The dust has settled on the big win for the casino referendum on Tuesday. On Wed., Gov. Cuomo made a victory lap through the Catskills, addressing an appreciative crowd of boosters at Bethel Woods. And Realtors around the region are undoubtedly scratching their heads, wondering what the impact will be on real estate.
Here's my two cents. Investors are going to be placing bets on their favorite front runners for a license nod, buying up commercial and development property in proximity to possible casino locations. Right now the odds on favorite in Sullivan County is the Concord site in Kiamesha Lake near Monticello, so I expect there will be a lot of speculation and horse trading along the Route 42 corridor in that area.
The other two possibilities in Sullivan County are more long shots. The Concord site is shovel ready, with infrastructure already in place, ready to start construction as soon as the Empire Resorts development group gets a green light. Louis Cappelli has more of an uphill battle to position Grossinger's as the best Sullivan option. The old hotel has not yet been demolished, and it undoubtedly will take longer to get something up and running there. It's also 13 mniles further from NYC. The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe will also likely be throwing their hat into the ring with a site in Bridgeville. But that's probably a non-starter because of likely environmental opposition that could tie up the project for a long time. A priority for the state will certainly be 'speed of opening', so rax revenue can start rolling in.
A lot of folks here are hoping that Sullivan County gets both of the Catskill casino slots. Personally, I don't think that's in the cards. I expect there will be one casino in Sullivan and one in Ulster, likely closer to I-87 to get north-south traffic. Politically for Cuomo, it makes sense to dole out the largesse two two counties, not just one. The Nevele, in western Ulster near Ellenville, is an interesting wild card. It isn't close to I-87, and about the same distance from NYC as the Concord. The Nevele, though, operated as a hotel up until 2009, and most of the buildings are still there. So it's the site that could be up and running most quickly as a casino while the redevelopment of the property proceeds.
On the residential side, I don't think we'll see a lot of impact on real estate here for a while. Sellers, though, particularly in the Wurtsboro to Monticello corridor (including Rock Hill and Emerald Green) will probably start seeing green sugarplums dancing in their heads. I expect a lot of sellers in that area will be pretty cocky next year, and it's going to be a lot tougher putting together deals.
Elsewhere in the county, I expect it will be pretty much business as usual. I don't think there will be much impact for quite a while further west and further north. The second home market, in particularly, will likely continue the gentle recovery we've seen for the past year without any big spikes.