Judge Voids Developer’s Newburgh Project
By Leonard Sparks
Times Herald-Record, Published: 07/07/14
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CITY OF NEWBURGH — An Orange County judge has done what public protests could not: halt a proposal to turn a high-profile vacant lot in the City of Newburgh into a housing development with a street-level supermarket.
Judge Elaine Slobod recently rejected the city’s motion to dismiss a petition that a group of property owners filed against the City Council and Mill Street Partners LLC. In 2012, the New York City-based firm agreed to build a $26 million complex with 91 housing units on the city-owned lot.
Slobod also voided the Nov. 12, 2013 vote by four council members to grant Mill Street a one-year special-use permit for the property, which sits in the “Tourist-Commercial” zone.
She ruled that the city voted to allow two uses not permitted in a TC-1 zone: a retail space that is not “tourist related” and residences on upper floors of a building exceeding three stories in height.
“I think it’s good that someone finally stood up and said you can’t do this,” said Stuart Sachs, who sued along with his wife and local developer Drew Kartiganer. “It’s about doing things the right way.”
Mill Street’s project called for a supermarket, 40 one-bedroom apartments, 39 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units, four of them duplexes.
It is supposed to draw people making between $30,000 and $75,000, and would rent for between $750 for a one-bedroom up to $1,400 for a duplex.
Concerns dogged the project, however.
Some raised doubts about the project’s ability to attract people making upwards of $75,000 and others doubted a full-service supermarket could survive in that location. Parking also proved an issue. Mill Street proposed using parking spaces behind the county-leased Department of Motor Vehicle office, which sits across Lander Street from the lot.
A review by Orange County’s Planning Department called the DMV parking spots “unavailable.”
“There simply were not enough parking spots,” Sachs said.
Mill Street was to finance the project by combining $18 million in tax credits and public subsidies with $8 million in private money. So far, the firm has not announced any public funding for the project.
Mill Street principal Patrick Normoyle did not return a phone message. Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy, the lone vote against the special-use permit, said last week she has not heard from Mill Street about its response to the court ruling.
“We need to understand what the decision means, and we also, at some point, need to understand what Mill Street wants to do about that,” she said.
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Note: Mr. Lipman of Fabricant Lipman & Frishberg, was the attorney for the Plaintiffs.