On Friday, April 5, the Business Council of Westchester joined the Fordham Real Estate Institute and Westchester County Government to bring together 200 real estate professionals, business owners and local officials to unpack the biggest program to impact commercial real estate in years: Opportunity Zones.
Behind the Headlines – What Opportunity Zones Really Mean for Westchester Real Estatetook a deep dive into what Opportunity Zones are and how the federal program impacts the county’s eight municipalities that house them.
The most prominent sentiment of the day was that Opportunity Zones are providing a positive spotlight on Westchester County.
“I want to give my colleagues, our partners at the Business Council of Westchester, along with Westchester County, a big thank you,” said Marsha Gordon, CEO of the BCW. “Opportunity Zones represent the biggest trend to impact commercial real estate in years and have been talked about everywhere. But until now, it’s been hard to get a full picture. We are all better off now thanks to the insights of some of the brightest minds in the industry.”
The morning began with remarks from Westchester County Executive George Latimer, followed by an informative presentation from co-keynotes James Nelson (Principal and Head of Tri-State Investment Sales, Avison Young) and Louis Tuchman (Partner; Member, Executive Committee; Chair, Tax Department; Herrick Feinstein LLP).
Pravina Raghavan, Executive Vice President of Small Business & Technology Development at Empire State Development, then spoke about New York State’s perspectives on Opportunity Zones.
Following Raghavan’s presentation, two panels took place to focus on how the real estate industry and local municipalities viewed and participated in the Opportunity Zones program.
The first panel, “The Wizards of ‘OZ’,” featured speakers from RM Friedland, Belpointe REIT, Halpern Real Estate Ventures and Marks Paneth. The second, “Shaping the Future of Westchester Cities and Towns,” featured representatives from New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Mount Pleasant, White Plains, Yonkers, Peekskill and Port Chester.
“Opportunity Zones have brought attention to our cities and towns and have put them back in the media,” said Wilson Kimball, Commissioner of Planning and Development in Yonkers. “It helps us be on people’s minds and lets them know that Westchester is here to invest in.”