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Peekskill Summit Focuses On South Street Redevelopment

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – New York State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) travelled to Peekskill Friday morning to discuss redevelopment projects with Mayor Mary Foster and a panel of Peekskill City officials and prominent residents.

Ball called Peekskill a “jewel throughout the Hudson Valley.” The panel discussed several initiatives, including a private-public partnership on city-owned Lower South Street. The conceptual project would build four stories and nearly 800,000-square-feet of technology or biopharmaceutical offices, with national and regional retailers below.

“It’s important for a municipality to take a clear and coherent approach to economic development,” said James Slaughter, director of Peekskill economic development.

Some of the challenges to economic development addressed by the panel included persistent storefront vacancies, abandoned lots, “obsolete” buildings and disconnected waterfront and downtown regions. Slaughter suggested some property owners in the city “might not have a realistic view of the market.”

Other initiatives discussed by city officials include streetside beautification projects, additional public art projects and increased mixed use zoning. Mixed use zoning would allow residences to be above commercial spaces, likely retail spaces.

Foster said the city’s initiatives were encumbered by inconsistent state funding and a lack of investors ready to plunge into a major redevelopment project.

“Unless you have a state or county partner, it doesn’t work as well in this economy when financing is tight,” she said.

Former White Plains Mayor Joseph Delfino was on hand for the panel, suggesting the city could attract more developers and investors by gathering city commissioners into one room with the developers. Delfino brought major retailers to White Plains and he used Fortunoff as an example during the presentation.

“For a developer to go from department, to department, to department it makes it very, very difficult,” said Delfino. “Time is money.”

A similar economic development panel is scheduled for mid-March in Yorktown.

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