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Fordham University, Business Council of Westchester Host Forum on Real Estate, Finance Trends and Westchester’s Economy

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Leaders in real estate, economics and finance discussed industry trends and market influencers and how they are impacting the commercial sector in Westchester County and beyond at a forum last week hosted by Fordham University’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies and The Business Council of Westchester.

“Let’s Get Fiscal! – How Real Estate and Finance Trends Are Reshaping Westchester’s Economy” was presented virtually June 1 and featured Nikki Greenberg, founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Real Estate of the Future; Al Gutierrez, Managing Director, Brokerage, JLL; and Melinda White, Commercial Banking Leader, Hudson Valley, Wells Fargo. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Joshua Harris, a real estate economist and investment strategist who is Managing Partner of the Lakemont Group and an adjunct professor at Fordham’s Real Estate Institute.

Harris set the stage by looking at the ‘yield curve inversion,’ where short-term rates are higher than long-term, and the impact on real estate. He noted the U.S. Treasury one-month rate is at 5.2% while the 10-year – which sets the tone for mortgage rates and commercial real estate valuation – is at 3.6%.

“We’ve seen interest rates go up in the last 12 months at one of the fastest clips the Fed has ever managed to do,” Harris said. “This is occurring under a landscape of recovery in a post-Covid world, which is unique for a place like Westchester – one of most storied suburban commuter zones to New York City.”

He asked the panel if Westchester is benefitting from work-from-home and other “turmoil” in Manhattan.

“Historically, Westchester was a recipient of many headquarters coming out of NYC, looking for a better way of work and life. Then we saw a pull back toward the urban setting,” said Gutierrez. “Now there’s questions about occupancy – do they need to be in NYC? Should we be thinking of more regional offices? Westchester, from a locational standpoint, is well-poised to benefit.”

Gutierrez added the challenge for Westchester is its “dated” office buildings: “There’s a lot of reinvestment that needs to be done in order to attract those occupants out of NYC.”

Harris shifted the conversation to transit-oriented development (TOD) – noting progress in Yonkers, New Rochelle and Port Chester – and asked whether Westchester’s real estate community is up to the task of providing that product going forward.

“Multifamily housing is a sweet spot in real estate right now,” said White. “The limiting factor is the economics – with the current interest rates, can these projects pencil out? We’re seeing projects on hold, not due to a lack of capital but to the costs of construction and to carry.”

Greenberg, a futurist and innovation strategist, pointed to Gen Z as a target for TOD. “They’re a generation with different expectations and definitely want to be homeowners,” she said. “They love technology and also care very deeply about the environment. It’s a natural fit for them to want to live close to where they work, or at least near highly connected transport.”

Harris asked how changes in access to capital are affecting the office market, in terms of expansions, reconfigurations and other capital expenditures.

“Office space is a tough market. Everything is case by case, of course, and if there’s a good story to tell there’s an appetite,” White said. “Investors are very cautious about putting more money into buildings … owners are having to reach into their pockets, which becomes a downward cycle: if they don’t have the liquidity to put money in, there’s an inability to attract good tenants.”

The panel also shared insights into remote-work trends and how that is reshaping real estate.

“We can’t group every person and organization into one bucket – that’s causing a lot of contradictory evidence about productivity and expectations,” said Greenberg. “Today, because the technology we use for work is portable and companies’ information is stored in the cloud, it has opened up more options. Companies are empowered to make unique decisions about how and where work gets done.”

As for the impact a recession would have on Westchester, the panel agreed it could be a period of opportunity to “rethink, reassess and re-invest.”

“There’s a lot of capital out there that has yet to be deployed,” said Gutierrez. “We’re going to see opportunistic investors looking at assets that are on the brink of foreclosure, as land-banking opportunities for redevelopments. One of the things that has ameliorated downturns in Westchester are alternative industries – health care, life sciences and education, which are at the forefront of occupying much of the obsolete space in the market.”

“This insight is so important as we begin to plan for 2024 and beyond,” said Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon. “What happens in the commercial real estate market in the Hudson valley, NYC and the broader region affects all of the business community in Westchester.”

“We’re proud to collaborate with The Business Council of Westchester and bring together top minds to help us all stay ahead of the curve,” said Dr. Anthony R. Davidson, dean, Fordham University School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS). “The way in which we live and work is constantly changing, and our mission is to offer degree, professional and corporate training programs that meet those changes.”

Davidson noted that as part of the PCS mission to support the Westchester community, the school has launched a “Good Neighbor Initiative,” which provides an automatic 30% tuition reduction for undergraduate degree-seeking students enrolled in PCS at Fordham’s Westchester campus who live within the campus’ “neighbor” zip codes at the time they apply.

To view the event, click here.

About the Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies

The School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS) offers students a quality education in a small, personalized atmosphere that promotes individual growth and exploration. With three convenient campus locations – Lincoln Center in Manhattan, Rose Hill in the Bronx and West Harrison in Westchester, PCS is poised to meet students’ academic needs. Classes are offered evenings, weekends and online in areas including Business, Organizational Leadership, Economics, Legal and Policy Studies, and Social Work. Certificates in Digital and Social Media Marketing and Human Resource Management are also available, as well as Post-Baccalaureate / Pre-Medical / Pre-Health. PCS also offers a Master’s Degree in Applied Health Informatics. The Fordham Real Estate Institute, which is part of PCS, offers Master’s Degrees and multiple Certificate Programs in real estate at the Westchester and Lincoln Center campuses. Visit for more information.

About The Business Council of Westchester

The Business Council of Westchester is the county’s only business membership organization focusing on economic development and advocacy. It is the county’s largest and most prestigious business membership organization representing more than 1,000 members, including multinational corporations, hospitals, universities, biotech pioneers, not-for-profits, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes. As the most influential economic development and advocacy organization in Westchester, The Business Council of Westchester’s members enjoy unparalleled access to today’s top thought leaders, diverse business development opportunities and lawmakers at all levels of government. The BCW Data Exchange provides the latest demographic research to help guide smart business decisions. The LEAP program, a one-of-a-kind initiative, gives members direct access to lobbying efforts at the county, state and national levels on issues that directly affect their businesses. Build, Connect and Win with The Business Council of Westchester. Visit to connect today.



Participating in the June 1, 2023 panel, “Let’s Get Fiscal!” were: (top row, from left) Dr. Joshua Harris, Managing Partner, Lakemont Group; Dr.
Marsha Gordon, president and CEO, The Business Council of Westchester; Dr. Anthony R. Davidson, Dean, Fordham University School of Professional and Continuing Studies; (bottom row, from left) Melinda White, Commercial Banking Leader, Hudson Valley, Wells Fargo; Al Gutierrez, Managing Director, Brokerage, JLL; and Nikki Greenberg, founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Real Estate of the Future.

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