Equestrian Sport Production’s Equestrian Village project, an ambitious plan to bring a world-class dressage complex and resort to Wellington, Fla., has hit another roadblock in its path to completion.
According to the Palm Beach Post, in a vote on July 10, the newly elected village council in Wellington revoked the previous council’s February approval for a 12-month conditional-use permit on the facility.
“They revoked it on a technicality,” said ESP CEO Mark Bellisimo. “We’re challenging it, and we’re very confident it will be overruled in the courts. In the intervening time period, one, if not two people, [on the village council] have gone on record to say that they support dressage and the Global Dressage Festival.”
The decision came after the new council voted 3-2 in May to revoke a master plan for the project, set on 96 acres at South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road in Wellington. ESP failed to meet a March 31 platting deadline. A master plan for the 59-acre dressage complex site and a compatibility determination for the arena were required, and ESP wasn’t granted an extension.
The May vote saved the dressage complex though, which will continue to be used for part of the year, but will not include a hotel or retail space as was previously envisioned.
Bellisimo is confident that the Global Dressage Festival will go on as planned this winter, but with a six-month special-use permit. “They committed in the meeting to approve a special-use permit, which is the way it operated last year, and the way the Winter Equestrian Festival has operated for 30 years,” he said. “We’re confident we’ll have the support to get a special-use permit going pretty quickly so that we can confirm the dressage festival for next year. I don’t believe there’s any risk to the Global Dressage Festival. Adequan has stepped up to be the title sponsor for a three-year deal. We’re excited about that and looking forward to it.”
The current facility features a large covered arena, two 100-stall barns, multiple outdoor arenas and a derby field.
Bellisimo hopes to revisit the commercial aspect of the Equestrian Village in the near future. “The pieces that we’re bringing back to the drawing board are the hotel/commercial elements that we withdrew the application for. We’re going to try to work with the village council to figure out what the best options for that project are for the community,” he said.