Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
September 3, 2013 Issue
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Contributed Illustration

Louis Cappelli’s Sullivan Resorts plans to make a presentation Monday to the Liberty Town Board on a proposed casino hotel resort and housing development at the former Grossinger’s.

Cappelli launches new plan

Story by Dan Hust
LIBERTY — August 13, 2013 — Louis Cappelli’s Sullivan Resorts plans to make a presentation Monday to the Liberty Town Board on a proposed casino hotel resort and housing development at the former Grossinger’s.
Yesterday, McManus & Associates Engineer Kevin McManus sent Liberty Supervisor Charlie Barbuti copies of Cappelli’s Conceptual Master Plan for the “Grossinger Country Resort.”
He requested Sullivan Resorts be put on the town board’s August 19 agenda for a presentation “and to initiate the development pro­cess.”
Cappelli owns 582 acres of the famous Grossinger’s Resort, including the main complex and the “Big G” golf course.
According to McManus’ cover letter, Cappelli and company want to demolish all the former resort buildings – which have been closed and deteriorating for nearly 30 years – and build a 300-room hotel and casino.
Sullivan Resorts spokes-man Henry Zabatta said that could be built with Mohegan Sun, which is partnering with Cappelli at his Concord project near Monticello.
They’re also proposing the construction of a spa, convention center, live music venue, nightclub, restaurant, assisted living, retail stores and a 500-unit mix of single- and multi-family homes.
The golf course would be preserved, though the clubhouse would be replaced. Indoor/outdoor pools, tennis courts, hiking/cross-country trails and “hundreds of acres of open space” are also planned.
Sullivan Resorts, however, has to overcome several hurdles first.
In particular, the current zoning of the property won’t permit the proposed diversity or density of housing, wrote McManus.
He is proposing the town create a large-scale Planned Unit Development (PUD) district – but that, too, comes with a restriction: a prohibition on gaming.
That’s a restriction the town could lift.
“The hotel and casino would be consistent with the previous land uses on site and would fit in with the existing character of the area,” wrote McManus. “... We respectfully request the town board’s consideration of the proposed zoning changes in support of our conceptual plan as well as an approval of our master plan.”
Liberty’s listening.
“We are considering trying to change the PUD regulations to more explicitly permit gaming,” Barbuti told the Democrat yesterday.
But the gambling side may be for naught if (a) voters don’t agree to legalize such gaming this fall, and (b) if the site is not thereafter selected as one of up to two casino locations in the Catskills.
Cappelli is not just competing with Empire/EPT’s Concord project and the Nevele redevelopment.
There’s a resort plan announced right next door, in the form of Muss Development, which owns 500 acres adjacent to Grossinger’s and is partnering with Foxwoods to bring a casino to Liberty. (Muss has not yet responded to a discussion request by Cappelli, said Zabatta.)
However, Zabatta ex-plained that the Grossinger’s plan is not dependent on the casino portion, as the Concord “is our primary casino site.”
“Regardless of whether a casino comes or not, we’re actually going to proceed with this project,” he promised.
“As the economy and the housing market improves, it is important to position Grossinger’s as a viable development option for the benefit of the Liberty region and the county,” he remarked.
“Before Grossinger’s was mentioned as a potential casino site, we met with the town to discuss how to develop the property in compliance with the goals of the community. The property has been and can be an economic engine for Liberty, and it has the infrastructure resources to rise again. Our conceptual plan will afford the region those opportunities.”

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