On Jan. 17, the Westchester County Business Journal featured an article titled “Astorino announces $1.2 billion biotech center for North 60.” This article spoke about the proposal by developer Fareri Associates L.P. to create a biotech research facility, children’s science center, medical offices, a 100-room hotel and retail stores and restaurants on the 60 acres of county-owned land adjoining the Westchester Medical Center.
Following are a few observations from someone who has been involved in the Westchester County commercial real estate market for almost 30 years.
THIS IS THE RIGHT PRODUCT IN THE RIGHT PLACE. With neighboring Regeneron (the fastest-growing company in Westchester) occupying substantially all of the 1.1 million-square-foot Landmark at Eastview, and Acorda Therapeutics occupying substantially all of the former Ciba site in Ardsley, there is virtually no laboratory space available in Westchester to attract new biotech and life sciences tenants to the county.
New York Medical College has recently opened a small biotech incubator on its campus. As new companies outgrow these startup facilities, they do not have anywhere to go to establish their own laboratories. Biotech and life sciences are great industries for our county, as they employ highly educated, highly compensated people, who can afford to live, work and play in Westchester.
Westchester needs more laboratory space and we need it quickly, but this product is very, very expensive to develop and very high risk. It is unique to the life sciences industry and quickly becomes obsolete as technology changes. To date, no developer has been willing to take the risk to create it on a speculative basis until Mr. Fareri stepped forward.