With a spark provided by three high-powered entities, plans for $145 million worth of private investment in Westchester County are on track to move forward, county officials said.
The impetus stems from a pair of separate projects initiated by Million Air and Bethel Methodist Home, along with a recent proposal from Dannon.
The county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Local Development Corporation (LDC) have also played significant roles in efforts to transform the initiatives into a reality.
Million Air is upgrading its corporate aviation facilities at Westchester County Airport with an $88 million renovation that includes the construction of a new 50,000-square-foot hangar.
The IDA approved issuing tax-exempt bonds, which lower the project’s financing costs.
The project is expected to increase Million Air’s full-time jobs at the airport from 27 to 79 within 18 months.
Earlier this year, the county Board of Legislators approved a 30-year lease with the company at the airport.
Million Air, the third largest fixed-based operation chain in the world, provides upscale private aviation services to airports, individuals and corporate flight departments.
“The significant investments being made by Million Air in the County Airport will not only create more high-paying jobs, but also strengthen Westchester’s reputation as having one of the finest corporate aviation facilities in the nation,” said County Executive Rob Astorino.
Bethel Methodist Home is acquiring Westchester Meadows, a continuing care retirement community in Valhalla, from Hebrew Hospital Senior Housing in a bankruptcy sale.
The LDC, which works with non-profits, approved $28.6 million in low-cost bond financing for Bethel, which it will use to refinance a loan and fund major interior and exterior renovations.
In addition to the bond financing, the LDC approved a mortgage tax exemption of $208,000.
The project is expected to create and retain 80 jobs.
Based in Croton-on-Hudson, Bethel plans to renovate and operate the facility, which currently consists of 120 independent residential apartments, 10 enriched housing apartments, 20 skilled nursing beds, common areas, an indoor pool and nursing, medical and dining facilities.
“The financial incentives approved by the LDC will help keep open a valuable senior care and skilled nursing facility,” said Astorino. “This is a win-win for the county because it strengthens our social service network while creating jobs.”
The IDA has also heard a recent presentation from executives of Dannon, which is seeking incentives for a proposal to move its headquarters to downtown White Plains.
Under the plan, the company would remain in Westchester, its home for nearly 30 years.
The move would take Dannon's home base from its current location in Greenburgh to the White Plains building that had been home to Fortunoff.
Plans call for a $30 million renovation of the building and an increase in the company’s work force from 440 to 590 over five years.
Michael Neuwirth, a spokesman for Dannon, said the yogurt company has yet to finalize its plans, which are contingent on a number of factors.
“We are in the process of seeking approvals of our various applications with the City of White Plains Common Council, the County of Westchester’s IDA and the State of New York Empire State Development,” he said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and tremendous support. We recognize the efforts of the State of New York, County of Westchester County and City of White Plains to keep us in the area, which we’ve called home for more than 20 years.”
Referring to Dannon “as a great asset for Westchester for many years,” William M. Mooney III, director of the County Office of Economic Development, expressed optimism over the prospective deal.
“We are thrilled Dannon is considering this investment, which will keep jobs in Westchester and New York State, and we will continue to work closely with the company as it pursues its growth plans,” he said.
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