SOUTH BLOOMING GROVE – For over 20 years, no one has hit a golf hole at the former Lake Ann Country Club. The dilapidated rental housing was vacant for a long time. The investor who bought this huge piece of land for $15 million in 2006 has pursued his one goal ever since: to build a house on it.
They will grant your wish immediately.
The 600-unit residential development adjacent to Mount Schnemmunku neared approval on Tuesday after a four-year environmental review led by two South Blooming Grove boards for the Clovewood project. Now that a 24-page summary of their findings has been approved, a few steps remain to begin construction on the 708-acre site that has already been cleared.
Mayor George Karaji said after the village committee and planning commission unanimously approved the findings statement at a Zoom meeting, “I am very excited. It was very important to move this forward.”
The project represents a major growth for the village, which had nearly 4,000 inhabitants in 2020 and has become a mostly Satmar Hasidic community in recent years. Planners estimate that the 600 four-bedroom homes alone could accommodate about 3,100 people, based on the size of the larger families in nearby Satmar village of Kiryas Joel. If a buyer added an accessory apartment to every home, the estimate would rise to about $3,800, according to Environmental Review.
Clove wood:Developer proposes 600-unit project at former Lake Ann Country Club
bankruptcy:Lake Ann buyer goes to court to stop foreclosure
turn over:South Blooming Grove undergoes rapid change with steady home sales
The project site occupies almost a quarter of the village’s five-square-mile area, but plans keep more than half of the property out of development. 600 homes will be built on 347 acres, along with six playgrounds and four community centers.
One of the most pressing questions about the project was how a housing development of this magnitude would ensure adequate drinking water in an area long plagued by groundwater shortages. Planners said in an environmental review that the six on-site wells they plan to use could supply up to 785,520 gallons a day, a day they estimate 600 homes will use. Well over the 260,000 gallon average.
The vision of real estate and its future use had a long and colorful history before reaching this stage.
Lake Ann Country Club was once a bungalow colony with a golf course and dozens of rental homes. Businessman Marvin Greene, who has owned the property since 1952, has turned it into a Chinese-themed series of extensive redevelopments over the years, including his park, a landfill, a 500-room hotel, and skyscraper plans. I made a plan, but it never came to fruition. A stakes bingo operation run by a Native American tribe.
In a tragic twist, 88-year-old Green was beaten to death by two men during a robbery in 2000.
Four years after his death, Blooming Grove officials discussed purchasing a large piece of land for a town park. But Green’s family instead sold the growing Sathmar to dozens of investors who later filed for bankruptcy because he wanted to build multi-family homes for the community. The same year the land was sold, residents voted to incorporate the village of South Blooming Grove for greater control over future development.
Orange County real estate records show that the complete property purchased by the investor covers 852 acres and includes a 158-acre parcel that is outside the village boundaries of the town of Blooming Grove and is not part of the Clovewood Plan. It is
The Green family, who lent $10 million of the $15 million purchase price to the buyer, began foreclosure proceedings in 2011 after an investor known as Keane Equity failed to pay the mortgage. Keen Equities, which he filed for bankruptcy in 2013, stopped the foreclosure declaring he owed $6.5 million in principal and interest to Greens. The bankruptcy proceedings are still ongoing, and Keen is making regular payments to Greens according to a court-approved schedule.
No formal development plans were submitted until 2014, when Keane proposed 620 homes. This proposal evolved into his Clovewood project of 600 units, which began in earnest in 2018 with the submission of a draft environmental impact statement.
South Blooming Grove’s population was changing by then, with a steady influx of Sathmer families, mainly from nearby Kiryas Joel and Brooklyn. This turnover led to a swift political change, with voters electing all new mayors in his 2020 and his 2021 years, with the new mayors replacing the entire planning commission. It was these two new committees that concluded Clovewood’s environmental review by approving last month’s final environmental impact statement and this week’s findings statement.
After this week’s vote, project planner Simon Gelb gave a “special thank you” to the two new commissions for completing their environmental reviews, alluding to the lengthy planning process. He recalled meeting with village officials for the first time in 2013 to discuss the plan.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project since it started,” says Gelb.
According to the review, the Clovewood development will have entrances at Clove Road and Route 208, which will connect to two roads in the adjacent Capitol Hill district. Sewage will be treated in a new plant capable of processing up to 280,000 gallons per day. The plan includes his two house types of 2,500 square feet and 3,750 square feet.
Chris McKenna covers government and politics for the Times Herald-Record and USA Today Network. Please contact [email protected].