Commercial build-out proposed for Route 17

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:57

    WOODBURY-Plans are being developed for a new business and recreation complex that would fill the 130-acre parcel of vacant land between the Nepera chemical plant and the Metro-North Park and Ride lot on Route 17. Woodbury Development is proposing the project. If the plans come to fruition, the east side of Route 17 would contain a stretch of continuous commercial and industrial development ranging from the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in the north, to approximately 2.5 miles south, beyond the park and ride lot, almost to the Tuxedo town line. This site is the former Interchange Commerce Center property, designated as Site "A," which was a subsidiary of Orange & Rockland Utilities Inc. About 90 percent of the property is in the Town of Woodbury with the remaining land in the Town of Monroe and Village of Harriman. All three municipalities will require review and approvals. Although in the early planning stage, the project calls for a warehouse complex as well as retail and recreation facilities. James Sweeney, attorney for Woodbury Development, said the developer also has an "eye on a train and transit village down the road." Metro-North representative Dan Brucker said Woodbury Development partner Martin Harfenes has spoken to him on many occasions, but Metro-North needs a "solid, concrete proposal" before taking any action. A real estate Web site describes the project's recreational features: "The entertainment center will have attractions geared toward the entire family. Preliminary plans call for hotels, exhibition center, restaurants, retail shopping, multiplex theater, indoor theme park, virtual reality, high tech attractions, office space and sports arena." Woodbury Town Supervisor Sheila Conroy said it's too early to determine if any zoning changes are needed and how the project may be affected by current wetland conditions. She noted that in recent years the town has changed some zoning to reduce the burgeoning retail development in Woodbury. As an example, she cited Site "C," which is a portion of the old Commerce Center property where the present Kohl's shopping plaza is located, was scaled back to comply with present day wetland restrictions. Conroy also said there is a growing imbalance between residential and retail. This, she said, is a "tough tradeoff," and hotels and stores may present a zoning problem. The project sponsor has appeared before the Planning Board once with a very preliminary outline. The Town of Woodbury granted initial subdivision approvals in 1989 under different zoning requirements and less stringent federal wetland rules. Sweeney stated the initial approach is to establish a redefinition of the already approved subdivision. Detailed design of the project's features will follow the official establishment of lot lines with site plans to follow. Sweeney expects the Woodbury Planning Board to begin their review next month with public hearings in the summer and construction possibly by next fall.