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WHITE PLAINS-After securing deals with the likes of Morgan Stanley and New York Life in the last year or so, the chief economic development official for Westchester County predicts there will be more New York City moves to the county in 2003.

Salvatore J. Carrera, director of the office of economic development and real estate for Westchester County, said the main reason why some firms are shifting some operations to the county is diversification.

“I feel that a majority of these moves have been because of Sept. 11,” he said. Carrera, a guest speaker at the Westchester County Board of Realtors’ Commercial Investment Division meeting on April 24, said that New York City-based stock brokerage, law and financial services firms have come to realize, “they cannot have all their eggs in one basket.”

What has changed since the months after Sept. 11 has been that, at first Manhattan firms were looking mainly at housing-disaster recovery operations outside the city. Carrera, who noted the county has seen an influx of requirements from firms based in New York City of late, said that instead of looking to lease un-manned back-office space in Westchester, these companies are now looking to house satellite offices in the county.

He added that, unlike Morgan Stanley and New York Life, which acquired large corporate office buildings in Westchester County that will each be home to more than 1,000 employees, most of the current requirements from New York City are in the 25,000-to-50,000-sf range.

During his presentation, Carrera stressed that Westchester County’s reputation has changed from an area that had suffered from bloated office vacancy rates to a market that is a prime business location. He noted that although the county’s office vacancy rate is still in the mid teens, he sees a day in the not-to-distant future where new office product will come on the market and office vacancies will drop below 10%.

“The large blocks of space are being sold and rented off and sooner or later you are going to have builders come in here and build new office space,” he said. “You can see that already. Robert Weisz, [Louis] Cappelli, they are talking about building new office space–something that has not been heard of here in decades.”

Carrera said that unlike most office markets in the New York metro area, Westchester “held its own since Sept. 11.” He said the market has remained relatively strong because of the county’s aggressive policies, including incentives offered to help retain and attract businesses to the county, as well as the Westchester’s attractive office rental rate costs as compared to markets such as New Jersey and Connecticut.

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