In the era of President Donald Trump, the national political debate has grown increasingly divisive. Voters are shifting to the extremes, leaving fewer Americans in the middle. But there are places where independent-minded voters still play an important role – and in New York, one of those places is Westchester County.
The county’s history as a swing district – after two terms with Republican Rob Astorino as county executive, it went strongly for Democrat George Latimer last year – gives it outsized importance in state politics and policymaking. Politicians like Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who lives in Westchester when he’s not in Albany – must keep the county’s needs in mind on the campaign trail. It’s no surprise that state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is hoping to lead Senate Democrats back to the majority, hails from Westchester.
In this special issue of City & State, we take a closer look at the lesser-known – but no less influential – movers and shakers of Westchester County. Since we cover politicians on a day-to-day basis, we limited this list to those who are not strictly in government but instead influence it from the outside.
We partnered on this project with Suzanne Colucci, an award-winning television journalist based in Westchester. We reached out to insiders and experts to compile this list, ranking each person based on their accomplishments, their sway in political and policy matters, their economic clout, their philanthropic efforts, their ties to powerful politicians and the constituencies they represent.
We’re pleased to present the Westchester Power 50.
Thompson & Bender is the go-to advertising and public relations firm in Westchester County. If there is a major event, campaign or product launch in Westchester, odds are this award-winning agency is involved. Founded in 1987, the trifecta of talent behind it are Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and her husband Geoff Thompson as well as Dean Bender, who represents Fortune 500 companies, banks and hospitals. While Bracken-Thompson is the creative force behind the agency, Thompson and Bender handle government relations, crisis management and strategy.
If there were such a thing as a territorial monopoly in the PR/ad game, Thompson & Bender would be a virtual lock within the borders of Westchester County. Led by partners Dean Bender, Geoff Thompson, and Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson, T&B, as it is known colloquially, is a full-service agency staffed by highly experienced Westchester-savvy professionals who understand all aspects of the marketing/branding philosophy. In addition to its award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns, T&B offers service divisions in PR and crisis communications, creative and digital services, and special-events planning and promotion. Its elite clientele are too numerous to name, but they include institutions of not only local but national and even international prominence.
Thompson & Bender is the county’s largest and most well-established PR/advertising firm for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include a cutting-edge, industry-forward approach to social-media strategies that exploit and maximize all the unique advantages of online and digital platforms, including branding, web and mobile development, design and production, and broadcast production, with search-engine-optimized applications that cut through the morass of branding content and messaging.
Geoff Thompson accompanied Chris Ahmad, MD, Chief of Sports Medicine and an Orthopedic Surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center to the set of MLB Now show. where Al Leiter interviewed Dr. Ahmad in depth on the subject of Tommy John surgery and the complications that both high school pitchers, as well as MLB players face. The show is scheduled to air on the MLB Network on MLB TONIGHT on Thursday, Dec. 20, and on HOT SAUCE on Friday, Dec. 21st at 9 a.m. Dr. Ahmad is an expert having written books and 200+ articles and done extensive research on the subject. Dr. Ahmad, who is the Head Team Physician for the New York Yankees, the New York City Football Club and the Rockland Boulders, sees patients in New York City, and also at ColumbiaDoctors in Tarrytown and at the new sports performance center coming to Eastchester in 2019.
Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson remembers the day when as a 19-year-old “shy” girl, she was confronted with a challenge.
An envelope arrived at her home in Eastchester, with an invitation to attend a “familiarization” meeting for the Miss Westchester pageant.
It was 1971, and the woman who owned thewallpaper store where Bracken-Thompson worked part-time had submitted her name to be invited.
“My mom received the envelope at home and decided it would be a good thing for me to get over my shyness,” recalled Bracken-Thompson, a founding partner of Thompson & Bender, the Briarcliff Manor-based public relations, advertising and marketing firm. “It was my first experience at taking a risk. As I look back on my career, anytime that I really succeeded was when I took a risk, when I jumped into something where I had no comfort level.”
Not only was Bracken-Thompson crowned Miss Westchester and then Miss Rockland (after moving to Suffern), she went on to compete in the Miss America pageant in 1974 as Miss New Jersey, a title she won as a visiting student at Ramapo State College in Mahwah.
The experience taught her a lesson that has served her well: with risks come rewards.
“It gave me confidence and taught me discipline,” she said. “I had to stay in shape, stay focused and learn to deal with fear.”
She also learned that your first job doesn’t define you.
Despite a college degree, she began her career as a receptionist. She worked her way up to senior marketing roles at Gannett and now at Thompson & Bender, where she is a partner.
