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Latest Legionaries Site Plan Seeks New Castle Welcome

The latest plan for the Legionaries of Christ site would include 54 condos, 30 hotel rooms, a spa and a restaurant.
The latest plan for the Legionaries of Christ site would include 54 condos, 30 hotel rooms, a spa and a restaurant. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Developer Stephen Oder of Soder Real Estate Equities and his attorney, David Steinmetz, presented their latest site plan for the Legionaries of Christ site to the New Castle Town Board on Tuesday night. Steinmetz said they were “pleased with tonight’s reception.”

The initial plan, unveiled in September, included a 30-room hotel, a spa and 66 condominiums on the 97-acre site, which is at 773 Armonk Road. The second version, presented in October, offered 80 housing units, but scratched the hotel and spa. That plan was met with concern from the Town Board in regard to its visual impact on neighboring streets.

This third rendering closer resembles the initial plan. It includes 54 condominiums, 30 hotel rooms, a spa and a restaurant. It has eliminated four new buildings and is instead centered on a reuse of the current building.

“We call this concept a ‘lifestyle community,’ ” Steinmetz said. “This latest version is based off Town Board and resident feedback. We believe it is a unique and desirable use of this property and that we’ve eliminated the most significant concerns. We’re hopeful the feedback tonight represents that. I need it to, for my client to be able to move forward.”

So, was the third time a charm? Possibly.

“This plan seems much more practical — much more logical — than what we’ve seen before this,” said Town Board member Jason Chapin.

Town Board member Elise Kessler Mottel was equally impressed.

“I applaud you for listening to previous feedback and speaking to us first before moving any further on your own,” she said. “I am certainly interested in learning more about this project.”

One aspect that could come into play for Oder and Steinmetz is the town’s commitment to revisiting its 1989 Master Plan. It is yet to be determined if that would be helpful or hurtful to the progress of the project on the Legionaries site.

“The Master Plan would offer some guidance as to how the town wants to handle its 90-plus-acre parcels,” said Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter. “Since this is one of them, it’s a factor that could come into play. We want to move things forward on a parallel track.”

Steinmetz said the next order of business would be to file the necessary rezoning petition and appear again before the Town Board in February.

“We were very pleased with tonight’s reception,” he said. “It seems like they’re open to this idea.”

The Legionairies of Christ is a conservative Roman Catholic order that once planned to build a university in Mount Pleasant and a seminary on the New Castle site, which it bought in 1994. It has since been placed under oversight by the Vatican, after a sex scandal involving its founder, who died in 2008.

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