"There's a desperate need for employment opportunities here in the county, I think the redevelopment of the Apollo Plaza will proved those developments opportunites."
The fiscal status of Sullivan County government has become a major issue because years of overexpansion of services and bad tax and spend policies.
As a result, the County government has drained the County Fund Balance while creating a government bureaucracy that is too big to support in light of our shrinking economy and tax base.
One terrible consequence of these policies is that the County Legislature has increased the Sales Tax, Mortgage Recording Tax, Room Tax and Motor Vehicle Licensing Tax in an effort to sustain growth in appropriations. These actions have had the unintended consequence of driving more businesses and residents out of the County, resulting in a long-term loss in sales tax revenues - even with higher property and user taxes.
Rather than raise taxes on a small commercial tax base, the County instead needs to put in place progressive economic development policies and programs that will help to grow our tax base.
We need to also concentrate on retaining our businesses.
We also need to start capturing the tens of millions of sales tax revenues that are lost as our residents shop in outlying areas such as Middletown or Matamorus.
At its peak, the Apollo Plaza was a great retail center that not only provided a place for Sullivan County residents to shop for items that you'd be hard pressed to find in the County today [e.g. a dress shirt, china, dress shoes, suits] but it also served a place for tourists and visitors to shop.
This shopping center was also a great tax engine that generated millions in sales tax revenue from people driving from all over the NYC metropolitian area while also keeping local residents’ sales tax dollars in Sullivan County.
Wjem Sullivan County acquired clear title to the former Apollo Plaza. it presented an important opportunity to shape the redevelopment of this property.
Rather than selling the Apollo Plaza to the highest bidder, why not partner with a developer who will provide the highest and best use for these lands?
This redevelopment can be accomplished through a “Request for Qualifications” for developers to come in and make Apollo Plaza a great retail establishment once again.
The Apollo site has many advantages. The site has water, sewer, fiber optic and great transportation access via Exit 106. New York State DOT has just announced that construction of a new Exit 106 Interchange will begin in the Summer of 2010. The site is also situated within the Sullivan County Empire Zone.
I envision a revitalized mixed use center off the new Exit 106 interchange with a shopping plaza modeled after Woodbury Common, along with offices and restaurants. In conjunction with the redeveloped Apollo Plaza, the County would create a light industry park on the 78-acres that were previously slated for the landfill expansion.
I feel that the redevelopment of the Apollo Plaza for a mixed use retail center is the best way to increase County Revenues without placing a burden on local residents.
Such development will not only expand the real property tax base, it will also help recapture sales tax dollars that are being lost at this point while capturing greater sales tax revenues from new tourists and visitors.
The presence of a mixed-use retail center with some outlet-type shops will also make Sullivan County a more inviting place to visit which will benefit places like Bethel Woods, Holiday Mountain, and the Monticello Racino.
Across the nation, almost every vibrant tourism destination provides outlet centers for people to shop. We need such a facility in Sullivan County and the Apollo site if the perfect location. The redevelopment of the Apollo Plaza as a regional mixed use retail center would also enhance the visitor experience in Sullivan County while saving our residents a 45 minute commute in search of a pair of dress socks or a tie.
In the long run, the redevelopment of the Apollo Plaza could do more to meaningfully increase County revenues than any of the tax increases proposed by the County Legislature. In fact, if the Apollo Plaza is redeveloped, we might be able to increase sales tax revenues while reducing the sales tax rate back down to 7.5%.
Let's take the time to ensure that the Apollo Property is redeveloped in a manner that will benefit our community for years to come. The County securing title to the property has given us the golden opportunity to revitalize this site into a premier mixed use retail destination.
Doing so is a win-win for all involved.
Rebuilding Apollo Plaza
I have always felt that good ideas transcend politics. The Sullivan County Legislature's recent initiative to pursue a public/private partnership to redevelop the Apollo Plaza on East Broadway in Monticello proves the point.
Since taking office, I have worked hard with my fellow legislators as well as Village of Monticello, Town of Thompson, state and county officials to position the former Apollo Plaza site for economic development in order to revitalize lower Broadway and the Village of Monticello, give more sorely needed shopping options to local residents and tourists, and create jobs for area residents. The redevelopment of Apollo Plaza is also necessary to increase the real property tax base and capture sales tax revenues that we are losing to surrounding counties.
As an experienced planner, I knew that in order to make the Apollo Plaza site attractive to developers we needed close the landfill and to work with NYSDOT to advance construction of the new Exit 106 Interchange. As a result, two of my goals when I ran for and joined the County Legislature were to stop the proposed Landfill Expansion and to advance plans to complete the new Exit 106 Interchange.
