After 26 years, Tuxedo project gets shovels in ground
BY KATHY KAHN
When it comes to Tuxedo Farms and interaction with the Town of Tuxedo and Village of Sloatsburg, there seems to be a failure to communicate. The last time the town and village elected and appointed officials met over what was once called “Tuxedo Reserve” was too many years ago to count.
The proposed mega-development along the southern side of Route 17 has been nearly three decades in the making. Now, shovels are in the ground, and the builder, The Related Companies, is readying the site for 1,195 upscale homes, townhouses and apartments. What was once considered a fool’s endeavor is percolating.
The south entrance to the new development is at the very northernmost end of Sloatsburg’s section of Route 17, and Jessie’s Bagels is located right at the intersection of the Rockland County entrance. Related has purchased Jessie’s Bagels and seeks to turn it into Jessie’s Market, a country market that will be a main attraction for residents of the community.
Jessie Grippo, who runs the bagel/deli her father built, said “Related has shared its plans with us and been very open about the whole process. We also have our old small store sitting empty next to us—we moved because we needed more room….and that is earmarked to become a Visitor’s Center. It’s time for a change—and this will bring more people to the area with spendable income.” (It will, in fact, double Tuxedo’s current population, a little over 3,500.)
Related is currently in front of Sloatsburg’s planning board to get approvals to build a 65,000 square foot shopping center in the village—across the street from Washington Avenue where the train crossing is, which will offer both Sloatsburg and Tuxedo residents the opportunity to shop closer to home. Currently residents drive to New Jersey, Suffern or Monroe for food shopping.
While many came out against the proposed casino in Tuxedo, there does not seem to be as much anti-builder rhetoric going on when it comes to Related’s project. Both Tuxedo and Sloatsburg are in dire need of rateables, and many of the cars passing through these towns are on their way somewhere else.
For some, it’s an opportunity to bring Sloatsburg’s economy up to the 21st Century. But for others, there are concerns about increased traffic and the future of the few stores that still remain on Orange Turnpike. And for one member of Sloatsburg’s Planning Board, “It could be another “KJ (Village of Kiryas Joel) South.’”
Tuxedo Farms is probably the longest-lived non-developed development project on record. It’s been 26 years since it was first proposed. While local residents do have traffic concerns, Related is fully committed to renovating Route 17, including creation of turning lanes and bringing in the Department of Transportation for traffic lights– to make it safer for all residents, not just those who will be moving into Tuxedo Farms.
For the many empty stores along Route 17, it could be a death knell—or it could be an opportunity to lure artisanal stores to the area—particularly if the stretch of 17 between Sloatsburg and Tuxedo becomes pedestrian friendly—something the Sloatsburg Planning Board did not mention as a possibility during its Tuesday evening work session. They intend to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, December 15, to discuss Tuxedo Farms’ shopping center with residents.
Its meeting on Tuesday night was a work session, so the many residents who turned out for it didn’t have much opportunity to say anything. But among those leaving, those the Rockland Times spoke with are ready to do their shopping locally—and see empty storefronts, signal lights and pedestrian safety—become a top priority—and despite the negativity of some of the Planning Board members, the proposed supermarket is a welcome addition to those RCT spoke with. “As long as it’s a decent one, we’ll be glad it’s here.”
In the meantime, Related is busy preparing part of its 2,300 acre parcel for homes. Nearly 1,000 acres will remain forested. If both boards could sit down and discuss the pros and cons and work together, it might get done a bit more expeditiously and to the benefit of both Sloatsburg and Tuxedo.
The development will also feature a YMCA recreation center and other commercial development. As wide-ranging as the project is, it was originally proposed to be even bigger. In 1989, Related envision then-named Tuxedo Reserve to have 2,850 homes and 1 million square feet in commercial space.
The first homes are expected to be completed around January 2017.