Concord Resort Hotel

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The Concord Resort Hotel (pronounced KAHN-cord) was a resort in the Borscht Belt part of the Catskills, known for its large resort industry in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Located in Kiamesha Lake, New York, the Concord was the largest resort in the region until its closing in 1998. There were over 1,500 guest rooms and a dining room that sat 3,000; the resort encompassed some 2,000 acres (8.1 km2). Although the resort was a kosher establishment, catering primarily to Jewish vacationers, it was more lavish in decor and activities than comparable large Catskill resorts.

Concord remains, summer 2005.
Front entrance known as "The Towers", the newest part of the hotel, containing the most expensive rooms.
View looking up old main driveway with the demolished hotel in the background, June 2010.

History and design[edit]

A small establishment near Kiamesha Lake called the Ideal House existed during the 1920s and 1930s. Arthur Winarick acquired the property after a default and rebuilt it in 1937 as the 500-bed Concord Plaza. Keeping up with Grossinger's following World War II, the then-renamed New Concord Hotel rapidly expanded and added amenities to match Grossinger's ski slope and golf course. The Tropical Indoor Pool opened in 1951, accelerating the race. Expansion continued in the 1950s, when prominent hotel architect Morris Lapidus was hired to design new modern style guest wings. At the Concord Lapidus worked with architect-interior designer Theordor Muller on interiors for lobbies, dining spaces and night clubs. A rotunda and promenade, as well as the huge Cordillion Room, Night Owl Lounge and the even bigger Imperial Room night club were added. Lapidus emplyed his signature floating stair design in the rotunda to give guests an opportunity to make a grand entrance.[1]

The Concord was known for its impressive entertainment venues. The original Cordillion Room opened in the 1950s with 1500 seats, along with the Constellation Room with its distinctive undulating bar. Winarick felt that more was needed and the Lapidus-designed Imperial Room seated 3000 in a nearly circular space, perhaps the largest in the Catskills, and a popular venue for major entertainers.[1]

Guest quarters in the tower sections were regarded as somewhat impersonal. Up to ten story guest wings replaced the original hotel in the 1950s. A Lapidus-designed 1959 wing featured 210 rooms with projecting bay windows and his-and-her bathrooms, each with a dressing area.[1]

Following the construction of an elaborate indoor pool at Grossinger's, the original Concord pool was replaced by the Lapidus-design Bubble, which doubled as a solarium, as well as a large spa.[1]

The Concord attracted major entertainers who could fill the Imperial Room to standing room-only. Buddy Hackett was a frequently featured performer, as were Tony Bennett, Milton Berle and Tony Martin. Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland also played the Concord. Martin Luther King received an award at the Concord in 1963. Following Arthur Winarick's death in 1964 the resort was managed by son-in-law Ray Parker.[1]

Later history and demolition[edit]

According to the Concord Resort & Golf Club Website, the hotel is now

"...home of the World Famous "Monster" Golf Course rated by Golf Digest as one of America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses" which "features full service pro shop, driving range, overnight accommodations, meeting rooms, restaurant and bar, large catering and banquet facilities, individual and corporate memberships, golf school, and a PGA professional staff for all golf instruction programs."[2]

There are currently 42 guest rooms and the website indicates that more rooms will be built as well as amenities not related to the golf course (i.e. swimming pool, tennis courts, etc.) The "Monster Golf Academy" is under the direction of PGA Professional Todd Barker. The former hotel portion, though, was completely demolished in 2008 and the site remains vacant.

The Concord was used several times a year by the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs for live fire training. Because of its size, relative isolation and heavy concrete construction, it was ideal for firefighter training.

In 2010, financial disputes between the owners led to a legal settlement, splitting property between the parties. Entertainment Properties Trust REIT won 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) of the Concord site from developer Louis R. Cappelli, who retained control of 116 acres (0.47 km2).[3] Monticello Raceway owner Empire Resorts announced plans to explore development of a racino resort on the property in partnership with Entertainment Properties.[4]

On May 5, 2011 the owners of the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut announced a competing joint venture with Cappelli Enterprises Inc. to build a $600 million racino on the site of the former hotel. According to the statement, the new resort will include a 258-room hotel, 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) casino with 2,100 video lottery terminals, five restaurants, a harness racing facility and grandstand, and a simulcast facility for pari-mutuel wagering.[3][5][6]

Concord timeline[edit]

  • 1935 – Russian immigrant Arthur Winarick took possession of The Ideal Plaza in Kiamesha Lake in settlement of a debt. This marks the beginning of what would become the Concord Resort Hotel.
  • 1950s – With a reputation for sumptuous kosher dining and top entertainment, the hotel becomes one of the top vacation spots in the Northeast. Winarick's daughter, Clara, and her husband, Raymond Parker, take over the hotel operation. The hotel is passed on to Raymond's sons.
  • 1960s – The decline of the Catskills resort industry takes hold, as city dwellers move out to air-conditioned homes in the suburbs, affordable air travel makes vacations to more exotic locations possible, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows the Jewish clientele of the Catskills resorts to choose other, previously exclusive domestic resorts for their vacations.
  • 1985 – With mounting debt, Grossinger's is sold for $9 million. Attempts to reopen it fail. It is later sold again in foreclosure.
  • January 1997 – Albany lawmakers reject a casino referendum, which Concord owners were banking on heavily.
  • February 1997 – Concord files for bankruptcy protection. Sullivan County, owed more than $8 million in taxes, is the resort's largest creditor.
  • January 1999 – The hotel sells at a bankruptcy foreclosure auction for $10.25 million, to a partnership led by Joseph Murphy with Westchester developer Louis R. Cappelli as a silent partner. Cappelli later buys out Murphy.
  • March 2000 – Cappelli and the publicly traded Reckson Strategic Venture Partners announce a plan to redevelop the Concord as a world-class resort.
  • October 10, 2000 – Cappelli and his partners break ground and begin demolition.
  • Reported by Concord Hotel: What It Looked Like Inside The Hotel in 2005: December 2004 – Concord sold by Reckson Strategic Venture Partners/Cappelli, which purchased it out of bankruptcy, to Empire Resorts. Empire owns Monticello Raceway as well as Mighty M Gaming, which operates the "racino" at the Monticello Raceway. It has been reported that Empire hopes to locate a casino at the Concord.
  • January 2008 – Outside of the golf course, the resort remains an abandoned ruin.
  • April 2008 – Demolition begins in the new Concord hotel / Racino. The $750 million project is expected to be completed in five years.[7]
  • May 2011 - Owner enters into a joint venture with Mohegan Sun casino to develop a new $600 million Concord resort.
  • December 2014 - The Gaming Facility Location Board of New York State chose The Montreign Resort Casino to be built in the Catskills town of Thompson on the grounds of the old Concord hotel. The $630 million project will come with an 18-story hotel, meeting spaces and an indoor waterpark. Its developer, Empire Resorts, operates through a subsidiary, the nearby Monticello Casino & Raceway.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°40′44″N 74°39′17″W / 41.678854°N 74.654642°W / 41.678854; -74.654642