RIVERHEAD, NY-Riverhead Resorts LLC, a partnership of Bayrock Group LLC and Baldragon Homes Ltd., is one step closer to building the massive recreational project on the 755-acre former Grumman site here. The project was selected by the Riverhead Town Board over a competing proposal. A source close to the deal tells GlobeSt.com that exclusive negotiations for property, where the $1-billion to $1.5-billion project will rise, will now commence.

The project, which was originally estimated to cost at least $500 million and now double, will be centered around a 90-acre man-made lake. A 350-foot to 400-foot indoor ski slope and indoor water park will be designed to operate through the four seasons. Other features include hotels, timeshare housing, a spa, an equestrian center, a seaport, farmer’s market, and a 100,000-sf exposition hall.

The source tells GlobeSt.com that the next step is the “negotiation and consummation of the contract between the developer and the town,” which they hope will be completed in the next 60 days, the source adds. “Then New York State law requires a Qualified and Eligible Sponsor hearing because the town is selling municipal property, which we hope to finish by end of 2007.”

Following the Qualified Eligible Sponsor hearing, the source says, the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act compliance will begin, which will likely take 18 to 24 months. The project goal is to start construction beginning 2010.

Jody Kriss of Bayrock Group states that they are confident that this project will transform Riverhead into a world-class destination, drawing on the 50-plus million visitors to New York City each year. Eight related and integrated themes within Riverhead Resorts, interwoven with internal water and land transportation have been conceived to encourage extended guest stays throughout all four seasons.

John Niven, Riverhead Resorts principal, says that “Riverhead Resorts is thrilled to be selected by the town to proceed with negotiations and development. Jody Kriss and I are confident that this project represents the highest and best use for this property and presents tremendous economic potential for the town and region.”

The Riverhead Resorts project is thorough in its detailed for environmental concerns and its design premise, which first outlined environmental protection zones for Pine Barrens, tiger salamander habitat, and other sensitive wetland and surface water features. Multi-modal on and off site transportation planning for staff and the extended stay guests will reduce traffic impacts bringing visitors and workers to the site utilizing a variety of transportation modes.

Site development would begin with demolition of the former runway and construction of the artificial lake around which the resorts are clustered. The lake also provides activities, and interconnects on site land and water transportation. It is anticipated that development will be phased with the first cluster of resorts available to guests in two to three years from authorization to proceed.

Riverhead Resorts’ sustainable design standards integrates extensive rooftop parks and green spaces blurring boundaries of structures and landscapes in turn creating extended opportunities for physical guest activities and scenic vistas. Buildings will be LEEDS-certified resulting from materials selection, energy and water conservation and other sustainable environmental principles. During site development, on-site materials including concrete debris associated with removal of the former runway and excavated sands and aggregates will be used to shape new land features, roads and foundations.

Riverhead Resorts LLC is a design, build and operate proposal comprising expertise in project development, financing, design and operation of Baldragon Homes Ltd, Bayrock Group LLC, LEDO International Inc, HOK, HOK Sport, and EDAW/AECOM. Members of the team are currently designing and building billions in hotel and residential developments, and locally are responsible for the expansion of the Javits Convention Center and design of the new Yankee and Citipark stadiums. Weber Law Group and Cameron Engineering is providing environmental planning, design and implementation services.