The Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP Upstate New York) presented a white paper to elected officials and representatives of Industrial Development Agencies, mapping out a series of recommendations designed to continue economic development momentum in the region.
Entitled, “The Commercial Real Estate Climate in Western New York is Undergoing Dramatic Change,” the 15-page paper examines emerging trends, places them in the context of our regional needs and goals, and recommends a series of economic development policies for public officials and economic development agencies that will continue the economic resurgence of recent years to increase wealth and job-producing activities for all Western New York communities.
“It is the belief of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, supported by hard data, that our region is at that juncture where it needs to advance beyond the traditional approach to economic development, proactively recognize emerging economic trends and development, and implement a series of new policies to position our economy to maximize the benefits of those new trends,” said Bob Richardson, president of NAIOP Upstate New York.
The white paper is divided into five parts:
- The Western New York Commercial Real Estate Economy Today – Where we are versus where we think we are
- Three new realities of economic development policy
- Benchmarking the multi-family housing market – Fact versus Fiction
- The Buffalo Billion: What happens when it’s gone?
- Existing approaches to a swiftly evolving marketplace
The white paper notes current Industrial Development Agency policies regarding incentivizing housing and spec buildings are not in line with market forces for ready-to-go industrial space, the relationship of business following millennials, and the need to have an proactive housing policy.
It concludes with six recommendations:
- Develop and execute a single regional comprehensive plan for retention, attraction and support for millennial residents.
- Allow PILOT agreements and tax abatements for multifamily housing developments within high density zoning.
- End single-use zoning and allow buildings which formerly had single use to be adapted to mixed use that includes housing styles attractive to millennials.
- Industrial Development Agencies and other government entities should immediately complete the infrastructure and entitlements for industrial properties which they own and commence RFPs to encourage the private sector to begin construction on industrial property.
- Immediately allow PILOT and other tax incentives for speculative industrial developments without tenants.
- Take steps to correct the inverted housing market including removing housing stock, expanding the boundaries of thriving neighborhoods and encouraging investment in single family houses.
Regarding the business climate after the Buffalo Billion, the white paper states, “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to revitalizing the Western New York economy is indisputable. The governor has backed up words with a solid list of actions and accomplishments since taking office. Getting state government to recognize the seriousness of the economic weakness, the history of government neglect, the positive impacts a recovery would produce for the region and the entire state and then backing it up with real and significant financial resources has given our region and economy a huge economic boost.
“It was never the governor’s intention to get Western New York perpetually reliant on state funds, but rather to jump start and stimulate the economy so that it could begin producing jobs and wealth through the private sector.
“The governor’s vision and goals have been met on both fronts. In addition to the infusion of more than $1.5 billion from New York State, the private sector has invested additional private capital during the same period on a wide range of highly visible and game changing projects, i.e. Delaware North headquarters, HarborCenter, Conventus and many others.”
“Now is the time for area, government and private sector leaders to begin mapping out a ‘Post Buffalo Billion’ strategy,” Richardson said. “This white paper advises local leaders to assess the economic and demographic trends that offer the best opportunities for economic and job growth, design the best public policies for maximizing those trends and implement the right policies to continue the momentum started under the Buffalo Billion.”
The white paper was previewed for members of area IDAs (Clarence; Hamburg; Cheektowaga; Cattaraugus County; Chautauqua County; Cheektowaga Community Development Corp.; ECIDA, City of Buffalo) on Sept. 12 and presented to area elected officials and their staffers on Sept. 26.