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Mamakating, NY - Developer Has Big Plans For Wurtsboro Airport

Published on: August 26, 2009 06:37 PM
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Shalom Lamm, front, owner of Wurtsboro Airport, and Dan Depew, airport manager, have big plans for the airport's future. Times Herald-Record/MICHELE HASKELLShalom Lamm, front, owner of Wurtsboro Airport, and Dan Depew, airport manager, have big plans for the airport's future. Times Herald-Record/MICHELE HASKELL

Mamakating, NY - Shalom Lamm plans to save Wurtsboro Airport by surrounding it with more than 1.5 million square feet of warehouse and office space.

The managing director of Black Creek Holdings presented his audacious proposal Tuesday night to the Mamakating Planning Board.

Lamm has already divided the 400-acre airport into two distinct properties. The aviation operation has been reduced to 177 acres and turned over to a nonprofit organization, the Wurtsboro Airport Foundation, with the promise that it will remain an airport forever.

In return for that pledge, Lamm said, the Federal Aviation Administration has given him the green light to develop the remaining acreage.

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“We had two central goals,” Lamm said during an interview before the Planning Board meeting. “One is, as a businessman, we have no problem making a profit, taking an asset and trying to improve it. The second “ยป was to save Wurtsboro Airport.”

Lamm expects the airport to lose about $40,000 a year. Without creating a structure to support its continued operation, it would likely have to be shut down.

His plan includes a 1.2-million-square-foot warehouse and three smaller buildings. The businesses that locate on the property will contribute about $150,000 per year to the foundation that owns the airport. Lamm compared the arrangement to a homeowners association, in which owners pay common charges that cover maintenance of common areas.

“We figured out the better mousetrap, and that’s how to make a small, important, historic general-aviation airport fiscally sound in perpetuity,” he said.

The commercial development would create thousands of jobs and pay millions in property taxes each year. The entire scheme hinges, of course, on attracting users. Lamm is working with Real Estate Solutions, which has extensive experience guiding the development of warehouse sites.

Securing approval for a 1.2-milion-square-foot building would give the site a competitive advantage, since such sites are rare in the Northeast, said John Lavelle, an associate broker with Real Estate Solutions. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has been squatting for years on a nearby site that fits the bill, perhaps because it’s the only such property in the region.

“There’s nothing in Connecticut that can accommodate that. There’s nothing in northern New Jersey that can accommodate that,” Lavelle said.

Lamm hopes to secure generic approval for the project, then complete site work so the property can be marketed as shovel-ready. He has commissioned extensive environmental studies.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Planning Board announced its intention to serve as lead agency in the project’s environmental review.

In 2007, Lamm paid about $4.5 million for the airport, then poured more than $1 million into improvements. He withdrew earlier development plans amid fierce local opposition and town discussions about seizing the airport through eminent domain.

This time, Lamm is attempting to pre-empt his critics. His company, Wurtsboro Airport Preservation League, and Web site, www.savewurtsboroairport.com, both sound like they belong to opponents of his plans.

Lamm is involved in a half-dozen projects around Sullivan and northern Orange County. The airport, though, is shaping up as his biggest gamble. He said he’s prepared for what figures to be a lengthy development process, in Mamakating and at his other projects.

“We’re not under any particular pressure to do anything quickly,” Lamm said. “We’re just huge believers in this area.”

Mr. Lamm currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Yeshiva College, as President of its affiliated Camp Morasha, and as a member of the Board of Directors of The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).


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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Aug 26, 2009 at 06:03 PM Anonymous Says:

WOW, ive always wanted to own an airport!

2

 Aug 26, 2009 at 07:31 PM Anonymous Says:

"The managing director of Black Creek Holdings presented his audacious proposal Tuesday night to the Mamakating Planning Board." I think you perhaps meant to say ambitious proposal
Thesaurus: audacious

adjective

1. Having or showing courage: bold, brave, courageous, dauntless, doughty, fearless, fortitudinous, gallant, game, hardy, heroic, intrepid, mettlesome, plucky, stout, stouthearted, unafraid, undaunted, valiant, valorous. Informal spunky. Slang gutsy, gutty. See fear/courage.
2. Taking or willing to take risks: adventuresome, adventurous, bold, daredevil, daring, enterprising, venturesome, venturous. See safety/danger.
3. Rude and disrespectful: assuming, assumptive, bold, boldfaced, brash, brazen, cheeky, contumelious, familiar, forward, impertinent, impudent, insolent, malapert, nervy, overconfident, pert, presuming, presumptuous, pushy, sassy, saucy, smart. Informal brassy, flip, fresh, smart-alecky, snippety, snippy, uppish, uppity. Slang wise. See attitude/good attitude/bad attitude/neutral attitude, courtesy/discourtesy.

3

 Aug 26, 2009 at 09:08 PM Anonymous Says:

The traffic on the 209 will be horrendous.
Kohls is already there but the 209 only connects to the 17, and will never work for such large warehouse and holding areas which need access to 95 and the Thruway.

4

 Aug 26, 2009 at 09:06 PM Anonymous Says:

You call this an airport -- its runaway is tiny and all you see there are tiny gliders.

Agav, if you want a ride for $75 in a glider you can get one there, but only for the adventrous types.

5

 Aug 26, 2009 at 09:03 PM Anonymous Says:

There is no infrastructure around the Airport to host such a large warehouse bldg. The 209 os one lane on each side, dark at nite, and leads only to the 17 -- quickway. Most large warehouses have acess to major highways etc.

6

 Aug 26, 2009 at 11:14 PM Frequent Traveler Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

There is no infrastructure around the Airport to host such a large warehouse bldg. The 209 os one lane on each side, dark at nite, and leads only to the 17 -- quickway. Most large warehouses have acess to major highways etc.

You obviously dont get around. This would be a good place. Maybe not for a supersized warehouse project but something could make a go of it here. Its not too far to 17 which is almost an interstate.

7

 Aug 27, 2009 at 07:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Is Shalom Lamm the son of Rabbi Norman Lamm, formerly of the Jewish Center and Yeshiva University?

8

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