For almost 30 years, she’s had her fingerprints in the promotion of all manner of entities looking to make inroads in the county, from real estate conglomerates to hospitals to colleges to nonprofits.
Pulled into the then-fledgling two-year-old public relations firm of Thompson & Bender in 1990, Bracken-Thompson brought her expertise in advertising and marketing, doubling the number of clients in one year.
The company today does over $5 million in business and boasts a client list that includes the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the county’s Office of Economic Development, City of Yonkers and Ritz-Carlton in White Plains.
Teaching was not in the cards
Growing up in Eastchester, Bracken-Thompson said she always thought she would work as a teacher, following in her mother’s footsteps.
Entering the world of pageants while enrolled as a student at the College of New Rochelle revealed a side of herself she said she didn’t know existed.
“It was a really a great training ground for me because it was a scholarship pageant and there was a talent portion,” said Bracken-Thompson, whose talents were singing and dramatic reading. “In those days, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for women to compete in sports. We were always on the sidelines. I was a cheerleader and twirler but never competing.”
From 1974-75, as the reigning Miss New Jersey, Bracken-Thompson made appearances throughout the state at ribbon-cuttings and conferences. The title also came with money to pay off her student loans.
With her college degree in hand, Bracken-Thompson, married and started her search for a teaching job in 1975, but an oversupply of teachers meant few open positions. Instead, she went to secretarial school to learn to type.
Her first job was as a receptionist at the headquarters of the Gannett Suburban Newspapers in White Plains, then a chain of 10 newspapers in the county along with the Rockland Journal-News.
She wasn’t long for the job. Within three months Bracken-Thompson was promoted to the marketing department as a copywriter for promotions.
From that initial receptionist position, Bracken-Thompson worked her way up over the next 15 years to the vice president of marketing and community relations, reporting directly to the publisher.
Bracken-Thompson said she was totally committed to the job. Along the way she got divorced.
“I was a single woman and for me, my career became my baby and I put all of my passion, my focus into what I did,” she said. “I got a lot of personal reward and satisfaction from that.”
On her own
By the late ’80s, two of her Journal News colleagues, Geoff Thompson (whom she married in1998 after a divorce) and Dean Bender, decided to establish their own public relations firm, Thompson & Bender, working with local businesses.
As business picked up, more clients started inquiring about other services such as marketing and advertising.
When they needed advice, Bender and Thompson would inevitably end up calling the expert they knew.
“I started getting more and more calls with them asking ‘how do I do this’ or ‘how I do that’,” said Bracken-Thompson.
Soon she decided to take another risk and join them.
Within a year, the Thompson & Bender client roster doubled, from six to 12.
Joe Simone, the CEO of Simone Development, a developer who has built more than a million square feet in commercial real estate in New York, said his firm’s 15-year partnership with Thompson & Bender was in large part due to the vision and energy Bracken-Thompson brought to every meeting.
“She takes the time to understand your business and where you want your business to go,” said Simone. “We worked together on the Hutchinson Metro Center project in the Bronx and everything from branding of the name itself to marketing and advertising, she did everything with creativity. She does everything with passion.”
Many of her clients have stayed on for the long haul, including New York-Presbyterian, a partnership that has lasted 25 years.
Other than the three partners, the firm has 18 employees. All happen to be women.
“Because of our sensitivity and emotional make-up, we (women) have a higher perception of what’s going on with a client,” said Bracken-Thompson.
Numerous studies have shown that women outperform men when it comes to emotional intelligence, which includes empathy, self-awareness and social skill. Indeed, companies are starting to recognize its advantages when it comes to positions like sales, teams, and leadership.
Over the years, she worked with Lou Cappelli, one of the biggest developers in the area, on multiple downtown revitalization projects including New Roc City in New Rochelle and City Center and Renaissance Square in White Plains.
Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, said Bracken-Thompson’s strength lies in her understanding of the Westchester business community.
“She’s able to take a strategic view of where they fit in the fabric of the economy of Westchester,” said Gordon.
Along the way, Bracken-Thompson has also made it a mission to give back by mentoring and serving on local not-for-profit boards.
Among the many awards she’s won over the years is the “Woman of Leadership and Excellence Award” in 2012 from Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson.
Her advice for female entrepreneurs:
“Trust your instincts, take risks, be optimistic, embrace change and be financially disciplined,” she said. “And live by the numbers.”
