Biz Buzz: Business News From Around Westchester This Week

Best-Selling Author Mark Halperin Discusses White House Race at Business Council Dinner

Photo provided by The Business Council Of Westchester

The race for the White House is nearly impossible to predict and unlike any other in the nation’s history, a preeminent presidential election historian and political analyst told attendees at The Business Council of Westchester’s Annual Dinner earlier this week. Before a record crowd of more than 700 business and political leaders at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, Mark Halperin, whose best-selling book Game Change became an award-winning HBO Film about the 2008 presidential race between then Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, said this year’s race is “very strange” and filled with uncertainty, particularly on the Republican side where the field remains wide open. “This one is the hardest to understand. It defies history,” Halperin said of the entire field of candidates and the public’s appetite for change. “People are looking for fundamental change in Washington … There is this unhappiness, there is this desire to change the status quo.” During his 35-minute address, Halperin covered a lot of ground and provided interesting political insight.

- Advertisement -

From the rise of billionaire and reality star Donald Trump, brain surgeon Ben Carson and the potential of a broken GOP convention, where there’s no sure bet, to the dynamic between Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the potential for a white horse on the Democratic slate, Halperin offered his analysis on how the 2016 race could play out—especially with so many moving pieces. Also speaking at this year’s annual dinner were Leonard Schleifer, CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, and Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. Schleifer gave a rousing speech about the uniqueness of the United States system of capitalism and spoke of his own experience in starting a company in his apartment to growing it into the world’s fifth largest biotech company.

State Receives $10 Million Grant For New Tappan Zee Bus Service

John St John/Flickr 

Bus riders who travel between Westchester and Rockland counties received some good news earlier this week: New York State’s Department of Transportation will receive $10 million in federal money to replace the Tappan Zee Express bus service. The funding award, announced by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, will go toward paying for upgrades on the new bridge, which include construction of new bus stations, transit lanes, and other improvements to make transit faster and more reliable. In addition, it will help create a faster ride for users of Hudson Links, which would replace the Tappan ZEExpress bus service in 2018. “Today is another major step forward in our efforts to improve transportation in the lower Hudson Valley,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “This funding will help us give commuters more mass transit options and ultimately reduce traffic congestion in the region.” The main bus line, which would run between Suffern and White Plains and serve Tarrytown, could be expanded in phases to six other routes in the future.

State officials say the goal is to provide a faster, more reliable trip across the Hudson River in time for the opening of the new $3.9 billion bridge in 2018.

- Partner Content -

New Playland Management Co. Given Five-Month Extension On Option Agreement

ChangChienFu at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Recognizing that more time is needed to complete the necessary due diligence, Westchester County and Standard Amusements have agreed to a five-month extension of the option agreement for Standard Amusements to invest $25 million in Playland and start taking over management of the iconic park in Rye next year.

The extension, which has the support of County Executive Robert P. Astorino, Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, and Nicholas Singer, a partner in Standard Amusements, extends the option period from Oct. 16, 2015 to March 31, 2016. Standard Amusements will pay the county $25,000 for the extension.

“If Standard Amusements wasn’t interested in investing in Playland, we wouldn’t have asked for the extension,” said Singer. “To date we have committed $1.4 million to the revitalization effort and based on our review, which began in July, it’s likely that our investment would exceed $25 million. We simply need more time to conduct the due diligence necessary to ensure that our development and completion of the project will be successful.” Part of the need for the extension was to give Standard Amusements more time to understand the integration of its investment with the ongoing capital projects that the county will continue to undertake to fulfill its responsibilities as the owner of the park, according to Astorino. “One of the strengths of this deal is that it is a public-private partnership, but that also adds a layer of complexity that requires adequate time to be managed successfully,” he said. “The goal is to save Playland for future generations and the extension means everyone remains focused on the goal.” The extension now gives Standard Amusements until the end of March to decide whether to go forward with the management agreement negotiated with the county earlier this year.

