Dannon mulls move to downtown White Plains

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

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The Dannon Co. Inc. considering shifting its headquarters to downtown White Plains, a move that would scoop at least 300 employees from the yogurt producer’s current home in Greenburgh.

Dannon, a subsidiary of the French company Danone, applied to the White Plains Common Council for a zoning change in September that would allow it to operate at The Source at White Plains building at 100 Bloomingdale Road.

If the zoning amendment is approved by the city, Dannon would be cleared to occupy 80,000 square feet on the first and fourth floors of the 240,000-square-foot building, which is also occupied by Whole Foods, Dicks Sporting Goods, The Cheesecake Factory and Raymour and Flanigan, among other office and retail tenants. The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors moved its offices to a 16,000-square-foot space in the building this year.

Dannon spokesman Michael Neuwirth confirmed that the company is considering the move, but said any decision is still dependent on a “contingent of factors.” Dannon is in the process of filing applications with the White Plains Common Council, Westchester County Industrial Development Agency and the state’s economic development office, Empire State Development, he said.

“We recognize the efforts of the state of New York, county of Westchester and city of White Plains to keep us in the area, which we’ve called home for more than 20 years,” Neuwirth said in an email.

Dannon sells a line of more than 200 dairy products nationwide and is known especially for yogurt. The company is headquartered at 100 Hillside Ave. in the town of Greenburgh.

Dannon has been in Greenburgh since 2003, when it signed a 14-year lease at the Hillside Avenue location. The property is owned by Alfred Weissman Real Estate LLC, a Rye-based real estate owner and developer. A representative from Alfred Weissman declined to comment on the possibility of Dannon leaving when reached by phone.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said he has written a letter to Dannon encouraging the company to stay.

“If they do leave, we will work with Mr. Weissman to try to find a suitable use for the property,” Feiner said. “But Dannon has been a fantastic neighbor and it has been a great location and good relationship, so obviously we were disappointed.”

White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said the potential move is great news for the city.

“These are people that are going to go out to lunch every day and stay and eat after work,” Roach said at a Common Council meeting on Oct. 3.

While Dannon’s headquarters would be primarily office space, it would also include an area for testing and limited production of food products, according to its filing with the city. Rezoning the 100 Bloomingdale Road property for “accessory food laboratory” use would allow for that. The Common Council referred Dannon’s request for a zoning change to different city departments and boards for review.

The Source at White Plains was developed in 2002 as a collaboration between Fortunoff, a home and jewelry retailer, and R-Squared LLC, a development partnership in New York City. Fortunoff filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 and closed its White Plains location shortly after.

The building is owned by Bloomingdale Road Investors LLC, a unit of the Swiss global financial services company UBS, which bought the property in 2005 for $153 million. In March, The Wilder Cos. of Boston was awarded the leasing and management contract for the building.

Dannon scheduled to present its plans to the Westchester County IDA on Oct. 6. While the IDA was unable to provide documents related to the application before it was presented, William Mooney III, the executive director of the Westchester IDA, said that the agency could provide sales tax exemptions on items required for renovation or construction.

“We are thrilled that Dannon is considering this investment in Westchester County and move in order to keep these jobs and their employees in New York state,” Mooney said. “And we will do everything we can to assist in their efforts.”

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About the author

Ryan Deffenbaugh covers energy, education, food and beverage and the Sound Shore for the Westchester County Business Journal. He previously worked for Westchester Magazine and The Citizen daily newspaper (Auburn, N.Y.). He started with the Westchester County Business Journal in March 2016.

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