Union Place unveiled
Putnam County Courier
February 21, 2008

MAHOPAC-Move over Donald Trump! Developer Paul Camarda has announced plans to turn southern Mahopac into a shopper's paradise.

Camarda met with members of the Carmel Town Board last week where he unveiled Union Place-a 300 acre parcel of land at the Putnam-Westchester border where the entrepreneur wants to create a new gateway to Putnam County.

Camarda sat down with the Courier last Friday to detail his latest initiative. The builder plans to break ground on Putnam's first hotel at the Southeast- Carmel line in April while planning to construct Patterson Crossing and a small business development on Route 6 in Southeast in the years to come.

Camarda's latest initiative is too large to be used exclusively for retail business or even office space. "A mixture of uses called smart growth is the best solution for the property. I have decided to create an old village concept as the centerpiece with a main thoroughfare of no longer than 1200 to 1500 feet with quality shops along the street-businesses both privately owned and publicly traded," he said.

Camarda also hopes to construct two large anchor stores at either end of the village as well as corporate headquarters for several companies.

The two and three story buildings will house offices and apartments on the upper floors.

While the Hudson Valley has nothing like it, Camarda hopes to model Union Place after Santana Row in San Jose, California; Disneyland in Florida; and the Corn Fields outside of Kansas City. "Mixed use is the key since by sticking to the criteria of smart growth, buildings will be green and environmentally friendly. Rooftops won't produce storm water since they will contain grass; recycled materials will be employed along with geo-thermal heating techniques," he said.

Camarda studied the trade area that indicated a population of 180,000: "People from Kent, Katonah, Pleasant Valley and Yorktown will use our village since they can travel along the Taconic State Parkway. The average income of our customers is in the $100,000 range and with a void in the market for upscale shops, Union Place will attract scores of customers from Putnam and northern Westchester to these upscale facilities. The Putnam Paradox will finally come to an end!" The paradox coined by economists results from the fact that Putnam residents spend the large amounts of their incomes outside of the county due to a lack of shopping facilities found from Cold Spring to Carmel and from Putnam Lake to Putnam Valley.

Camarda has plans for several junior anchor stores to locate at the new center as well as full sized anchor stores and Class A office space, a small hotel, even a movie theater or an ice skating rink. "We need a place where adults can go and have lunch, do some shopping, enjoy live music and partake in a variety of activities," said Camarda.

Camarda wants to hear from residents of Carmel and Mahopac and next week will be sending a survey to each household in Putnam's largest community asking for input. "What do people want? Union Place will be a union-a place where Westchester will meet Putnam. Putnam always meets Westchester. It would be nice for Westchester to meet Putnam for a change. Union Place will be a joining together of a dozen different uses. Once completed Union Place will make Putnam County a very special place," he said.

Carmel Supervisor Ken Schmitt agreed: "I am ecstatic at Mr. Camarda's plan because Union Place at the Baldwin Place-Mahopac border will generate tremendous revenues for our town and county. The commercial, corporate and retail components will lift some of the tax burden from our heavily taxed homeowners. Jobs will be created. Shoppers will spend their money in Mahopac instead of Jefferson Valley or Danbury. The entire Route 6 corridor will be revitalized by this project. Union Place is a win-win!"

Another interesting component of Camarda's plan is the creation of a bypass from Baldwin Place Road in the vicinity of Mahopac High School all the way to Route 6.