Business executives and Dutchess County officials took ceremonial shovels to dirt Sept. 21 for the groundbreaking of Bellefield at Historic Hyde Park, an estimated $500 million venture to bring hotel rooms, homes and foodie-friendly commercial storefronts to an undeveloped 330-acre parcel of land across from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.
Developer Bellefield Development Partners, an affiliate of T-Rex Capital Group LLC, envisions the site as a future destination for visitors and residents, each drawn to the area’s history, natural resources and food culture.
The master plan ultimately calls for about 2.1 million square feet of development, a mix of residential, commercial and agricultural space. That vision includes up to 559 residences, two hotels, a 45-acre agricultural complex, farm-to-table restaurants, a special events barn and an educational center.
The first step in that plan is the Inn at Bellefield, a 133-room hotel developed in partnership with The Shaner Group. Based in State College, Pennsylvania, Shaner Hotel Groups owns and manages more than 50 hotel properties in the U.S., Italy and the Bahamas.
The hotel is a collaboration with Marriott International and will be soft-branded as a Residence Inn. The soft brand means the hotel will operate as Marriott but signs will carry the Inn at Bellefield name. The soft brand also allows the developer more creativity in the exterior design of the hotel. Architectural renderings show a brick and stone exterior designed to blend into the style of the nearby buildings at the CIA and Franklin D. Roosevelt home.
The hotel hopes to draw its guests from the visitors to those destinations, along with the nearby Walkway Over the Hudson, Staatsburg State Historic Site and local private colleges Marist and Vassar.
At the groundbreaking, Hyde Park Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr said the hotel would allow the “hundreds of thousands of visitors to stay where they play.” Mary Kay Vrba, president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism Inc., said the project should build on the region’s $600 million in visitor spending in 2017.
“This location is triple A. This is just such a great spot to do this,” said Lance Shaner, chairman and CEO of the Shaner Hotel Group, following the groundbreaking.
Tom Mulroy, CEO of T-Rex Capital Group LLC, put the development in a regional context.
He cited other major projects in the lower Hudson Valley: Marist and Health Quest teaming up to launch a medical college, Legoland’s half-billion-dollar theme park under construction in Goshen and Resorts World Catskills, the billion-dollar casino that opened earlier this year in Sullivan County.
Just farther north up Route 9, Japanese sake maker Asahi Shuzo Co. Ltd plans to spend $28 million converting a former grocery store into its first international brewery.
“We are thrilled to be part of this growth,” Mulroy said. “Things are happening here and that’s great for everyone.”
Mulroy promised Bellefield would build on that by bringing local jobs and investment, creating “a world-class hospitality and tourism destination” that complements The Culinary Institute of America.
Shaner said he was thrilled to build a hotel in what will become “one of the most beautiful communities in New York state.”
Just how long that community will take to fully build isn’t clear just yet. Mulroy said the first phase would focus on building up the property’s infrastructure — bringing roads, sewer, water treatment and electricity to the site — with the hotel acting as the force that “ignites” it, as Mulroy described it. The estimated investment in the hotel and infrastructure improvements is $60 million.
The hotel expects to break ground in January with Shaner projecting a 12-month construction timeline.
“Which is fast, by the way,” Mulroy added.
The next phase after the hotel would be a village green with some residential components. The entirety of the project could take at least five to seven years, driven by market conditions.
“But it’s going to move quicker now,” Mulroy said. “The biggest lead time to getting this site activated, starting the other 2 million square feet, was getting the infrastructure in place.”
The commercial space would feature a market square fronted by signature restaurants, a year-round farmers’ market and specialty food and wine shops.
As for the site’s residential portion, “luxurious while not exclusive,” was the phrasing Mulroy used, with the new curved streets and a network of wide sidewalks. The style of homes is expected to range from brownstone style to detached cottages, artist-style lofts and private estates.
About 60 percent of the site’s 340 acres will remain wooded and undeveloped, while another 48 acres would be developed for agricultural uses. The property would have a network of 10 miles of walking, hiking and bikes trails through wetlands and nature preserves.
All told, the Bellefield project estimates it will create more than 550 construction jobs and 369 full-time jobs on site. Developers estimate the first phase of the project will generate more than $118 million in state, county and town tax revenue and 10-year visitor spending of more than $630 million.
Bellefield is also a “priority project” of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and has been awarded $4.25 million in state grant funding.