The Examiner

New Plan for Former Legionaries Land in New Castle

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443 Rosehill picA revised plan that would demolish the existing building at the Legionaries property on Route 128 was floated last week before the New Castle Town Board by the New Jersey developer who owns the parcel.

Stephen Oder, of Soder Real Estate Equities in Montclair, N.J., said he now hopes to build a new structure with 68 condominiums geared toward empty-nesters. About 10 percent larger than the current building, it would be on the same site as the mansion once owned by the late Broadway producer Billy Rose, although it would use a slightly different footprint.

Oder said new construction is necessary after it was recently discovered that there were problems with the structural integrity of the current building. The plan had been to remove the existing wings but it’s unlikely the main building could survive a partial demolition, he said.

“One change with this concept, after a thorough investigation into the condition of the main structure, we’ve determined it is not feasible to save the existing building,” Oder said.

Revised plans for the project, named Rosehill, have not been formally submitted. The last plan called for 60 condominium units primarily using the existing main structure that would have been renovated. Originally, Oder had proposed a hotel, spa and residences for the 96-acre site.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will have to be submitted by the applicant, said Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis. However, it doesn’t appear the scoping session would need to be reopened because the change from 60 to 68 units wouldn’t be a significant enough change, he said.

The latest plans call for predominantly two-bedroom units along with six one-bedroom units and two three-bedroom residences, totaling 128 bedrooms. There would be 180,000 square feet of residential space, about 51,000 square feet of circulation area and 37,000 square feet for amenities. Amenities would include a health and fitness center, a spin room, spa rooms, a 40-seat theater, a library, an indoor and outdoor pool, a yoga studio, a clubroom and conference rooms.

Although Oder is not seeking an age-restricted project, it will be geared toward the empty-nester. The parcel is in the Bedford School District.

“We feel that someone who is an empty-nester comes in,” said Oder who doesn’t expect there to be many school-age children. “They want a home office, a study, it’s part of what they’re trying to buy, part of their home.”

A 150-car garage would be underground so no parked cars would be seen, he said.

A two- to three-acre farm-to-table garden will be included on the site and the roof will be covered in solar panels. Rosehill would use town water and septic systems.

Tripp Street resident Sharon Greene, one of several neighbors who has been actively involved in monitoring the site’s various applications, said she hopes town officials include them in the review process. Greene said they’re looking for maximum transparency because whatever happens at the site will mark a significant change.

“It’s important that our concerns get incorporated into what gets done going forward, and to this end, it would be very helpful as information comes in, if it were available to us we could look at it and not wait until it’s a done deal,” she said.

Oder said he will invite adjacent property owners to an upcoming site walk with himself and town officials.

“I’m here to work with you,” he said. “The property is sitting fallow. Who knows what can show up there and I think we’re preparing something that’s a benefit and a positive.”

Last year, Oder listed the property for about $35 million. He said he had a few parties interested but no one made him an offer. It is now off the market.







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