Excited to share this great article from the new Q1 issue of 914INC Magazine on reinventing the Platinum Mile. We originally developed the idea, and it certainly turned out to be very relevant and topical–years of experience have helped us to develop insights others may not have, and we pride ourselves on spotting trends early! Thanks to publisher Ralph Martinelli, editor, Amy Partridge and the reporter, Dave Donelson for this well-researched and well done piece.
Westchester’s Platinum Mile is Making a Serious Comeback
A perfect convergence of regulatory, social, and economic forces pushes the county’s key commercial corridor to the forefront again.
By Dave Donelson
Photo by Heather Sommer
It may only be early spring, but a bumper crop of steel and concrete is sprouting along Westchester’s Platinum Mile. What’s growing aren’t rows of glass-box office buildings, but rather a remarkable variety of structures previously foreign to the I-287 corridor. The county’s long-dormant commercial real estate center is coming back to life, transformed by forward-thinking municipalities, developers, landlords, and tenants.
Before our very eyes on the Platinum Mile, stuffy corporate offices transform into buzzing X-ray labs. Miles of desktops become scores of kitchens for empty nesters. Fresh fruits and vegetables replace file folders while elliptical trainers and swimming pools take the place of gray office cubicles and computer terminals. Sure, there are still plenty of conference rooms and corner offices, but now they share space with daycare centers, linear accelerators, and college classrooms. The Platinum Mile is coming back, very new and improved.
“The Platinum Mile has long been a significant corridor of commerce and an emblem of the evolution of Westchester over the years,” says Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester. “It’s wonderful to see its rejuvenation.” Considering the normal glacial pace of property development in the county, the speed of this rejuvenation approaches revolutionary velocity.
“Ron Belmont and the town board had an open mind, and Life Time opened the door. We can point to the numbers before and after and show how it really worked.”
While the “Platinum Mile” is not an official designation, it’s generally defined as the stretch of I-287 from 333 Westchester Avenue in White Plains to 800 Westchester Avenue in Rye Brook, a distance of about four miles. The south side of the highway is part of the city of White Plains, while the north lies in the town of Harrison. Commercial development occupies roughly half of the White Plains side, while the Harrison side is almost all non-residential. (Until the middle of the last century, both were cow pastures and orchards, with a few mansions and country clubs nearby.)
Developer Lowell Schulman, who passed away last year, pretty much created the Platinum Mile out of whole cloth. After many years running the family women’s store in White Plains and investing in small properties in the city, the builder-developer began acquiring land along the newly completed I-287 corridor and persuaded the town of Harrison and city of White Plains to change zoning to allow office buildings. In 1965, he started acquiring what eventually amounted to 421 acres of undeveloped land on both sides of the highway, purchased with little or no money down and financed at low interest rates. To finance construction, he sold off parcels until he finally ended up with about 120 acres that held 26 office buildings with some 2 million square feet of space on several campuses.
Other developers, like the Robert Martin Company, followed Schulman’s lead, and the Platinum Mile exploded. When the real estate market crashed in the 1980s, Schulman refinanced his properties through the General Motors pension fund but was unable to hold on to them in that era of interest rates approaching 20% and declining rental income that undermined commercial property values. By the mid-1990s, his buildings had new owners. It was the first of several setbacks for the Platinum Mile, most of them related to the larger economy.
There were a couple of years when the Platinum Mile was ʻDesperation Row,’ but “we’ve turned that corner. It’s really something to see,” says Frank McCullough, a leading real estate attorney (and Rye native) who has represented numerous developers, buyers, and sellers of properties on the Platinum Mile since the days of Lowell Schulman.
Revolutionary attitude sparks revolutionary development
Three significant trends that began little more than a decade ago are accelerating the recent transformation. Perhaps the most revolutionary occurrence since the Platinum Mile was zoned for office parks in the 1960s was the rezoning of a significant portion of the Harrison side to allow uses other than office facilities. Not long after Harrison mayor Ron Belmont took office in 2012, a master plan for the town that had languished for 10 years was finally approved and things started happening.
Belmont invited developers, their attorneys, and other interested parties to lunch at a local restaurant. “We gave a brief presentation,” he says, “but then we turned it over to them to see what they wanted to see happen, what obstacles they had encountered, and what the possibilities were. What they said gave us a framework to address optional uses of the land. We kept an open mind about their proposals and were able to engage them in a non-adversarial way.”
“We’re lucky the leaders of Harrison and White Plains were astute enough to know their towns would die if the office parks were left to sit there. What we see now is the fruit of their open minds to the evolution of the business environment.”
