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Local municipal officials support the deal, will now begin environmental review
The Westchester BioScience & Technology Center commonly referred to as the “North 60” project cleared a major hurdle when it was approved in a unanimous 17-0 vote by the Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday night. The 99 year lease which paves the way for $1.2 Billion in private sector investment is the largest business contract ever approved by the BOL.
The project will be developed by Fareri Associates on 60 acres of county-owned land located just north of the Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College. The developer, who owns 20 adjacent acres will build out $40 million of infrastructure including new roads, water supply, sanitary waste water systems and storm water management to service the 80 acre site.
The project which will be built in three phases includes more than 2.2 million square feet of biotech/research space, medical offices, a 100-room hotel, retail space, and a Children's Living Science Center.
Upon completion of the project, the county will receive an estimated $7 million in annual rent along with $9 million in new tax revenue. Additionally the biotech center will create 4,000 construction jobs and 8,000 new permanent jobs.
Prior to being approved by the BOL, the lease was vetted through two legislative committees, The Infrastructure Committee which is chaired by Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D) Hastings and the Budget and Appropriations Committee which is chaired by Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R) Eastchester, New Rochelle.
Following the vote Legislator Shimsky discussed how the legislative review process improved the lease. “The North 60 development project is a very promising long-term investment in our County's economic future. My colleagues at Board of Legislators and I devised the most sophisticated review process in recent memory, to make as sure as we could that the proposed project was a wise use of the County's property. When my committee received the proposal from the Administration, we had no independent legal analysis, no appraisal of the site as a biotech center, and no study on which to base a reasoned judgment on the project's economic prospects. During the committee process, my colleagues, legislative staff and I negotiated payment of these needed analyses with the developer, screened potential analysts, and sifted through the legal, fiscal, and environmental reports we insisted upon and subsequently received. We made numerous changes to the lease, to include labor protections, protections for minority and women owned businesses, and environmental protections. And we insisted on numerous technical changes to the lease, to ensure that the County's interests would be properly protected going forward. The Board's actions maximized the likelihood of the project's -- and the taxpayers' -- success.”
Legislator Sheila Marcotte applauded the sustained economic benefits the lease provides for taxpayers as well as the important work in medical research that will take place there. "Turning this tract of vacant county property into a hub of scientific research and innovation will bring significant new revenues and thousands of new jobs which makes it tremendous win for Westchester County. Because of the important work that will take place there we may see this site produce global health benefits and that’s a win for mankind. It demonstrates to the world that Westchester County is a place where we look toward advancement, we have a well-educated workforce and we have a cooperative, bipartisan government that can work with visionary men like John Ferari to create something that will be a benefit to our community both locally and globally."
Board of Legislators Chairman Kaplowitz (D) Somers said, “Passage of this North 60 project is a tremendous win for everybody in Westchester and the surrounding region. Turning this tract of vacant county property into a hub of scientific research and innovation will create significant new revenues, economic and scientific activity and create thousands of permanent and construction jobs. Thanks to developer John Fareri, the County Executive and all my legislative colleagues for their work on this magnificent project.”
The Westchester BioScience & Technology Center will be located in the Town of Mount Pleasant which will conduct the critical environmental review in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi who spoke in support of the project prior to the vote said, “The Town of Mount Pleasant is very pleased with the Boards vote to approve the lease for the North 60 property. I appreciate the time and effort the legislators invested in the process that not only protected the county’s interest but also protected the process for the residents Town of Mount Pleasant. This is a major move for all of us to secure our economic future and build on the idea of being a major research and development hub. We look forward to working with the developer as the project moves forward and the benefits it will bring to our businesses in sales, the employment opportunities and the benefit to all with the added tax base.”