NEW CASTLE, N.Y. – A proposed re-use of the former Legion of Christ property would bring a spa, 34-room hotel, 50-unit condominium and 1,500-seat restaurant to New Castle, which some residents say is an inappropriate use for the quiet, rural area.
Sodar Real Estate Equities is a contract vendee for the 98-acre property, which was owned by Broadway producer Billy Rose until 1954. It is zoned for 2-acre residential. To allow this type of mixed-use, the town would have to rezone it.
Sodar has proposed a new “floating zone” that would allow this type of mixed-use development on properties that are 75 acres or larger with at least 300 feet of road frontage on a state or county roadway.
“In many ways it is a wonderful re-use and an adaptive reuse of a unique treasure that you have here in your town that you may not know about,” said attorney David Steinmetz, partner with Zarin & Steinmetz, who represents Sodar.
About a dozen residents who live near the property disagreed at a public scoping session during the New Castle Town Board meeting this week. Most said a major commercial development doesn’t fit in with the rural character of the bordering streets, like Tripp Street and Roseholm Place.
“It should be scrutinized with the same rigor and zeal as the Chappaqua Crossing project,” said Jeff Goldstein, who lives on Tripp Street. “This is an even more challenging project given that this involves commercial, major expansion in a very rural neighborhood and increasing the foot print of the property.”
The proposal would extend the perimeter by 100 feet on each side, and increase the total developed space from 69,332 to 245,075 square feet. The guts of the main house and chapel will be maintained, while the east and west wings will be replaced and significantly expanded to house the 2,500-square-foot two-bedroom condominiums. The clubhouse – which will house the pool, spa, gym and restaurant – and the hotel will be new buildings.
Many residents also expressed concern that the development will scare off the wildlife, overburden the septic system, cause more runoff onto abutting properties and add increase traffic on Route 128, which would be the one entry point.
The scoping session, which helps identify the issues related to a proposed development, will continue at the Feb. 11 meeting.