—Marsha Gordon, President and CEO, The Business Council of Westchester
Harrison had to do something. From 1972 to 1988, about 4.5 million square feet of commercial office space had been built on 256 acres of land in Purchase, a hamlet of the town. The heavily leased properties paid some 60% of the entire town’s tax bill. By the time the master plan was approved, that had shrunk to 18%. Major corporations left the area, and those that stayed behind didn’t need as much office space, as technology replaced both miles of file cabinets and the workers to shuffle papers among them. Properties like 400 Westchester Avenue in West Harrison sat empty for 10 years, from 1998, when Verizon left, to 2008, when Fordham University moved in. Obsolete office buildings were moth-balled by cash-strapped owners, empty asphalt parking lots sprouted weeds, and by 2010, the vacancy rate on the Platinum Mile was 30% — nearly double that of the rest of the county. That changed when Harrison’s mindset changed.
Life Time Athletic was the first to take advantage of Harrison’s new attitude. The Minnesota-based health-club operator paid $12 million for 22 acres with three buildings that Gannett had downsized out of over the years. Harrison issued a special-use permit, and Life Time tore down The Journal News building and opened a 209,000 sq. ft. facility that couldn’t be more different from the offices and printing plant it replaced.
The new business in town not only added to the tax base, it proved a point. “Ron Belmont and the town board had an open mind,” McCullough says, “and Life Time opened the door. We could point to the numbers before and after and show how it really worked.”
Harrison town planning consultant Patrick Cleary says the town’s newly minted communication policy worked well with Life Time. “We were able to tell them what they needed to study, so we could go through the environmental review process and site-plan review and change the zoning rules,” he explains. “We were able to do that in under a year from application to approval.” The entire process from the first application to the ribbon cutting took 32 months, a blink of an eye by Westchester standards.
That progress led to two even more revolutionary Platinum Mile land uses. Toll Brothers broke ground last August on Carraway, a 421-unit luxury-housing development on 10 acres at 103-105 Corporate Park Drive in West Harrison. The two outmoded and unoccupied three-story office buildings were left empty by previous site owner Normandy Partners when they acquired them, along with about a dozen other buildings (known collectively as “The Exchange”) from RXR Realty, in 2009. Toll Brothers razed the decrepit buildings to make room for a new five-story building that will have ground-floor retail-and-restaurant space and rental apartments ranging from studios to two-bedrooms. Other amenities include a club room, kids’ playroom, pet spa, fitness center, bike lounge, craft room, coworking lounge, and pool, as well as parking.
Forty-two of the units will be earmarked as affordable housing. Half of them will be for people earning 60% of AMI (area median income) and half for people earning 80% of AMI.
Toll Brothers has successfully converted similar office properties to residential use in other cities around the nation. “Some of the same things that made this location a good office park, like accessibility, make it a good residential location,” says Charles Elliott, president, Toll Brothers Apartment Living. “From a macro standpoint, it’s easy to get to New York City. As part of our development, we’ll have a shuttle service that takes you to the train station. The highway situation is also very good. It’s also a great town with a strong community, and good retail not far away.”
Map not to Scale
What’s on the Platinum Mile now? Recent changes have brought new tenants — and new buildings — to prestigious Platinum Mile addresses, all along Westchester Avenue and its offshoots.
Retail will be even closer soon. Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets received approvals to build a 125,000 sq. ft. store and an 8,000 sq. ft. building with other retail space on 20 acres at 106-110 Corporate Park Drive, next to the Toll Brothers development. Wegmans will replace three office buildings owned by Normandy Partners. Wegmans operates more than 90 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia, but this location represents the family-owned company’s first foray into the Westchester market.
Harrison’s approach has paid off in other ways, as well. The town negotiated agreements with developers to pay for road resurfacing, drainage, and other infrastructure items that typically fall on the shoulders of municipalities. “We identified certain infrastructural deficiencies in the developers’ new neighborhoods and pointed out that the town does not have the resources to address the problems in the short term. But during construction projects, the town could help to implement improvements if the developer would cover the cost or use their construction people to undertake the work,” explains Cleary. “Wegmans, Toll Brothers, and Life Time have all contributed to public improvements.”
White Plains made a similar commitment to land-use changes on its side of the corridor, although the city’s attention has largely been on its central business district and soon-to-be transit-center developments. “A few years ago, we adopted legislation that broadened the uses for the Platinum Mile campuses to reverse the negative trend. It has worked out well for us,” says White Plains mayor Tom Roach. “Now, White Plains has both a downtown office community and the campus-style [offices], as well.” The city’s new property-use rules aren’t just for new developments, either. “They helped us retain a longtime employer and great community partner in the city, Combe, Inc.,” Roach says, “because they were able to relocate their lab facility there.”
