Several Rand Realty offices in Rockland ran the annual school supply drive for the "Back to School with Dignity" program. People to People stopped by the local real estate offices on Thursday to pick up the donated school supplies to be distributed,
Picture from Left to Right: Diane Elizabeth Serratore - People to People; Matt Rand - Managing Partner - BHG Rand Realty; Paul Adler VP - Rand Commercial Services; Roberta Bangs - BHG Rand Realty.
As September approaches, one of People to People's main missions is providing thousands of children with the basics that they'll need to start a new school year.
As Rockland County's largest food pantry, People to People's "Back to School with Dignity" program is still going on. Rand Realty began a school supply drive 15 years ago to offer their local Rockland offices as drop off locations for supply donations.
Although the supply drive at Rand Realty has ended, school supplies can still be dropped off at People to People on Monday through Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., on Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The program aims to give school supplies to at-risk Rockland students. People to People is in need of the following supply donations:
Number 2 pencil cases
loose leaf paper
white index cards
marble composition books
three-subject spiral notebooks
five-subject spiral notebooks
blue or black pens
Calculators and Scientific calculators
While People to People volunteers are trying to get the school supplies to children, they are also supplying families in Rockland with all kinds of nutritious groceries including meat, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables each month.
HIGH FALLS, N.Y. — The gas station in this Hudson Valley hamlet sat empty for years, leaching petroleum into the soil and well water. But a renovation that will transform the abandoned station into a yoga studio, wellness center and a charging station for electric carshas turned the eyesore into a symbol of this struggling community’s revival.
The station’s decline mirrors that of many others across the country.
Thousands of gas stations have closed in the last two decades, leaving many communities saddled with vacant or abandoned properties. Because gas stations are often built on busy street corners, boarded-up stations have marred the entrances to many bustling business districts in American towns and cities.
More than 50,000 stations have closed since 1991 when there were nearly 200,000 nationwide, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.
The high cost of oil has made it hard to turn a profit selling gas, pushing station owners into selling snacks and soda at their convenience stores. With big-box retailers like Walmart and Costco now in the gas business, attracting customers has become even harder. Simply put, mom and pop stations that once thrived just by selling gas and fixing cars in the repair shop can no longer compete.
No numbers are available on how many closed stations remain vacant, but despite problems, the properties can be attractive to developers, especially if they are at desirable intersections.
“If you own the real estate, there’s no better time to get out — everybody wants that convenient location,” said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the convenience store association. “You could be sitting on a gold mine.”
But converting these sites can be challenging. They often are on small lots and may be contaminated by petroleum leaking from underground storage tanks, as was the case in High Falls.
Petroleum brownfields — ground contaminated or thought to be contaminated by fuel — make up half of the 450,000 brownfields in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As gas stations close, towns must grapple with what to do with this land. If fuel has migrated into groundwater or a neighboring lot, costs can balloon.
State and federal money available to municipalities to clean abandoned sites is limited. Federal regulations require private owners and operators to clean any spills on their property. Still, some developers are reluctant to buy old stations because of the risk that contamination could be found later and they would be stuck with the cleanup bill.
“Gas stations are the gateway to a community,” said Robert Colangelo executive director of the National Brownfield Association. “So it’s very important to get these things cleaned up.”
In High Falls, a $300,000 renovation is changing a derelict structure to a colonial-style strip of yellow storefronts with white trim that will be completed this summer. Then, charging pumps for electric cars will be installed where two gas pumps once stood. The quick-charge pumps will offer free charging to store customers and anyone else. A wind turbine affixed to a 30-foot ledge behind the station and solar panels atop the ledge will generate the electricity.
The five service bays have been converted to shops, and the garage doors replaced with storefront windows. The second floor has been turned into 2,200 square feet of office space offering views of the nearby falls. “People who come to a town like this, they’re looking for a memory to take home with them,” said Mark Robinson, who owns the property with Ronald F. Faia. “I’ve always loved old gas stations,” he added. “It’s a view into American history.”
In a village that once was home to Marc Chagall and the setting for some scenes in “Splendor in the Grass” a former neighborhood blight has become a new downtown center.
“It’s so nice. It’s part of the revitalization of High Falls,” said Michael Warren, town supervisor for Marbletown, which encompasses the hamlet.
But it is not always easy to persuade developers to invest in a property that may need costly environmental cleanup. The High Falls station cost the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation more than $100,000 to clean up in 2001, seven years before Mr. Robinson bought it.
“Whenever you see a for sale sign, it never says ‘brownfields for sale,’ ” Mr. Colangelo said.
While rural communities struggle to fill empty stations, New York City has a different problem. Property values are so high that stations are being converted to more profitable uses, like high-rise buildings, giving drivers fewer places to fill their tanks. The city had 809 gas stations in 2011, down from 872 in 2006, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs. Of the remaining gas stations, only 44 are in Manhattan.
