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BCW Cites Yorktown’s New Business Plan as Model for State and Nation

Yorktown Supervisor Matt Slater and the Town Board unveiled a new marketing campaign yesterday that promotes Yorktown as both an investment and relocation opportunity. The campaign’s theme — Yorktown: Up where you belong! – is a nod to the Town’s welcoming approach to businesses and its proximity to New York City, less than 40 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.

“Revitalizing Yorktown’s business centers is a commitment to both the present and the future,” Supervisor Slater said. “In recent years we have been witnessing a sea change that’s brought dramatic and permanent changes to virtually every aspect of our economy. The changes in the world of retailing alone are having far reaching impacts on communities across the nation. As elected officials, it is incumbent on the Town Board to recognize that change is taking place and to seek new approaches to assure our town’s business sectors remain viable and vibrant. Destination Y is our clarion call announcing that we are ready to do business.”

The initial focus of the campaign targets business owners and executives seeking office and other workspaces in a socially distant environment; developers of mixed-use and other projects; small businesses looking to tap new suburban markets; and developers interested in investing in downtown Yorktown Heights and the town’s four other business hamlets.

Yorktown officials have already begun instituting policies to facilitate a business revival including: pre-application meetings with developers to speed-up the review of applications; expedited building permit processes; and quick permitting and waived fees for local businesses to operate outdoors this summer.

The next significant action step is a review and adoption of zoning overlay districts for the business hamlets: Crompond, Jefferson Valley, Mohegan Lake, Shrub Oak and Yorktown Heights. The new zone will enable the creation of live/work retail-residential spaces and encourage the construction of diversified housing options and new economic development opportunities. There will be a focus on pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets that foster a downtown walkability. There are also trail linkage opportunities, notably in Yorktown Heights, where the highly popular North County Trailway passes through the center of the hamlet. The just re-opened landmark 1875 railroad station owned by the Town serves as a focal point and is a highlight along the 50-plus mile trail.

“The zoning overlays are crucially important and will serve as templates for town officials, property owners and developers as we work to revitalizing and enhancing our commercial areas,” said Supervisor Slater. “Our Director of Planning, John Tegeder, and his staff have done a tremendous job developing the overlays and working with a tight timeframe to enable us to move forward as efficiently as possible. The time has come to adapt and be flexible in how we approach our commercial areas, particularly where former uses clearly are no longer economically viable.”

Citing an example of the intent of the zoning overlay district, Slater noted that it would allow for new uses at under-performing properties such as the Yorktown Green Shopping Center, where vacant big-box stores have become less attractive to national merchants as online shopping continues to surge.

John Ravitz, vice president and COO of the Business Council of Westchester, said governments and businesses must strategize together to overcome challenges posed by a transforming economic landscape. He called Destination Y a model for others.

“They’re putting together a play book that I believe will be emulated around not only New York State, but around the country,” said Ravitz. “How can you not begin to think about ways to change zoning laws to make it easier for businesses to survive? How important is it going to be now to show and promote a community that wants to bring businesses from all over the country here? And that’s what they’re doing.”

The new campaign will initially run from August through November. It features an all-digital media mix, including mobile and social media ads targeting business owners and executives, real estate developers and commercial real-estate brokers. A landing page has been created to enable a quick response to inquiries and to capture leads.

An integrated social media campaign will utilize the #destinationY (hashtag) and include branded banners on light poles at key locations throughout the town. To further build campaign awareness and support in the community, in collaboration with the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Association of Yorktown, window and door decals promoting the new Destination Y brand, website and social media hashtag will be distributed to businesses, retail establishments and restaurants throughout the five hamlets.

The campaign was created by the Westchester-based communications, marketing, and advertising agency Thompson & Bender, a member of the BCW.

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