“We’re lucky the leaders of Harrison and White Plains were astute enough to know their towns would die if the office parks were left to sit there,” Gordon remarks. “What we see now is the fruit of their open minds to the evolution of the business environment.”
From sow’s ear to silk purse
The second major trend reshaping the Platinum Mile can be characterized by the saga of General Foods. The purveyor of Jell-O and Kool-Aid (among hundreds of other brands) relocated its headquarters from Manhattan to what is now 333 Westchester Avenue in White Plains in 1954, marking the beginning of a corporate exodus from NYC that would make Westchester more than just a place where commuters slept. When completed, the General Foods headquarters sprawled across four buildings with 600,000 square feet. (To put the move into historical context, the Tappan Zee Bridge was completed in 1955 and construction of the Cross-Westchester Expressway, the forerunner of I-287, began in 1956.)
In 1983, General Foods moved its headquarter’s staff to the other end of the Platinum Mile, 800 Westchester Avenue in Rye Brook, to an aluminum-clad building variously described as an Aztec temple or the Starship Enterprise. Two years later, however, the entire company was acquired by Philip Morris (later Altria), which merged it into Kraft Foods in 1995 and ultimately emptied both buildings as the last employees were moved to other locations in a series of moves through 2004.
The original General Foods site in White Plains was purchased in 1998 for $25 million by Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation, which invested another $90 million to update the four buildings. The property struggled a bit during the 2008 economic downturn but recovered nicely. It’s known today for colorful towers designed by architect Philip Johnson to differentiate each building; it also boasts a sprawling 1,700-car parking lot. Tenants include Amalgamated Life, Alicare, and the American Booksellers Association.
The company’s second building, in Rye Brook, went on the market to little acclaim and even less interest among real estate investors after Altria moved out. Developer Robert Weisz, who started buying buildings in New Jersey in 1978, took a $40 million plunge on it in 2004. “This is probably the most recognizable building in Westchester County, but nobody in the real estate industry was interested in buying it,” says Weisz, whose commercial real estate development firm, RPW Group, is now headquartered in the building.
Weisz’s revolutionary idea, to turn a single-tenant building into one for multiple tenants, came to be recognized as a significant strategy in the redevelopment of the Platinum Mile. “We created an environment where even very small companies, with maybe five or 10 employees, could have the same infrastructure as a Fortune 500 company,” he explains. “They have access to a conference center, an auditorium, a bank branch, a beauty parlor, a fitness center, and so on. This was different in the market at the time.”
Weisz took that same concept to 1133 Westchester Avenue in White Plains, where he transformed what was once an IBM campus into a multi-tenant mecca housing one of the county’s largest law firms, Wilson Elser, the Hospital for Special Surgery, and Gannett’s The Journal News among others.
The Medical Mile emerges
The third trend fueling the Platinum Mile’s renaissance is the sea change occurring in the healthcare industry in the last few years. The history of Westmed Medical Group effectively intertwines with the Platinum Mile. Founded with 15 physicians in 1996, Westmed has corporate offices at 2700 Westchester Avenue and opened its first urgent-care center in 2005, on the western end of the Platinum Mile, at 210 Westchester Avenue. Other health-industry tenants found the then-low rents and available space in the area attractive, and by the end of the intervening decade, some headline writers dubbed the area the Medical Mile.
3030 Westchester Avenue in Purchase is fully leased to Westmed Medical Group.
In 2015, Westmed became the sole tenant of the first newly constructed office building on the I-287 corridor in 25 years, 3030 Westchester Avenue, at the eastern end. “The Platinum Mile over the last 10 years has really been repositioned from a purely corporate corridor to other uses, including medical,” observes Guy Leibler, president of Simone Healthcare Development, owners of 3030 Westchester Avenue. “It reflects the fact that medical care has changed to become more ambulatory rather than hospital-delivered.”
Three existing office buildings on the campus with 3030 Westchester Avenue (shown, right) — known as Purchase Professional Park — received major renovations during the construction phase. The four buildings, mostly occupied by medical industry tenants, total 220,000 square feet. “We have plans — already approved by the town — for a 45,000-square-foot fifth building in Purchase Professional Park,” Leibler explains. “We’re big believers in mixed use and are delighted that the leaders of Harrison are saying it’s a new era and that we don’t have to segregate uses the way it used to be done. It’s rather thrilling.”
