Grand plan for former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility

By James Walsh
Times Herald-Record
Published: 9:45 PM - 09/12/14
Last updated: 10:13 PM - 09/12/14

WARWICK — Exercising in The Yard at the former Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility will have a whole new connotation, thanks to the plans of the owner of a Chester sports complex.

Tony Abbatine, who owns The Rock Sports Park – no known connection to Alcatraz – has a contract to buy part of the closed medium-security prison that he envisions turning into a sports village called “The Yard” that will host athletic tournaments and training.

The sale price was nearly $1.8 million, with an $80,000 down payment, Robert Krahulik, president of the Warwick Valley Local Development Corp., said Thursday.

The town created the LDC to oversee the transition of the property from a non-taxpaying state prison to a taxable assortment of private enterprises.

Nearly $7 million project
Abbatine will buy 36 acres and renovate a recreation building and other structures used for classrooms, inmate housing and receiving visitors.

He said the impetus for acquiring the property was space for things his Chester location can't accommodate, including soccer, football and lacrosse tournaments.

The development will include turf fields, a restaurant/cafeteria and overnight accommodations for summer campers.

He said he was the majority stakeholder in what would be a nearly $7 million project.

He declined to name his partners, but said they had soccer and hotel-development experience.

'Positive economic impact'
The Orange County Partnership intends to ask the Orange County Industrial Development Agency next week for “shovel ready” funds to help develop the project, Maureen Halahan, partnership CEO, said Thursday.

The IDA established the funding program this year to help companies with expenses such as environmental reviews, engineering and infrastructure work.

“The positive economic impact from a project of this caliber is large,” said Halahan, a member of the LDC board. “People bring their kids there, they shop locally, they eat locally. There are also a lot of overnight stays. This can be a win on many levels.”

Seeking tax incentives
Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton said Thursday the LDC will go to the town's Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 22 for a variance to separate the property for the sports complex from property being leased by Trans Tech, a school-bus manufacturer.

The Planning Board reviewed the matter during a Wednesday work session, Sweeton said, and will refer it to the zoning board with support for the variance.

“He's someone who has demonstrated he can run a first-class operation that brings economic activity to the area,” Sweeton said of Abbatine. “We're confident that it (The Yard) will be an economic boon.”

Abbatine said he was looking into acquiring tax incentives from the state Economic Transformation Program. That program is intended to boost the economy of an area where a state facility, such as a prison, has closed.

Mid-Orange is one of 11 Department of Corrections sites for which the state budgeted tax credits and $50 million of capital funding for their transformation two years ago, according to Empire State Development.

Targeted industries are high-tech, biotech, clean-tech and manufacturing. Retail, real estate development and professional services can also qualify.

Incentives include a real property-tax credit of 50 percent of taxes for the first year, phasing downward to 10 percent in the fifth year.