What’s next for five major projects in city
By Jeff Simms
As the Beacon City Council considers a temporary ban on residential construction, several notable developments are either underway or working their way through the Planning Board’s review. These five represent 536 of the 971 units approved or under review by the city.
What’s happened: Proposed for 307 units, Edgewater would be the largest development ever constructed in Beacon. In May, the Planning Board opened public hearings on the environmental impact of the project and its site plans. Dozens of people have spoken at the hearings or emailed comments.
The feedback has been mixed, with many residents saying the project is too big and expressing fears it will snarl traffic and overcrowd the schools, while others contend the project will generate much-needed tax revenue and bring new shoppers to Main Street.
The developer’s consultants have calculated that the project will add fewer than 50 students to the public schools, but school board members have disputed that, saying that Edgewater’s design and accessibility makes it ideal for young families, not just commuters.
What’s next: Both public hearings will continue at the Planning Board’s next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 12, although board members indicated in August that the environmental component of the hearings is winding down.
West End Lofts
What’s happened: The city sold the 3.14-acre parcel next to City Hall to developer Ken Kearney last year on the condition that he would build affordable housing at the site. The 98-unit project will include 50 affordable artists’ lofts and 22 middle-income units. After those 72 units are completed, a third, market-rate building will be constructed. The Planning Board’s public hearing on the development began in June.
What’s next: Kearney was not able to get funding last year from the state Middle Income Housing Program as he did for similar projects in Poughkeepsie and Peekskill. But the developer said he plans to reapply in October and should have a decision by December. The public hearing on the project will continue at the Planning Board’s Sept. 12 meeting.
344 Main Street
What’s happened: The 24-unit building, which will have retail space on its first floor, was approved in 2016 and has gone up quickly this summer. It drew attention earlier this year when part of a newly constructed wall extended well into the sidewalk. Crews later removed the section, bringing the wall in line with the neighboring Beacon Natural Market.
What’s next: The city and the developer are at odds over where the project’s 24 parking spaces will be located. Sean O’Donnell, who owns 344 Main, also purchased the Citizens Bank building at 364 Main earlier this year — a purchase the city contends he made to create parking for 344.
At the Aug. 14 City Council workshop, attorney Patrick Moore and Beacon Mayor Randy Casale sparred when Moore said that O’Donnell intends to develop the bank building so he can make payments on his $1 million mortgage on the parcel. Parking for 344 Main, Moore said, should come from the city’s inventory of spaces.
475 Main Street
What’s happened: The owners of this building have asked the city for a special-use permit to construct seven apartments, along with retail space, within a two-story addition to the existing three-story structure. However, the board of the neighboring Howland Cultural Center argues the addition would dwarf its historic building and cast shadows that obstruct its natural light. At the Aug. 8 Planning Board meeting, consultants for the developer presented “shadow studies” in an effort to alleviate those concerns.
What’s next: Taylor Palmer, an attorney for the developer, said the owners are now considering alternatives for the project, including a combination of commercial and retail space without the residential units.
What’s happened: The 100-unit development received special permit approval three years ago but has yet to break ground, with project attorneys requesting numerous delays as they negotiated for an easement on the Metro-North-owned railroad tracks that run through the property and along Fishkill Creek.
In 2016, the City Council approved a resolution giving the developer 18 months to resolve the conflict with the MTA as well as one with the city over an easement for a 2,000-foot section of the Fishkill Creek Greenway & Heritage Trail — which is planned to run from the Beacon train station to Fishkill Creek and on to the town of Fishkill. The council gave the developers a Jan. 13 deadline to have a building permit in place.
What’s next: The City Council has received a draft of the greenway easement and will review it at a workshop next month. On Aug. 14, Jennifer Van Tuyl, an attorney for the project, told the council that the property will soon be sold to developer Bernard Kohn. Casale speculated that the current owner, Peter DeRosa, requested the delays from the city to buy time while trying to market the property. Van Tuyl said that was not the case.
Dutchess County Supreme Court records show that Kohn sued DeRosa in December for allegedly backing out of an agreement to sell Kohn the 9-acre property (which is two parcels) for $2 million.