In 2009, Eyal Shuster, a developer, spent $1 million to convert a defunct Long Island City service station into the Breadbox Cafe, which his wife, Tal, manages. A Getty gas station next door, however, is still operating. Mr. Shuster and his development partner, Moshe Mizrahi, hope to eventually build a high-rise building above the restaurant and demolish the Getty gas station.
On a rainy afternoon in June, the 48-seat restaurant was full of customers. From the street, the boxy single-story building still resembles a service station, despite the quirky addition of 1,600 rolling pins on the facade. New garage doors with large glass panes roll back, opening out onto a wooden patio. Inside, zinc countertops and mahogany paneling give the space a modern look.
“The main challenge is changing people’s perception,” said the restaurant’s architect, Eran Chen, a principal at ODA-Architecture. “How do you create an attractive food space in a place that used to service cars?”
While gas stations might be an eyesore in some communities, in others they are treasured slices of Americana. A St. Louis developer met fierce resistance when he considered demolishing a 1968 Phillips 66 station. The building has an enormous flying saucer-shaped roof. Although it has not been a gas station since the 1980s — its latest incarnation was as a Del Taco restaurant that closed in 2011 — residents saw the building as a piece of the city’s architectural history.
Rather than build anew, the developer Richard K. Yackey will begin a $1 million renovation this month on the property, which has 3,200 square feet of usable space. The roof, which is 12,000 square feet, will cost $100,000 to replace. When construction is complete next year, the station will house a Chipotle restaurant and a Starbucks and have a 1,300 square feet addition.
“If you do the math, it doesn’t make a lot of sense economically,” Mr. Yackey said, adding that constructing a building on the property would have provided him with more space to lease.
Because many old gas stations sit on small, three-quarter-acre lots, they often have to be expanded to be marketable. Buyers of old stations often angle to get the neighboring lot. But that, too, can be fraught with complications.
“Any time you’re putting multiple parcels together it becomes more difficult because you’re dealing with another seller,” said Joseph S. Botta, president of Pineville Properties, which has redeveloped several gas stations in the Philadelphia area.
In Roxborough, a section of northwest Philadelphia, developers drew the ire of local residents when they knocked down two houses next to a former Mobil gas station to make way for a TD Bank that opened last November.
“Neighbors get very concerned when you’re knocking down residential houses for commercial uses,” said Michael J. Cooley, vice president of real estate for the Provco Group, which built the bank.
But developers who cannot expand can be left with a property they cannot use. Mr. Botta said he bought eight gas stations from Lehigh Gas Corporation for $11.5 million in 2008. By June 2011, unable to expand the lots, he sold four back to Lehigh.
Mr. Botta said, “When you have a small parcel and you can’t acquire any ground, you can only build so much.”
ARDSLEY — A father’s frustration with driving his children to far-flung sports events has produced a $20 million indoor athletic center expected to open Sept. 10.
House of Sports at 1 Elm St. hopes to turn the village into a training and tournament destination with a 120,000-square-foot complex that includes a children’s nursery, restaurant, bar, fitness center and more than 100 covered parking spots. Don Scherer, House of Sports’ chief executive officer, said the idea for a sports training academy with adult-friendly services came to him while taking his son to sports events in Connecticut and New York City.
“That’s how I learned this community’s need,” said Scherer, 43, of Tarrytown, who is opening his complex in the former Selecto warehouse.
The training center will employ about 200 full- and part-time workers and will focus on basketball, lacrosse and baseball. The complex has four regulation-sized basketball courts and training baskets equipped with computer sensors to help students perfect their arcs.
The center has hired former coaches who have worked with some of the country’s best-known college teams, such as Andy Borman, who played basketball for Duke University when the school won the NCAA National Championship in 2001.
The lacrosse academy will be run by Ned Crotty, an all-American at Duke University and a member of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship team. Crotty received the 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation’s top lacrosse player.
Scherer said the 100-by240-foot artificial turf will allow House of Sports’ lacrosse academy to raise Westchester County players’ skill levels with winter practice.
“You go down south and and there is skills-building all year round. That has impacted the ability of our kids to compete,” Scherer said.
House of Sports will open as the Town of Greenburgh is embroiled in a controversy over a proposal to put a sports bubble on land at the former Frank’s Nursery & Crafts at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road in Hartsdale. The idea is to lease the property, acquired through a foreclosure for nonpayment of taxes, to Game On 365.
Some residents oppose the proposal and Scherer called the sports bubble proposal unfair competition.
