The owners of the 815-acre Winston Farm in Saugerties where the 1994 version of the Woodstock music festival was held want to develop the property for residential and commercial use. They have been working to build support for the idea among local businesses and residents.
The original Woodstock festival took place on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York. The 1994 festival in Saugerties attracted approximately 500,000 people.
Current owners Tony Montano, John Mullen and Randy Richers purchased the Winston Farm in 2020 from the Schaller family, which had owned it since 1961. All three have been Saugerties residents and business operators.
Montano was born in Saugerties and his family had established the Montano Shoe Store there in 1906. A. Montano Co., currently is a construction equipment dealer.
Mullen has lived in Saugerties since he was eight years old. The company J. Mullen and Sons specializes in excavation.
Richers moved to Saugerties when he was 10 years old. He is involved with three companies: NY Drilling Services, Richers Electric and NY Crushing and Recycling.
While they have no specific plan, they have gone to the Saugerties Town Board to open discussions on what could be done with the site and to ask for a rezoning. The development possibilities were explored during a presentation at the April 28 breakfast meeting of the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello told the meeting, “We’re being rediscovered by folks that are looking for a place to vacation and at the same time we’re being redefined as an area where people want to bring their businesses, operate their businesses.”
Costello said that there is a housing crisis in the area and finding housing for people taking entry-level jobs at businesses in the area has become a challenge.
“It is an amazing piece of land,” Costello said of Winston Farm. “Its location is unbelievable. It is one of the most important pieces of property in the Hudson Valley.”
He said that the process of creating an acceptable development proposal “is intimidating” and that it is “fraught with potholes.”
Josh Sommers, president and CEO of Goshen-based Focus Media, who serves on the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation (HVEDC) board of directors and is working with Winston Farms on the project, made a presentation on behalf of the development team.
“We’re asking the community, what kind of economic development do you want to see? What type of housing? How can we meet the needs of Saugerties and Ulster County?”
Sommers explained that a preliminary site master plan and documentation are in the works.
“There is going to be a very thorough environmental review that will happen with the town board as lead agency for this rezone process,” Sommers said.
The new owners of Winston Farm have pledged to maintain about 400 acres of the property as open space and say that they will provide an example of “responsible and sustainable development that supports local economic growth while maintaining synergy with our community’s people, culture and environmental resources.”
Using the entity Saugerties Farms LLC, the owners petitioned the Saugerties Town Board to change the zoning of the nine pieces of land making up the farm property from GB, which allows general business; MDR, moderate density residential; and HR, which signifies Hamlet Residential, to PDD, a Planned Development District.
Jess Sudol, president of the architecture and engineering firm Passero Associates that is representing the applicant, told the Town Board, “A wide range of diverse residential, nonresidential, agricultural, recreational, entertainment and hospitality uses are proposed. The planned development district will incorporate appropriate design elements, amenities or treatments that maintain and enhance the design relationships between buildings and uses within the district and beyond the district, in order to maintain an ambience that is unique, playful and inviting.”
Sudol said that the development would include a mix of complementary building styles of varying heights and sizes, and indoor and outdoor rooms and spaces for active and passive recreation, entertainment and social gathering.
The specific ideas for development that are being floated include multifamily and single-family housing, an amphitheater, a boutique hotel resort, a technology park, office space, and cabins and campgrounds.
The area being proposed for development is roughly bounded on the south by Saugerties-Woodstock Road, also identified as New York State Route 212; power lines along the west edge of the property; Mower Mill Road to the north; and State Route 32 to the east. The site is opposite Exit 20 of the New York State Thruway, I-87.
Saugerties Farms LLC points out that Winston Farm is the largest property owned by one entity in Saugerties and that the HVEDC in 2009 had prepared a study on the feasibility of doing high-tech development on the property. The study examined nine possible development sites and concluded that Winston Farm was the most favorable for a high-tech development that would include a mix of research and development high tech facilities and sustainable manufacturing. The study envisioned supporting uses consisting of a mix of restaurants, shops, recreation, arts venues, educational centers offering workforce training and a Hudson Valley heritage museum.
The applicant says that its development would include providing new water distribution and wastewater treatment infrastructure that would serve the development while also helping fill the needs of the town.