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Foreclosure advice available on the Web


The Web site for the Neighborhood Law Center in Peekskill has added a video on strategies for dealing with and preventing foreclosure. Attorney Mel Burruss hosts the discussion with real estate lawyer Jacqueline J. Warner of Hinman, Howard, & Kattell, and Larry Thorpe, vice president of operations of Mortgageopt Corp. The Web page is at www.neighborhoodlawcenter.com.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
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Rockland business people optimistic


The nation may be in the throes of a recession and financial crisis, but business owners in Rockland County are optimistic about the local economy and prospects for 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Rockland Business Association.

Forty percent of those who responded to the survey said they expect to close the year with higher profits than they had last year. Less than 10 percent plan to reduce employment next year.

Sixty-percent of the respondents said they plan to increase capital spending and more than two-thirds said they have not had trouble getting loans due to the credit crisis.

The survey also found 80 percent consider the county a good place to own a business.

Al Samuels, the president and chief executive of the association, said he believes the results show the county’s economy is less volatile than other areas. That’s because the county has many small businesses in a wide range of industries, he said.

“Anecdotally, I know that our members are concerned about the recession and are tightening their belts, but Rockland’s overall economy remained stable after the Sept. 11 (2001) attacks and seems to be holding its own through this downturn,” he said in a statement released by the association.

About 100 of the association’s members took part in the survey.

Samuels said he also believes the county’s Empire Zone program has helped. The program created 88 new jobs, helped the county retain 183 jobs and generated $9.1 million in private investment in 2007, its first full year, he said.

He also said the county has gotten a break because its three largest industries are business and personal services, health and medical, and education. Those industries have not been hit as hard as other sectors of the economy, he said.

Posted by Allan Drury on Friday, December 19th, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
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Westchester office market expected to weaken


Westchester County’s commercial real estate market is likely to slump further as the region feels continuing aftershocks from the weakening economy, the credit crunch and the Wall Street slowdown, an economist said.

The office vacancy rate in Westchester has increased from 12 percent to 16 percent since the end of 2006 and could jump as high as 19 percent during the next 18 months, said Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist at Eastern Consolidated, a New York-based real estate investment services firm.

“The recession is still in front of us,” Denham said. “We still haven’t seen much in the way of job cuts yet, but we will.”

Denham spoke today in White Plains during a luncheon meeting of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Westchester County.

Much of the region’s fortunes revolve around the Wall Street securities industry, which accounts for only about 5 percent of the employment base in New York City but 25 percent of the salaries because of the richly paid investment bankers.

New York City has already lost 11,000 jobs in the securities industry as the brokerage houses struggle with massive suprime mortgage writeoffs and the stock market’s worst year since the Great Depression. (The S&P 500 is down 38 percent so far in 2008).

Denham said as many as 40,000 additional securities jobs could be lost in the Big Apple. In the latest example, Morgan Stanley, the second-largest brokerage company, announced plans Wednesday to cut 10 percent of staff in its institutional securities group, its biggest business. Westchester’s affluent suburbs are vulnerable because some of the Wall Street investment bankers who live there may be at risk of having their bonuses cut — or drawing unemployment checks.

“What is really scary about Wall Street is that we have become more dependant on Wall Street,” Denham added.

Despite the uncertainties, the region has held up better than some parts of the country when it comes to home foreclosures, according to Denham. The foreclosure rate in Westchester — 1 foreclosure for every 1,384 homes — is well below the national average — 1 foreclosure for every 500 homes. And it is far ahead of the state with the highest foreclosure rate, California (1 foreclosure for every 250 homes).

“We didn’t have the subprime problem that other parts of the country did,” Denham said. “In the long run that will be good for our economy.”

Posted by Jay Loomis on Thursday, November 13th, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
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Pace report shows dramatic drop in IT jobs


A new report by Pace University shows the job market in the region for jobs in the information technology, or IT, sector shrunk dramatically during the third quarter, with few exceptions.

The decline was most pronounced in Westchester, Pace said, where the IT job market had its worst quarterly slide since Pace created its IT job index three years ago.

The Pace/SkillPROOF IT Job Index dropped more than 100 points during the third quarter, in contrast to the strong growth of over 40 points reported last quarter.

In Westchester, of the 11 job categories, only Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts exhibited growth with a slight upturn near the end of the quarter, said Pace, which has campuses in Pleasantville, White Plains and New York City.

