Belleayre Resort Clears Final Legal Hurdle
The final legal hurdle for the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park has been cleared. The grassroots group that brought the legal challenge says it will continue in an advocacy role. Meantime, the resort’s developer is looking for an investment partner.
The New York State Court of Appeals recently denied a motion by Catskill Heritage Alliance to hear the nonprofit group’s appeal related to permits for the proposed Belleayre Resort. The Alliance and some landowners initially brought the suit against the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Crossroads Ventures. Despite the court’s decision, Alliance Chair Kathy Nolan says her group will keep a watchful eye.
“We would encourage people to continue thinking about what that decade has shown us in terms of the changes in the climate, the changes in the financial situation in our area, changes in the housing and hotel lodging business in our area, and ask people to continue thinking about whether it makes sense to go forward with a plan that is now over 10 years old,” Nolan says.
Ken Pasternak is management partner of Crossroads Ventures, developer of the resort. He calls the attempted appeal another delay tactic without merit.
“We knew we were in the final hours of them running out of bullets, so to speak, to delay,” says Pasternak.
He says the next move is to complete the transfer of lands of the former Highmount Ski area to the state.
“And it’s critical for us because technically we’re not contiguous to, unless they buy the Highmount and build out that part of the UMP, the resort’s not contiguous to the, it’s not a ski in/ski out resort,” says Pasternak. “It’s a ski next to resort.”
The Belleayre Mountain Ski Center UMP is a unit management plan. Nolan says the Catskill Heritage Alliance intends to focus public scrutiny on ensuring that the land sale does not gouge New York taxpayers at above-market prices. She also wants to make sure that public funds are used for improvements to the public Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, not for guest amenities at the private resort. Crossroads Ventures’ Pasternak says the resort is a good fit for the area and details what’s next for the project.
“We’ve hired an investment banker to identify potential partners, development equity partners, to complete this, what’s called, operational stage,” Pasternak says.
The proposed resort has been on the table for some 18 years. In 2007, an Agreement in Principle was reached among Crossroads, environmental groups, New York City and New York state, resulting in a proposed project smaller in scope than originally planned. Nolan, whose group was not part of the agreement, says there have been a lot of changes since 2007 in the area near Belleayre.
“And a lot of that change has been very, very good, with a lot of small independent businesses; a lot of film production in the area; the new online, short-term, rental business, providing lots of accommodations for people,” Nolan says. “And these things make us wonder, even more in 2018, than we did early on in the review process is, does this resort really serve our region.”
As for seeking an investment partner, Pasternak says there is a lot of interest on the equity side.
“The comeback to us was, get, we can’t put resources to focus on a project that’s still mired in this legal morass that it’s been mired in, so call us back,” says Pasternak. “So that’s what we’re doing now after last week’s kind of final win, if you want to call it, that we’re now engaged in conversations with that developer/investor community.”
He says that a financial partner is necessary for moving the project forward. The proposed Belleayre Resort consists of The Highmount Spa Resort, Wildacres Hotel and a golf course. The resort would be built in both Ulster and Delaware Counties, in the towns of Shandaken and Middletown, respectively.