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NEW ROCHELLE-Although market conditions might lend one to act differently, New Rochelle-based developer Simone Development Company has decided to push forward on a number of major real estate projects in the northern suburbs of New York City.

“We believe in the fundamental strength of the New York Metropolitan area. Despite the tragic events of Sept. 11, this region remains the nation’s premier commercial real estate market. This market always has and always will rebound from adversity,” says Joseph Simone, president of Simone Development Company. “We are actively working on a range of projects that we have acquired and we are pursuing new opportunities.”

Simone Development is moving ahead with a retail center in New Rochelle, a refurbished corporate office park in Harrison, a former corporate headquarters building in Greenwich, CT., and a major biotech facility in the Bronx and has expansion on its agenda despite the current volatile economy.

“We’re positioning our company for what we believe will be a robust recovery in commercial real estate in the New York Metropolitan area,” Simone notes. “Consequently, we’re aggressively looking for product, whether it’s office, industrial or retail. Now is a great time to buy.”

Simone Development has launched a capital improvement project valued in excess of $1 million at the Harrison Executive Park, a 155,000-sf office park that the company acquired last May. The three-building office park is getting a major facelift inside and out, company officials say. Exterior improvements include refurbished courtyards, new landscaping and repaving of parking lots. Inside the property, the lobbies, bathrooms and cafeterias are being redone with new stonework and wood paneling.

The company, which has invested a total of $25 million in the acquisition and renovation of the Harrison Executive Park, has proposed an additional 40,000-sf building at the park. The complex is currently 95% leased. Also in Westchester County, the company recently completed a 45,000-sf retail building built on a three-acre site just off I-95 in New Rochelle. The building was completed six months ago and is now fully occupied by Linens N Things. That venture was built on spec, company officials note.

At another office property the firm owns, Simone Development is finishing a more than $2 million renovation of the former U.S. Tobacco Co. corporate headquarters building at 1 Sound Shore Drive in Greenwich, CT. The 60,000-sf building, which was acquired by Simone Development a year ago, has been converted to multi-tenant use. The lobby has been completely refurbished and a cafeteria has been added. Since acquiring the building earlier this year, approximately 55% of the building has been leased, primarily to financial services companies, Simone Development officials note.

“The Greenwich office market is one of the strongest in the nation and home to many well-known financial services and investment management companies,” Simone relates. “One of the reasons why Greenwich is so popular is that many of the CEOs who run these companies live here as well. We’ve invested more than $23 million in this building and it has been a tremendous success for us. We’re looking for similar opportunities in the Fairfield County market.”

In addition, the company is pressing forward with the planned redevelopment of the former Bronx Development Center into an office, medical and science complex. The 18.5-acre center, which the company acquired from the New York State earlier this year, is located in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx. The site presently includes a 330,000-sf building with the potential to build up to one million sf of space.

“We are currently in lease negotiations with several major companies and expect soon to announce a major redevelopment plan for the property that will include an initial phase of 450,000 sf of space with the expansion capability of up to 1.15 million sf,” Simone reports. “Because of this property’s close proximity to major medical institutions, we are seriously considering the development of state-of-the-art biotech lab and office space. The New York Metro area has the potential for becoming one of the nation’s top biotechnology centers. New York City is home to some of the world’s finest academic research and medical centers and 60% of the nation’s pharmaceutical industry is located in our region.”

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