The legalization of marijuana use in New York City, the proliferation of health services, and the increased demand for warehousing and distribution facilities were among the areas highlighted as offering opportunities for growth in Westchester County during an online forum organized by the Fordham Real Estate Institute in collaboration with The Business Council of Westchester.
The “Reimagine Westchester” panel participants were: Matthew Claster from Clarapath in Hawthorne; Bridget Gibbons, County Economic Development Director; Guy Leibler of Simone Development Cos .; Connie Levene of CONRI Services in Hawthorne; Serge Reda of the Fordham Real Estate Institute; Justin Singer of the New York-based law firm Feuerstein Kulick LLP; and Andrew S. Weisz, of the RPW group in Rye Brook. The President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, Marsha Gordon, was the moderator.
Professor Reda, who also works in the development division of Cedar Realty Trust, a publicly traded REIT, said: “The rise of e-commerce, combined with Covid, has dramatically changed the dynamics of commercial and industrial real estate. Industrial real estate works a bit more like commercial real estate, and Covid is accelerating the confusion in the retail and industrial sectors. This trend will require adjustment to many current zoning bylaws.
Levene explained that his company, CONRI Services, had changed its initial business model from printing to warehousing and distribution.
“One of Westchester’s great strengths is its labor pool,” said Levene. “Westchester has a pool of highly skilled, skilled and hourly labor, which I attribute to the quality of the education systems. This skill has allowed us to grow significantly and add complexity to our systems and the way we run our business. “
Leibler, who is in charge of real estate development in the healthcare sector for Simone, predicted: “Healthcare and life sciences are going to merge and laboratory research has to go to the bedside. Health care will continue to be a very important part of our economy in Westchester. We have to support that, get the job done – we’ve seen a tremendous amount of nurse and doctor burnout. It must be recognized and rebuilt.
Gibbons said the county is working to create the workforce and business base necessary for the renewable energy sector. She said the county’s 2021 economic development strategy called on them to focus on biosciences, advanced manufacturing, clean energy and technology.
Singer said people were watching what was happening in New York City as the state implemented the Marijuana Tax and Regulation Act that legalized recreational cannabis in New York City.
“This is poised to be a huge, multi-billion dollar market and there is a ton of opportunity within Westchester and a ton of interest from customers across the country who want to bring their brand. and their operations in this region. “
Weisz pointed out that the reinvention of office parks for commercial and residential purposes has been embraced by local governments.
“We’ve seen a big influx of new families, young families, and a lot of these people are looking to work closer to home,” Weisz said.
“That’s what companies are looking to hire – to retain and hire the right talent and also bring employees back to the office. We are optimistic about Westchester and the direction we are heading.