The IT job market in Manhattan was better, Pace said, falling just 30 points.

The full report can be read at www.pace.edu/PSII.

Posted by David Schepp on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 10:56 am |
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Hartsdale buildings sell for $7.75M


A pair of retail buildings in Hartdale that are home to several restaurants and small businesses have sold for $7.75 million.

John Barrett, director of sales at Massey Knakal Realty Services in New York City, which brokered the transaction, said the deal amounts to more than $375 per square foot.

“It’s an excellent number. It shows the strong value of real estate near the rail lines. The downtowns are still thriving in Westchester,” he said. “The better areas are holding their pricings.”

The buildings, 181-205 and 212-218 E. Hartsdale Ave., are across the street from each other and are a half-block from the Hartsdale Metro-North Railroad station, Barrett said.

The seller was Hartsdale Village LLC of North Salem. The buyer was Hartsdale Village Square LLC of Queens.

“They love the location and they think the Hartsdale village area will continue to do well,” Barrett said.

The buildings attracted 30 offers in less than 90 days, said Barrett, who represented the seller. He said that it’s rare that properties near railroad stations trade on the open market. Instead, they often pass from one generation of a family to another, he said.

Both buildings are fully leased with no vacancies. Tenants of 181-205 E. Hartsdale include Opporto, a Portuguese restaurant, Hartsdale Veterinary Hospital and Cassano’s Pizza Trattoria. Tenants of 212-218 E. Hartsdale include O’Learys Wine & Liquor, Aristocrat Cleaners and Hartsdale Farm.

Combined the two buildings contain about 20,645 square feet, 13 retail spaces and one office space.

Barrett, who lives in Yonkers, said his firm entered the Westchester real estate market three years ago.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 at 9:10 am |
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RBA publishes updated business directory


The Rockland Business Association has published its latest membership directory, the business group said yesterday.

The 2008-09 edition features listings of businesses in more than 260 different categories and also includes the latest demographic data on Rockland County. Members receive one free copy. Additional directories can be purchased for $10. Nonmembers pay $35.

Posted by David Schepp on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
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Business group wants tax cap action now


The Westchester County Association’s Property Tax Reform Alliance said it supports the 4 percent property tax cap and other recommendations by the New York state Commission on Property Tax Relief led by Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi.
The association urged Gov. David A. Paterson and state legislators to remain in session, if necessary, past the expected June 23 close to approve the tax cap. Noting the widening economic downtown, the business group said immediate action is preferable to waiting until next year when the new session of the Legislature begins and the state legislative elections are over.
“Business and consumers alike have become increasingly outraged at the economic conditions they are facing,” association President William M. Mooney Jr. said in a statement. “The public does not want to see a sign on their legislators’ door saying “Gone Fishin’”.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Friday, June 13th, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
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Hampton Inn coming to Yonkers


A Hampton Inn & Suites is coming to a 2-acre site at 160 Corporate Blvd. in Yonkers. FSG Yonkers Hotels LLC, a joint venture of RD Management LLC in Manhattan and S&S Hotels in Manchester, N.H., purchased the property from Robert Martin Co. LLC. The hotel will have 110 hotel rooms and 40 suites and feature an indoor pool, fitness center, business center and lobby where breakfast will be served. Robert Schwartz, senior vice president of T Square Properties, which represented the purchaser in this transaction, said that the hotel is now under construction and he believes it will open in the fall. It is being built on what was vacant land in the South Westchester Executive Park, Schwartz said. He said he could not disclosed the financial terms of the deal. T Square Properties has offices in White Plains and Mount Kisco.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 at 11:36 am |
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Prudential Rand buys White Plains real-estate firm


Prudential Rand Realty has agreed to acquire Nelson Vrooman Real Estate, a White Plains-based firm established more than 50 years ago that has become victim of the downturn in home sales in the Lower Hudson Valley.

“This is a very competitive market, and I knew that the best way to serve my clients and associates was to join a bigger team with more resources,” said Bill Vrooman, Nelson Vrooman founder and chief executive.

Vrooman, along with Nelson Vrooman President Mike Graessle, will join Prudential Rand as associate brokers, Prudential Rand said.

The deal, the terms of which weren’t disclosed, makes Prudential Rand the largest real-estate firm in White Plains, the New City-based company said.

As part of the transaction, Nelson Vrooman’s offices at 709 Westchester Ave. will close and combine with those of Prudential Rand at 1 N. Broadway.

