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WHITE PLAINS–After about 30 firms expressed some interest in the project, Westchester County officials report that five major developers have submitted “excellent” preliminary proposals for a new medical research park to be built on a vacant 60-acre site on the Grasslands campus in Valhalla. The project could involve as much as one million sf of new construction.

The five firms that will be sent RFPs are: Mack-Cali Realty of Cranford, N.J., Reckson Associates Realty Corp., of Melville, Tishman Urban Development Corporation of New York City, Lyme Properties and MetroNexus, of Boston and New York City and LCOR and HRH Construction of New York City.

Salvatore Carrera, director of Westchester County’s Office of Economic Development, said that the county is expecting to send out the RFPs in about a month. A decision selecting the winning bidder is scheduled to be made by September of this year, he says. The proposals will be reviewed by an ad-hoc committee organized by the Westchester County Office of Economic Development.

“This project has generated an amazing amount of enthusiasm,” said County Executive Andy Spano. “When we set out to see who was interested, we were hoping to come up with two or three qualified firms or development teams. The fact that we ended up with five-all of whom submitted excellent proposals-says a lot about the potential of this project.”

Carrera says that based on Request for Qualifications submitted to the county by the developers, the county has already received a number of suggestions on the type of development that could be built and how a deal could be structured between the developer and the county. He adds that it appears the county would prefer to do a straight land lease deal with the winning bidder to develop the property.

“The developers gave us more information than we asked for,” Carrera says. “Some provided additional information about the financial viability of the site-which was encouraging. They also addressed prospective ground rents and the actual development of the property, which would come into play when they submit formal proposals.”

The preliminary proposals submitted with the RFQs covered such concepts as a biomedical facility housed in a campus environment with clusters of 20,000-sf buildings connected by atriums and common areas to a core lab facility surrounded by satellite support offices.

The county is working with the Westchester Medical Center, New York Medical College and Empire State Development Corp., on the venture.

Carrera relates that the American Health Foundation, which has operations housed on the Grasslands campus, is considering having a presence in the Westchester Medical Research Park as well. The county has also learned that Westchester Medical Center will waive a right of first refusal it has on the property, Carrera says. That provision was a sticking point to some developers who had expressed interest in the biomedical project.

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