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PepsiCo to sweeten Westchester digs with $240M makeover

PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase is photographed the day

PepsiCo headquarters in Purchase is photographed the day the company announced a $240 million renovation focusing on infrastructure and the interior of the property. (Oct. 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

PepsiCo will spend $240 million through 2015 to completely gut its global headquarters in Purchase, an extraordinary makeover project that will create 1,250 construction jobs and result in renting out a large vacant office building that was languishing in the area's tepid commercial leasing market.

The company made the announcement after the county's Industrial Development Agency approved millions of dollars in tax breaks at its meeting in White Plains Friday morning. The full amount is still being calculated, IDA Executive Director Eileen Mildenberger.

PepsiCo has 1,100 employees at the 152-acre, 420,000-square-foot site on Anderson Hill Road that was built in 1970, "a long time ago," said Frank McCullough, attorney for the company. "Even though the buildings look wonderful from the outside, the interiors need serious work."

The company considered relocating to Connecticut, North Carolina and Texas.

Instead, those jobs will stay here, thanks to the IDA incentives, which are "necessary to make an expansion cost-effective to remain in New York State," said Kathleen Alfano, PepsiCo's director of economic development.

The seven interconnected buildings at the core of the site will be completely gutted to make way for new infrastructure -- from state-of-the-art ventilation to high-tech rewiring and new elevators. New parking lots are planned and access roads will be reconfigured. In addition, new lighting will reduce the amount of glow that the offices create in the neighborhood at night, McCullough told IDA officials.

During the project, most employees will be moved a few miles away to White Plains, where PepsiCo has leased 1111 Westchester Ave. The building offers 230,000 square feet of available space on the I-287 corridor filled with corporate office parks. Old-timers refer to the section as the "Platinum Mile," a nickname for its golden days dating back to two decades ago.

Other company staffers will be temporarily relocated to join the 900 employees who are based in Somers at a facility which will not be affected by construction.

Overhauling PepsiCo's global headquarters will be an environmentally friendly project that will seek LEED certification at the silver level, said executives for the company, which has annual revenues of $66 billion. Drainage on the property will be improved with the creation of additional wetland buffers, and water use will be reduced.

During the meeting Friday, county Deputy Commissioner Ned Plunkett popped open a can of Pepsi and led IDA officials in a morning toast to the company.

"Anyone who puts $240 million on the table is showing their commitment," he said.

Westchester County economic development director Laurence Gottlieb shuddered at what could have happened if PepsiCo left the area. "You'd end up putting hundreds of homes on the market at one time," he said.

Instead, the opposite is happening. There will be a "huge ripple effect" with "thousands of businesses feeding off having a global headquarters in the region," Gottlieb said.

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