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Developers Weigh in on Future of Urban Centers

From left, Joseph Markey, Senior Vice President and Middle Market Leader, KeyBank; BCW Chairman Anthony Justic; Joseph Apicella, Managing Director, MacQuesten Development; Anthony Vulpi, Vice President of Development, Mill Creek Residential Northeast Division; BCW President & CEO Marsha Gordon; Martin Berger, Managing Principal, Saber Real Estate Advisors; Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, RXR Realty; and program moderator Geoffrey Thompson, Partner, Thompson & Bender

The Business Council of Westchester kicked off its Urban Centers Initiative with the program “Reimagining Our Downtowns: The Residential Model” on Tuesday at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown. Sponsored by KeyBank, the program featured a distinguished panel of leading edge developers who discussed their residential projects in New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers and Mount Vernon. The panel included Seth Pinsky, Executive Vice President, RXR Realty; Martin Berger, Managing Principal of Saber Real Estate Advisors; Anthony Vulpi, Vice President of Development for Mill Creek Residential Northeast Division, and Joseph Apicella, Managing Director, MacQuesten Development. Geoffrey Thompson, Partner, Thompson & Bender, was the moderator.

During the 90-minute program the developers provided valuable insight into what Westchester’s cities can do to be seen as ‘go-to’ communities and what today’s urban dwellers are looking for and how cities can work cooperatively with developers to craft the outcome they want.

Pinsky said that the explosion of development in Westchester’s cities is due to a combination of factors that include demand for rental units and a willingness among local governments to work with developers to shape communities. “As costs have increased and taxes with them, there is a willingness among local governments to collaborate, especially in the cities,’’ said Pinsky. RXR Realty is developing a $120 million, 28-story mixed-use building in downtown New Rochelle.

Vulpi agreed saying that his company was attracted to develop in Yonkers by the city’s willingness to invest in infrastructure and make its downtown area more attractive. Mill Creek Residential is building a new 324-unit residential community on the Yonkers waterfront. “It’s critical that cities invest in themselves. That’s what developers want to see,’’ said Vulpi.

Apicella explained that transit oriented development was key as young professionals and empty nesters seeking a simpler lifestyles want easy access to Manhattan. MacQuesten is completing The Modern, an 11-story affordable housing complex located just a block from the Mount Vernon West train station and 22 S. West, a 20-story mixed-use residential/retail development located at the foot of the Mount Vernon West train Station. The company is also redeveloping the Mount Vernon West Train Station into a 60,000-square-foot complex.

Berger added that potential renters needed access to retails stores, restaurants and other services. “For a city to be successful, it is going to have to offer that experience,’’ said Berger whose company is developing The Collection in White Plains, a mixed-use project on the former Key Ford site across the street from The Westchester and Nordstrom, featuring luxury rentals, high-end retailers and a hotel.

Stay tuned for the next chapter on May 10 when the Business Council in partnership with Fordham University will present a panel discussion titled Urban Renaissance: Emerging Trends in Transactions, Technology and Transportation, focusing on how cities can sustain the momentum once projects are built.

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