County Executive George Latimer and developer John Fareri today signed a 99-year lease for 60 acres of county land at the Grasslands Reservation in Valhalla where Fareri intends to develop a $1.2 billion biotech project known informally as North 60.
The signing for the Westchester Bioscience and Technology Center development took place before 200 people attending the Westchester County Association (WCA) breakfast at the Marriott in Tarrytown.
In addition to the 60 acres of county-owned land, Fareri Associates will use the 20 acres of adjacent land it owns for the project. The WCA estimated that the county could ultimately receive about $7 million in rent each year if North 60 is fully developed. The county said that the lease provides for it to initially receive $125,000 per year in rent and then 6 percent of annual gross rental income from certain uses, 6 percent of annual gross income from the hotel, any assisted living facility, and 6 percent for the other uses.
Fareri told the Business Journal that he expects the project will complement the existing Westchester Medical Center and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
“It’s going to be a very walkable community, so it will actually decrease traffic for the medical center and for the tenants that go there,” he said.
In his address to the breakfast, Latimer gave credit to the administration of his predecessor as county executive for getting the project started. “Let me credit Rob Astorino and let me credit Kevin Plunkett, who is in the room, now an executive with Simone (Development Cos.), former deputy county executive.”
Fareri said that he hopes to obtain local approvals including environmental study requirements in a year to 18 months and have shovels in the ground shortly thereafter. The development will be in phases, with the first phase comprising approximately 500,000 square feet. Completion of all phases could take 10 years and would result in up to 3 million square feet being developed.
William Mooney Jr., president and CEO of the WCA, told reporters that he believes this is Westchester’s biggest project in the past 30 years. “This project will go a long way to solidifying our region’s brand as a hub of innovation in health care and life sciences,” Mooney said.
It is estimated the project will create 4,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs. In addition to laboratory and research space, medical offices and a children’s living science center, there would be a 120-room hotel. The project had a residential component when first proposed, but that was dropped.
Michael Welling, founder and co-chair of the Westchester Biotech Project, who will be helping promote the center to prospective tenants, told the Business Journal that he expects it will be an easy sell.
“With the North 60 now moving forward and the lease being signed, this is going to move the needle beyond comprehension at the moment. I think the long-term economic impact just from this lease signing is going to be realized very quickly…we can now start recruiting companies here, even before the shovel is in the ground. I know companies who would come to Westchester purely on the plan to move into this complex when it’s completed.”
This story was updated on 1/11/19.