An aerial view of some of the property owned by EPT/Empire Resorts. The area surrounding Kiamesha Lake, at left, is still owned by Louis Cappelli.
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO July 16, 2013 Casino approval or not, Empire Resorts/EPT got the green light last week to begin building a resort and relocated Monticello Raceway near the old Concord site northeast of Monticello.
Thompson’s planning board on Wednesday gave final site plan approval to Phase I of the joint venture, allowing the two companies to break ground on what is hoped to be a stratospheric boost to the local economy and job market.
“They can start site clearing,” affirmed planning board attorney Paula Kay.
Incorporated as “Concord II” (but unrelated to Louis Cappelli’s stalled effort to redevelop the original Concord Hotel site), the project is expected to create a full-fledged casino but, say officials, is not dependent on whether voters approve legalizing gaming in New York State this November.
Phase I includes the relocated racino and horse racetrack (but not the barns and stalls), a hotel, banquet event center, restaurants, parking lots and related infrastructure.
An entrance road will be built parallel to Joyland Road from Route 17’s Exit 106 north to the resort along Thompsonville Road, near where the Monster golf course now exists (which will be redeveloped).
The approval is conditioned upon a variety of stipulations being met, including ongoing town review of the construction and appropriate amounts of escrowed money and performance bonding.
Empire/EPT still have to obtain state and federal approvals and have yet to set a groundbreaking date.
But after spending millions to acquire land, prepare documents and lobby the state to be one of possibly two casinos in the Catskills, they confirmed they’re ready to start building.
“In Sullivan County, we are uniquely positioned as the only project completing the process of obtaining necessary land use approvals and are a currently licensed gaming and harness racing operator,” said Empire Executive Vice President Charlie Degliomini. “This provides us with unparalleled speed to market in an effort to deliver what Sullivan County needs: jobs and tourism.”