Former Legoland Project Site in Rockland County on Market for Sale
John Jordan | June 2017
HAVERSTRAW—The Letchworth Village site here, once coveted by Legoland developer Merlin Entertainments for a major theme park, is back on the market for sale.
The Town of Haverstraw has hired Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets Group to market and eventually sell the 173-acre Letchworth Village development parcel.
Developer Merlin Entertainments had considered the Letchworth Village site for a $500-million theme park in 2015 and had even secured some incentives from New York State’s Empire State Development before backing out of the project that called for a theme park, waterpark and a hotel at the site.
After the Letchworth Village Legoland project, which had not been officially presented to the village, drew some local criticism the Town Board and Town Supervisor Howard Phillips released a statement in October 2015 that the village would no longer consider the project. The shunning of the project drew some intense criticism from the business community in Rockland County at the time.
The statement released on Oct. 15th stated, “After hearing the concerns of our residents, we have decided to withdraw our consideration of the Legoland project. While we will continue our efforts to bring new projects to our town in order to provide quality of life amenities and help defray rising costs associated with living in Rockland County, it should never come at the cost of creating hardship or stress for our residents and divide our community. Balancing these interests is the goal of the Board and leads us to this decision. As always, we thank all the residents for their input.”
Al Samuels, president of the Rockland Business Association told Real Estate In-Depth in response to the town’s decision, “This is a very unfortunate situation that is quite frankly a victim of the tyranny of the minority.”
Samuels said that the Town Board, responding to neighborhood criticism of the project, pulled the project from consideration even before the applicant had a chance to formally present its plans and dispel some of the misinformation that had been disseminated by opponents of the venture, including considerable planned infrastructure work to mitigate traffic, wastewater and water usage concerns.
Samuels added, “That is a damn shame,” he said. Upon completion, the project would have also created approximately 1,000 net new jobs, Samuels added. Those jobs are sorely needed in many communities in the area.
Shortly thereafter, Merlin, with the assistance from Orange County economic development officials, secured a site in the Town of Goshen and the firm is currently working toward final approval of its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the project located off Route 17.
In 2006 a site plan was approved to construct a 500-unit, age-restricted community with single-family residences, townhouses and condominium flats, along with recreation facilities and nearly 25,000 square feet of neighborhood retail on the Letchworth Village site. Although these approvals are still in place, the town has said it understands the current needs of the development community and will work with developers to maximize the site’s potential, Cushman officials state. FEIS and SEQRA approvals have previously been completed for Letchworth Village, potentially saving the developer millions of dollars in engineering and review costs, they add.
“Municipal officials are enthusiastic about the potential of this property and open to working with developers to explore a variety of future uses,” says Cushman & Wakefield’s Brian Whitmer, who is heading the assignment with Metropolitan Area Capital Markets Group team members Andrew Merin, David Bernhaut, Gary Gabriel, Les Smith and Ryan Dowd.
“The offering represents a rare and distinctive opportunity to acquire a contiguous critical mass of land for development in the Greater New York Metropolitan area,” Whitmer notes. “The location truly is unmatched.”
The Letchworth Village site is located between two championship golf courses (Philip J. Rotella Municipal Golf Course and Stony Point’s Patriot Hills Golf Course), with local shopping that includes ShopRite, CVS, New York Sports Club and other major national retailers. The site is also nearby the Haverstraw Marina, one of the largest marinas on the East Coast, offering approximately 60 acres, 1,000 slips and waterfront dining.