West Point, Highland Falls meet on leasing federal land
October 26, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Oct. 26, 2011) -- A meeting held Oct. 19 at the Highland Falls Library concerning a Request for Expression of Interest brought out the local community to learn about uses that would be considered by the Army and West Point as commercially viable property for possible development.
Approximately 239 acres of Army/West Point land at two designated sites were discussed during the meeting.
The land is located three miles from Thayer Gate with the surrounding areas used as training ground by West Point for the Corps of Cadets. The Morgan Farm Equestrian Center, Cragston Landfill and the James I. O'Neill High School are adjacent to the land.
"Fifteen years ago the Village of Highland Falls approached West Point about the possibility of conveying the land to the village," Matthew Talaber, Directorate of Public Works director, said. "Ultimately, the Army decided against the conveyance and decided that, instead of selling the land, they would consider leasing it. Several years later, the Army began the Enhanced Use Lease Project administered by the Corps of Engineers.
"The EUL is a long-term lease, usually 50 years with the option to extend, in exchange for services in kind, which would directly benefit West Point," he added.
In April 2009, an industry forum was held with developers who wanted to build senior housing. This was the sole proposed land use, and developers were asked to submit detailed development proposals. Unfortunately, no proposals were received.
"We surmised that no proposals were received due to the economy," Talaber explained. "Real estate was deemed as an unattractive investment at the time and developers thought the request for proposals was too restrictive by limiting development to only senior housing.
"Although the economy is not much better today, West Point and the Village of Highland Falls decided to once again try and spark interest in the possible development at the designated sites," he added.
Today, the idea is to showcase the property and not to place restrictions on the type of land uses that may be considered commercially viable.
Detailed development proposals are not needed. Instead, responses to the Request for Expression of Interest need only to identify potential land uses and provide an explanation why such uses would be commercially viable.
The Army and West Point will analyze each of the responses that are received and determine whether to pursue a competitive selection for one or more of the suggested land uses.
The tract of land involves parcel A, a total of 191 acres, and Parcel B, a total of 48 acres, which are both located on the western side of Route 9W between Fort Montgomery and the Village of Highland Falls.
"Both parcels are in close proximity to state highways with a view of the scenic Hudson Valley," Talaber said. "Currently, there are no structures on either parcel. Similar property has been developed in the surrounding area in recent years."
Responses to the RFEI must be submitted by Wednesday and cannot exceed five pages. The responses must include an introduction about the responders and a description on why they are responding. Responses should include a description of the specific land uses, a brief discussion on a viability assessment pertaining to the proposed use of land and how that will likely support the project goals.
The responders also need to provide a description of their type of business and any other information they would like to provide which demonstrates their experience and capability to develop the parcel successfully.
There were a few questions from participants at the meeting. One question Thayer Hotel's Rick Minicozzi asked was for more information about the potential costs before expressing interest.
"Any developer needs more information on cost to develop an interest," Minicozzi said. "Otherwise, it's a lot like throwing a dart in a dark room."
Jim Titolo of Trigen Builders Group in Highland Falls expressed interest in the proposal.
"I'm supportive of developing the parcels," he said. "I thought the meeting was informative."
Titolo said he is familiar with the property as he has toured the land and is aware of the topography.
For more information, visit http://eul.army.mil/Westpoint/.