The historic village of Coxsackie lies along the Hudson River in the Catskills, a coveted place of destination these days. Coxsackie officials issued a stop-work order on a hotel near completion, saying “its construction sidestepped plans submitted by the developer”, and it’s blocking river views.
The James Newbury Hotel and Wire Event Center, a 46-room, 5-story boutique hotel boasts a banquet hall that can seat up to 600 guests but submitted plans for only a 4-story hotel. Developer Aaron Flach planned to open the hotel this fall. But the village of Coxsackie says the developer submitted plans to “add 3-stories to an existing structure on the Hudson River waterfront”, the end result being the 4-story luxury hotel. Flach’s development firm is called Empire Riverfront Ventures, and the Newbury Hotel is just the first stage of their redevelopment of the Coxsackie riverfront. There will ultimately be a restaurant and an event center, as well.
The Village – What Really Happened
In reality, what the builder did was demolish the existing structure, and built a brand new 5-story hotel from the ground up. The height of the building now exceeds the local limit, and blocks river views. But the construction went on uninterrupted, even up until the building rose above the local skyline. In fact, the construction only stopped when the project applied to renew their permits. However, Coxsackie officials said the building was only supposed to be 45 feet tall.
Coxsackie now says the developer must submit new plans for approval, and has halted work on the hotel in the interim. A new review process will now need to take place by the Planning Board, once new plans are submitted. In a written response, the developer said, “While we believe the village building department was provided everything required of the project, we will be working with the village board and others to ensure full compliance.”
The village issued a statement to the public, which in part read, “The project will need an updated site plan to be submitted to the planning board for them to review against what the planning board previously approved. This will allow for a complete finding of issues so they can all be addressed together at the same time.”
Aside from completely ignoring the original plans, the Greene County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) had already granted the hotel more than $1 million in tax breaks, with about $951K of them in property tax breaks, and additionally exempted sales tax on the construction. The executive director of the agency said it was aware of the changes that have occurred, but nothing should affect these tax concessions. Flach is using private funding and a state grant to cover the costs. It’s unclear why the IDA did not communicate the changes to the village.
These kinds of tax incentives are not uncommon, and are often granted in commercial construction projects within these communities, to promote economic growth and reap the multiple benefits provided by big businesses like these. However, this project and others like it often bring externalities to the community that are unwanted, and have negative consequences.
What Happened Next
In an update on the situation, the village decided to hold off on the reappointment of the Building Inspector until the Flach project is sorted out. He remains on the job for the moment, but the public was made aware of the decision to pause his reappointment at their village’s annual organizational meeting on April 4th. During the meeting, the Mayor, Mark Evans, read a statement about the situation, where he described that they are “slowly piecing together a timeline and understanding of events and approvals made and oversight of the (hotel).”
Additionally, the statement said that “once a complete list of issues to be addressed is compiled, the village will hold a public forum.” The statement ended by saying the village would “pause reappointment of the building inspector until we have all the facts.” The article itself concluded by saying it was the Building Inspector’s responsibility to issue building permits as well as to inspect periodically for compliance. Sounds like they’re preparing to hang the Building Inspector out to dry on this one.
Rochelle Harris is a passionate writer originally from Phoenix, AZ. who credits her success to integrity and determination. She has a great sense of humor, loves music and her family, and writes fiction and poetry in her spare time. She is excited about the New York experience and lifestyle! Follow Rochelle on Twitter at @LinguisticAnRky or get in touch at [email protected]