Flood Ravaged Businesses Band Together
By Kathy Savolt -
After Hurricane Ida hit in September 2021, Chris Murphy of Murphy Brothers Contracting and Mamaroneck Self Storage decided it was time to move on an idea that he’d been mulling over for years. He reached out to his old friends, Jim Lanza (Lanza Electrical Contracting) and Jim Bilotta (Bilotta Kitchens), and the Industrial Area and Business Coalition (IABC) was formed.
Faced with millions of dollars in losses, plummeting property values, the exodus of tenants, and rising insurance costs, Murphy, Lanza and Bilotta began reaching out to fellow business owners in the Industrial Area, Mamaroneck Avenue and surroundings that got flooded and created the IABC with the goal of bringing back the property values in the area.
Murphy, Lanza and Bilotta want to make sure the voices of the business owners are heard. Business and commercial properties – assessed at a cumulative value of $1 billion – make up 25% of the Village tax base. While some of the business and property owners live in the Village, many do not and therefore cannot vote. The IABC serves as the voice for all the owners – residents and non-residents alike.
The three founders have very deep roots in the Village with each family going back four generations to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Combined, the three businesses have been serving the Mamaroneck area for almost 150 years. They have lived through many floods, watched the Village conduct numerous studies on how to strengthen the business community and reacted with dismay when nothing much happened.
This time it feels different. The USACE project was funded and is moving forward. The Village’s latest study recommended the Industrial Area become a “Maker Zone” and that recommendation is included in the latest update of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan that will be voted on by the Board of Trustees at their September 12th meeting. Furthermore, a Village in-house Planning Department has been revitalized that will help move the Maker Zone initiative forward. Chris Murphy has been working on a major expansion of Mamaroneck Self Storage and believes he is close to getting land use board approval to begin.
Currently, the IABC has 100 business associates, including all the major land owners in the Industrial Area. They have focused their attention on flood mitigation efforts, especially the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project, local efforts to augment that project at the Village, County and State level, and helping their members navigate the bureaucracy of getting things done in the Village. They hold regular meetings and have hosted all the Village officials, including the members of the Board of Trustees, the Village Manager, Village Engineer, and the Village Building Inspector. The USACE also came to a meeting to present an overview of the project. State Senator Shelley Mayer, State Assemblyperson Steve Otis, and County Legislator Catherine Parker also met with them to discuss State and County efforts and funding opportunities regarding flood mitigation. SEE Here for previous article.
All three men express hope for the future.They report a good working relationship with the Village and with the USACE project that will reduce flooding, the Maker Zone designation and zoning changes and with the first new project in years coming soon, Murphy, Lanza and Bilotta see nothing but a turnaround ahead.As wonderful as hope is, the IABC will continue to keep an eye on things and speak up when necessary.