By Dan Hust
LIVINGSTON MANOR July 12, 2005 If you think Livingston Manor has changed in the last few years, says resident Andrew Krieger, just wait ...
That was phase one.
Here comes phase two.
Krieger, a Wall Street businessman and philanthropist whos called Shandelee and Manor home for the past two decades, announced yesterday a trio of projects designed to catapult his hometown to the forefront of economic development efforts in Sullivan County.
One project will create senior housing in downtown Livingston Manor.
Another will build housing for the working middle-class just outside Manor.
And the third by far the most ambitious will erect a hotel, spa and sports complex surrounded by luxury townhouses on a mountain overlooking the Willowemoc valley.
Three years ago, we set out to rebuild the local community and enhance the infrastructure of the town, starting with Main Street. Today, with strong support from the town and county, Livingston Manor is now widely recognized as a model for grassroots redevelopment, Krieger said.
As longtime homeowners, my family and I have listened to the perceived needs of the community and have created these projects to directly address them. This second phase of development is built on a solid foundation and will be significant contributors to our local and regional economy, he added. Indeed, taken as a whole, this three-pillared project will positively impact the full lifecycle of the community.
Founded by Krieger, the Livingston Manor Development Corporation (LMDC) has been responsible for redesigning the look and feel of much of downtown Manor, and now Krieger has created another corporation Eden Ridge to oversee non-Main Street initiatives.
Pending the normal Town of Rockland board hearings, permits and other paperwork-intensive processes, these projects could become a reality by 2008, said Krieger.
And for residents concerned about what all the towns legal, planning and engineering consultants will cost, dont worry Krieger has already handed over a $5,000 check for an escrow account for those costs, and town officials plan on having him pay for any independent, town-hired consultant fees, even though he has his own working on the project, as well.
Senior Housing Project
The LMDC owns a nearly three-acre slice of land near the Robin Hood Diner on Old Route 17 in Livingston Manor. That spot is ideal for senior citizen housing, said Krieger, because its within walking distance to downtown Manor.
The project would offer 26-34 apartments for rent, likely to be subsidized by government funds.
Krieger said that one of the key advantages of such housing would be its ability to free up other living space in the hamlet for development and first-time homeowners.
Considering that upwards of 40 people are on a waiting list with the county, the units might fill up quite quickly.
Town Supervisor Pat Pomeroy said Krieger is planning to work with Two Plus Four Construction of East Syracuse, which has experience in this type of housing.
Workforce Housing Project
Affordable housing for middle-class families is hard to come by in Sullivan County, admits many a local official.
Krieger hopes to change that by offering 75-80 townhouse units on 50 acres of land along Cattail Road just south of Livingston Manor, off County Route 149 (Shandelee Road).
The property itself is over 100 acres, he said, and more housing units are being considered.
Mountain Ridge, as it tentatively would be called, would offer high-quality accommodations for middle-income people, in addition to athletic fields, a swimming pool, a clubhouse and hiking trails.
Krieger said hes looking to offer unit ownership for between $150,000 and $180,000, depending on whether or not the project can gain access to town sewer and water, which is about 2,000 feet away.
That shouldnt be a problem, indicated Pomeroy.
The infrastructure of the town is ready for it, she said. Livingston Manor has a highly developed public water and sewer system that is currently underutilized, and its school system has the capacity to handle more families.
Indeed, we welcome projects by responsible developers like Andy Krieger, who has demonstrated a proven track record in our community.
The actual property is located in the Town of Liberty, but Pomeroy said shes working with Liberty Supervisor Frank DeMayo to ensure Rockland gets water/sewer fees while Liberty receives the property tax revenue. Livingston Manors school would be in line for the school tax funds.
Im going to do everything I can to see some of these things get a fighting chance, said Pomeroy. I have a lot of confidence in him [Krieger].
Farther up CR 149 near Treyz Hill Road, Krieger plans his piece de resistance a $75-$80 million resort, spa and sports complex featuring five-star amenities.
Not far from where Krieger makes his home, 290 mountainous acres will be cleared to make room for a hotel that will offer natural and manmade delights that Krieger expects will be a top draw in the area.
Waterfalls, hiking trails, scenic views, massage and spa services, sports programs and top-notch professional offerings are assets he plans to capitalize upon.
Settled into the landscape surrounding the resort itself will be a mix of 75-80 luxury condos and 75-80 lots available for single-family, Colorado-style homes.
The price range is not yet determined, but Krieger estimated it would be comparable to the Chapin Estate in White Lake, which offers highly private properties well into the million-dollar range and has significantly enhanced the tax base in the Town of Bethel.
Theyll be pretty pricey, he confirmed. The views are spectacular. ... Its a beautiful setting.
Krieger expects 300-350 year-round jobs to be created as a result, and hes in talks right now with major hotel chains to manage the complex.
The hotel . . . would be the largest employer in town, said Pomeroy, who added that the site already has water and sewer service accessibility.
Building Upon Growth
So whats behind all this? Why here, why now?
The county is going to grow and develop, said Krieger, whos got feasibility studies and consultants reports to back that up.
Krieger pointed to Alan Gerrys plans for a performing arts center in Bethel.
His idea looks like a great one, said Krieger. At the same time, people are going to need a place to stay when they come up.
And after all, hospitable lodging is the countys historic forté, he said.
Its clear to me, given the history of Sullivan County . . . theres no reason it cant reclaim greatness in that same sector, he remarked.
Sullivan County Division of Planning and Community Development Commissioner Dr. William Pammer agrees.
We are delighted with the work Andy has done with Main Street and look forward to the plan he has developed under the Eden Ridge banner, as it aligns perfectly with our strategic initiatives to rebuild Sullivan Countys reputation as a premier tourist and travel destination for the Northeast, said Pammer. By assessing the needs of the community as a whole, Eden Ridge presents a model for responsible development, which we can happily and enthusiastically support.
But the projects are still in beginning stages, and there are many legal hoops to jump through not to mention residents cynicism from too many pie-in-the-sky promises.
Krieger, a longtime resident himself, understands that feeling quite well and promises to do all he can to not fulfill that fear in peoples minds.
Were excited, he said. Were hoping peoples natural skepticism ... will be proven wrong this time.