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, following an industry trend to serve patients near where they live, opened a 114,000 sq. ft. facility at 500
Westchester Avenue in West Harrison in late 2014. The site houses not only a staff of 260 but an array of the latest technology, including CT simulators, linear accelerators, PET/CT, MRI, and interventional radiology.
Across I-287 in White Plains, the Hospital for Special Surgery last year opened a 50,000 sq. ft. outpatient facility in Weisz’s building at 1133 Westchester Avenue. The impetus was the same as Memorial Sloan Kettering’s: to bring treatment closer to patients’ homes.
Another office park now completely dedicated to medical use is the Westchester Medical Campus at 220-230 and 244 Westchester Avenue in White Plains. Owned by Healthcare Trust of America, the older buildings are undergoing renovation and may be joined by a fifth building as part of the owner’s strategy to invest in outpatient-care facilities. Work begins soon on an internal road to connect the two sites.
Healthcare is a growth industry in America, which bodes well for occupancy rates on the Platinum Mile. There are other advantages, as well, according to Marsha Gordon. “Healthcare provides excellent jobs with career ladders in the service industries and creates a different dynamic on the weekends and evening hours so that not all the traffic is nine-to-five.”
Today and tomorrow
The convergence of these three trends — a new attitude toward land use by the municipalities, repurposing single-tenant buildings to accommodate multiple-tenant
needs, and growing demand from the healthcare industry — propelled substantial growth. The I-287 East corridor, which consists largely of properties on the Platinum Mile, has one of the highest occupancy rates of any of the Westchester submarkets, according to commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. The area, with 6.6 million square feet of commercial space, has only 15% of it available for new tenants — down tremendously from the 30% vacancy rate just a few years earlier. (Overall, Westchester’s office market has a 24% vacancy rate.) Asking rents are up to slightly more than $28 per square foot, also the highest in the county.
Wegmans will open its first Westchester location on the Platinum Mile in West Harrison.
“The market is much better over the last 18 months, due in part to the removal of some inventory with the repurposing and demolition of several buildings, which raises occupancy and lease rates,” says Michael Rao, partner in New York Commercial Realty Group. “The Platinum Mile is in the beginning stages of what it’s going to become.”
McCullough is also very optimistic. “When you look back at the last couple of years, there’s a real sense of momentum,” he says. “I have counted nine buildings that have either been torn down or are going to be torn down by the end of this year, and there are more to come. There are still sites for redevelopment and repurposing on both sides. It’s not done yet.”
Harrison mayor Ron Belmont (below, second from right) paved the way for Life Time Athletic to open on Corporate Park Drive in West Harrison.
Sites to keep an eye on include the three remaining buildings on Corporate Park Drive. In 2012, Ossining biomed firm HistoGenetics purchased 100, 102, and 104 Corporate Park Drive in two transactions totaling $19 million. The new owner announced plans to develop a research facility there but hasn’t acted yet. With the Toll Brothers residential community and Wegmans retail development going in across the street, it remains to be seen what HistoGenetics will actually do with the properties.
“The rest of the corridor is still there, and we are aware that changes may be necessary. The framework is there. It will take time, but the future is bright.”
—Ron Belmont, Mayor of Harrison
At least one of three office buildings on Westchester Park Drive near Life Time are in a state of flux, too. Heritage Realty Services LLC purchased 2, 3, and 4 Westchester Park Drive in 2005 and extensively refurbished them before running into some financial difficulties. The company restructured 2 and 4 but lost ownership of 3 Westchester Park Drive in 2017. That 160,000 sq. ft. property was sold through a unique online auction that attracted more than 100 bidders in December 2017, and its ultimate fate was not final at press time.
Harrison and White Plains are ready for the next phase. Reflecting on the revolutionary transformation that’s occurred so far, Ron Belmont says, “The rest of the corridor is still there, and we are aware that changes may be necessary. The framework is there. It will take time, but the future is bright.”
Dave Donelson has lived in West Harrison long enough to see the Platinum Mile flourish and flounder and flower again.
Hospital Offers Gilda’s Club Westchester Cancer Support Programs To Patients Across Southern Westchester
BRONXVILLE, NY (October 11, 2017) – NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital and Gilda’s Club Westchester are partnering on a new program that will bring Gilda’s Club Westchester’s widely acclaimed cancer support services to the Bronxville-based hospital. The partnership will allow patients at NYP Lawrence and the southern Westchester community to participate in the Gilda’s Club Westchester programs, regardless of where they receive their cancer treatments. The programs are free.
