Project Profile: $500M Bellefield at Historic Hyde Park to Harness Region’s Burgeoning Food and Beverage Sector
John Jordan | February 2017
Real Estate In-Depth recently sat down with Mike Oates, managing partner of Bellefield Development Partners, to discuss the firm’s proposed $500-million Bellefield at Historic Hyde Park development, a mixed-use, multi-phased project that hopes to take advantage of and in turn enhance the Hudson Valley’s growing food and beverage industry.
The development project is located on more than 300 acres across the street from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in Dutchess County and has been selected as a priority project by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. In fact, the last two years the project has secured $4.25 million in Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) funding from Empire State Development Corp. Like many other large-scale development projects in the Hudson Valley, Bellefield at Historic Hyde Park includes residential development. However, where it differs from many others is that the sponsor plans to build the commercial component of the development first.
The initial plans call for development of two hotels, a conference center, a free-standing signature restaurant, a spa, and culinary-based retail establishments. A total of 58% of the site’s 339 acres will remain wooded and undeveloped with another 48 acres devoted to agricultural use. In December, Bellefield Development Partners, an affiliate of T-REX Capital Group, LLC of New York City, announced an agreement with Shaner Hotel Group of State College, PA for the development of an upscale all-suites boutique lifestyle hotel on the Bellefield at Historic Hyde Park property. The Inn at Bellefield will be the initial vertical construction at the site. The 140-suite boutique lifestyle hotel, developed in collaboration with Marriott, is the first of two hotels planned on the site. The $35-million project is currently in the approval process. Work on the new hotel could begin in late 2017. Oates said the goal is to have The Inn at Bellefield open for business in 2019.
The entire property has a potential build-out of more than two million square feet of mixed-use space. Oates said the project dovetails with the efforts of the Cuomo Administration and its “Taste of New York” program to market the strength of the state’s food and beverage sector and how that industry compliments the tourism industry. He believes that Dutchess County can create a thriving food and beverage corridor similar to how biotechnology has taken hold in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, Cambridge, MA and locally in Westchester County.
Oates, who is the chairman of the Walkway on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, said the Bellefield property sits “in the epicenter of tourism activity in Dutchess County.” He noted that Dutchess County attracts approximately 4.5 million tourists each year. In 2015, tourists spent $528 million in the county, according to Dutchess County Tourism. Oates estimated that 90% of tourism activity is centered along the Route 9 corridor that features a number of major universities—Marist, Vassar and Bard, as well as Dutchess Community College and the aforementioned Culinary Institute. Significant tourism revenue is generated at the nearby FDR Mansion and Library and the Walkway Over the Hudson, which has become a major attraction with more than 500,000 visitors annually and growing.
In addition to frequenting tourist destinations, visitors are also seeking to “really experience the Hudson Valley and what we look at is the culinary components—the food and beverage, the agriculture—which have a real rich history in the Hudson Valley and people are looking to come and experience that farm to table, to shop local, (and experience) all those components that make up what that part of the county is,” Oates said.
He added that based on the project’s strategic location, when trying to determine the property’s best use “it became crystal clear that creating a culinary campus was the way to go.”
The development site is broken up into distinct zones—a hospitality zone, which will feature the Inn at Bellefield and another boutique hotel. Located next to the hospitality zone will be a Marketplace, which Oates said will feature artisan food and beverage companies, such as a high-end chocolatier or an organic bakery for example. He described the Marketplace zone as a village where small and growing food and beverage concerns can sell their products. The retail village would feature tenants of between 500 square feet to 10,000 square feet. Alongside the Marketplace will be a Manufacturing and Research and Development Center zone that would house food and beverage oriented businesses from 10,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet. Oates said that requirements larger than 200,000 square feet could also be accommodated.
“In that zone we will have companies focused on manufacturing and research and development of new products, but they will also have a tourism and hospitality component,” Oates noted.
He told Real Estate In-Depth that Bellefield is in discussions with a coffee roasting company, a pasta manufacturing company, as well as distilled spirit companies, including a craft brewery, and several international food companies that are looking to possibly set up U.S. operations at the complex. Bellefield has hired Rand Commercial as its commercial broker to help it secure tenants for the project.
While he would not divulge the identity of the firms Bellefield is in talks with, Oates is confident that the firm will finalize agreements with at least a couple of projects in the next six months. Those developments would then have to go before the Town of Hyde Park for their respective site plan approvals.
“We are also in talks with some international celebrity chef personalities who have manufacturing companies, who also have expressed interest in partnering with us,” he added.
While there is a residential component to the project, Oates said that Bellefield is not focused on the housing development at this point, noting that the demand for the commercial space is stronger at the moment. He said the build-out of the residential space might begin in five years or later.