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Plans change at Legionaries property

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Soder Real Estate Equities L.L.C, the potential owners of the Legionaries of Christ property in New Castle, is hoping its third residential development proposal is the charm.

Representatives of Montclair, N.J.-based Soder presented their third proposal to the New Castle Town Board at a Jan. 15 meeting to develop the 97-acre property at 773 Armonk Road. Soder plans to build a 30-room hotel and 54 two-bedroom residential condominiums all in one existing building.

A spa, restaurant, fitness center and small theater would also be built on the site. The spa and restaurant would be open to the public.

The condominiums would be geared toward empty nesters, though there will be no age restrictions. The property is in the Bedford Central School District.

The development would preserve the existing building on the property, which was built in the 1920s.

Unlike the previous two proposals, there will be no additional housing constructed.

David Steinmetz, of Zarin & Steinmetz, the White Plains law firm representing Soder, said that the condominiums would be far away from neighboring residential units and that the proposal preserves the magnificent views on the site.

Soder plans to meet with the town again this month and will soon begin filing a petition for rezoning and site plan approval. The property is currently zoned for single-family homes.

Soder’s contract to buy the property from the Legionaries is contingent on site plan approval.

Steinmetz said it is too early to map out a timetable for the project, and that Soder is working on addressing potential environmental and engineering impacts.

The town board had been concerned with Soder’s previous proposals, particularly about the impact the development would have on wetlands, tree removal and the visual impact of the new structures.

“The town board is more comfortable with the new proposal,” said town Administrator Penelle Paderewski. “Now they can go through the building process.”

The planning board is the lead agency on the project.

In September, Soder had proposed four new structures with 66 units featuring duplexes and penthouses, as well as 30 hotel rooms. In October, Soder proposed 80 residential units, with 37 three-story fee simple villas and 43 townhouses.

The town has also expressed concern about septic runoff and stormwater runoff on the site, but at the meeting, Steinmetz said that Woodard & Curran, a West Harrison-based engineering firm, signed off on the viability of a septic system at the site.

Legionaries of Christ, based in Thornwood, bought the property from the Unification Church in 1994 for $3.12 million. The organization is also looking to sell its 264-acre Thornwood property it bought from IBM for $33.5 million in 1996.

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