British architect William H. White famously said “What attracts people most would appear, is other people.” That theme was the guest of honor at The Westchester County Association’s (WCA) “Work. Live. Play. WESTCHESTER!” placemaking event this past Tuesday at PepsiCo Headquarters in Purchase, which was sponsored by Houlihan Lawrence.
Public officials, local business owners, young professionals and real estate agents were on hand to network and discuss how to reduce the net migration of recent grads and young professionals out of Westchester County. Typically, this demographic (23 - 35) relocates to areas like Brooklyn, Charlotte and Austin, all of which have a defining sense of "place."
Through placemaking, or what the Project for Public Spaces defines as “multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces” The WCA, in partnership with Blueprint for Westchester and the county's Young Professionals Group, hopes to revitalize some of the county’s parks, downtown areas, commercial corridors, train stations, office parks, industrial districts and waterfronts to improve Westchester’s housing and lifestyle landscape.
Emphasizing the four major components that make a place a “place” (Socialability, Access & Linkages, Uses & Activities, Comfort & Image) Blueprint for Westchester plans to team up with local and county officials to examine how an area can beef up its social offerings, openness and aesthetics—this can be achieved through “light infrastructure” like pop-up cafes and restaurants, cultural offerings like plays and movies, as well as repurposing current inventory such as Westchester's commercial space.
All of this would be centered around “professional” housing, or reasonably priced apartments or townhouses for young professionals and couples making between $50,000 -- $120,000. As a place breeds more and more things to do, it will then attract more residents providing a boost to the local economy.