KIAMESHA LAKE, NY-Several hundred area and state politicians and Sullivan County business people braved a cold north wind and snow flurries to attend the ceremony that hailed the beginning of the demolition of the storied Concord Hotel.

The first phase of the project, valued at $150 million, will involve the demolition of one of the buildings that make up the current 1,200-room hotel complex. Several other adjoining structures will be stripped down to the bare steel and then rebuilt. This phase of the overall $500 million master plan is to transform the 1,600-acre property into a luxury hotel, convention center and resort spa.

“The Concord has a history steeped in tradition,” says Louis R. Cappelli, managing partner in Concord Associates, the developer for the new Concord Resort and Convention Center. “Thousands of people of all ages have fond memories of the hotel and the enjoyable times they had here. The Concord enjoyed a well-earned reputation as the biggest and the best resort hotel of its day. Virtually every major entertainer performed here during its heyday. We intend not only to keep this sense of history alive, but also to create a new, modern, full-service luxury hotel, convention center and resort spa. The Concord Resorts at Kiamesha Lake will once again emerge as a major four-season resort and residential community.” Concord Associates is a joint venture of Cappelli Enterprises of Valhalla and Reckson Strategic Venture Partners LLC. The joint venture also owns another Catskill hotel–the Grossinger Country Club.

Phase one of the project will take 20 months to complete and will include: a 525-room hotel, an 85,000-sf exhibition, convention and meeting facility that will also feature a ballroom, dining rooms, restaurants and a 25,000-sf Imperial Theater with seating for 2,400. The hotel complex already features the infamous Monster golf course as well as the International 18-hole course and a nine-hole course. At the end of phase one other recreational amenities will include: a golf school/tennis academy, eight indoor tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts and a bowling alley. The plan also calls for a health club and spa as well as a 250-car parking garage and 700 additional spaces.

Cappelli officials say the firm is in negotiations with a major hotel franchise to operate the Concord Hotel, however no agreement has been reached as yet.

Eventually, the master plan calls for a total of 1,500 guest rooms at the Concord Resort and Conference Center as well as seasonal resorts such as: the Kiamesha Ranch Spa, an Equestrian Center, a Golf Village, an Alpine Village, a Wilderness Village and a Village Square and Entertainment Center. In addition to offering sport-related activities at the various resort components, most will also include housing as well.

While several Indian tribes and developers are trying to secure the rights to develop casinos in the Catskills, Cappelli said that he will press on with our without legalized gambling in the region. However, he said that if casinos were to come to Sullivan County, it would be a great draw for the region and for his hotel and convention center.

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver seemed to sum up the mood at the ceremony by recalling the Concord’s rich history and what many hope will be its promising future. “What a great day this is, the groundbreaking for phase one of a bigger, better, more attractive and luxurious four-season Concord resort that I believe will be the launching pad for an economic renaissance in Sullivan County. Those of us who remember the Catskill resorts in their heyday know that they were more than grand hotels. They were part of what it meant to be a New Yorker–as much a treasure as Broadway, or Saratoga, Niagara Falls or the Long Island shore. Today, we’re going to put our shovels in the ground and dig up that treasure once again.”

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