Both of these goals were subsequently met, not without great effort in overcoming various roadblocks. With the landfill closed and work on the new 106 interchange underway, we are now ready to proceed with plans for the redevelopment of the former Apollo Plaza and Phase II Landfill properties.
In a recent vote, the County Legislature selected Chancellor-Livingston as the second developer redevelopment a new Apollo Plaza site. Their proposal for a retail center with restaurants and a movie theater will provide the types of goods and services that County residents need and desire.
The County previously had approved formal negotiations with Carbon Harvest, a Vermont partnership which plans to build a 25-acre commercial greenhouse, an integrated aquaponic growing system, a 25,000 square foot food storage and distribution center, and would tap gas from the closed landfill to convert into energy.
Now that the County has chosen a Carbon Harvest and Chancellor Livingston, it is time to work harder to get this initiative underway. If we can work together (i.e. State/County/Village/Town officials and developers) to work out the details of a lease agreement; conduct the necessary environmental reviews in a timely manner, and complete the new Exit 106 Interchange, we can successfully redevelop the Apollo Plaza site and encourage more new investment into our County in the near future.
Redeveloping Apollo Plaza is a great idea whose time has come. Let’s continue to make it a reality and let it serve as a blueprint for further economic development projects in our county.
We need all the stakeholders involved to work together to achieve a common goal, which is make our community a better place to live through expanded job opportunities and strengthening our tax base.
There is important recent news about East Broadway for District 9 residents.
The New York State Department of Transportation awarded a contract for the construction of new Exit 106 Interchange on NYS Route 17 (Future I-86). This important project, which was proposed for many years, is finally underway.
NYSDOT has awarded a $9.18 million contract to the Delaney Group for the Exit 106 project. The anticipated start date is about August 23, 2010. “I have worked closely with State, Town of Thompson, and Village of Monticello officials as well as County Legislators and Economic Development officials to make this project a reality.”
“When I ran for office, I made the completion of the new Exit 106 Interchange a major priority and I have worked hard to get the job done. I have long felt the construction of the new interchange would be a catalyst for the revitalization of East Broadway and the Village of Monticello and it is in fact stimulating private sector investment inquiries in the dormant commercial area.”
With two possible casino gaming sites close to the exit as well as several important proposed projects, it is critical that the work get done on the exit. There are a number of ideas being discussed to revitalize Apollo Plaza as well as a plan by NYSDOT officials to locate a state-of-the-art natural gas refueling station. A light industry park on a 78-acre county owned parcels behind the Apollo Plaza is also in the planning stages.
The sooner this project is completed, the better. Recently, the Sullivan County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution requesting the NYDOT to expedite work at Exit 106 of Route 17. It was the third resolution requesting such action, which Sorensen secured unanimous support from the legislature.
Sorensen spearheads effort to expedite rebuilding of Exit 106
Over the last year, Legislator Alan Sorensen has been spearheading the major drive by to get the construction work on the exit, which has been planned for years, done by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYDOT) as soon as possible. The exit is in his legislative district.
Recently, the Sullivan County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution requesting the NYDOT to expedite work at Exit 106 of Route 17. It was the second resolution requesting such action this year.
Resolution No. 398-09, which was sponsored by all County Legislators, requested that the Exit 106 project be included in the NYSDOT's 2009 budget and site a past resolution No.l 183-09 which then also requested that work be done right away on the project.
“The construction of a new Exit 106 is a critical link in the redevelopment of the immediate area and for the Village of Monticello as a whole. The reconstruction of the exit goes hand in hand with the rebuilding of Route 42 in the Village of Monticello Business District,” said Sorensen.
The County had defined the reconstruction of Exit 106, which is the first of three exits to the Monticello area, as an important economic development project.
“I see the completion of the new Exit 106 Interchange as the cornerstone for the revitalization of East Broadway. The new interchange will provide better access to existing business establishments and make East Broadway a more appealing location for commercial development. With two possible casino gaming sites also close to the exit, it is critical that the work get done on the exit,” said Sorensen.
One of the potential economic projects is to East Broadway and the commercial lands surrounding the County Landfill a Green Economic Zone. Sorensen has been working with NYSDOT officials to locate a state-of-the-art natural gas refueling station in the area and is also spearheading efforts for a light industry park on a 78-acre county owned parcels behind the Apollo Plaza.
"The whole future of the East Broadway business district is hinged on improving the exit so that stores and offices in the area are more assessable,” added Sorensen. “The state needs to make the reconstruction of Exit 106 a major priority. I will continue to let the state know that my constituents are in need of their immediate action on this issue.”
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