- Advertisement -

Pace Celebrates Grand Opening of Two New Buildings

From left, President of Pace Resident Hall Association Kathryn Dunn; AVP and Dean for Students Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo; Dyson College Dean Nira Herrmann; Pace Trustee Mark Besca; Sr. VP and COO William J. McGrath; President Stephen J. Friedman; Town of Mt. Pleasant Councilman Denis McCarthy, County Executive Robert P. Astorino; Town of Mt. Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi; Pace Alumnus Dr. Ivor Whitson; Village of Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer

Pace University’s Pleasantville campus now has two new buildings to boast of: the new Alumni Hall residential building and new Environmental Center Complex. The school celebrated this important milestone in the campus’ more than 50-year history as President Stephen J. Friedman joined with county and local leaders for a grand opening on October 15. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the two new facilities was attended by more than 100 Pace students, faculty and staff members as well as government and business leaders. Completion of these two major projects—along with new athletic fields and field house—represents the near completion of the first phase of a $100 million master plan to revitalize and transform the 200-acre Pleasantville campus to improve the student experience.

The 125,000-square-foot Alumni Hall is the first of the new residence halls planned for the Pleasantville campus. Centrally located in the heart of the campus and overlooking the campus green, the four-story residence hall houses primarily first-year students with space for returning students in suites and semi-suites. Its amenities include two classrooms, a dining option, lounges, and study rooms. The new Environmental Center Complex includes a classroom building and a replica of the former farmhouse building, which serves as a key facility for faculty and students. There is also a raptor museum featuring various birds of prey; animal barns; and an open outdoor classroom and event space. The complex includes space for students to attend seminars and for informal gatherings with their peers and faculty members.

Yonkers Development Projects: One Finished, One Starting

Marriott: L-R: Yonkers Councilman Mike Breen; Council Minority Leader Michael Sabatino; Yonkers Planning Commissioner Wilson Kimball; Councilman Christopher Johnson; Council President Liam McLaughlin; Robert Martin Company President Bob Weinberg; Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano; Robert Martin Company CEO Tim Jones; Yonkers Housing & Building Commissioner William Schneider, and Yonkers IDA Director Jaime McGill

Development activity has remained strong lately in Yonkers. As proof of the ongoing cycle, the city recently celebrated the groundbreaking of an entirely new project—a Marriott Hotel in South Westchester Executive Park—and the completion of another—the Grant Park II affordable housing complex. The groundbreaking for the new Marriott occurred on October 15, with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano being joined by executives from True North Hotels and Robert Martin Company. Constructed by True North Hotel Group, the three–acre property will become home to a 154-room Courtyard by Marriott by mid-2016. To be built with an assistance package from the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency (YIDA), the new hotel will be located on a parcel directly opposite the existing the Residence Inn at 7 Executive Boulevard, built six years ago by the same owners, True North Hotels. The total cost of the project is estimated be $24.5 million and will provide for 50 full time equivalent permanent jobs and approximately 250 construction jobs.

The recently completed Grant Park II project—home to 56 new affordable housing units and the final phase in the revitalization efforts of the Mulford Garden public housing complex—was celebrated on October 19 by Spano, along with representatives from Yonkers Municipal Housing Authority, New York State Homes & Community Renewal, Yonkers Industrial Development Agency, Landex Development. Grant Park II, located on 1 Whetstone Ave., is the fourth and final phase in the revitalization of a planned 240 unit affordable housing community. It offers 56 apartments consisting of one, two and three bedroom townhouse style apartments, each equipped with a washer and dryer. Included on site is a community clubhouse, fitness center, computer center and on-site management office. The community proudly accepts tenants with low income and physical disabilities. Its residents can earn up to 60% of the area median income.

Westchester Community College Inaugurates Its 3rd President

 SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, Dr. Belinda S. Miles,  SUNY Board Chair H. Carl McCall

Dr. Belinda S. Miles, who began her tenure at Westchester Community College (WCC) in January 2015, was officially inaugurated on October 2. More than 400 individuals attended the event in the college’s Academic Arts Theatre. The ceremony, which included dance and musical performances, was highlighted by remarks by national leaders in higher education, elected officials, and others, including David Swope, Chairman, Westchester Community Board of Trustees, and Carl McCall, Chairman, SUNY Board of Trustees. Dr. Miles discussed her team’s achievements since January, which included a successful visit by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education accreditation unit, the organization of the college’s academic programs into “schools” which will better support students on clearer pathways to credentials and jobs, the partnership with JPMorgan Chase Foundation on a study of in-demand middle-skills jobs, and the college’s inclusion in the national Achieving the Dream network for community colleges committed to student success. As WCC’s third president, Miles succeeds long-time former president Dr. Joseph Hankin. Previously, Miles was provost and executive vice president of Access, Learning, and Success at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C).

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.