CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – The “Spa at New Castle” recently took another step to becoming an official proposal, but still remains in the “informal, initial phase,” according to developer Stephen Oder of Soder Real Estate Equities.
Soder and his attorney David Steinmetz pitched their vision for the 97-acre property at 773 Armonk Road to the New Castle Planning Board for the first time last week, following several meetings with the Town Board throughout the year. The property is best known as the “Legionaries of Christ” site.
The latest three- and four-story proposal calls for rehabilitating the site’s 1920s mansion and using it for 50 condominiums, 34 hotel suites, a spa, an indoor and outdoor pool, tennis courts, 200 covered parking spaces and a 150-seat restaurant. Although the plan would tear down the two existing 1950s wings of the building, the core of the facility and its chapel would be “mostly preserved and utilized,” according to Oder.
While the Spa at New Castle won’t be taking down much of the existing building, it certainly will be adding to it. Currently a 70,000-square foot facility, the new proposal would encompass more than 246,000-square feet. However, none of the new structures would exceed the existing roofline.
Bringing the proposal from its informal phase to a more official phase will not come without obstacles. Because of the services the facility results in a “unique combination” of uses, Steinmetz said a whole new zoning designation would need to be created.
“The zoning would come from scratch,” he said. “It would be a floating zone — a resort lifestyle community zone. Creative drafting would be needed.”
Steinmetz said the zoning would need to be well articulated so that future developers couldn’t use it to their advantage to bring facilities to New Castle that the town wasn’t suited for. However, he said, if the Spa at New Castle is successful, it could open the door for others down the line in a positive manner.
The Planning Board was in “listening mode” and was not expected to give feedback on the night. The board did, however, question the visual impact the site would have on neighboring Tripp Street residents, along with septic challenges.
“Those details will get taken care of as we move forward,” Steinmetz said. “But we are confident those areas won’t be a problem.”
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