Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Developer plans to 'rehabilitate' property

By Jeanne Sager
COCHECTON — A former rehabilitation center for tuberculosis patients is on the brink of becoming a rehab center all over again.
This time, the patients at the former Recreation Farm in Fosterdale will be battling addictions.
They’ll be doing so at the Serenity Above Ground Clinic, a project that could be ready for business as soon as late 2010.
It’s the brainchild of Nicholas Soriano, a former county resident who has moved back to the area after a stint of just over a decade in the warmer climes of Texas.
Living in the Bethel area in the early 1990s, Soriano said his family headed south to escape the snow.
But when old friends Paul and Irene Griffin of Jeffersonville came calling last year, the Sorianos sold their homes in Texas and headed northward.
They’ve settled in Fosterdale at the old Recreation Farm, property owned by the Griffins that had been rented out to Hasidim for the past five years.
With significant financial woes – related, in part to the time the property was in the hands of the Hasidim – the Griffins offered to sell Soriano the property. They were confident he could turn it around.
But in this economy, the former mortgage broker and one-time New Jersey developer said he can’t see putting a hotel on the property as the Griffins once planned.
His past life includes stints in manufacturing and development, from the revitalization of Passaic, NJ to involvement in the renovation of the former Pascack Valley Hospital (now defunct) in Bergen County, NJ.
He’s familiar with both how to develop property and the inner workings of a healthcare facility.
His $190 million plan will demolish the existing structures at the Recreation Farm and build in their place a clinic for drug, alcohol and gambling addiction recovery.
“The need is enormous,” Soriano noted. “One out of every 10 Americans have addiction problems… every single rehab in this country is overfull.”
An urgent care center on the premises will serve the public, while a section of homes isolated from the clinic will be put up for sale – first to clinic staff and later to the general public.
First, Soriano says, he has to close on the property – he’s set to put down the money on the ides of March.
Then he’ll start work; he’s already secured a letter of intent from Charter Bank for the money and begun putting together a team of experts to work on the project including Irace Architecture of Livingston Manor and Rettew Engineers of Liberty.
He’s made contact, too, with the Town of Cochecton, securing space on the agenda for the town board’s February 11 meeting.
He’s hopeful that he’ll gain approval from the town – and the town’s residents.
“If I have to go door to door around here and get people to sign a petition saying they support this, I will,” Soriano said.
He’s selling the plan on the grounds that it will bring 500 new jobs to the area and put a $3 million property on the tax rolls (Serenity Above Ground will be for-profit).
It will take a derelict property and bring it back to life, Soriano said. It will get rid of the transients who have started to move in and get rid of the crime.
“What would the town rather watch? This corner rot?” he asked. “Or 500 new jobs?”
Once he closes on the property, Soriano says he anticipates 18 months until Serenity Above Ground can begin treating patients on the 80-acre facility, putting completion somewhere around the fall of 2010.
“I have all faith and all good confidence that I’ll do this,” Soriano said. “There are just some road blocks, but I’ll get past them – I’m a good driver.”

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