Developer pitches Catskills resort that hinges on gambling license

July 19, 2012 06:30PM

Claremont Partners is working to give the shuttered Nevele Grande Hotel in the Catskills a new life as a casino and 450-room luxury resort, the Wall Street Journal reported. But there’s one problem: securing a New York casino gaming license that does not exist.

The state constitutional amendment to legalize gambling will need to be passed in the next legislative session, in 2013, and competition to nab a license could get fierce. If Claremont does not get a license, then the project will not go through.

Located in Wawarsig in the Catskills, the Nevele closed in 2009 after falling $21 million in debt. Claremont bought the Nevele for $2 million out of receivership this past spring. Elected officials have voiced support for the $500 million, 500-acre project, claiming it would benefit the local economy and create roughly 1,500 long-term jobs. The area is in need of a tourism boost and has begun a campaign to rebrand itself as a vacation destination.

Claremont’s chairman is Larry Woolf, who was a figure in the bidding process scandal to open a racino at the Queens Aqueduct Racetrack. He was previously a member of Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which got selected to run the racino by former Gov. David Paterson.

As previously reported, there was a probe into the role of AEG’s contributions to New York politicians resulting in favoritism. According to the Journal, Woolf donated $3,000 to Sen. Eric Adams’ campaign and Adams played a role in AEG’s selection for the Aqueduct project. There were no formal charges brought through. [WSJ]