The owners of the 2.4-acre “pit” parcel, adjacent to New Paltz Village Hall, have been making the rounds, hosting several informational meetings to articulate a new vision for the village’s largest remaining undeveloped lot. The most recent presentation was at the College Terrace restaurant as part of a New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where members admired a 3D-printed model of the project and nearby landmarks such as van den Berg Learning Center and village hall.
The new project, ostentatiously named “La Estancia at the Ridgeview,” would include a 97-room hotel with 8,500-square-foot banquet hall and rooftop restaurant, 70 condominium apartments, 5,000 or more square feet of retail space along a new village street connecting Hasbrouck and Plattekill avenues, and 400 underground parking spaces, 40 of which would be dedicated to municipal control. The hotel would include a day spa and pool, and developer Luis Martinez of the Lalo Group promises bicycle rentals and shuttles to local attractions. As with the prior proposal — which was never formally submitted to any governmental body — the site would have several entrances, with all the loading taking place underneath and out of sight. The biggest difference is that where the Gunks would have soared to eight stories, this project will only have three floors above grade and thus occupy a larger footprint.
According to architect Jason Anderson, developers are “trying to use the site to develop a project.” That can be contrasted with Zero Place, a project which its developer, David Shepler, had in mind before he identified a possible site. The 32-foot drop in elevation from which the pit derives its nickname is why it has yet to be built upon, but Lalo’s team intends on “using that to our advantage” in this design, particularly in providing ample parking.
With the hotel in the center and condos to one side, there’s room to dedicate a new village road from Hasbrouck to Plattekill avenues, which is where all that retail space would come into play. Accepting such a road is the purview of the village board, as is changing the zoning, which they would have to do if this idea is ever to leave the realm of 3D printing and manifest itself. What’s allowed under the current rules is yet another strip mall, or perhaps a 20-room hotel. Neither would be economically viable for a property that was purchased by Lalo Group in 2015 for $1.25 million.
As parking appears to be adequately addressed, questions about the other big village planning issue — traffic — were addressed during the presentation. Anderson said that the site design is expected to make it a destination itself, where residents and patrons would leave their vehicles and walk to other parts of the village, or presumably take advantage of the bicycles and shuttles which will be available. He noted that with few places to park in the village, there’s little alternative.
Drainage will also be addressed, Anderson said: the pit is a wet piece of land, and that’s only partially because of the stream which runs along the Hasbrouck Avenue side. He called the rest the result of “sins of the past,” when storm water was not as effectively managed. Studies will be undertaken to determine exactly how much runoff enters the pit from other properties, and the plans will comply with state requirements that less water flow off the down slope than enters at the top.
“Water is a top-tier issue,” remarked village trustee KT Tobin, and Anderson said that this project should also draw less from the municipal system than might be imagined. Typical hotels, he explained, recycle 60% of the water used for other purposes, and that capturing rain water and snow will only enhance those efforts.
Attorney John Capello called this project a “real home run for the school district,” because the condos will likely have few if any children living there, yet the project’s school tax liability is expected to be $170,800 after state commercial development tax exemptions are taken. Other than that break, which stems from section 485(b) of the state code which was passed into law in 1976, no additional tax relief will be sought for the project, he said.
In the most optimistic environment, ground would not be broken on this project for at least three years as zoning is considered, formal plans are finalized and the intense planning review process unfolds.