The deal will also result in the transfer of 20 Nelson Vrooman workers to Prudential Rand, which has 20 offices in the Hudson Valley.

Posted by David Schepp on Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 10:56 am |
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Foreclosures soar in Westchester


Home foreclosure judgements soared 80 percent in Westchester County during the first quarter as local residents felt the fallout from a slowing economy and weakening housing market.

There were 243 foreclosure judgements across the county during the quarter, up from 135 a year ago and 76 in 2005, according to statistics released by the Westchester County Clerk’s office.

“We want Westchester residents to be able to live comfortably in our county, but the first quarter of 2008, which ended on March 31st, brought with it another significant increase in foreclosure filings,” County Clerk Timothy C. Idoni said. “Westchester residents need our help.”

The statistics also showed that 759 foreclosure actions were initiated by financial institutions in Westchester during the quarter, up 43 percent from a year earlier. These action filings do not necessarily mean that residents will lose their homes. Some homeowners end up avoiding foreclosure by entering into a repayment plan, securing a modified loan, refinancing with another lender or selling the home on their own.

If a foreclosure judgement is granted, the home or building is sold at a foreclosure auction and the proceeds of sale are used to pay off the loan.

The numbers show that foreclosure actions and judgements were highest in Yonkers and Mount Vernon among the county’s four largest cities.

Numbers for those four cities were as follows during the quarter:

•Mount Vernon: 102 foreclosure actions, up from 75 a year earlier; 57 foreclosure judgements, up from 27 a year earlier.
•Yonkers: 212 foreclosure actions, up from 136 a year earlier; 55 foreclosure judgements, up from 36 a year earlier.
•New Rochelle: 50 foreclosure actions, up from 37 a year earlier; 13 foreclosure judgements, up from 7 a year earlier.
•White Plains: 54 foreclosure actions, up from 35 a year earlier; 10 foreclosure judgements, up from 4 a year earlier.

Idoni advised residents who have received warning letters from their bank or lender, or who have fallen behind on their payments, to seek help immediately.

The New York State Senate Westchester delegation is sponsoring “Operation Protect Your Home” on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. at Roosevelt High School, 631 Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers. There will be various educational seminars throughout the day and opportunities to meet with mortgage counselors.

Residents can also contact Westchester Residential Opportunities, a non-profit housing agency with offices in White Plains and Mount Vernon, at 914-428-4507 or visit the website at www.wroinc.org.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Tuesday, April 1st, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
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Survey predicts weak jobs market


A survey released this week found Westchester County’s job market will be sluggish during the second quarter of this year — a prediction that probably won’t surprise anyone, given the widespread speculation that the national economy is in a recession.

Only 20 percent of the companies interviewed by Manpower said they plan to hire more employees, while 23 percent expect to reduce their payrolls. Fifty percent plan to keep the same level of staffing. Seven percent said they were not sure.

Karen Edelman, a spokesperson for Manpower, said the projections are much weaker than those for the first quarter. In that survey, 30 percent of companies said they planned to grow and only 7 percent said they would drop workers.

A year ago, 43 percent planned to expand and only 23 were looking to make cuts, she said.

Among the sectors that appear poised for growth in the second quarter are finance, insurance, real estate and public administration, the survey found.

Of the 14,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 26 percent reported plans to increase their workforces. Nine percent said they plan reductions and 60 percent said they expect no change. Five percent were unsure.

Posted by Allan Drury on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
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Yonkers apartment complex to open in April


Collins Enterprises LLC of Stamford, Conn., is expected to open Hudson Park North, a high-end apartment complex on the Hudson River in Yonkers, in early April.

More than 100 people have signed up to lease one of the 294 apartments, where rent ranges from $1,800 for a one-bedroom to $2,300 for two bedrooms, the developer announced.

Hudson Park North features two towers of 14 and 12 stories, connected by a four-story building.

Hudson Park South, a 266-unit luxury apartment project adjoining its partner, is nearly 100 percent leased.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Friday, February 8th, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
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Schumer urges bottler to stay in Somers


U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer is urging Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. to keep its corporate headquarters in Somers rather than relocate to nearby Danbury, Conn.

