Westchester County’s Centers of Economic Development: White Plains
As the county seat, White Plains is at the very heart of Westchester’s political, social and economic activity, and considered one of America’s wealthiest and fastest-growing cities.
As the county seat, White Plains is at the very heart of Westchester’s political, social and economic activity. More than “The Birthplace of the State of New York,” it combines a suburban environment with urban sophistication for a great living and working experience, and its fusion of commercial, retail and dining centers allows residents to get the best of all worlds.
A mere 25 miles north of Manhattan and a 35-minute commute via express train, White Plains has become home to many major corporations such as Heineken USA and ITT. In addition, White Plains is ranked fifth in the state in annual sales volume – retail trade earns more than $2 billion in sales annually, while the professional services and healthcare sectors each account for more than $1 billion. The active economy and growing population led Businessweek magazine to declare White Plains one of America’s fastest-growing cities in 2010. Money magazine also included White Plains as one of its top 100 places to live, describing it as giving residents “the benefits of the nation’s largest city with a small-town feel.”
This city of 57,000 sees its average weekday population swell to more than 250,000 due to shoppers, visitors and workers. With that, White Plains is also considered one of the wealthier cities in America: The median family income came in at $73,522 in 2010, while per capita income totaled nearly $44,000.
Beginning back in 1998, White Plains experienced significant economic development in the commercial and housing sectors as a result of its Smart Growth and Sustainable Development policies. Focal achievements include the city’s Coordinated Review System, which eliminates bureaucratic roadblocks to development, and changes in zoning laws that emphasize mixed-income housing downtown and continue to attract businesses to the city’s core.
A decade later, White Plains added The Renaissance Square complex, which features two 40-story residential and hotel towers, one with more than 300 condominium units and the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel. The City Center, which opened in 2003, is a mixed-use development with two 35-story apartment and condominium towers. There are also municipal parking facilities and 600,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space. This development has expanded White Plains’ preeminence, along with The Westchester and The Galleria, as the retail center of Westchester County.
Bryant Gardens is another well-maintained apartment complex positioned on 22 acres of park-like land, minutes from downtown.
White Plains also embraces sustainable development, as several office buildings -– ranging from 123 Main Street and 360 Hamilton Avenue to 10 Bank Street and 150 Grand Street – have been renovated to high levels of energy efficiency and green building standards.
The business revival has allowed the city to showcase its commitment to the local economy. The walkability of the downtown area encourages resident consumers to shop and enjoy high-quality dining in their neighborhoods. Several college campuses – Pace University, Berkeley College, Mercy College, SUNY Purchase, and The College of Westchester – are seated in White Plains, providing a key demographic to many businesses. Restaurants and pubs serve the growing young professional population.
As another feature of Smart Growth, the city funded construction of the 410-seat White Plains Performing Arts Center, which hosts concerts, off-Broadway productions and even business seminars. For something larger, the art-deco Westchester County Center, opened in 1930, has more than 40,000 square feet of space. It is an up-to-date, multi-purpose indoor recreational facility, hosting everything from trade shows to county sports events and even a farmer’s market.
The 292-bed White Plains Hospital Center is a regional leader in orthopedics, obstetrics, neonatology and cancer care, and U.S. News and World Report named it one of the “2012 Best Hospitals” in New York. The hospital center is also a nine-time winner of the National Research Corporation’s Consumer’s Choice Award.
The City of White Plains keeps its roads well-maintained to accommodate auto and mass transit commuters. Multiple train stops are found throughout the area, and White Plains Westchester County Airport accommodates more than one million passengers each year while providing non-stop commercial services to more than a dozen major U.S. cities. www.cityofwhiteplains.com
• A monument marks the area where, in July 1776, the White Plains courthouse hosted the signing of the charter that made New York a state. The courthouse burned down in November of that year.
• White Plains is the birthplace of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg.
• Bird People, a movie starring Josh Charles and due for release in 2013, was filmed in part at Heineken USA’s White Plains office.