BRI News

Welcome Home Westchester members in the news: “White Plains’ move for ‘Platinum Mile’ to shift to residential faces backlash”

Known as one of Westchester County’s most recognizable strips of office buildings, Westchester Avenue’s future appears to be less a hub for white-collar workers and more for residential and beyond.

Part of a countywide trend and beyond, office space continues to be turned into other uses, in most cases, residential.

Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the market for office space has shrunk considerably as remote work becomes more common and for some companies permanent. 

Westchester County Association (WCA) Executive Director Michael Romita said Westchester Avenue, known as the “Platinum Mile,” is undergoing an “interesting and successful experiment in adoptive reuse.”

“You have the development of almost a new neighborhood of mixed uses in what was primarily just a strip of commercial office parks,” Romita said, adding. “At the end of the day, these municipalities have a choice: They can either try to keep up with market trends or they can be left with obsolete office buildings that create white elephants in the community.”

The latest example of this transformation is a proposed project at The Exchange at 701-777 Westchester Avenue in White Plains. The plan calls on an existing office building to be knocked down and replaced with 360 apartments. At his highest point, the project would be five stories, but then step down to four stories and then three. 

Builders Institute of Westchester Executive Director Timothy Foley said demand for housing in White Plains and Westchester far exceeds the current supply. He said the Westchester Housing Needs Assessment found in 2019 that the county needs to build more than 11,000 affordable housing units to meet the number of people who want to live in Westchester. 

The Builders Institute supports the 701 project, even though Senlac is not a client of theirs, Foley said. 

“I think a lot of people say you should have development only downtown because it’s not near my particular neighborhood,” Foley said. “Those are voices we have heard  throughout history; they were wrong then and they’re wrong now.”

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