provided incentives for projects valued at $1.84 billion in mostly residential/mixed-use projects in 2022. One of the major projects induced by the IDA last year was the expansion by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The latest phase of the expansion will involve approximately 750,000 square feet of new commercial space. When completed, Regeneron, which employs 3,000 workers in Westchester, will be hiring another 1,000 workers, Gibbons noted,
Gibbons stated that overall, the Westchester County economy “has come roaring back” from the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. She related that Westchester handed out approximately $31 million in federal grant funding it received to help small businesses, not-for-profits and religious organizations deal with the pandemic’s impacts.
Redzeposki agreed with other economic development officials that the region’s economy is booming. She said that Rockland County is fielding an unprecedented number of corporate and development proposals and is also seeing a sharp increase in business expansions from firms wishing to remain in Rockland County. She said that it is proving a challenge to find the expansion space for some of these firms, adding that while she hopes to keep these firms in Rockland, she is determined to keep them in the Hudson Valley and New York State and not relocate to neighboring New Jersey.
She also serves as the president of the Hudson Valley Tourism group, which promotes the entire Hudson Valley region as a tourism destination. She also noted that the county is working to make improvements to its Rivertowns. The Village of Haverstraw was awarded a $10-million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant in late 2021 to help finance redevelopment efforts there.
Orange County’s Gross related that LEGOLAND New York plans to expand its Goshen operations to include a second hotel, an aquarium and other amenities. He also touted Woodbury Common Premium Outlet, which has expansion plans, as well as Angry Orchard in Walden and City Winery in Montgomery, which have become popular destinations. He also said the county and the business community continue to try and promote and grow New York Stewart International Airport, which is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Among some of the high growth sectors in Orange County include advanced manufacturing, food and beverage and the film industry. Academy Award winner The Whale was filmed at production facilities in Newburgh. Gross also reported that Orange County will be hosting its Second Annual Orange County Summit on Sept. 15 at Orange County Community College.
Cintron, who discussed the host of business assistance programs being offered by the USBA, said the Penn Access project will be a game-changer for the Bronx and surrounding area.
The CID program also for the first time included a marketing session that allowed attendees to offer their “Wants and Needs.” CID President Livingston, who is Associate Broker, Commercial Development Leader for McGrath Global Commercial Realty Inc., said that the Wants and Needs segment will be part of all CID programming going forward.