Schumer, a New York Democrat, recently called Eric Foss, the chief executive officer of Pepsi Bottling Group, to ask that the company continue to work with the Empire State Development Corp. on an incentive package that would keep the company in Westchester. Foss indicated that he would continue to talk with local and state economic development leaders and was open to staying in Somers, according to a statement from Schumer’s office.

“The Pepsi Bottling Group and the town of Somers have been a match made in heaven, providing the Westchester area with good-paying jobs while allowing Pepsi to take advantage of its high-skilled workforce and close proximity to New York City,� Schumer said in a written statement. “In my phone call with the CEO, I pressed him to keep the Pepsi Bottling Group in the Town of Somers and offered any assistance to make sure this happens.�

State and local officials became worried about the potential economic impact of losing the major employer after the company announced in October that it was considering a possible move from One Pepsi Way, where it leases 360,000 square feet and employs about 1,100 people. The company’s lease expires at the end of 2010.

Pepsi Bottling, the world’s largest distributor of Pepsi products, reported revenues of $13.6 billion last year. It employs about 70,000 workers at operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Turkey and Greece.

Jeff Dahncke, a spokesman for Pepsi Bottling, said that the company is considering various options for the location of its headquarters, but doesn’t have a formal schedule for making a decision.

Posted by Jay Loomis on Monday, February 4th, 2008 at 6:28 pm |
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Chocolate World Expo coming to Nyack


Chocolate lovers and Valentine’s Day shoppers take note — the <a href=”http://www.chocolateworldexpo.com/” target=”_blank”>Chocolate World Expo</a> is coming to the Palisades Center in Nyack on Feb. 10 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The expo, which will cost $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children, will feature chocolates, wines, cheeses and related foods from more than three dozen local and regional vendors, including Monsey-based Le Chocolat, Heidi & Arthur Chocolatiers of Valley Cottage, Lanie Lou’s Brownies of Blauvelt, Lucky Chocolates of Saugerties, Pine Bush-based Baldwin Vineyards, the Black & White Cookie Company of Binghamton, Saratoga Peanut Butter Company of Saratoga Springs and Cabot Creamery of Vermont.

The event is a fundraiser for Camp Venture, a care provider for people with developmental disabilities in Rockland County. The majority of the funds raised at the expo will go toward building a year-round therapeutic riding center for more than 1,500 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Five percent of the net proceeds will also go toward tolerance education through the Spring Valley-based Holocaust Museum & Study Center and 5 percent will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland.

Posted by Julie Moran Alterio on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
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Westchester’s IT job market shows drop in Q4


The credit crunch and the weakening of the overall job market caused demand for information technology workers in Westchester County to drop in the fourth quarter of last year, according to researchers at Pace University.

The researchers said their PSII job index, which tracks job openings, dropped to 99 from a third-quarter reading of 123.

But the researchers said openings for computer support specialists increased 16 percent, reversing a sharp decline in the third quarter. Openings for network administrators increased 2 percent and openings in a category called “other specialists� rose 3 percent.

The report called the IT job market “fairly stable� and said researchers are optimistic about future growth.

“Given that the state of the labor market in the New York area is better than the employment arena as a whole, and that the chance of a recession is minimal, we expect the labor market for IT specialists to grow in 2008,� the report said.

Two technology skills are in particularly strong demand in the New York metro area. One is virtualization, a technology that lets a number of operating systems run on one computer. Demand for workers with that skill grew 70 percent last year and 183 percent since November 2005, the researchers said.

Specialists with skills in a programming technique that makes Internet Web pages more interactive grew by 50 percent last year, the report said.

Pace has campuses in Pleasantville, White Plains and Manhattan.

Posted by Allan Drury on Thursday, January 10th, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
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Prudential Rand buys Pearl River firm


Prudential Rand Realty has agreed to buy Peterkin & Fitzgerald Real Estate Ltd., a Pearl River-based agency founded in 2004.

Terms of the deal, announced today, weren’t disclosed.

Prudential Rand said its search for a manager to head its Pearl River office led to the decision to purchase Peterkin & Fitzgerald.

Broker-owners, Greg Peterkin and Mary Fitzgerald, will join Prudential Rand’s Pearl River office as branch manager and training manager, respectively.

As part of the transaction, Peterkin & Fitzgerald will close its office at 44 Franklin Ave., relocating its 25-member sales staff to Prudential Rand’s office at 19 E. Central Ave.

Prudential Rand is Rockland County’s largest real-estate firm, based on sales, according to Prudential Rand. It has 20 offices and employs more than 700 salespeople in the Hudson Valley.

