Developer Butch Resnick said that if things go as planned, the Apollo Plaza will stick with the name it already has once he has rehabilitated the forlorn-looking mall.
Resnick and his attorney Steven Vegliante appeared at the government center on May 15, to once again go over their plan to resurrect the abandoned shopping mall.
Resnick first pitched his idea to lawmakers some 18 months ago, but in a five to four vote at the time, the previous legislature decided to go with Chancellor Livingston, and their vision to tear down the existing buildings and lure a national big box store to the location.
Chancellor Livingston withdrew from the project in March, and Resnick was invited back. Resnick said his plan has not changed much.
The two anchor stores at the mall would likely be rehabbed first, and one would be a 30,000 square foot Food Town supermarket. The other anchor store would be used to attempt to attract a department store. Once the shops in the rest of the mall were rehabilitated, national chains would be sought to fill them.
Lawmaker Kathy LaBuda noted that engineers for Chancellor Livingston had indicated that the buildings could not be rehabilitated. Vegliante said, “My experience with engineers is that the ask you what you want to do, and go from there.” He said they had two engineers go through the building again, as they had 18 months ago.
Resnick said he has two through structural reports, and “the structure of the building is fine.” He said, “It’s steel girders and corrugated steel, the building is not brain surgery, it can be rehabbed.”
Resnick said the biggest part of the project would likely be correcting the drainage problem in the parking lots. He said, “We’re going to have to work very closely with the village, the town, the county to get the drainage done properly so we can stop the water from going into the building.”
Speaking to the feasibility of the project, Resnick said, “I live in Sullivan County, I believe Sullivan County can be turned around, but somebody actually has to do it.”
In a reference to ongoing renovation work he is doing at Bernie’s Holiday Restaurant and the Lodge at Rock Hill, he said, “We showed in Rock Hill that we’re about bricks and mortar, we’re about doing work. We hire everybody locally, we buy everything locally, so we’re putting money back into the community.”
Resnick said depending on how much time it takes to go through the permitting process with the Village of Monticello Planning Department, the Food Town store could open in a year or two.
The reactions from the lawmakers indicated that most of them favor going ahead with the project. After the meeting, they went into executive session to discuss the financial details of the deal, such as whether the county would lease the property to Resnick or it would be an outright sale.