Carmel hotel project on table
The Journal News

CARMEL - The owner of a site planned for a much-anticipated hotel and conference center is ready to inch forward in his project by signing agreements with the Putnam County Industrial Development Agency next month.

Construction of the Staybridge Suites complex with 123 rooms plus a banquet hall, though, isn't expected to begin in the spring and might be done in phases rather than all at once, said Albert L. Salvatico, president of Jaral Properties on Long Island.

"We're moving forward in our planning," he said, strongly emphasizing the word "planning." "We want to keep things going with the Putnam County agencies, and that is where we are at this point."

Salvatico said construction might begin with the hotel rooms first, followed by the restaurant and catering facility later on. He said he didn't have a start date in mind and had not closed on the construction financing.

"We're dealing with a tough economy, and things are going slower than we had wanted," he said.

The closing with the IDA was postponed twice, most recently on Friday.

In October, Salvatico said that he couldn't guarantee the hotel would happen and wrote to the IDA that the project was on hold. In June, he had said high oil costs and other economic factors would stall - and possibly change or eliminate - some of the more expensive aspects of the construction, such as a stone facade and grand entrance portico.

Salvatico now says he wants to keep IDA incentives on the table, and Jaral is completing some construction work on the 12-acre site off Route 6 near the Carmel-Southeast border. Jaral's crews have extended water an sewer lines into the parcel, since areas were already excavated for a rough roadway and basic connections.

Salvatico has said that so far he has invested at least $3 million in what would be Putnam's first hotel - $2 million to purchase the land and $1 million for engineering and planning costs. He said he anticipates it would take about $23 million to construct the suite-style hotel and he has been discussing a loan with Mahopac National Bank.

The project received town approval in June 2007.

Jaral Putnam LLC is expected to officially accept an offer from the Putnam County IDA and Economic Development Corp., which persuaded the hotelier to come to the county.

The quasi-public agency, which tries to entice businesses to locate or expand in Putnam, offered a standard state incentive package - a 50 percent reduction in school, town and county property taxes for the first year and sliding-scale reductions for nine additional years; an exemption from the mortgage-recording tax; and tax-exempt bonds and sales-tax exemptions for equipment or materials bought in conjunction with the project, the IDA said.

"We are glad they are moving forward to a closing, which provides some time limitations," said IDA President Burt B. Houseworth. He said tax reductions and exemptions are not open-ended and must begin within a year or so after signing the agreement. A developer must act on the project or risk losing the offer and be required to reapply, he said.

Carl Albano, a longtime Carmel resident and owner of Albano Insurance, said he has high hopes for the Carmel hotel. He said a developer with money should begin construction as soon as feasible.

"People need jobs and are eager for the work," he said. "And, hopefully a hotel begun now will be open for business as the economy turns around."

The Garden City-based Jaral hotel development company purchased the land from Carmel developer Paul Camarda's Hudson Valley Realty Corp. Camarda plans to build Gateway-Summit, with 137 townhouses for senior citizens, retail and office space, and a YMCA, next to the hotel.

A second hotel, a 40-room Best Western that would also receive IDA financing, has been proposed for the Route 121 site in Southeast where the Fox Ridge Motor Inn and Keltie's Bum Steer restaurant had been before they were destroyed by a deadly propane explosion in 1997.