Camp LaGuardia Complex Availability Passes Key Vote

John Jordan | June 2016

GOSHEN—The Orange County Legislature voted on June 2 by an overwhelming 19-2 margin to appropriate $1.2 million to the Orange County’s Real Property office to free up the 260-acre Camp LaGuardia property for future development.

“I’m pleased that the Legislature voted to take action that will help put Camp LaGuardia back on the tax rolls,” said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said. “This valuable piece of property has been sitting vacant for far too long. The site is perfect for commercial development and will provide economic development as well as job opportunities for Orange County residents.”

Town of Chester Supervisor Alex Jamieson commended Neuhaus and the Orange County Legislature for securing the rights to redevelop Camp LaGuardia. The towns of Chester and Blooming Grove pledged to work with Neuhaus on the rezoning and commercial development of the property.

“I certainly applaud the County Executive and Legislature for putting Camp LaGuardia in the right hands,” Jamieson said. “This should have been done years ago, but we are all excited that this project is moving forward. It will provide Chester and Blooming Grove with wonderful economic development opportunities.”

If the two municipalities can approve rezoning of the property for commercial use, the site will help replenish the county’s marketable shovel-ready properties. Recent economic development victories that have brought the likes of Amy’s Kitchen and now possibly Legoland to Orange County have cut into the available stock of shovel-ready properties the county can offer businesses looking to establish operations in the county.

The $1.2 million will be used to buy out the county’s contract with Mountco Construction and Development Corp. of Scarsdale.

Neuhaus told Real Estate In-Depth during a recent exclusive tour of the property that the county was finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding to buy out a development contract with Mountco Construction and Development Corp. of Scarsdale.

Mountco had proposed a large residential project and some commercial construction on the property, but could not secure approvals from the affected municipalities of Chester and Blooming Grove. The property encompasses land in the Town and Village of Chester and the Town of Blooming Grove.

Neuhaus said that the county is looking for commercial uses on the property and noted that local residents and government agencies bristled at residential development at the property. He said that portions of the property could perhaps be utilized for healthcare purposes for local firms such as Crystal Run Healthcare or Horizon Family Medical, while other sections, including run down but still intact brick buildings could serve as a college campus or branch for an area university.

Orange County acquired the property from the City of New York for approximately $8.5 million in 2007. Mountco bested several other bidders for the right to redevelop Camp LaGuardia.

The property was established as a shelter for New York City’s homeless in 1934, the facility was built in 1918 and served as a correctional facility for women until 1934 when it was transferred to the city’s Welfare Department and named “Camp Greycourt.” The camp was renamed Camp LaGuardia in 1935. The purpose of the camp was to provide temporary relief for the unemployed. Prior to World War II and through the late 1950s, the camp included a 191-acre farm, which provided food for the residents and to which up to 150 residents were assigned to work. In its heyday, the camp housed more than 1,000 homeless men from New York City.

The closure of Camp LaGuardia was announced in November 2006 by New York City officials as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s five-year plan to reduce homelessness in New York City.

 Photo Caption: Camp LaGuardia, a former shelter for homeless New York City men, has sat vacant for nearly a decade.

 

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth