An aerial view of Kutsher’s Hotel, circa 2007. Started over a century ago by the family, it is currently being leased to Yossi Zablocki, who uses the hotel for festivals and other events. A sale of its 1,310 acres to Veria Lifestyle is reportedly slated for next month. Veria’s parent company is owned by Subhash Chandra of India, whose net worth, according to Forbes, is $2.4 billion.
Media mogul sets sights on Kutsher's
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO October 18, 2013 Kutsher’s may be sold next month to a company interested in turning it into a destination wellness resort.
As part of a $91 million multi-phase project, Veria Lifestyle aims to buy the hotel and its 1,310 acres in November.
The recently created corporation is owned by London-based Natural Wellness UK Limited and is connected to Veria Living, a media company that provides television programming domestically and globally, including on dedicated cable channels.
Veria Lifestyle’s president is Sameer Targe, head of sales for NYC-based Zee TV, which runs Veria Living.
The chairman of the parent company, Zee Entertainment, is one of the richest men in the world, Subhash Chandra. Forbes Magazine lists Chandra’s net worth as $2.4 billion, ranking the 62-year-old as the 21st wealthiest man in his native India.
Though having visited Sullivan County in the past, Chandra was not at Tuesday’s Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Board meeting, where Veria Lifestyle received the IDA’s official blessing to begin work.
With board member Sean Rieber and attorney Walter Garigliano recusing themselves (both are involved with the Kutsher family), the IDA agreed to provide an up-to-$88,000 sales tax abatement to Veria even before it completes its acquisition of the 100-year-old resort.
Officials indicated the death of a woman at a festival at Kutsher’s over the weekend prompted Veria to speed up plans to demolish part of the resort.
While Veria representative Adam Cassidy and attorney Gary Silver affirmed the famous main hotel will remain, some of the resort’s and golf course’s outbuildings plus structures associated with the former Camp Anawana, Camp Sherwood and Fair Hills Bungalow Colony will be torn down.
In the meantime, the IDA will negotiate a PILOT (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes) and Master Developer agreement with Veria, which aims to qualify for the IDA’s Destination Resort, Tourism Industry and General tax abatement programs.
In his presentation to the IDA Board Tuesday, Silver said Veria seeks to turn Kutsher’s into a 265-room wellness resort, where up to 1,000 guests can spend three to 21 days enjoying indoor/outdoor sports, spa and therapy services, various amenities and perhaps a soundstage/TV studio.
Veria is estimating 330 permanent jobs would be created (and five retained from the now-closed resort), along with 10 new construction jobs in the first phase, calculated to be $12.4 million of the $91 million project.
Silver emphasized that none of the plans include casino gaming.
Citing the early nature of the project, Silver and Cassidy revealed little else, but IDA Board Chair Ira Steingart indicated this is the real deal.
“Most of the time, we’re waiting for people to get their money first,” he pointed out, adding that a second destination resort this close to the coming Concord/EPT project “sends a message about Sullivan County, and I’m thrilled to see it.”
A full cost-benefit analysis is expected to be filed soon by the IDA. In anticipation of such, the IDA Board has scheduled a public hearing on Veria’s request for tax abatements.
That hearing will be held Wednesday, November 6 at 2 p.m. at the Thompson Town Hall in Monticello.