WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz announced Monday that Westchester County is moving forward with plans to build a major bioscience and technology center on vacant land next to the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
In announcing a long-term lease between Westchester County and Fareri Associates, the agreement paves the way for developing a 3 million-square-foot, mixed-use, biotechnology complex on 80 acres of property.
Called the Westchester BioScience & Technology Center, the new development will include $1.2 billion in private sector investments and promises to create thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenues and rent for the county. The Board of Legislators is poised to approve the 99-year lease Monday night.
The property, known as North 60, will be developed by Fareri Associates, a premier developer in Westchester and Fairfield counties with more than 40 years of experience, and involves the county leasing 60 acres of its land on the Grasslands Reservation to the developer, who owns 20 adjacent acres.
As part of the agreement, Fareri will pay rent, including a percentage of gross rental income, real estate taxes, utility charges and permitting fees while also investing $40 million in the site’s infrastructure, including new roads, water supply, sanitary waste water systems and storm water management.
“This is precisely the smart growth we need in Westchester County,” said Astorino. “This initiative will create a bio-technology hub that will position our county as a leader in the field, will create thousands of jobs, and produce a revenue-stream to help pay for parks, roads, day care, public safety and other services for years to come.”
Board of Legislators Chairman Kaplowitz, D-Somers, added: “Passage of this North 60 project is a tremendous win for everybody in Westchester and the surrounding region,” said Kaplowitz. “Turning this tract of vacant county property into a hub of scientific research and innovation will create significant new revenues, economic and scientific activity and create thousands of permanent and construction jobs. Thanks to developer John Fareri, the County Executive and all my legislative colleagues for their work on this magnificent project.”
The development comprises three major, multi-phase components: West Research Village, Central Village and East Research Village. Fully built out, the new center will include 2,252,600 square feet of biotech/research space; 400,000 square feet of medical offices; a 100,000-square-foot hotel with 100 rooms; 114,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, and a 34,000-square-foot Children's Living Science Center, a unique complex designed to promote the improvement of the health of children in the region through dynamic and interactive educational programming.
The first phase of the project will include 220,000 square feet of biotech/research space, 100,000 square feet of medical space, 80,000 square feet of shopping/ground-level retail space, and a 100,000-square-foot hotel for a total of 500,000 square feet.
The plan will incorporate many sustainable features, such as green roofs, gardens, preservation and improvement of on-site wetlands, bio-swales and rain gardens, interpretive trails and preserving and improving forest land on site. Approximately 54% of the property—or 43.6 acres—will be preserved as open green space.
The benefits that the $1.2 billion Westchester BioScience & Technology Center offers to the community include:
- $9 million in estimated new real estate taxes annually to Westchester County, the Town of Mount Pleasant and the Mount Pleasant School District (there is no residential component, so the complex will not have any impact on the class sizes of local schools);
- $7 million in estimated new annual rent to Westchester County;
- Approximately 4,000 new construction jobs;
- More than 8,000 new permanent jobs from entry-level through the professional ranks;
- Forging relationships between the Westchester Medical Center and providers and inventors of cutting-edge medical technologies and innovations;
- Creating job opportunities for students in the emerging bioscience field by forming partnerships with nearby Westchester Community College, Pace University and New York Medical College;
- Creating a new Children's Living Science Center that will provide children with a personal awareness of health issues.
Because of these benefits, and the potential for others, business leaders are strongly supporting the idea.
Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester, called the plan innovative and exciting and vital to the regional economy.
“The North 60 proposal builds on Westchester’s emerging sectors – biotechnology, healthcare and technology,” Gordon said. “We are excited about the potential, and fully endorse a public-private approach to developing this strategically important property that is sure to create jobs, raise needed revenue and strengthen the regional economy.”
The proposed development clearly reinforces Westchester's position as a global leader and a hub of innovation in the life sciences, said William Mooney Jr., president and CEO of the Westchester County Association (WCA).
“The WCA is eager to see this development realized as it positions Westchester County, along with many of our heralded businesses, for significant future growth,” Mooney said. “With Westchester now a national healthcare and biotech hub, it is critically important to our future to expand the role of the life sciences and nurture innovation, for they help us attract and retain an educated demographic, and spur economic development. We applaud the County Executive, the Board of Legislators and developers Fareri Associates for their vision and we look forward to our continued work with them."