MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Jim Diamond does more to combat urban sprawl than contribute to it. Environmentalists, business leaders, philanthropists and government officials came together recently to honor the Mount Kisco-based commercial developer.
Diamond was presented with the group's Environmental Leadership Award at the New York League of Conservation Voters' 2012 Westchester cocktail party April 2. He is CEO and founder of Diamond Properties, a retail and commercial property development company.
“It’s very exciting to be recognized for the environmental efforts that our company undertakes,” Diamond said.
At the event at the Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown, the environmental-political action organization recognized Diamond for his company's achievements in adaptive reuse projects, which involve transforming older buildings into venues with new uses.
“What we do is acquire existing buildings with a lot of vacancies. Sometimes their uses become obsolete, and we look for ways to reuse and reposition the buildings to make them successful, to give them a second life,” Diamond said. “Essentially we look at it as recycling existing buildings so that they continue to get reused rather than get demolished and put into a landfill.”
The company’s biggest project in Mount Kisco is repurposing the 600,000-square-foot space at 333 N. Bedford Road, Diamond said. The former Grand Union warehouse sat empty for 10 years before being dividing it into a multitenant building that houses a mix of office, warehouse and entertainment-oriented tenants.
The company has moved the property to 98 percent occupancy over the past seven years, he said. It now houses the Grand Prix New York Spins Bowl and Saw Mill Club East, as well as the Wine Enthusiast headquarters and Ideal Electric. Cosentino, which Diamond said is the largest seller of granite and marble in the world, will move in soon.
Nanette Bourne, chairman of the league's Westchester chapter, said adaptive reuse is important in the county, where open space is dwindling. “By creatively reusing existing properties — rather than developing open space — Diamond Properties is helping to keep urban sprawl in check.”
“And by improving communities that have already been developed, Jim is helping to revitalize some of our older neighborhoods, where there are better links to public transportation, shops and restaurants,” which boosts Mount Kisco’s economy, she said.
Other vacant properties Diamond’s company has bought, refurbished and rented include two Mount Kisco office buildings: 100 S. Bedford Road, which was 40 percent vacant when acquired in 1996, and 666 Lexington Ave., which was 35 percent vacant when bought in 2006.