Camarda sells land in Carmel to builder
Under $30M deal, senior citizen homes planned
on 96 acres
The Journal News
June 24, 2006
Developer Paul Camarda has sold 96 acres of his Carmel
Centre property to one of the country's largest home
builders for nearly $30 million.
The property is off Stoneleigh Avenue and has town
approvals for more than 300 units of senior citizen
The new owner, Pulte Homes Inc., says it bought the
site because it had a ready-to-go design. The company
plans to proceed with Camarda's vision of a campus with
a variety of two-bedroom homes and recreation facilities
for active adults older than 55 years old.
"Putnam County is a new destination point. It
is beautiful, and I can see why," said Jim Mullen,
development approval manager for Pulte Homes' Bernardsville,
NJ, office. "Senior housing is very popular. People
want to stay nearby in communities they have lived in
or move closer to their families."
Camarda persevered in developing the site behind the
A&P Shopping Center and Watson Laboratories for
more than a decade. He sold the land to Pulte on May
He first proposed an office complex known as Carmel
Corporate Centre, then moved on to consider a large
retail project, dropping "corporate" from
the project name.
With a new town code allowing multifamily housing,
he shifted gears and designed a plan for upscale townhouses
with a clubhouse, tennis courts, swimming pool and 3-hole
pitch-and-putt golf area. He worked on the plans for
seven years and in 1998 purchased the land for $1.5
He split off Stoneleigh Woods - about 9 acres with
town approvals for 68 senior-citizen units - and sold
it to Blue and Gold Development of Riverhead, Long Island,
for $3.1 million on April 3.
During the approval process, the New York City Department
of Environmental Protection sued Camarda, demanding
additional environmental reviews. Another group
took the town to court, saying natural resources
should be studied further, but the courts upheld
the Planning Board's review. With legal issues out
of the way, Camarda hired Brennan Construction of
Carmel to build an access road, Terrace Drive, from
Stoneleigh Avenue and lay the groundwork for utilities
and town water and sewer lines.
"I see my job as a developer to bring in other
companies to become part of my developments," Camarda
said."Pulte shared the same vision for the property
that I had. They are preeminent builders of senior housing,
and this will be a win-win for Putnam County."
He says he will stay active in the process if Pulte
needs him and that a project of this size undoubtedly
will mean work for many local businesses.
Pulte Homes is a 56-year-old building company based
in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., with offices in 27 states.
Last year, the company built 45,630 homes in the U.S.
and had revenues of $14.7 billion.
Christopher Burtt's home for more than 30 years borders
the property. He said he wasn't surprised by the sale
but is concerned how the complex will look.
"I am encouraged that most of it went to one buyer,"
he said, meaning it would have a unified appearance.
Plans for housing, he said, appeal to him more than
ones for a commercial or industrial use.
"Really, I have no control over someone else's
property. They have rights and all I can do is moan
and groan. But in the end, I hope the details Camarda
described to the residents will really happen."
As far as Dawn Onufrik, 45, is concerned, the main
issue is that the town must keep an eye on the project.
"I hope proper procedures are followed,"
she said, noting that any changes in the approved plans
must be reviewed again by town boards. "I'm not
sure we need and can handle all this senior housing,
but it is not my land, and it is their prerogative to
build. Just do it right is all I have to say."
Camarda has developer other sites in Putnam using a
similar model of preparing design plans and then bringing
in a builder for the construction phase. He worked with
Wyndham Homes on a 71-lot subdivision, Willow Ridge.
Elsewhere in Putnam, Camarda has proposed retail centers
in Patterson and Southeast, and on Route 6 in Carmel,
a hotel-conference center with adjacent senior-citizen