• 8 Big Changes Transforming Westchester County

  • DECEMBER 14, 2015 | ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

  • WCA Identifies MegaTrends Pointing to Bright Future

  • As we see it, eight forces are reshaping Westchester in surprising and unexpected ways. What’s more, these currents areworking in concert, thus heightening their impact. Looking ahead to 2016, the good news is that these developments point to a very bright future for the county. 



    In our recent 2015 Economic Update report, Frontline, we outline these mega trends:

    1. Our population is growing.

    Westchester’s population increased 3% from 2010 through 2014, and it is about to increase a whole lot more. Demographers predict that one million more people are expected to move to the New York metro area in the next decade. New York City’s housing shortage and escalating rents will push a percentage of these people to Westchester.

    2. We’ve become one of the biotech capitals of the nation.
    Westchester is home to New York State’s largest biotech employer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Greenburgh, with 3,000 employees. The company, developers of breakthrough drugs to lower cholesterol, treat macular degeneration, and other diseases, created 633 full-time jobs last
    year. In August, it signed a nine-year lease with BioMed Realty Trust for an additional 116,200 sq. ft. at the Landmark at Eastview, where it now leases a total of 1.1 million sq. ft. Regeneron’s presence has drawn other fast-growing, publicly traded biotech players to the county, including Acorda Therapeutics, Histogenetics Corp., Progenics Pharmaceuticals, and ContraFect. Last year, New York Medical College opened its BioInc@NYMC incubator, which is expected to spawn more innovative biotech companies.

    3. The Hudson Valley’s regional hub for advanced healthcare is here.

    Every Westchester community hospital has elevated its care by aligning with a major academic medical center partner, and large independent medical practices such as WESTMED, Mount Kisco Medical Group, Scarsdale Medical Group, and ENT and Allergy Associates, continue to expand and provide integrated medical care that promotes health and manages cost. Westchester Medical Center is the region’s top level-1 trauma center, the teaching hospital for New York Medical College and has expanded its network throughout the Hudson Valley. Memorial Sloan Kettering’s West Harrison facility, opened in fall 2014, is the largest satellite facility of this world-leading cancer care center.

    4. Entrepreneurship is taking root in Westchester.
    Yonkers Brewing Company, Lola Granola, Nuvita, PlanGuru, Vanguard Custom Software…the list of entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses in Westchester is getting bigger. And we’re not including dozens of entrepreneurs who have successfully led businesses for years, or firms that have grown into publicly traded companies. Westchester is creating both the culture and the resources to support risk takers with inventive ideas. Landlords are building out more innovative spaces for today’s way of working, with plenty of amenities.

    5. The talent pool is growing deeper.
    45% of Westchester residents over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher; and our biotech and advanced healthcare facilities are attracting additional well-educated and accomplished employees. There’s been an uptick in the number of 34 to 45 year olds living in the county, and developers are creating walkable, transit-oriented, Work.Live.Play. communities, that are designed to appeal to 24 to 34 year olds. Another factor fueling this economic engine is the newly established Hudson Valley Workforce Academy, a collaborative effort led by the Westchester County Association with the healthcare sector, business community, and 16 higher education institutions. The Academy’s courses are training existing employees in new skills sought by employers, such as Data Analytics and Improving Customer Experience.

    6. We’re building communities to fit today’s Work.Live.Play. and transit-oriented lifestyle.
    The county’s growing number of millennials, young professionals, and empty nesters want to live in walkable neighborhoods with shops, restaurants, and entertainment, and developers are giving it to them. Large mixed-use developments close to public transportation are taking root in almost every Westchester city and village.

    7. Developers are finding new uses for vacant corporate parks.

    Westchester corporate parks, built 30 to 55 years ago, are ill suited for today’s smaller, more nimble companies or biotech research laboratories. So innovative developers have plans to repurpose vacant 
    buildings and land into residential developments and medical office space. Normandy Real Estate Partners, in collaboration with Toll Brothers, is in the environmental review process in connection with its application to build apartments at 103 and 105 Corporate Park Drive in the Town of Harrison.
    Buckingham Partners/ Sun Homes proposes to build 110 single-family homes on vacant land in the Reckson Executive Park in Rye Brook. Simone Development built an 85,000-sq.-ft. building for WESTMED Medical Group at the Harrison Executive Park and is currently redeveloping the long-abandoned Boyce Thompson Institute Yonkers into a 85,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use complex with office and medical space, restaurants, banking and retail stores; Memorial Sloan Kettering now occupies what was once a Verizon building. New York Medical College purchased a 248,000-sq.-ft. building formerly owned by IBM in Hawthorne.

    8. Planning boards are becoming more open to development.
    Cities and towns have realized they can’t keep saying no to development. They are more receptive to innovative ideas and willing to rezone properties to allow for mixed use. New Rochelle has contracted with RDRXR to develop a master plan for two downtown areas. Officials believe that smart, sustainable development can be a panacea for crippling property tax rates. 

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