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Pending Sale of Orange County Fairgrounds Could Be Disrupted By Town’s Temporary Moratorium On Warehouse Development
The prospective sale of the Orange County fairgrounds and speedway could be disrupted by a temporary moratorium on warehouse and distribution development in the Town of Walkill.
The six-month stay on warehouse development, approved unanimously by the Town Board in November, resulted from a surge in proposals to build facilities throughout the Middletown area. Warehouse development is a hot trend in the surrounding towns and in the region. There are 17 warehouse projects totaling more than 7 million square feet in various stages of the planning process.
Owners of the Orange County fairgrounds, a 100-acre property near the Wallkill-Middletown border that hosts the county fair and popular dirt track races, pushed back against the ban during a public hearing in October, arguing that the moratorium could topple their pending deal to sell it.
Jennifer Mulleady, a lawyer at the firm Cohen, Labarbera & Landrigan in Chester, told the Town Board in a letter that a prospective buyer wants to build a 900,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center on the site. The fairground is owned by the Orange County Agricultural Society, M&W Partnership and the estate of Michael A. Gurda Jr.
“What we want to make clear is that there appears to be huge demand for warehousing and distribution centers of the type envisioned to be developed by our client’s proposed buyer,” Mulleady wrote. “The buyer is willing to pay a very good price for the OCF (fairgrounds) and this sale is critical to extricate the sellers from severe economic hardships should the purchaser’s plans be frustrated.”
Mulleady’s letter noted that the fairgrounds properties have “operated at substantial economic losses to the sellers for many years,” and that “continued decline and interest in the OCF and the Speedway ‘events,’ coupled with mortgage obligations, real estate taxes, insurance, inflation and increased operating costs, have decimated the viability of continuing.”
The properties — primarily located at 100 Carpenter Ave. and 239 Wisner Ave. — are not zoned for warehousing. Whether or not the moratorium imperils the sale, the developers would need special permission from the town before building a massive warehouse there.
Town officials have said they’re looking for grant money to help fund a civic center or some other type of entertainment venue on the site.
Resorts World Hudson Valley Casino Breathes Life into Newburgh Mall
Newburgh’s Resorts World Hudson Valley, owned by the Malaysian-based corporation Genting Group, opened its doors last month during a red-carpet fete for local dignitaries and other VIPs.
The casino project took about a year to complete, said Robert DeSalvio, president of Genting Americas East. He lauded the quick, yet thorough, approval process the business went through to build the $50 million project, that opened in the mall.
Genting has agreed to pay the town $3 million a year for hosting the casino. That arrangement includes a $500,000 payment Genting has already made to enhance police, fire, and ambulance services, according to the Times Herald-Record.
The 60,000-square-foot gambling hall has 1,200 slots and electronic table games. More than 250 full-time employees, all of whom are part of a union and earn an average of $72,000 a year with benefits, have been hired to work at the casino. It is the third Resorts World casino in New York — the other larger, casino-hotels are in Monticello and Queens — and the ninth video-lottery facility in the state.
Newburgh Town Supervisor Gil Piaquadio credited the casino with saving the 40-year-old mall.
“If this entertainment center didn’t come here, this mall would probably have closed,” Piaquadio said during grand opening. “It probably would’ve been open just on weekends as a flea market.”
Another Niche Hotel Property Opens In Hudson Valley; Habitas-on-Hudson Promotes Decompressing Lifestyle
Habitas-on-Hudson, the first U.S. hotel from international luxury glamping group Habitas, opened outside Rhinebeck last month. This is the 10th property for Habitas, a hospitality management group primarily known for high-end glamping in Tulum, Mexico, and the Agafay Desert, near Marrakesh.
The location is the former Belvedere Mansion, an inn and wedding venue, in the hamlet of Staatsburg. The mansion, formerly the Pawling House built in 1761 by an Army major who fought in the French and Indian War, burned down in 1899 and was rebuilt in 1901 as a Georgian manor with neoclassical and neo-baroque elements.
Hotelier André Balazs, who owns the nearby event space Locusts-on-Hudson, bought the property in 2017. He undertook a variety of renovations to prepare for opening it as a boutique hotel. When the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled his plans, Balazs sold the property to his pal Oliver Ripley.
The manor house at Habitas-on-Hudson has six guest rooms, with 16 additional rooms in satellite buildings the Lodge and the Stone House. Social, open to the public, is the locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant that uses seasonal ingredients sourced from local providers and neighboring farms.
Rooms are without televisions or phones, and common areas, including two game rooms and an outdoor fire pit lit from 9 a.m. to midnight, encourage gatherings.