Pair of companies looking to buy Legends Resort

Apr 04 2018 | 11:10 AM

After ongoing legal battles and court-ordered evictions, two companies announced Monday that they plan to jointly purchase the former Great Gorge Playboy Club property, currently Legends Resort & Country Club in Vernon.
Chester, N.Y.-based energy company Liberated Energy, publicly traded as The Go Eco Group, said in a press release that private investment company Libra Fund, LLC has entered into a preliminary agreement to fund a joint venture to acquire the property. The two entities have signed a letter of intent, meaning the agreement has not been finalized, but the acquisition cost is not to exceed $12 million.
As for their plans for the property, which includes the once famous 618-room, eight-floor Playboy Club hotel, Liberated Energy says they intend to renovate and develop an eco-friendly, 55 and older retirement community within the hotel.
The goal, according to the press release, is to create a vibrant, 877,000-square-foot center with amenities such as restaurants, health and fitness, and retail shopping. Community tenants would be able to spend a majority of their income within the facility and surrounding attractions.
“We are aligned with the region’s natural and recreational assets that include year-round skiing and waterpark at Mountain Creek, the Appalachian Trail, and the Wawayanda State Park,” Liberated Energy CEO Brian Conway said in a statement. “Adjacent is also the Great Gorge Golf Course, plus the $500 million Legoland Theme Park slated to open just miles away across the border in Orange County, N.Y. in 2020.
"We have brand name retailers interested in opening within the first-floor concourse and have already pledged 150 parking spots for NJ Public Transportation to give our tenants direct access to New York City,” Conway continued. “With this partnership with the Libra Fund, we can complete our due diligence and make an offer on the property, of which we’ve agreed with the owner, Mr. (Hillie) Meyers thus far.”
Eviction of Legends tenantsThis announcement comes as the remaining 40 or so tenants still living in Legends have until Monday, April 9 to leave, per a recent court order by state Superior Court Judge Robert Brennen. According to the judgement, Warrants of Removal will be issued should tenants not leave.
The court order is the latest in a web of legal proceedings related to the property.
In 2016, Vernon Township began cracking down on the remaining Legends residents after the township said they became aware of numerous zoning and code violations. About 33 units were being rented out by two entities, shell companies set up by the late Eugene Mulvihill, former owner of Mountain Creek Resort and Crystal Springs Resort, prior to his death in 2012.
The two entities had been renting out units to Crystal Springs employees, according to the township, and the numerous violations, caused by inaction and negligence of the property owners, placed the residents in danger. The township issued a number of summonses for the violations, including violating the zoning restrictions by renting to long-term residents.
According to the recent court order, after April 9, the owners of these remaining units will conduct a census and offer relocation assistance to evicted tenants, paid in the amount of $1,500 to each unit. The owners will initiate repairs and address all violations cited by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and fire code violations within 10 days of April 9.
The rest of what remains of the largely derelict Legends property is owned by Hillie Meyers, president of Metairie Corp., which acquired the property in 1998.
Hundreds of complaints and lawsuits remain pending by those who bought units as condominiums in the 1990s and those who bought units as timeshares in the 2000s. Many of those individuals stopped paying maintenance fees on their units as the facility fell into neglect and Meyers is suing to recover those unpaid fees.
The late Hugh Hefner built the resort as The Great Gorge Playboy Club Hotel in 1972. In its heydey, the eight-floor hotel — which has a cabaret, ballroom, restaurant, a fitness center, indoor pool, jacuzzis and an Olympic-sized swimming pool outside — saw sold out performances from Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli to Sammy Davis Jr., and Sonny & Cher.