By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Sullivan County officials are moving swiftly to seal a deal with Glen Wild businessman Butch Resnick, who wants to reopen the old Apollo Mall starting with a 30,000-square-foot Foodtown grocery store.
“It’s a very doable deal for us,” Resnick told legislators at a special meeting on Friday. “... I hope I make the county proud of what we do.”
He already seems to have the backing of legislators, most of whom were present at the meeting and spoke positively about the project.
“We’re all excited, and we all have the same goals: we want to bring revenue into the county,” said Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson.
Resnick was one of a trio of Apollo suitors two years ago, but the county ultimately picked Chancellor-Livingston, a development team that had created the Monticello Motor Club.
But on the brink of moving forward earlier this year, Chancellor-Livingston abruptly walked away from plans to tear down the former mall and rebuild it.
Resnick and his $4 million plan to rehab the existing mall was still around and willing to discuss terms with the county. Indeed, he’d commissioned two reports which he said confirmed the structural stability of the Apollo, despite some drainage and settling issues.
And in the interim, he’d successfully rehabbed Bernie’s Holiday Restaurant in Rock Hill and begun work on the Lodge at Rock Hill, which will reopen June 19 as the Sullivan.
After an executive session with legislators Friday, Resnick’s attorney, Steve Vegliante, and Samuelson said they’re headed toward a purchase of the mall (approximately 25 acres), with an option to buy about 75 acres behind it for a future development phase.
“We’re going to hopefully consummate a deal within 30-45 days with the county,” Vegliante remarked.
After that, Resnick and company will have to obtain site plan approval from the Monticello Planning Board and begin discussing what they want to do with the “back” parcel (originally envisioned as a truck stop/tourist destination).
“We’re behind the project 100 percent,” said Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins, who was particularly happy to hear Resnick’s promise to hire locals during the construction and operation phases. “The village welcomes it.”
With repairs to the building including a new roof and drainage system Resnick and Vegliante said the mall could be up and running in one or two years.
They’re currently seeking national retailers in addition to the grocery store and have ideas for a farmers’ market and carnival space though Resnick confirmed that he currently has no plans for the neighboring theater, where a YMCA was once slated to be opened.
In the meantime, the county is drawing up the legal language to complete the sale, with a resolution to that effect expected to be in front of legislators in June.
Samuelson said Resnick is the only party the county is dealing with right now. There are no current plans to reissue a request for proposals.
“Everybody is pretty positive on this,” he affirmed. “If it’s a legitimate project and we all believe it is why would we want to walk away from it?”