Orange County, NY - Neuhaus Identifies Possible Locations For Hudson Valley Legoland
Orange County, NY - A Lego-based theme park could be the latest addition to the Orange County landscape, with a site located near Kiryas Joel being scrutinized as a possible contender for the attraction.
Legoland representatives toured eight prospective sites in October.
“We had a bunch of Lego executive and their real estate team fly out here two weeks ago today,” Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus told VIN News. “We started them out in the Stewart airport area, Montgomery, New Windsor and Newburgh and then we horseshoed down towards Woodbury in Southern Orange County before heading out to the Route 17 corridor towards Walkill.”
The proposed theme park would most closely resemble the company’s Orlando Legoland location which has a water park, amusement rides, a hotel and other Lego-type attractions. Neuhaus noted that some Legoland locations also feature aquariums and that executives were looking for a relatively flat, square parcel that would be 100 to 150 acres in size.
The proposed park would have several hundred full time employees as well as another six to seven hundred seasonal staffers.
Neuhaus said that Legoland has narrowed down their search to two choices: Orange County and an unnamed site in New Jersey, with two sites in the county that had been selected for previous casino projects now being eyed for the theme park.
Neuhaus identified the two spots as the proposed location for a Caesar’s casino in Harriman located between the New York State Thruway and Route 17 near Route 17M, just southwest of the Woodbury Common factory outlet center, and further north, the Resorts World Hudson Valley casino site in Montgomery, located at the end of route 747 near Stewart International Airport.
“They are very interested in Orange County and we have a lot of offer,” said Neuhaus. “Woodbury Common brings in 13 million visitors each year and if they can grab just 10 percent of those visitors it would make it worthwhile.”
With a major theme park being an attraction unto itself, close proximity to the factory outlet center or another busy area is not the highest priority for Legoland executives.
“Going to a park like Legoland isn’t a knee jerk visit,” explained Neuhaus. “People come and they stay overnight.”
The family friendly theme park which would generate significant tax revenues could also potentially provide tremendous additional benefits to Orange County.
“They really make it worthwhile,” said Neuhaus. “There is big potential for positive economic development and they do a lot of programs where they give back to the local area. There could be kids in the area who maybe live below the poverty level and they might have a day where kids in Orange County could come for free or a few days per year where profits could go to causes in the county.”
Neuhaus, the father of three children ages one, three and five, said that his children are still too young for the proposed them park but admitted to being personally “stoked” about Legoland.
The county executive said that with county residents approving several casino proposals for the area recently, he expects no opposition to the project, should an Orange County site be chosen.
“If we got six casinos approved last year, you have to believe that getting approvals for Legoland from residents will be a piece of cake,” said Neuhaus. “If a casino was good then people are going to love Legoland.”
Negotiations between Legoland and nearby Rockland County ended badly on October 15th, as residents objected to the theme park which was to be situated near a largely residential area. Once talks broke off Neuhaus began aggressively pursuing the project, issuing both a press release and a YouTube clip asking residents to create short video clips showing community support for Legoland.
Neuhaus pledged to send the best clips to Legoland executives and said that so far his office has received over 3,000 videos from residents pitching Orange County as the perfect home for the theme park.
Maureen Halahan, president of the Orange County Partnership a non-profit economic development agency, said that there is no way to determine when the final decision would be made or a projected opening date if Legoland officials decide to call Orange County home, but that the county is very committed to the project which would have a positive financial impact for the area.
“This is a priority for us,” said Halahan. “Tourist destinations bring in outside money and we were very aggressive about going after them. We reached out to them and set up a pretty sophisticated tour of the county. State officials told us that nobody does this in other counties.”
Halahan said that that company executives will be returning to the county in approximately two weeks for further discussions.
“Last time we got them on a tour bus and met with local town supervisors,” said Halahan. “We spoke about everything about being sensitive to traffic to visits from Manhattan to the support of the county, which is very business friendly. This time we have big plans for their visit which will be a little more focused. We are going to get out the maps, check out the topography, make sure it works and walk the land.”
Kiryas Joel officials declined to comment when asked what impact the theme park might have on their village if it were to be located in the Woodbury area.
Legoland currently has theme parks in Orlando, San Diego, Dubai, Denmark, Germany, Malaysia and England.
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