Save the Lakes is a member of the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition.


Hudson River Valley Resort's development plan is for an upscale, gated resort community with a luxury hotel/spa as its centerpiece. In this common business model, the big profit is not in the hotel/spa centerpiece, but in the real-estate.

As originally planned, the hotel/spa would be comprised of a 94 room "lodge", 14 "villas" and 22 "lake-front suites". There is currently no operator to manage and run the proposed hotel/spa.

Potentially profitable real-estate sales included 101 attached townhouses and 59 detached single-family homes - in a cluster of subdivisions featuring private internal roads, homeowner's associations, and security.

August 2011 - The Town of Rosendale and the DEC both requested that the residential real-estate component of the plan be scaled back or eliminated.

In response, HRVR now proposes a slight reduction in residential units from 160 to 154, twelve of which are described as affordable housing for employees of the resort. The size of the spa/hotel would remain unchanged.

Nothing has been determined as far as property assessment and taxation of the community goes - the DEIS and FEIS outline the involvement of various corporate entities as well as a Homeowner's Association for the Townhomes, a Property Owner's Association for resort common areas and yet another for single-family residences. The implication is that the municipality will be bargaining annually with a number of governing bodies over proper and fair taxation.

Security gates, valet and concierge stations, a welcoming facility, a wellness center, a wastewater treatment plant, a skating rink, a boathouse, a teahouse and other structures and amenities were included in the original plan. Features that are being considered for exclusion - the teahouse and yoga studio, for example - are spa/hotel/resort amenities, and do not represent a significant reduction in the residential housing component.

HRVR will not openly admit to the gated character of their proposed community - HRVR spokesperson Tim Allred has said: "we don't like to call it that."

What are the details?

Show me a map...      Who are the developers?      How big a piece of Rosendale do they own?

On December 5, 2007, Canopy Development, acting as development manager for Hudson River Valley Resorts, presented to the Town of Rosendale a "concept" design for the proposed development of Williams Lake.

<<< This image shows an aerial view of the lake and its surroundings as it they appear today.

The developers requested a very specific zoning change amendment to proceed, called a "Special Permit Community", a change that would in fact rewrite Rosendale's zoning code to tailor-fit this project. The Special Permit Community zoning amendment outlined certain development criteria that would apply to the town as a whole, not simply to the development of Williams Lake. It was blatant spot zoning crafted by a developer, for the developer's benefit.

This first proposal was formally withdrawn on April 4, 2012, and a modified, second zoning change was submitted; it has deservedly received similar criticism. The BLCPDA, short for Binnewater Lakes Conservation Planned Development Area, is presently defined by a 779-acre bounded area - which just happens to be the same area acquired by the developer. The proposed law allows for the possibility of expanding the area to include adjoining properties, but not those in other parts of the town. It remains an obvious example of spot zoning, but with permission to expand. The Rosendale Zoning Review Commission has completed its review and submitted all of its recommended changes, except those related to karst (carbonate rock) to the Town Board for future action. So far, there has appeared to be little interest on the part of the Town Board to act on the findings of the ZRC.
Below is an "area of disturbance" diagram of the project as it appears in HRVR's Final Environmental Impact Statement.

This diagram makes very clear the extent to which the real-estate component - multiple subdivisions and the like - expands the footprint of the proposed spa/hotel. The green-tinted area represents the undeveloped open fields that surround the old resort, which are planned to include residential townhouses, the spa/hotel and various hotel amenities. The dark tan areas represent new development on natural terrain that will be subject to blasting, earthmoving and grading in order to accomodate the planned subdivisions and resort infrastructure. This map makes clear the extent to which the landscape will be reshaped. Demolition, grading, and construction is phased in stages that are scheduled for a 10 year period of time, during which there would be disturbance on site, and the movement of heavy equipment to and fro.

Below is a summary map of the proposed development as it was publicly presented in 2007, prepared by Paul Rubin. It was discovered through FOIL requests that certain project details evolved somewhat: single-family homes shifted from place to place; townhouse clusters were reorganized; after public outcry the rail trail was redrawn to follow the rail bed more closely, although it diverts behind the housing on the east side of Williams Lake. These changes can be confirmed in the map above.

