The Peekskill City Showcase included a stop at the Riverfront Green Park to hear about the multi-million dollar waterfront revitalization. Photo: Lynda Shenkman Curtis.
For the 100 real estate professionals, investors, developers, site selectors, bankers and lawyers who may not have known about the wealth of development opportunities in Peekskill, the BLUEPRINT for Westchester’s Peekskill City Showcase was a real-eye opener.
The half-day event, organized by the Westchester County Association in collaboration with the City of Peekskill, included a tour featuring sites ripe for commercial and residential development, several city neighborhoods—including its two National Historic Registry areas—and Peekskill’s waterfront, currently undergoing a multi-million dollar revitalization.
“Today’s showcase is part of our aggressive campaign to drive economic development in Westchester,” said Marissa Brett, executive director of The BLUEPRINT for Westchester, the economic development arm of the Westchester County Association. “Peekskill is a gem of a city that offers pubic/private development opportunities, affordable places to live, access to transportation, arts and culture—a place where business and residents can truly thrive.”
Two packed buses departed from the newly re-opened Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, with Mayor Mary Foster, Michael Welti, the city’s director of planning, and Jim Pinto, economic development consultant, serving as tour guides. The bus wound its way through downtown, highlighting Peekskill’s restaurant row, the Westchester Community College Center for the Digital Arts, and the Monument Park business area, home to a growing Latino business community.
Among the properties featured on the tour was the former White Plains Linen complex on Highland Avenue, the nearly 12-acre parcel on Corporate Drive and the Central Avenue Corridor, which the city would open for redevelopment consistent with its vision for connecting the city’s waterfront and downtown areas.
The midway point was a scenic stop at the Riverfront Green where city planners presented the vision for developing Peekskill’s stunning three miles of shoreline and Peekskill’s Homestyle Desserts Bakery provided visitors with refreshments. After stops along John Walsh Boulevard—home to the new IDA-backed facility for White Plains Linen, Peekskill’s largest employer, and Lower South Street, home to another significant employer, BASF—the tour buses headed back to the theater via South Street, which will see streetscape improvements in the near future.
Guests were treated to a luncheon catered by Birdsall House and Gleason’s during which keynote speaker Mayor Mary Foster shared her vision for the city.
Mayor Foster said Peekskill is becoming known as a “cultural hub,” a vibrant home not just for the literary and performing arts, museums, and entertainment venues, but as a place with unique shops and restaurants and one-of-a-kind businesses like Early Electrics, which makes unique lighting fixtures from old electrical equipment for hotels, restaurants, and workspaces.
“We have people who participate in a creative economy,” she said. “Our roots are in unique businesses—from a custom window restorer, to a maker of handcrafted smoking pipes and an oboe maker who has an eight-year waiting list for his instruments…We are ready to attract development that makes sense for Peekskill, a mix of businesses that creates jobs, maximizes land use, and helps our economy thrive.”
The city and state have invested heavily in Peekskill’s infrastructure in order to make the city “investment-ready,” added Mayor Foster, with projects including the modernization of Route 9, the completion of a water filtration plant, work on water and sewer mains, and the creation of concept plans for mixed use development.
Current business owners are inspiring investor confidence in Peekskill as well. Six business owners are starting new enterprises, according to Jason Angell, executive director of the Peekskill BID (Business Improvement District), who delivered opening remarks along with Deborah Milone, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, and Kurt Heitman, CEO of Red House Entertainment, which operates the Paramount.
The BLUEPRINT for Westchester was launched in 2011 to spur economic development in Westchester, and has hosted three previous city showcases in Yonkers, White Plains, and New Rochelle, and an international showcase for attachés.