Orange County Re-Issues RFP for Sale of Camp LaGuardia Property
John Jordan | February 15, 2022
GOSHEN—“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
After a Request for Proposals in 2020 to sell the more than 258-acre Camp LaGuardia property that is located in the villages of Chester and Blooming Grove failed to find a viable buyer, Orange County says it has put the property once again on the market for sale in the form of an RFP. This marks at least the third attempt by the county since it acquired it 15 years ago from New York City to find a buyer/developer for the property that sits adjacent to Route 17 in Southern Orange County.
The county announced on Feb. 14 that it is seeking proposals from developers on the former Camp LaGuardia complex that at one time served as a homeless shelter for New York City. The county has set a deadline of April 15, 2022 for receipt of any property purchase proposals. According to the RFP that was issued on Feb. 14, a site visit is planned for Monday March 28, 2022 at 11 a.m. with a snow/rain date of March 31, 2022 at 11 a.m. According to the RFP, an interested party could seek to acquire the entire Camp LaGuardia property or a certain parcel or parcels.
“As the economy continues to recover and commercial interest in Orange County remains strong, we encourage potential investors to make offers which comply with local zoning and will create job opportunities,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said.
The 258-plus acre Camp LaGuardia campus is adjacent to the Heritage Trail and is close to the Route 17 corridor. There is ample space for a variety of uses in addition to commercial development, county officials stated. In the previous RFP, the county and the villages of Chester and Blooming Grove were not receptive to new residential development on the property. Among the approved zoning designations for the property include commercial, industrial and agricultural uses.
“I’m pleased that the county is moving forward to put these properties back on the tax rolls,” said Katie Bonelli, Chairwoman of the Orange County Legislature. “We anticipate proposals which will generate long term revenue for the county and are compatible with local land use requirements.”
The County Legislature will ultimately select the developers who will buy some or all of Camp LaGuardia.
Back in 2020, the county marketed the property and extended the original RFP deadline from Aug. 7. to Sept. 10, and then again to Oct. 8. The marketing campaign to sell Camp LaGuardia included an ad in the Wall Street Journal with an “Escape from New York” theme. The Orange County Industrial Development Agency provided the county with $25,000 for marketing and advertising the Camp LaGuardia site. However, those efforts eventually failed to find a viable proposal.
Orange County Executive Neuhaus is confident that the Request for Proposals process will result in the county finding a suitable buyer for the Camp LaGuardia property.
In an interview with Real Estate In-Depth, Neuhaus said that over the years the county has had approximately 10 interested parties that toured the property and each came up with different concepts on how to develop the site.
“The fairest and best way to do it is to put it out to an RFP so that everybody knows exactly what the deadline is to submit their best plan,” he said.
County Executive Neuhaus noted that for the past several years the COVID pandemic had a negative impact on the economy as well as property values. In fact, he revealed that plans for a water park resort at Camp LaGuardia floundered as the pandemic dragged on. While stressing that there will not be any residential development on the property, proposals in the past have included warehouse, theme parks, etc.
He said the county felt that with property values now booming, now is the time to once again solicit proposals for the property and approve a plan that will meet with the approval of both Blooming Grove and Chester.
“We will see some good proposals come out of this and we will see who is real and who is not,”Neuhaus said.
He said that he personally would like to retain a portion of the property, specifically land by the Orange County Heritage Trail for public use.
The County Legislature voted to acquire Camp LaGuardia, a homeless shelter for New York City residents, in 2007. The county attempted to have the Camp LaGuardia property redeveloped and retained Mountco Construction of Scarsdale as the developer, but in 2016 spent approximately $1.3 million to terminate the deal with Mountco, which had proposed a $300-million mixed-use development on the property but failed to secure approvals from affected municipalities to allow the project to break ground.
The Camp LaGuardia property features four parcels totaling 258.3 acres including a 153.5-acre parcel in the Town of Chester; a 40.8-acre parcel in the Town of Chester; a 59.6-acre parcel in the Town of Blooming Grove and a 4.4-acre parcel in the Village of Chester.
Information on the current RFP can be found at: https://www.orangecountygov.com/1968/2022-RFP-Sale-of-former-Camp-LaGuardia-P.