Saratoga County

Polo Retreat developers confident about project

Developers of the $80 million Saratoga Polo Retreat had hoped to break ground last fall but unexp

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Developers of the $80 million Saratoga Polo Retreat had hoped to break ground last fall but unexpected delays have prevented them from starting any work on the project.

“Basically we were very ambitious,” said James Rossi of Saratoga Springs. “We hoped to get in the ground before the freeze [last fall].”

Rossi said Tuesday he remains confident that once the project receives approval from the state Attorney General’s Office on ownership plans for the apartments in the complex, work can proceed.

Rossi, a Skidmore College graduate and marketing expert, and Rochester businessman Michael Bucci purchased the Saratoga Polo property at Bloomfield and Denton roads in Greenfield in 2004.

The partners have been planning the polo retreat on 42 acres around the historic William Collins Whitney polo field at the site for nearly three years. The Greenfield Town Board and town Planning Board approved the project’s plans in 2007 after a lengthy review.

The complex will include several “fractional ownership” apartment buildings, a lodge with 12 residential units and a conference center and health spa and an event hall. Fractional ownership means that people actually purchase ownership in the luxury, two- and three-bedroom apartments for periods of time ranging from three weeks to an entire year.

Rossi said getting state approval of the offering plans for the fractional apartments has taken much longer than expected. He said this approval must be granted before the developers can start to actively market and sell the apartments and the many “club” amenities at the proposed retreat.

There have also been changes in plans for bringing public water and public sewer into the complex. Rossi said his engineers continue to work on these and progress is being made.

Rossi said he expects to get final approval from the state Attorney General’s office on the apartment ownership plans within the next few weeks.

“There is no question that we are going to get it,” Rossi said. The question is when the final approval will come from Albany.

Rossi said the sluggish economy is not a major issue with the project.

He said sales have increased in the residence club industry — the polo retreat will be a club catering to polo players and polo enthusiasts — since the economy softened last year.

“People have less disposable income to spend on luxury vacation residences,” Rossi said. This means people who had been planning to buy a second home as a vacation retreat, change their mind and buy two months at a residence club like the polo retreat.

“People get the luxury and level of furnishing they would like for a second home but are not on the line for the whole thing,” Rossi said.

Gary Dake, chairman of the Greenfield Planning Board, said recently that Rossi has an excellent team of architects, engineers and planners working on the project.

“It’s a large sophisticated site,” Dake said. He said planning for the water, sewer and road work necessary are complicated issues.

For example, the developers plan to improve and repave portions of Denton Road and Bloomfield Road near the complex once the water and sewer lines are in place. The timing of these improvements have to be coordinated with, and approved by, the town.

“I still wish them well,” Dake said. “We are excited about them coming [to Greenfield].”

Rossi said the new county water line will run right down Bloomfield Road and past the historic polo field. He said timing is important regarding a possible connection to this water source.

Rossi said feedback he has received from people in the industry and potential financial partners are “all very positive about the project.”

The Saratoga Polo Retreat will be the first private residence club built around the sport of polo and horses. “There is a lot of interest in that,” he said.

“We are still very confident about our project,” Rossi said. “It’s going to be a beautiful resort.”

When does he feel ground will be broken for the first building? “By the end of the year it absolutely seems possible,” Rossi said.

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