Camarda says region badly needs retail, housing
The Journal News
When Paul Camarda is done, he says, senior citizens
will have-a choice of places to live in Putnam County,
shoppers will actually "Shop Putnam," and
travelers will have a hotel in the county to relax in.
Camarda, one of Putnam's most active developers, met
with The Journal News editorial board last week to share
his vision for a county in desperate need of sales-tax
revenue and senior housing. In short, a county in need
of his projects.
"I've been in Putnam County for 20 years, since
the mid-80s," Camarda said. I looked at Putnam
County and the Hudson Valley as a very desirable place,
I started out with single-family neighborhoods. This
is quite an area, but it's underserved." First,
he touched on the demand for senior-citizen housing.
By 2008, he said, Putnam will have 15,000 households
with people 55 and older. In 1998, Carmel passed a law,
to promote senior housing but, to date, only subsidized
residences have been built, fulfilling 20 percent of
the need, he said. Camarda wants to fill that void and
is awaiting approval for 300 senior-housing units in
two contiguous Carmel projects, Gateway Summit and Fairways
on Route 6. He already has approval for another 381
senior-housing units in town, on Stoneleigh Avenue,
called Carmel Centre.
The developer, who lives in Ridgefield, Conn, went
on to speak of the "Putnam paradox," in which
$2 out of every $3 spent by residents is spent outside
the county, Shoppers tend to go to Connecticut or to
Westchester and Dutchess counties to do their buying.
Big-box centers like ones he has proposed in Southeast
and Patterson would keep those dollars closer to home
and double the county's sales-tax revenue, he said.
He emphasized that there are no discount "warehouse"
stores, chain bookstores or higher-end supermarkets
anywhere in the county, nor a Gap, a Sports Authority
or a Best Buy.
Brewster Highlands on Route 312 in Southeast includes
The Home Depot, Linens N' Things and Kohls. It opened
"Putnam County is on a shoestring budget,"
he said, adding later, "'Shop Putnam?' The joke
was - and still is today where?"
Camarda said he has seven projects in the pipeline,
five of which are before various decision-making boards
and only one of which has approvals. Two others, in
Mahopac and Kent, are long-range plans that may or may
not come to fruition, he said. Most of the retail projects
straddle borders and interstate highways, convenient
for shoppers in and out of the county, he said.
Patterson Crossing, a 439,600-square-foot retail center,
would include a Costco warehouse store and a Lowe's
home-improvement store, The project is planned for 50
acres on the south side of Route 311 near Interstate
84 and backs up to Lake Carmel. It's not near any homes
in Patterson, but does come close to houses in Kent's
Lake Carmel community.
Some residents and Kent Town Board members have spoken
out against the project, concerned over traffic and
Adjacent to Patterson Crossing, Camarda would like
to build the Kent Center, a 100-acre property where
he envisions a commercial area, outlet stores or
a light industrial warehouse. That project, he said,
is still in the planning stages and not a sure thing.
Similarly, Baldwin Hills in Mahopac, across from the
Somers Commons shopping center along Route 6, would
see a department store and a home-improvement center,
Camarda owns the property, though it is for sale, he
said. The project would depend on whether he sells the
property, he said.
In addition to senior housing in Carmel, Camarda has
proposed a 150-room Staybridge Suites hotel, along with
a YMCA, on Route 6. The project has not been approved.
In Southeast, Camarda's Stateline Retail Centre, a
183,000-square-foot big-box venture on
Route 6, a mile from the Connecticut border, is in flux
because, although Camarda claims it complies with the
town's zoning laws, officials are considering a zoning
amendment that would effectively kill the project.
All in all, he said, his projects won't affect the
county's landscape, and he has no development plans
beyond the seven projects.
"Don't think these little footprints are going
to forever change Putnam County," he said.