“If they don’t have to pay rent at fair market value, if they don’t have to pay taxes, if they don’t have to do (environmental review) to the same level, if their cost structure is radically different from mine, it makes it very hard for me to compete,” said Scherer, who predicted that Greenburgh’s efforts to lease the property will be found unlawful.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:
Vice President | Associate Broker
845-770-1205Paul.email@example.com STEVEN MINDES JOINS RAND COMMERCIAL SERVICESNew City, N.Y. –
Rand Commercial Services (RCS), an independent and leading commercial real estate brokerage in the Hudson Valley, announced today the addition of Steven Mindes to their sales team in the
With 25 years’ experience as a real estate appraiser and over 20 years of owning his own business in Florida, NY, Steven brings great expertise into the commercial real estate market.
“We are so pleased to have Steven as an addition to our Rand Commercial Services team,” said Paul Adler, Vice President of Rand Commercial Services. “His breadth of experience and enthusiasm make him a great asset to the company.”
As a resident of Orange, N.Y., Steve specializes in all areas of Orange County as well as Rockland County.
Steven Mindes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org About Rand Commercial Services:
Rand Commercial Services (RCS) is an independent, full-service commercial real estate brokerage that serves the Greater New York area. The firm specializes in repositioning and redeveloping properties to improve their returns in addition to assisting clients with more conventional sales and leasing. RCS has nearly 30 plus agents in Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties, and also serves New York City, northern New Jersey and Connecticut. The company’s Web site is www.randcommercial.com
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday afternoon in Piermont that New York State is now closer to replacing the current Tappan Zee Bridge with a new, $5.2 billion span.
The governor's announcement came hours after a unanimous vote by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) to officially incorporate the project into the council's plan.
"Today we are one step closer to building a new, safer bridge that will revitalize the Hudson Valley by creating thousands of jobs," Cuomo said at the 1 p.m. gathering in Flywheel Park.
More than 100 residents and local, state and federal lawmakers gathered downtown, overlooking the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north and local marinas.
After a brief speech, Cuomo signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, applying for billions of dollars in TIFIA federal loans to help finance the new span.
"The next step is going to Washington to get funding, so we can build the bridge and make tolls affordable," Cuomo said. "After over a decade of delay caused by political dysfunction, this letter demonstrates that we are making real progress towards constructing a stronger, transit ready bridge."
When asked what financing would be in place should the state be declined federal funds, Cuomo was terse.
"I'm an optimist," he said. "They're going to say yes."
Cuomo noted the importance of mass transit, a component local residents and officials have long been asking for.
"The future of transit isn't people getting into cars and driving," Cuomo said. "It's mass transit. Period."
The new span is slated to house a dedicated bus transit lane during rush hour.
The governor recently blasted the proposed $14 toll hike in 2017 as excessive, but did not cite a specific figure that he would like to see—he only advocated a decrease.
From the New City Patch (8/20/12) Cuomo said the sluggish push to build a new bridge over the past 13 years has been time—and taxpayer money—squandered.
"We decided to waste millions," he said. "We decided to put people through traffic and congestion and pollution. It was a failure of leadership, a failure of government."
NYMTC member and Rockland County executive C. Scott Vanderhoef voted alongside others this morning. Late last week, Vanderhoef and lawmakers from Westchester and Putnam counties announced their decision to vote 'yes.'
Vanderhoef said he is pleased to support the project on the heels of Cuomo's assurances that the new bridge is to include mass transit capabilities.
"The governor should be given great credit for making it transit compatible," Vanderhoef said. "I am very pleased to be supportive."
Vanderhoef also said the federal government should assist New York with the financing of the new bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland.
"This new bridge will be safer for our drivers and built to last, and include a dedicated bus lane on day one," said assemblyman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern. "It will be a major economic driver for communities across the region, creating approximately 45,000 jobs."
Cuomo said the state expects to hear back about federal funding in the coming months.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:
Vice President | Associate Broker
845-770-1205Paul.email@example.com PINCHUS "PINNY" MOROZOW JOINS RAND COMMERCIAL SERVICESNew City, N.Y. –
Rand Commercial Services (RCS), an independent and leading commercial real estate brokerage in the Hudson Valley, announced today the addition of Pinchus "Pinny" Morozow to their sales team in the
New City office.
Pinny specializes in multifamily and project developments with a strong background in residential and commercial construction.
“We are so pleased to have Pinny as an addition to our Rand Commercial Services team,” said Paul Adler, Vice President of Rand Commercial Services. “His breadth of experience and enthusiasm make him a great asset to the company.”
As a resident of Rockland County, NY Pinny specializes in all areas of Rockland County, Westchester & Orange County.
Pinny Morozow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org About Rand Commercial Services:
Rand Commercial Services (RCS) is an independent, full-service commercial real estate brokerage that serves the Greater New York area. The firm specializes in repositioning and redeveloping properties to improve their returns in addition to assisting clients with more conventional sales and leasing. RCS has nearly 30 agents in Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties, and also serves New York City, northern New Jersey and Connecticut. The company’s Web site is www.randcommercial.com