Posted by David Schepp on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
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Wages rise in Westchester, Rockland


Average weekly wages paid by companies in Westchester County in the fourth quarter of 2006 rose 2.9 percent over the comparable quarter a year earlier, to $1,211, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. In Rockland County, average weekly wages for the period were $906, a 4 percent increase year over year. Statistics for Putnam County were not computed.

Posted by Jerry Gleeson on Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 at 6:54 pm |
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Pleasantville may lose jewelry shop


For 67 years, Pleasantville Jewelers has been a place where customers buy gems for weddings, anniversaries or special occasions.

But in February, the store at 3 Wheeler Ave. is expected to close.

Michael Weinberg, the fourth owner of the store in its long history, said that the jeweler is still making money. But he is exiting the business to return to a marketing career. Corporate marketing had been his focus before he bought the jewelry store three years ago from Ben Nessim, who had owned it for 27 years.

“It was nice owning your own business,â€? Weinberg said. “But I miss marketing so much, working with big companies and coming up with promotions….I really wanted to get back to it. You really have to follow your dream.â€?

Leaving the jewelry business was not an easy decision, he added.

“The hardest part will be missing the people from the town,� Weinberg said. “Everyone has been so nice. Pleasantville is such a great town.�

Weinberg said it is possible that he may sell the store.

“It is up in the air,� he said. “Hopefully, someone will buy it and it will stay a jewelry store. It would be great to carry on the tradition. We just don’t know yet.�

Weinberg said the the store is offering deep discounts as it looks to clear its remaining inventory.

“We have a ton of things to sell,� Weinberg said. “There is at least $500,000 in jewelry, diamonds, gold and all that. We have a good 30 days to make it go all away.�

Bruce Ritell of Sleepy Hollow joined other shoppers in looking over the merchandise earlier this week.

“In the past, we have bought some nice pieces of jewelry here, mainly for my wife,� Ritell said. “We have done a lot of repairs here. I am sorry to see them go.�

Posted by Jay Loomis on Monday, December 24th, 2007 at 5:21 pm |
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Rocklanders’ Web site sells U.S.-made goods


In response to recalls of foreign-made products and the decline of U.S. manufacturing, a trio of Rocklanders have established a Web site called America’s Business to Consumers (www.usab2c.com) that features only U.S.-made goods.

Offerings run the gamut from apparel to Zippo lighters — “from A to Z,� according to one of the site’s founders, George Hanos, who retired from drug-maker Pfizer Inc. in 2004.

Hanos, 54, along with two sisters-in-law, Denetra Anayannis of Pomona and Nanuet-resident Sophia Anayannis, who edits a community blog and chat room on the site, wanted to make a difference.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What could one person really do … to stop the flow of knowledgeable jobs overseas?’â€? Hanos said.

Many of the manufacturers featured on the site are mom-and-pop operations, he said.

USAB2C.com acts as a portal Web site, having products shipped directly to consumers from the manufacturers.

Items include wooden toys from Maple Landmark Inc., based in Middlebury, Vt., and Holgate Toys of Bradford, Pa., which have none of lead-paint concerns of toys made in China, Hanos said.

The site has been up-and-running since the beginning of November in anticipation of the Christmas selling season, he said.

How’d sales do?

“For a start-up,� Hanos said. “it worked out pretty good.�

Posted by David Schepp on Monday, December 24th, 2007 at 4:15 pm |
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Town, two villages OK Verizon TV service


Residents in Sleepy Hollow, Briarcliff Manor and the town of Ossining are a step closer to having an additional choice for cable-television service after the boards of each municipality agreed to grant Verizon a video franchise, Verizon said today.

Each community’s board of trustees approved the deals last week, bringing to 92 the number of communities in the state that have approved video franchises for the Manhattan-based regional phone company.

“Consumers here will be able to choose their cable provider as easily as they choose their phone company,â€? said Monica Azare, Verizon senior vice president for New York and Connecticut, about the villages’ and town’s decisions to offer Verizon’s FiOS service in addition to Cablevision’s cable TV service.

Posted by David Schepp on Monday, December 24th, 2007 at 1:20 pm |
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Business in the Burbs is our online news blog about businesses based or operating in the Lower Hudson Valley. Visitors here will also find items of interest to consumers in the region. Most contributions are from business reporters and editors covering Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.


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