Town Has Cleared Hurdles For Development Of Luxury Hotel/Conference Center; Will Vote On Tuesday To Sell Property
By Tina Traster
The Town of Stony Point is set to authorize the sale of the former Letchworth Village and Patriot Hills golf course to a group of developers who hope to build a luxury hotel and conference center on the site. The development team has begun to reach out to major brand hotels such as The Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons, which would give Rockland County its first five-star hotel.
Members of the Stony Point Town Board will vote on Tuesday to sell the 26-acre Letchworth property and golf course for $3 million. The pending sale, which has been in the works for more than two years, is aimed at transforming Stony Point, making it a tourist draw and putting the property back on the tax rolls.
Raj Amar, the developer/visionary for the property, said he’s excited to move forward.
“It’s been more than two years,” said Amar. “We’re going to put a high-end hotel and conference center here.”
Amar, a Stony Point resident, said he and his development partners have been talking with Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons. Amar believes Rockland County, with its natural beauty, its mountains and proximity to the Hudson River, is strategically situated for a luxury, resort-style property that will be suitable for occasions, business outings, romantic getaways.
Amar, and two partners are operating under the name Patriot Park Hills LLC. Stony Point resident Amar, the lead visionary on this project, is CEO of the Nanuet-based Portables Unlimited, LLC, T-Mobile’s largest wholesaler. He is partnering with fellow Stony Pointer Brion Hayman, and Lawrence D. Melchionda of Parsippany, NJ, who is Portable Unlimited’s Chief Operating Officer and Vice President.
The Patriot Hills Golf Course and country club, which need a $9 million upgrade according to Amar, will remain a public facility. However, re-development of the country club, which is dilapidated and bare, will include a raft of amenities for club members. Amar said amenities could include a spa, cigar bar, gym. Restaurants would be open to members and the public. Amar said golf fees have not been worked out yet.
After many failed attempts over the years to redevelop Letchworth Village, Town Supervisor Jim Monaghan has championed Raj’s development proposal. The sale of the land was not put out to bid.
Monaghan hopes a major development will bring much-needed economic stimulus to the town. In recent years, Stony Point has lost its largest taxpayers – Gibson, Tilcon, the Lovett plant and more.
In 1973, Stony Point purchased a 150-acre parcel that was designated as parkland. In 1998, the town bought another 200 acres that include Letchworth Village. A couple of years later, the town built a golf course on the 200 acres – 65 of which are on state-protected parkland, and overlap with the original 150-acre purchase.
The town needed state approval to transfer the deed that removes the parkland-designated status where the six golf holes are situated. Monaghan says the new deed would continue to protect the golf course in perpetuity for recreational use. The town has been subsidizing the golf course for $1.4 million annually.
The town and developer cleared its first big hurdle about a year ago when the state removed the parkland status from a portion of the 200-acre golf course. Six of the 18 holes on the course were situated on a 65-acre parcel that had been designated parkland by the state. The town also subdivided the parcel to preserve Veteran’s Park. Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed off on the legislation, clearing the way for a sale. The town board on Tuesday will vote on a Negative Declaration (SEQRA) on the land.
The developers say it will cost more than $6 million to remove asbestos and demolish most of the buildings and nearly $3 million for infrastructure including sewer, electric and roads. The Kirkbride building will be leased back to the town for 99 years and continued use of court building and meeting rooms until a new community center will be built by Amar and his team.
“This is an ongoing process,” said Monaghan. “We don’t have a finalized contract. The attorney’s are working to move forward. The town has been declared lead agency for the property.”
Hotel development is likely to be one of the main economic engines for Rockland over the next few years. Element by Westin, a Marriott brand, and Holiday Inn Express at Thruway Plaza, likely in 2021, will add more than 200 rooms to the Route 59 Corridor. Orangetown has signed an agreement with River Link Hotels of Newburgh that could lead to the $1.6 million sale of town-owned land for a Hilton hotel, adding more than 200 rooms on the former Rockland Psychiatric Center campus. HNA at Palisades, a conference center and hotel that remains on the market for sale, has zoning permits in place to build an additional 100-room hotel on its sprawling grounds.
These projects alone, if seen to fruition, could add up to 1,000 beds to the county, not counting a luxury property at Letchworth Village.