Leonard Steinberg, Charles Blaichman plan mystery “private club” in upstate NY

The property is nestled on a 136-acre former estate in Dutchess County

From left: Charles Blaichman, Leonard Steinberg and 492 Ackert Hook Road in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
From left: Charles Blaichman, Leonard Steinberg and 492 Ackert Hook Road in Rhinebeck, N.Y.

At the one-time home of country-club vegetarians, and later, recovering drug addicts, Compass president Leonard Steinberg and developer Charles Blaichman envision a weekend sojourn for urban-weary New Yorkers.

“It’s going to be spectacular,” the Compass broker said on Tuesday. “It’s going to be the type of experience that New Yorkers have been dreaming of and doesn’t exist yet.”

Beyond its prospects as a respite from the hustle-bustle, the project is largely a mystery.

Blaichman would only say that the development won’t be a country club but a “private club in the country” and that plans are too preliminary to further detail. What is clear is that the project is planned for a bucolic town along the Hudson River – Rhinebeck, population 7,548 — and has been a few years in the making.

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Property records show that Steinberg and CB Development purchased the 136-acre property in Sept. 2013 for $3.5 million. The property is known as the former William Starr Miller estate, home to a three-story main house that was designed in 1904, according to the book “Rhinebeck’s Historic Architecture.” The property went on to become a vegetarian health club in the 1940s.

The estate’s main house and surrounding buildings were remodeled in 1947 for the Hygiology Country Club at Rockledge, a lodge that promoted healthy living through physical exercise and a meat-free diet, according to a 1947 article from The Rhinebeck Gazette. The property would later be used by an addiction rehabilitation center.

Steinberg and Blaichman have been interested in developing the property for at least two years. A 2013 article in a local Dutchess County newspaper, The Rhinebeck Observer, describes a proposed 49-unit condo community of mostly vacation homes for the site. It’s not clear why these plans were scrapped, but when asked about the change Steinberg said “all projects evolve.” The named architect for that proposal, Bob Fox, will also be working on this latest iteration, Steinberg said.

The planned club is an interesting departure for both Steinberg and Blaichman. For Steinberg, a consistent top broker who joined startup firm Compass in June of 2014, this would only be his second-ever development, following his foray into gated communities in Dallas.

Blaichman heads CB Developers, which has never built outside New York City. His portfolio of past and current projects primarily consists of residential and mixed-use buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Among CB’s current developments are a mixed-use tower in Murray Hill and a condominium in Williamsburg.