Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hasidic investors propose 566-home development on 700-acre site 

A group of Hasidic investors who bought more than 750 acres of land in this village eight years ago now wants to build a subdivision with 566 homes at the site of the Lake Anne property.

This is the first formal proposal by the 12-member Keen Equities LLC, whose largest shareholder shares its address with the electronics business owned by developer Ziggy Brach. The group has long wanted to build on the property, but its plans never materialized because of what owners described as "disputes with the village over scope and density of the development."

Keen Equities filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2013 and promised to return later with a workable development plan.

According to the application submitted to the village Planning Board this month, Keen will create 512 single-family lots, 54 duplex lots, and 20 acres of nonresidential development that will include 100,000 square feet of commercial space and infrastructure such as roads and utilities. The development will be built on Clove Road, off Route 208 in the village.

Mayor Rob Jeroloman could not be reached for comment, but Village Attorney Dennis Lynch said South Blooming Grove welcomes all applications.

"The village is looking at the matter and will certainly apply the law," Lynch said.

Simon Gelb, the principal contact for Keen Equities listed on the application, did not return a call for comment.

The proposed subdivision, which will have a cluster layout, will be built on two parcels totaling 708 acres, 566 of which will be left as permanent open space. About 38 acres of the property is wetlands. Only 140 acres of the property will be disturbed for development.

The applicant also proposes to build a new sewage collection and treatment plant, and believes the current wells in the village will suffice to provide adequate drinking water to new residents.

The development falls in the Washingtonville School District. The anticipated period of construction will be 60 months.

Keen Equities bought the former Lake Anne Country Club for $15 million in 2006 to build "multi-family housing to accommodate the growing needs of the Satmar Community in Kiryas Joel," according to a company statement in court papers. The purchase was financed by a $10 million mortgage from the Greene family, longtime owners of the property.

Five years later, Keen Equities defaulted on payments, and the Greenes filed for foreclosure in January 2011. But before it could be finalized, Keen filed for bankruptcy protection in Brooklyn federal court in Nov. 2013.

A reorganized Keen Equities wrote to South Blooming Grove in July of its intention to apply for a housing development. A formal application along with a full environmental assessment form was presented a day later.


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