Previously, patients at the Hospital had to travel to Gilda’s Club Westchester in White Plains to participate in the cancer support groups and other educational and supportive oncology services offered by Gilda’s Club Westchester.
Starting in September and October at NYP Lawrence, licensed clinical social workers from Gilda’s Club Westchester began leading Post-Treatment and Living with Cancer support groups, as well as conducting a Coping Skills Workshop for anyone with Cancer.
Gilda’s Club Westchester’s mission is to create welcoming communities of emotional and social support for those of all ages who are living with cancer along with their families and friends, free of charge. Its innovative programs are an essential complement to medical care, providing compassionate support through individual and family counseling, support groups, lectures, workshops and social activities.
“The availability of the support services that Gilda’s Club Westchester will now offer to the NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital community along with the already high quality of our cancer care medical team is a perfect combination,” said Dr. Maureen Killackey, MD, FACS, FACOG, director of Clinical Cancer Services at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital. “This is the model for patient- centered cancer care: the right team at the right place and time for patients and their families.”
“Offering emotional support as a complement to medical care is a key component of our mission and is essential for true patient-centered care,” said Melissa Lang, DrPH and CEO of Gilda’s Club Westchester. “We are honored to work with the entire team at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital to bring their patients and the community the support services that are so important for individuals with cancer.”
In northern Westchester, Gilda’s Club Westchester has a partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor offering Living with Cancer support groups for men and women newly diagnosed with cancer. These are held on the first and third Thursday of each month from 6 pm to 7:30 pm at the Hospital’s Cheryl R. Lindenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1980 Crompond Road in Cortlandt Manor.
Below are details on current programs Gilda’s Club Westchester is holding at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital at 55 Palmer Road in Bronxville:
Living with Cancer Support Group
First and third Thursday each month │ 5 to 6:30 pm
This ongoing support group, led by licensed clinical social workers from Gilda’s Club Westchester is for adults who have been recently diagnosed with cancer or are in active treatment.
Post-Treatment Support Group
Second Tuesday of the month │ 4 to 5 pm
This ongoing support group offers cancer survivors a chance to learn about the late effects of cancer treatment. The program provides the opportunity to share and learn from other participants regardless of their specific cancer diagnosis or course of treatment. The meetings will be led by licensed clinical social workers from Gilda’s Club Westchester.
Additional workshops will begin in the spring. All programs will be held in the Cancer Center Conference Room at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, 55 Palmer Road, Bronxville. On-site parking is available. Light refreshments will be served. To RSVP and for more information, please contact Gilda’s Club Westchester at 914-644-8844 or email@example.com.
“It’s not surprising that Thompson & Bender’s extensive client list includes Westchester County Tourism & Film and the county’s Office of Economic Development. The three partners at this top advertising/ marketing/public-relations firm are quite possibly the county’s biggest cheerleaders, so selling its value comes naturally. (Geoff Thompson and Elizabeth Bracken- Thompson were raised here, while Dean Bender is a longtime resident.) Capitalizing on an expertise in all things Westchester, Thompson & Bender has become the local goto agency, billing some $6 million a year. “We understand the landscape; we have the connections,” says Bracken-Thompson, adding that the 16-employee company is active in surrounding counties, as well. In fact, it seems the firm has had a hand in promoting nearly every major development in the area, across all sectors, including business, real estate, retail, healthcare, education, and nonprofit. The Ritz- Carlton NY, Westchester in White Plains; The Westchester mall; New York-Presbyterian Hospital; and the Food Bank for Westchester are just a few of the clients Thompson & Bender has worked with during its 30 years. (The firm celebrates its milestone anniversary this year.) Such longevity comes from adapting to “monumental changes” in the industry, Bracken-Thompson claims. But despite new methodologies, such as social media, digital advertising, and sponsored content, she adds, “The essence of ‘the idea’ and good writing are still key.” The right words no doubt come easily, as all three partners are former newspaper employees. “Journalism is in our DNA,” says Bender. We naturally ask: “‘What’s the story here?’” —GR”
PLEASANTVILLE, NY (August 4, 2017) – Pace University’s Pleasantville campus gave its new President Marvin Krislov an enthusiastic welcome yesterday when he arrived at the University’s Pleasantville campus. Krislov, formerly president of Oberlin College, officially began his duties as Pace University’s eighth president on August 1. Krislov, 56, succeeds Stephen J. Friedman.
