by Steve Caporaso
After a great deal of analysis, K. Hovnanian Homes last week exercised a contractual option with Orangetown, and chose not to proceed with its plans to build homes on the site of Rockland Psychiatric Center. The decision is as disappointing to us as it is to the township. We do wish there had been better communications with the township’s administration at the end, but we did act completely within the letter and the spirit of our agreement with the town. We’d like to explain what happened, why it happened and where things might go from here.
- First and foremost, you should know that everything we did was within the scope of our contract with Orangetown.
- When you buy a car, you walk into the showroom already having read everything you can get your hands on about that model. You come in ready to test drive it. In fact, you may already have driven that model at one dealership and walk into another dealership knowing exactly what you are buying and what you’re willing to spend. But imagine now if you had to sign a contract just to do your research on the car. And that contract said that if you liked everything you read, you had to buy the car before you could test drive it. That’s essentially what our contract with the town was.
The town’s request for proposal basically said, ‘€œHere’s some land, here’s what we’d like to see done with it, how will you do it?’€ Our agreement with the town was our way of saying here’s how we’ll do what you want if, after we do all of our research, that proposal makes sense. If the environmental impact statement ‘€“ the equivalent of all that research on the car ‘€“ was satisfactory, we were locked into a contract that would have obligated us to buy the land and build the homes. In this case, a lot of factors in the early research showed the proposal as it was structured didn’t make sense, and after paying for the research and environmental study, we chose not to continue.
The newspapers and some pundits make it sound like we’re walking away with no bruises and the township has been hurt. We’ve gone out of our way to try to avoid hurting the town financially. We agreed to fund all of the economic impact statement research up to $250,000. We invested that much money, three years of time and a lot internal work on this project. The town gets the economic impact statement, which will help it determine its next steps. We do owe the town a little money connected with the latest invoices for work on the impact statement, but we certainly plan on paying it. We walk away having spent a lot of time and money with no opportunity to recoup those expenditures.
We see a lot of discussion about different uses for the land. We think it’s a great place for residential development, although with a different plan. But that’s up to the townspeople. And as long as the town was locked into the RFP, no additional discussions could be held about what to do with that land.
With think Orangetown is a great location and nice town. We hope Orangetown residents will realize that our exit from this version of the redevelopment plan opens the doors for new ideas that, in turn, will result in a new vision for the Rockland Psychiatric site. We hope that vision includes some residential development, and we hope we’ll have the opportunity to work with the township to build and sell those homes.
Steve Caporaso is the Area Vice President at K. Hovnanian Homes.