The scale of the project has not been significantly modified since 2007, despite the Town of Rosendale and the DEC's request to do so. While the project's residential footprint has been shifted - away from terrain that proved practically impossible to build upon - the residential component has been reduced by only six units.

Note the extent and scale of the project - the entire area of Ulster County Community College
is represented in the lower right corner of the following map:

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What details of the plan are public knowledge?

  • The "concept" plans submitted to the town, and reproduced above, include an exclusive spa-hotel that consists of a 94 room lodge as well as 14 "villas" or stand-alone cabins and 22 "lake-front suites" - both of an undetermined number of rooms each. There is no stated operator for this spa-hotel since Miraval was withdrawn from public discussion. In addition, plans included 160 for-sale homes (101 attached townhouses and 59 detached single-family homes) spread throughout the Williams Lake property, including town house condominiums on the lake - all in a gated "resort" community. The overall number of units proposed now stands at 154. Although their official plans make no mention of home prices, Save the Lakes was told by Canopy in September of '07 that home prices would start at about a million, topping out with a handful of properties that would exceed in value anything in the region. The recent market troubles led Rick Steele of HRVR to state that there is now downward pressure on that price-point, with some mention of about $650,000 or so for an attached unit.

  • Also described in HRVR's Binnewater Lakes Conservation Planned Development Area zoning amendment application are "entry gate, security, valet and concierge stations", "equestrian, and winter sports facilities", agricultural uses, and "restaurants, bars, and gift shops servicing hotel/resort guests or development residents."

  • The proposed development would consume and process as waste-water an enormous quantity of water. In the DEIS submission of May 4, 2011, estimates of water consumption range from 82,683 to 104,035 gallons per day, depending on the success of water conservation measures. At the high end, this represents a greater than 600% increase from the old Williams Lake Hotel's average of 17,000 gallons per day. The developer originally estimated water usage to be 158,775 gallons per day. This represented a 933% increase in water consumption and processing from Williams Lake and the aquifer system. While HRVR has revised their projections downward, their measurement assumptions are under scrutiny - the DEC has questioned the methodology used in HRVR's downward revision. Further, HRVR's scientific evidence supporting their original claim that karst geology does not underly the development site has been characterized as "worthless" by independent hydro-geolist Dr. Frank Ewers. Dr. Ewers was hired by DEC and the Town of Rosendale to review HRVR's hydro-geologic work.

    Click here to review samples of Paul Rubin's Hydrology Analysis work.

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Please Note: Land on the West side of Binnewater Road has been purchased outright by HRVR.

Land on the East side of Binnewater Road continues to be owned by two companies formerly run by Anita Peck, but controlling interest in those companies has been transferred to HRVR.

What properties has HRVR acquired? Our research shows:
  • The centerpiece of the development is Williams Lake (aka Fifth Lake), Third Binnewater Lake and Fourth Binnewater Lake, a total of 739 acres. This renowned and historic natural cement-mining area is all the property owned by Binnewater Realty Corp and Ulster County Construction Company, Inc., whose majority shareholder was previously Anita Peck, but is now HRVR. 416 of these acres are subject to conservation easement by the Rondout-Esopus Land Conservancy. The parcels are: 62.2-4-15.11, 62.2-4-16, 62.4-1-13.1, 62.4-1-17, 62.4-1-18, and 62.4-2-39. They are shown in bright red on the map.
  • Parcels 62.4-1-9.100 and 62.11-1-13.1, totaling 80 acres, to the west of Williams Lake and Binnewater Road for large detached houses. These have been purchased from Anita Peck individually, and Anita's sister, Barbara-Anne Battelle. Each of these parcels includes some lake frontage on the west side of Williams Lake.
  • The total of all of these properties is 819 acres, more or less. According to the Town of Rosendale website, the town encompasses a total of 20.8 square miles. 819 acres is 1.28 square miles.
  • The properties listed above comprise 6.15% of Rosendale.

