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Posh Saratoga polo complex still on, partner says

Posh Saratoga polo complex still on, partner says

Groundbreaking on a proposed $80 million residential development around the Saratoga Polo Associatio

Groundbreaking on a proposed $80 million residential development around the Saratoga Polo Association polo field in Greenfield has again been pushed back but the project remains alive despite rumors that the plan had collapsed, according to a spokesman.

“We definitely are not going out of business,” said James Rossi, managing partner of the Saratoga Polo Association and a partner in the proposed Saratoga Polo Retreat.

Rumors started circulating about the fate of the 42-acre project when the economy declined and the clubhouse near the historic Whitney polo field at Denton and Bloomfield roads was closed this fall.

Rossi said over the past few winters, the association has kept the clubhouse open for weddings and other special events. “That started not to make sense,” Rossi said on Monday. He said such things as heating and snow plowing expenses ate up profits.

Other than a few pre-booked holiday parties, the clubhouse will be mothballed for the winter and will reopen in late May when the association starts to gear up for its summer polo season.

Rossi, a Skidmore College graduate and marketing expert who owns the polo association complex with businessman Michael Bucci of Rochester, said the market for the upscale polo retreat residences and conference center has “changed quite a bit.”

“We were very ambitious early on,” Rossi said. The project was approved by the town in early 2007 after a lengthy review.

“Now we are being very careful,” Rossi said. “The lending environment has changed dramatically.”

The proposed polo retreat will include several “fractional ownership” luxury apartment buildings, a lodge with 12 residential units, 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 a period of time ranging from three weeks to an entire year.

In the spring, Rossi said he thought work would start this fall. He said Monday this will not happen.

“We are still very committed [to the project],” Rossi said.

However, he would not speculate on when necessary water and sewer infrastructure work would start or when ground might be broken.

He said he and his partner should have a better idea about this next May or June.

“Come the opening of polo season, we will have a clear idea of what we want to do,” Rossi said.

Greenfield town Supervisor Richard Rowland said the multimillion-dollar polo retreat “is the type of thing we would like to see in the town.” He said the project is a “nice fit” for that part of the town and adding such a property to the tax rolls would certainly help the town’s tax base.

But Rowland said Monday the town needs to know what the Saratoga Polo Association’s plans are and whether anything has changed with the project.

A major concern is when and how public water and sewer will be connected to the residential complex. The town Planning Board needs to sign off on final infrastructure plans as well.

Rowland said Denton Road needs to be improved. At one point the Saratoga Polo Retreat developers said they would help pay for these road improvements.

Town officials don’t want to improve the road before the project is started and have heavy equipment rolling along and across the newly paved roadway.

Rowland said the last he has heard from the project developers was early this year.

Rowland said he would like to sit down with the developers, the owners of the Prestwick Chase senior community on Denton Road, and others concerned about the project. At one point the polo retreat was going to connect with the Putnam Brook Transportation Company, which provides sewers to Prestwick Chase.

The city of Saratoga Springs also owns half of Denton Road and the town and developers need to “get together on that,” Rowland said.

Rowland said residents of Denton Road are concerned about the timing of the project and when their road will be improved.

“We need to do it, but we need to do it right,” Rowland said.

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