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Prominent Developers Discuss Future Growth and Challenges

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Several prominent developers in Westchester County discussed the state of the economy and challenges of building in a webinar last week moderated by Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Marsha Gordon.

“I’m sure you have all noticed the changing skyscape and landscape of Westchester County cities and village and towns,” Gordon said. “These leaders in Westchester County are creating new jobs, new opportunities to live and to work and to play, and adding to the vibrancy of Westchester County.”

Participants were William Balter, president of WBP Development LLC and Griffon Construction LLC; Louis Cappelli, founder of the Cappelli Organization and chairman and CEO or LRC Construction; Joe Cotter, president of National Resources; Rella Fogliano, CEO, Macquesten Development; David Garten, senior vice president of corporate affairs for RXR; and Andrew Weisz, executive vice President of the RPW Group, Inc.

Balter described the eight current affordable and workforce housing projects his company has built in Peekskill, Tarrytown, Lewisboro, Irvington, Edgemont and New Rochelle.

“It’s really a very exciting time to be working in Westchester,” Balter said. “We look as a company to work in communities that are really actively engaged in economic development, and then planning the growth of their downtowns.”

Cappelli talked about his success in New Rochelle, where he has 2,000 units under construction, and the four-year redevelopment of the former White Plains Mall that is expected to get underway in June.

“White Plains has the potential of being a larger development situation than New Rochelle,” he said. “White Plains is just coming into its own.”

Fogliano is working with Balter on a 76-unit affordable workforce housing project in Ossining.

“It takes a few dollars out of my pocket to use special materials inside and out, but I think that the rewards are tenfold,” Fogliano said. “I don’t want anybody to look at one of my buildings and say, ‘Oh, that’s affordable housing.’ People need affordable housing that’s beautiful. It’s a quality of life.”

Cotter discussed how National Resources is building the largest film and movie studio complex in the Northeast in downtown Yonkers that will bring 1,500 new jobs over the next three years. At the former IBM site in East Fishkill, National Resources repurposed the property for food manufacturers and is building a back lot operation for film and television production.

Cotter is working on a Master Plan in the Village of Brewster in Putnam County, but said it’s difficult for developers to get traction outside the big cities.

“Sadly, there’s no places for workforce housing or young people in any of the better suburbs,” Cotter said. “Our aging population should be something of great concern. We can’t have senior, assisted-living projects in every wealthy community because they don’t want schoolchildren. What society is anti-schoolchildren? Our main sFItreets are in desperate shape.”

Cappelli said the rising costs of materials and lack of supplies is going to have a major impact on future development.

“I’ve never seen anything like this is my life. Everything is going up,” he said. “It is absolutely a challenge. I’m afraid things will have to slow so there isn’t this frenzy for materials. It’s the biggest problem I see in the development of Westchester County and the country.”

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