College Proposed for Old Wingdale Psychiatric Hospital
WINGDALE, N.Y. – A San Francisco-based university has purchased more than 500 acres of what used to be the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center in Wingdale and has plans to build a research college and information technology hub there that could bring as many as 750 full-time jobs to the area.
Dover Supervisor Ryan Courtien said on Tuesday he was informed that Olivet Management LLC purchased the property on behalf of Olivet University from Benjamin Companies, the firm that had intended to build a combined residential/retail community on the property known as Dover Knolls.
“[Dover Knolls] was originally going to be a mixed-use transit-oriented housing and retail development around the train station,” Courtien said. “The idea was that it would grow organically around the train station into a community.”
However, the project was held up at the Department of Environmental Conservation as it waited for the requisite state approvals and then “we experienced the worst housing market since the Great Depression,” Courtien said.
“The town was lead agency for SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) in 2010 and we had all the local approvals [for Dover Knolls],” Courtien explained. “But the whole thing was just taking too long.”
Courtien said Olivet University’s purchase of the property was somewhat serendipitous.
“From what I understand, they were on their way somewhere else heading up Route 22 when they saw the old psychiatric center,” he said. “The asked their real estate agent to look into it and he said he would make a few calls.”
Courtien said the university bought all of the property on the east side of Route 22 – slightly more than 500 acres – and has an option to buy 420 acres on the west side of highway where the old psychiatric center’s power plant is situated.
“The University expects to utilize almost all of the existing buildings and infrastructure to build a premier research institution and information technology hub once all approvals have been received,” the supervisor said. “The plan is to have classrooms, residential halls and dining halls.”
Courtien said Olivet has a five-year plan for the project, pending the necessary approvals – some of which may already be in place from the Dover Knolls project.
“We need to look at the approvals and what we need moving forward,” he said. “We need to know if this is less of impact under SEQRA than the previous approvals [for Dover Knolls].”
The university would also need the stamp of approval from the New York State Department of Education.
Courtien said he is excited about the project, not only because of the jobs it would bring to the area, but for the domino effect that it would have on the local economy.
“I am hopeful this will be a project that will bring that site back to what it once was and become a source of jobs and activity for the community,” he said. “Typically, what you see with the growth of a college is a spillover into the local economy which can lead to the growth of area businesses, which would create even more jobs.”
Olivet University is accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education to award bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university is comprised of seven colleges: Olivet Theological College & Seminary, Jubilee College of Music, College of Journalism, College of Art and Design, Institute of Technology, College of Business, and College of Language Education.