By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO November 28, 2006 In one of the most enormous projects ever approved in the Town of Thompson, Concord Associates won the go ahead from the town board Tuesday for a Planned Resort Development Zone, a critical step towards their $1.5 billion plan to build 3,000 homes, two hotels, a new clubhouse and retail outlets on 1,735 acres of land at the former Concord Resort.
The developers will now return to the planning board to gain site plan approval for their $100 million, 125-room hotel and spa (it could reach up to 200 rooms later on), as well as a 63,000-square foot clubhouse. They will be centered at the top of Chalet Road along side the golf course. Bruce Berg, Senior Vice President for Concord Associates, said his group is in “heavy negotiations” to bring the Ritz-Carlton in to operate the hotel.
Berg set March or April as the target date for construction. He estimated that it would take a year and a half from that date to complete.
The next phase for the developers would be the construction of 565 homes. At full build out, they will be able to build a total of 1,500 multi-family units, including condos. The developers plan to build a maximum of 1,100 rental units, although they can build more condominiums than rentals if they wish. The remaining 1,500 units will be a mixture of single family homes and townhouses. Estimates on the prices for those units have not yet been determined.
The units will be extremely tight to one another as 600 acres of the site is being preserved as open space (primarily the golf course). That means the 3,000 homes will have to be built on less than 1,000 acres when taking into account the land being used for the hotels and retail space. The town’s former zoning did not allow the developers to use the golf courses as open space.
Further down the road, Concord Associates is seeking to construct 600,000 square feet of retail space. They are being required to commit to the development of 50,000 square feet of retail space before they receive a building permit for their 500th residential unit. The developers will also be required to construct a road that connects from the side of Home Depot to Concord Road before they receive a certificate of occupancy on any home.
The developers will also be seeking major tax breaks from the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency. As such, the town reached an agreement with Concord Associates, where they will be required to pay a one-time fee of $325,000 to the town and pay an annual mitigation fee of $80,000 a year.
If they are successful in obtaining tax benefits through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Program for the clubhouse, they will pay an additional one-time fee of $150,000 plus $30,000 a year for mitigation impacts.
Town Supervisor Anthony Cellini described the proposal as “the largest project that has happened in the town in memory.” He forecasted many jobs to be created during the construction phases of the project as well as when it is finally completed. “It will have a real positive impact. We are starting to come back to making the Town of Thompson a hospitality capital and tourism destination.”
Berg said their plans will not be predicated on the progress of Native American casinos in Sullivan County. However, he stated that “casinos would accelerate the timetable of development,” including the 1,500-room hotel.
The Town board is pushing them to tear down the existing main Concord hotel building, but the group is in no rush to do so. They say the cost would be approximately $5 million. Councilman Peter Briggs said they didn’t have to do it all at once but could start with certain portions which are in poor condition. The main hotel is filled with asbestos, according to Berg. He said the hotel will be torn down between the next two to five years.
Berg estimates that the majority of people living in the homes they construct, will be seasonal residents. Residents around the property and hotel guests will be given preferential treatment to the use of the golf courses. That could become exclusive over time, said Berg.
The 125-200-room hotel and spa will total 240,000 square feet and will include a restaurant, meeting rooms, indoor pool, arcade and club.
The homes will range between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet. Each rental unit will have two bedrooms while each condominium will have three bedrooms. The developers will be responsible for repairing Concord Road after construction, according to Berg.