About Pace University
Pace University is a comprehensive, independent University with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. Nearly 13,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, School of Education, and College of Health Professions. http://www.pace.edu
Yonkers Downtown BID Gives Update on Revitalization of Downtown and Unveils New Branding & Website
Yonkers, NY (July 18, 2017) – Members of Yonkers Downtown BID (YBID) joined Mayor Spano and city officials to provide updates on the tremendous strides made with regards to improvements to downtown, as well as unveil its new branding and website.
With the backdrop of new construction taking place along the waterfront, Yonkers Downtown BID Executive Director Jaime Martinez discussed the continuous efforts to enhance the Yonkers downtown. “From our new maintenance initiatives to the ongoing development, quality of life is improving for our residents and providing more attractive options for our visitors,” said Martinez. “We are thankful for the tremendous partnership with Mayor Spano and the City, and look forward to continuing to bring great programming, events and improvements to downtown.”
The city has invested millions of dollars to transform the waterfront into a beautiful place to both work and live. As a prime example of those efforts, YBID and the City recently acquired new maintenance vehicles to provide more frequent clean up to the downtown.
The new branding was also revealed today along with the website YonkersDowntown.com, which has an interface that allows businesses and individuals to more easily engage with members of the community. The website has information on living and working in the city as well as important news taking place. Both the new branding (logo) and website were created by Thompson & Bender.
“Our partnership with Yonkers Downtown BID is a true collaboration,” said Mayor Mike Spano. “It’s remarkable to see the development taking place – we are attracting more young professionals to live and work here and we look forward to what’s ahead.”
Yonkers Downtown BID is committed to the economic growth of the district. With free cultural events happening this summer and beyond, including the signature event Riverfest, the BID is poised for continuous growth. For more information on happenings this summer and fall, visit the new website at YonkersDowntown.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Pictured Left to Right: Michael Sabatino, City Council Minority Leader (3rd District); Mayor Mike Spano; Jaime Martinez, Executive Director (YBID); Chris Johnson, City Council Member (1st District)
The Yonkers Downtown BID, which maintains the economic vitality of the district by providing the local business community with a variety of services, and by presenting year-round special events for the entire family. Our free signature events include the annual Jazz, Blues & More Concert Series, Arts, and the Yonkers Riverfest, which attracts more than 30,000 visitors from throughout Westchester. For more information, visit www.YonkersDowntown.com
A rendering of the location of the North 60 project.
John Fareri’s 7-year dream of building a $1.2 billion life sciences complex in Valhalla moved closer to reality on Monday when the Westchester Board of Legislators approved a 99-year lease of county property.
County Executive Robert P. Astorino and legislators held a joint press conference several hours before Monday night’s vote celebrating their bipartisan support for the North 60 biotechnology research center.
The lease was approved unanimously, 17-0.
Given the size and scope of the project – Astorino said it will position Westchester as a global biotech center – county officials spent several years negotiating and vetting the deal.
“We needed to make sure everything was done right,” board Chairman Michael B. Kaplowitz said at the press conference. “When you have a 99-year-deal and there’s no way out, you don’t want to see a divorce on the horizon.”
Fareri Associates LP of Greenwich must now secure land-use approvals from the town of Mount Pleasant.
The 60-acre site is along the Sprain Brook Parkway on the Grasslands Reservation, a a 512-acre tract that the county bought in 1915.
Grasslands is home to Westchester Medical Center, New York Medical College and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is nearby.
Fareri Associates owns 20 acres next to the North 60 property and won the rights to develop the site.
Fareri wants to build 3 million square feet of space for medical offices, research, retail, restaurants, a hotel and a children’s museum.
The complex will be built in three phases over 25 years, including a West Research Village, Central Village and East Research Village. It will be designed around a Main Street theme, with shops and restaurants, plazas and gardens, bikeways and pedestrian paths, and a shuttle service to nearby Metro-North train stations.
But the villages will not include residences, in a concession to government officials and residents who do not want to strain the school district.
The county approval triggered the initial lease payments, beginning at $125,000 a year. As buildings are occupied, Fareri will give the county a portion of the project’s rental income.
Fareri has estimated that North 60 will create 4,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs, pay $7 million in annual rents to the county and generate $9 million a year in local real estate taxes.
The next big step is an environmental review that could take two years or more to finish, with Mount Pleasant as the lead agency. By the time land use permits are issued, it could be three years before construction begins.
Neil DeLuca of Fareri Associates said government officials have shown unusual support for the project.
“Everyone said, ‘If this is real, we’re for it,’” he said.