Stony Point’s underdeveloped waterfront could become an attraction
BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
Stony Point boasts more waterfront mileage than most towns could dream of. Because of rough terrain and state parkland in the north part of the town and lack of planning in the southern part, however, the town’s Hudson River shoreline has not seen much development outside some homes and the town’s marinas.
That could change by 2017 if the vision of Stony Point Marina owner Wayne Corts becomes a reality. Corts, a developer whose work in Orange County has been widely recognized, presented a waterfront plan called “The Breakers” before a Scoping Session led by the Stony Point Planning Board on Thursday, January 28.
The Breakers development, which has been reworked over the past year to accommodate Stony Point’s request for ample public access, would be built on the current grounds of the Stony Point Marina. The plan calls for 200 or so condominium units built around a public promenade open to town residents.
Large gazebos that could host summer concerts and other events are included in the design and there is space allotted for a few shops and two restaurants. Given its attractive setting, The Breakers restaurant and grounds could be well-suited for hosting weddings and other special events.
The project appears to be gaining acceptance amongst town residents. Brand new Stony Point Supervisor Jim Monaghan said, “I talked to a lot of people during my campaign for supervisor and Stony Pointers want to see something done at the waterfront.”
According to Corts, the development would increase property taxes being paid on the property from approximately $250,000 per year to approximately $2.5 million per year. He also believes it will increase the property value of the surrounding residential community because of the access the neighborhood will have to the revitalized waterfront.
“I want it to be a beautiful waterfront community,” said Corts, whose marina has operated in the town since 1981, when he was a 25-year-old up and comer. He said if environmental approvals run smoothly the project could be completed by the fall of 2017. Others have claimed spring of 2018 is a more realistic projection. “It’s been my dream. It would be one of the bigger accomplishments of my career.”
Corts has built some highly regarded projects in the past. He gained minor fame for his work transforming the abandoned 142-acre Falkirk psychiatric hospital in Central Valley into a sprawling country estate, complete with an equestrian center and many apartments and small homes for tenants. He revived the struggling Central Valley Golf Club, situated down the street from the abandoned Falkirk hospital grounds, renaming it Falkirk Country Club. It is now a successful southern Orange County hub boasting a popular golf course.
Can Corts work the same magic for the Stony Point waterfront?
Asked how his vision for the Stony Point waterfront took form, Corts gave an answer Stony Pointers are sure to embrace. “Making sure it’s nothing like the Harbors,” he said, referring to the waterfront development built by Martin Ginsburg a decade ago in the Village of Haverstraw. “The Harbors are way too tight. There is no room to walk. We are going for something New England.”
The primary concerns residents have expressed about Corts’ project are increased street traffic, the possibility of existing views of the Hudson River being obscured and the threat of flooding in light of possible changes in climate. Corts told the Rockland County Times each issue is being addressed.
He pointed out that the area in which The Breakers will be built has in the past been home to two busy marinas and was never known as a traffic nightmare even during the busiest time of boating season. He said the project will comply with flood plain recommendations as set forth by the Army Corps of Engineers, going beyond the required governmental regulations.
Lastly, he noted that next week a crane has been raised showing members of the adjacent neighborhood the exact height of buildings within The Breakers. Corts said his current warehouse and office buildings are actually higher than the proposed condominiums. He said the view will arguably be improved, because boatyards are not particularly attractive to look at, while The Breakers development will be attractive.
For those skeptical the project will be completed, Corts pointed out he has already spent over $300,000 on the planning phase of the project, something he would not have done without confidence in the project.
Several town officials and Stony Point’s former supervisor, Geoff Finn, spoke at the January 28 meeting to show their support for the project. Finn said that the development would help put Stony Point on the map as a destination, especially with a waterfront restaurant. Councilman Tom Basile also had many positive comments regarding the project.
“Investment in waterfront areas and bringing people back to the waterfront is a source of significant revenue, makes an area more attractive for homebuyers, has the ability to raise residential property values and generate commercial taxes. The development contemplated here has the potential to generate between $3-3.5 million per year in residential taxes alone plus additional commercial taxes. As we all know, this revenue is critical for our town taxpayers and school district,” Basile said. He also mentioned “Stony Point’s waterfront has been an underutilized asset for decades.” According to Basile, the “town has the unflattering distinction of having the largest stretch of underutilized waterfront property between the New York border and Albany.”
Legislator Douglas Jobson also voiced support of the project and plans to remain involved so that he can help in any way he can from his position in the Legislature.
George Potanovic, Jr., president of Stony Point Action Committee of the Environment, has been critical of the Town Planning Board for not going into further detail during the Scoping session and asked for 45 additional days for public comment. The town extended public comment 14 days instead, with the first round of comments concluding on February 22.
Visit www.townofstonypoint.org for further details on the plan. Corts said he’s available to answer the questions of any residents. Corts also plans to have question and answer sessions with the public over the course of 2016, town officials told the Rockland County Times.
In addition to being a developer and marina owner, Corts owns pawn shops and jewelry stores in the Hudson Valley area, including Fort Knox pawn shops in Nanuet and West Haverstraw. One of his business partners is Barry “The Marine” Fixler, author of “Semper Cool,” who owns Barry’s Estate Jewelry in Bardonia.