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Business community talks smart growth, honors leaders at WCA event

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Opportunities for growth abound for suburban markets like Westchester County, said RXR Realty Chairman and CEO Scott Rechler during the Westchester County Association’s Fall Leadership Dinner.

“This is our opportunity,” he said to the crowd gathered at the 67th annual dinner held on Nov. 16 at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.

scott rechler Westchester county association
Scott Rechler delivers the keynote speech. Photo by Aleesia Forni

Rechler, who delivered the evening’s keynote speech, added that skyrocketing population growth and high costs of living in New York City have also put Westchester in a great position to attract new residents.
“This is where we have to think of ourselves from a regional perspective and say, ‘How can we tap into some of that energy?’” he said.

In order to take advantage of the desire to be close to New York City, Rechler’s company has placed a focus on transit-oriented developments that offer residents a quick commute into Manhattan.

“We’re fortunate,” he said,” because our arteries are connected to one of the largest heartbeats in the United States: New York City.”

That philosophy is one embodied at Larkin Plaza, the $200 million mixed-use development at 49 Main St. in Yonkers.
“People want a different kind of lifestyle,” he said. “One of downtowns, of walkability, of diversity, of public transit, of entertainment, of culture, of character.”

RXR Realty is also spearheading a development effort in New Rochelle’s downtown after the city selected RDRXR at New Rochelle LLC – a joint venture of RXR Realty and Renaissance Downtowns – as its master developer in 2015. The company also recently unloaded much of its county office portfolio, including two office buildings on the Route 119 corridor.
“It’s not about bringing new people,” he said. “It’s about retaining the important people that drive our economy going forward.”

Rechler also lauded the Westchester County Association, presenters of the dinner, for its  work to prepare the county for the changes ahead with programs such as Smart Growth.

“We are committed to creating a community that will be better off tomorrow than it is today,” said William M. Mooney Jr., president and CEO of the Westchester County Association.

During the event, the Westchester County Association honored Sterling National Bank CEO and President Jack L. Kopnisky, who was presented with the Alfred B. DelBello Visionary Leadership Award. The award was presented by Mooney and DelBello’s widow, Dee DelBello, publisher of the Westchester County Business Journal.

When accepting the award, Kopnisky said one of the keys to being a strong leader is an ability to adapt.
“I think in the financial world, you have to keep reinventing your company,” he said. “The world around us is changing and it’s changing really fast.”

The creation of a unique company culture has also led to the success of Sterling National, Kopnisky said.
“We call our folks that work with us as colleagues, not employees,” he said. “It’s a culture where we execute, and we do what we say we’re going to do.”

Kevin W. Dahill, president and CEO of Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State, also received a Leadership Award.

Dahill thanked his colleagues, those he called his “work family,” during his acceptance of the award that closed the night.
“They’re the ones that do all the work behind the scenes,” he said. “I’m a very lucky guy.

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