• Is Westchester Ready for NYC's Spillover Effect?


  • Seth Pinsky, RXR Realty, says Region Is at a Critical Crossroads; “We can’t let this moment pass.”

  • New York City may be enjoying record success, but that very success – record population, record employment, record tourism – may do it in. “The greatest threat is the inability of the city to accommodate all of the growth that’s happening in a cost-effective way,” said Seth Pinsky, executive vice president of RXR Realty, at a BOMA luncheon on March 10.

    New York City may be experiencing affordability issues, but that’s creating an incredible opportunity for the suburbs, he believes. “What’s happening is there are too many people trying to live in desirable locations with an urban feel that are proximate to all the advantages that NYC has to offer. We've seen this...

    ...with the migration from Manhattan to places like Brooklyn and Queens in the outer boroughs, where populations would never have thought of living outside of Manhattan, and are now willing to live in the outer boroughs. And we’ve also seen that in places outside of downtown, places like Jersey City, Hoboken, Stamford, and even here in White Plains.” Pinsky will be one of the featured speakers at "Westchester: County of Tomorrow," an amazing conference on April 29, that addresses Smart Growth, east-west rapid transit in Westchester, funding through public-private partnerships, and much much more.

    The challenge is to provide housing that is affordable for the workforce – the teachers, police, firefighters, as well as for those who love the urban vibe: millennials, Young Professionals, and retirees.

    “So given this, many suburban communities today have to change the traditional suburban model. They have a long neglected asset that’s right in their core, and that is their downtowns, many of which have exactly the characteristics that the very populations that they’re losing to New York City are looking for: architectural character, diversity, walkability, and access to NYC’s core.”

    Pinsky believes Westchester can do something about it. “The key is transit,” he says. Better transit means a wider area in which to create desirable urban areas. "Think of it not just for the public good, but as an investment n affordability,” he advises.

    Second, we need to encourage more suburban communities to foster development around that transit. RXR is putting its money where its mouth is.

    In Yonkers, steps from the Metro-North and Amtrak station in downtown, with service to Grand Central being 30 minutes, RXR is investing almost $200 million to take a site and transform it into a 575,000 sq. ft. two-tower development, with over 240 apartments and about 35,000 sq. ft. of retail. The project will not only create new housing for the very populations that the suburbs are losing to NYC, but also will create new jobs, new services for existing residents, and create millions and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the City of Yonkers. And in New Rochelle, RXR was named master developer with Renaissance Downtown. Together, RDRXR will develop approximately 4 million square feet of residential, commercial and retail space.

    “What we learned in New Rochelle, is that this kind of development is a win, win, win, win. For developers, it’s a chance to build new units in a tight market with good returns even at local market rents. For renters, it increases the supply of affordable units in the region by thousands of thousands of units. For the City of New Rochelle, it generates tens of millions in new tax revenue and critical new economic activity. For the region, it gives us a chance to rethink our suburbs in a more sustainable way.”

    This is only the beginning. Yet Pinksy believes we need to step up to the plate. “The New York region is at a critical crossroads; we can’t let this moment pass. We have to take bold steps; we have to make communities more affordable, more competitive. And, in short, we have to unharness our downtown areas, which are areas that we have kept shackled for far too long.”

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