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Cappelli gets a new Concord partner, old partner growls

By Fritz Mayer
May 11, 2011

The forlorn-looking footings out at the sight of the old Concord Hotel may yet be put to use if the latest plans by developer Louis Cappelli bear fruit.

Cappelli’s Concord Associates announced on May 5 that it has reached a deal with Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) to develop the long-delayed resort in Kiamesha Lake.
The company said the deal would immediately spark new action on the dormant project, which was halted because of financing problems when The Great Recession enveloped the country in 2008.

The project is as ambitious as ever. According to the release, “Phase 1 of the project, budgeted at over $600 million, includes a 75,000-square-foot casino, featuring 2,100 video lottery terminals, and capacity for up to 450 electronic table game positions, a 258-room resort hotel, a harness racing facility with a grandstand, 5/8 mile track and related paddock facilities, a simulcast facility for pari-mutuel wagering, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and ballrooms, five restaurants, retail outlets and several entertainment spaces. It is expected that phase 1 will open in the spring of 2013.”

But Empire Resorts, which was formerly a partner with Cappelli in a very similar plan to develop the site, one which included moving the Mighty M Gaming race track from Monticello to the Concord site, issued a press release of its own, which said, “At this time, neither Concord Associates, nor MTGA have valid New York State licenses to operate a harness racetrack or video gaming machines (VGMs) in Sullivan County, prerequisites to the operation of VGMs at the proposed development.”

The release continued, “In addition, Empire does not believe that such licenses can be obtained by Concord Associates or the MTGA under New York law and intends to vigorously oppose any request to obtain such licenses, including, if necessary, by pursuing all of its available legal rights and remedies.”

Cappelli is hoping that he can convince Empire to once again join him in the effort to rejuvenate the property that once held the most prestigious resort in Sullivan County, but it’s not clear that they will. Cappelli is still facing millions of dollars in payments and settlements linked to when he had to abandon the project in 2009 because of financing difficulties.
Still, he’s sounding every bit as optimistic as he has since 2002, when he visited the Sullivan County Legislature to ask for reduced fees at the landfill, and asked the county to float a bond for him to help pay for construction.