Developer Takes Soccer Up a Notch in Middletown
MIDDLETOWN—Every year Carlos and Lindaly Solano drive to Miami for their annual vacation. On the way down they talk about their dream to build an indoor soccer facility in New York.
Those plans may finally happen and Middletown appears to be the lucky recipient. City officials have greeted the project with open arms.
Solano and his development team, Goshen attorney Peter Botti and the architectural firm of David Crawford AIA, appeared before the Middletown planning board on March 2 to present a preliminary plan for the complex.
Solano bought several properties along Union Street and is now working on finalizing a site plan to bring before the Middletown planning board. Work has already begun on demolishing the three dilapidated buildings on the site.
Botti told board members the project is estimated to cost about $3 million, although Solano said that may rise as the cost of construction is finalized.
Aware the project is still in its early planning stages, Middletown Planning Board Chairman Laurence Risdal asked about the need for more parking spaces than were available in the immediate vicinity. Business Improvement District Director John Degnan pointed out several relatively unused lots that could be used.
The Solanos have more ideas than can be accommodated on the property. They hope to build 14 apartment units, a health food bar, equipment and gaming rooms, and mezzanine seating to watch soccer play at the indoor facility. Solano said he is working with his team to see how much they can fit in.
Solano plans a snack bar that serves “something fast but also healthy.” A coffee bar is also planned, his wife said, “like Starbucks.”
Solano said his father, who lives in Costa Rica, has a coffee production plant that could supply a high-quality brew for guests at the complex.
A mezzanine is planned above the indoor playing field where wives and mothers can sip java and watch family members play. A clubhouse is planned so adults can bring their children when they play soccer. “We were thinking about that for families. Wives want to see their husbands playing,” Lindaly Solano said.
Carlos Solano sees several ways the city will benefit. A big one is jobs. He plans to coach himself and to hire other professional soccer trainers. Vendors of sports equipment will be invited to market their goods. There will be service jobs for a planned cafeteria, snack bar, and clubhouse.
The complex will offer affordable living space in the downtown area, and Lindaly will manage the facility and apartment units. She noted the colleges that are making Middletown their home and said the apartments would be great for students.
“I am trying to put something together that people can afford, but at the same time where people want to live,” Carlos Solano said.
Solano sees the facility as a place for people of every skill level to affordably play soccer. The sport is so popular in his hometown that there is a waiting list. “If you want to play, you have to call in advance. I’m not talking about hours, [but] days or weeks to be able to get a spot. People are looking to have a place to play.”
The Solanos want adults to enjoy the complex as well as their children. Solano said there is not much to do after work, except for hitting the bars, and he wants the facility to have nighttime hours to meet the need.
Solano hopes the facility will one day host soccer tournaments.
Love of Soccer
Both Solanos play soccer. A native of Guatemala, Carlos has played all his life, some of that professionally on the Guatemalan national team.
The Solanos have two boys, a 4 1/2-year-old and one 2 1/2 and they are already learning. “I would like to have them play professional soccer. That’s why I would like to bring them in the right direction.”
He said this would be a great activity for all children in the area. “I think this is going to be a good thing, not only for my boys, but for a lot of kids who like soccer.”
Botti told the planning board that they have contacted neighbors about the planned facility and senses positive feelings about the construction.
Solano said that whenever one of his men is on the property, a resident will approach and ask when they are going to start. “I think they are happy that this is going to happen.”
The property has three run-down houses that the city sold to Solanos for $1 but that will cost about $65,000 to tear down and remove.
The project is expected to take a year and a half to complete. “We think that by the end of 2017 we should be able to open,” Carlos Solano said. Amenities in the complex will be open to the public in three phases in order to cover construction costs. Each phase will be completed in about six to eight months.
Solano said Middletown is a good fit for his project. “One day I found this place in Middletown and I love it.”
Middletown city officials and residents have welcomed the project. Carlos Solano said Mayor Joseph DeStefano and his team are working hard to make it happen.
“In Middletown we are so happy to find this place because we feel we belong here. We feel so lucky. We feel such support that people want to do it.”
The Solanos are pleased they can work with Botti. “We are happy that we met him. He is on our side.” Botti said his job is to get the project through the approval process.
Solano sees a big future for soccer in his adopted country. The complex could develop into a regional soccer center to popularize the sport. “The USA is growing really fast in soccer. I hope that in the near future the USA can really win the cup,” he said.
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