What’s Westchester Worth?
We Answer Your Biggest Question Yet.
Q: I grew up in Yonkers some 75 years ago and moved to New Jersey in 1960. I have returned to my roots as my son, his wife, and three adorable grandkids have moved to Scarsdale. Thus, I am using those charming Westchester Parkways again: the Saw Mill, Bronx River, Hutch, and others. I have often wondered how those “overpasses” came to be. Perhaps they were done by some creative immigrant masons. Was it a contest to see who was the best? It could make for an interesting feature article.
—Sid Kohn, Scarsdale
A: Sorry, unless it has the words “Best of” or “Top” in front of it, you don’t get a feature article, Sid. But you do get to be here. And isn’t that better anyway? We, unfortunately, have to start by giving some props to our neighbors to the east. As nice as our bridges are, next time you drive on the Merritt, check out the designs on the Connecticut overpasses. The parkway was built during the Depression, and local artisans provided the designs for the funky art deco bridges.
Back in WC, the Bronx River Parkway got its start before the Great Depression, and, during renovations under the watchful eye of the unparalleled city planner, Robert Moses, bridges were meant to be “built for permanence with architectural treatment in harmony with their natural surroundings,” and to not “distract” from the natural beauty of the area, in accordance with the 1909 “Bronx Parkway Commission Report.” The Hutch’s stone arches were, likewise, a muted, yet still quite pretty, ode to the classics from the parkway’s 1920s construction, while many of the county’s other overpasses are modern steel, so we’re guessing they required fewer competitive immigrant stonemasons.
Q: Way back in the late-’70s, although it seems like yesterday, I wrote about five articles (I lived with my parents in Co-op City at the time) for a Westchester Illustrated magazine, which was located on School Street in Yonkers and owned by members of the politically connected Martinelli family. Are you guys a “descendant” of that magazine? And if not, whatever happened to those people?
—Raanan Geberer, New York, NY
A: Raanan, we like you. You gave us a question we didn’t even have to leave the office to answer. Why? Because “Westchester Illustrated” was owned by “Gazette Press.” And “Gazette Press” was run by Angelo Martinelli. That’s the same family as the “Martinelli” whose name appears on our paychecks (and, of course, publishes this magazine). But Westchester Illustrated didn’t make it long-term. Like Westchester Magazine, Westchester Illustrated was a monthly lifestyle magazine. It was printed out of the Gazette Press building on School Street in Yonkers, a building originally home to The Gazette, a newspaper first published in 1864. The cost of Westchester Illustrated was only $1.99 an issue. But maybe they should have sold it for a bit more. The mag lasted only six years. We’re at 10. Ha!
Q: What’s Westchester worth?
—Kate Sawyer, Mamaroneck
A: You mean all of it? In dollars? We’re going to need a bigger page. Let’s start with real estate. There are approximately 360,000 houses in the county worth an average of (very) roughly $500,000, making residential property worth about $180 billion.
What about commercial and industrial real estate? According to data provided by the state, there is around 177 million square feet of commercial space, and 25 million square feet of industrial space lurking in our fair county. Commercial space goes for about $30 a square foot. Industrial space ranges widely in price, but $7.25 a square foot is a fair estimate. So, let’s say, in total, commercial’s worth about 5 billion bucks, and—SAT problem anyone?—industrial comes out to a little over $181 million. Put it all together…we’re at almost $185 billion already. But guess what? Almost half of Westchester’s land doesn’t even fit into the above categories. Much of it is road, park, empty space, etc., which is valuable, but probably not enough to move our $185 billion mark that much. And…uh oh, we overloaded our calculator. Guess we’ll have to continue next month.