Click to access detailed background research on many aspects of the project.
Who is Hudson River Valley Resorts? To quote from their submission letter to the Rosendale Town Board dated November 20, 2007 requesting "a zone text amendment for the proposed action": HRVR is an investment group that "includes Rick Steele of Longmeadow Capital, Matrix Planning LLC, and Revolution LLC, as well as other individual investors. The corporation was formed for the purpose of acquiring, master planning, and developing the subject property. HRVR has hired Canopy Development, LLC as the development manager of the proposed resort community..."

Click to see who is known to be among the developers and investors

Canopy is a development company whose major stakeholder as of September '07 was a company called Revolution LLC, a conglomerate created by former AOL/Time-Warner CEO Steve Case. As of July '08, the project is being driven by Rick Steele of Longmeadow Capital, partnering with Revolution LLC, Matrix Planning Inc. and other investors in a new corporate entity that calls itself Hudson River Valley Resorts, LLC. Canopy Development was hired by this corporation to act as development manager, but Canopy is no longer involved. While Revolution LLC remains a stakeholder in the venture, they are now keeping a low profile. To date, Longmeadow Capital has not completed a project of this kind, although an equestrian real-estate development is planned in South Carolina.

HRVR was reported to have acquired controlling interest in April '08 of Binnewater Realty and Ulster County Construction Company, Inc., the companies owned by Anita Peck that held ownership of the Williams Lake property among others. Anita Peck was identified at the time as a partner in the proposed development. It is a legitimate question to ask why control was acquired in this way. Such an apparent takeover - rather than a direct sale - might be seen to "grandfather" in the long-standing but ill-defined agreement between the Town and the Williams Lake Hotel, so that aspects of this outdated, almost casual agreement would carry over to new development on the property.

Longmeadow Capital Partners has invested in interests as diverse as Polish Cable Television, real-estate and thermoplastic polymers. Steve Case's Revolution LLC controls a company called Exclusive Resorts which operates luxury vacation homes and time-shares available to members who pay a one-time fee of as much as $425,000 and additional annual dues of up to $27,500. Also mentioned early-on by Canopy CEO Tom Horton as the client for the Williams Lake development was the Miraval Resort of Tucson, Arizona, as well as the lifestyle/real estate enterprise called Miraval Living - both owned by Steve Case. The Williams Lake project appeared in September '07 to be the Miraval Spa's entry into the East Coast market, where it's main competitor would be Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. According to Canopy/HRVR, the relationship with Revolution has since changed and their direct support of Canopy/HRVR has cooled.

In September '07 Canopy was under orders from Revolution LLC to MAKE NO PUBLIC MENTION of the "brand" for whom this property was then intended - Miraval Living. Now, Rick Steele and HRVR say that they don't know what Spa interest might come in, nor do they know who will run it - apparently a "build it and they will come" approach.

In any case, the real-estate/gated vacation-home aspect of the HRVR concept plan is of great concern. (see ISSUES AND IMPACT) This kind of development plan has become fairly common in recent years, and has proven profitable for the developer who can keep his financing together. These resort destination/real-estate developments have often proved destructive over the long term to the small, rural towns that have hosted them by driving up property taxes while creating hidden costs, by changing community character and, finally, forcing long-term residents to leave.

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>>> Longmeadow Capital Partners, LLC
>>> Business Week article on Steve Case's big gamble on hospitality and wellness...
>>> New York Times article on Miraval Living - stating Steve Case's intention to brand Miraval as "...the Nike of wellness."
>>> Patagonia CEO Michael Crooke Named CEO of Steve Case's Revolution Living
>>> Washington Post article on Steve Case going into business with Gaiam Inc.
>>> Washington Post: Steve Case's Eco Getaway     >>> Think Global: MetaSystem Consulting Group
>>> Exclusive Resorts     >>> The Revolution Corporation     >>> Revolution acquires Canopy    
>>> The Canopy Corporation    
>>> Miraval Living     >>> Miraval Resort site
>>> Curbed.com article on the Miraval Living apartment building in Manhattan

>>>Fools Rush In : Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner by Nina Munk.

>>>Stealing Time : Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner by Alec Klein.

Save the Lakes is a member of the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition.