Carvel developers return to Pine Plains

It’s been years in the making: the creation and execution of the Carvel Property Development at the hands of real estate tycoon Douglas Durst and his Durst Organization.

Proposed in its original incarnation in June 2003 as a massive housing development with country club amenities, more recent plans for the development have morphed into something else, something slightly more manageable for the small, rural communities of Pine Plains and Milan. Now, years later, developers are planning for 645 units: 591 located in Pine Plains and 54 units in Milan. 

In addition to what’s being described as luxury second homes, the development will include a golf course and clubhouse, a health spa, tennis courts, pools, boating facilities and more.

Plans were discussed at a public meeting this past Saturday, Feb. 24, at the first community-wide presentation in many years.

Fifteen years ago, initial publicity about the proposed development was vast. The project was part of what led the town to adopt zoning — which helped lay a framework for the community’s growth with tools like New Neighborhood Developments (NNDs).

In the wake of all that activity,  however, the project became cast in shadows and developers seemed to cool their heels. The Dursts claim the frosty relationship with the town was over an escrow disagreement. The town, meanwhile, simply said that it wasn’t even sure whether the Durst Organization wanted to pursue development plans. 

 In fact, in January 2017, Attorney to the Town Warren Replansky sent an inquiry to the Durst developers, asking if they had “abandoned” their application.

In February, Durst Organization Chief Development Officer Alexander Durst replied. He said that to assume the project had languished was “plainly contrary to fact.” He added that the NND “offers the town of Pine Plains significant benefits” and that the delay was “due to the town’s actions and refusals to act, not due to lack of interest or effort by the applicant.”

That said, residents have been waiting with bated breath to learn of new details about the project and how it will affect them.

At the heart of it, residents want to know that their towns won’t suffer as a result of the development. Hundreds of new homes will make an impact on everyone in town — residents and business people alike — on their quality of life, on their pocketbooks, on their school districts and on their natural resources. 

The development will also bring in hundreds of new jobs to Pine Plains and Milan, and spur economic  growth centered around construction. Attorneys, architects and Realtors will have to be hired, along with countless construction workers. They will all dine locally and shop locally. Then, post construction, homeowners will pour money into their newly-adopted hometowns.

One thing is certain: The Carvel Property Development will make an impact on Pine Plains and Milan. Those impacts will undoubtedly be explored in the coming months and years worth of review before the Town Board and the Planning Board. Saturday’s presentation was an important first step in making sure the public is involved along the way.

It’s great that the Durst Organization sent its representatives to  share their dreams and aspirations for the property. Open dialogue will be critical to creating a development and a community for all — old timers and newcomers alike. Striking that balance is of utmost importance. We’re pleased that, so far, local lawmakers seem committed to ensuring such priorities remain.