Progress Report: Beacon Developments

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.

Edgewater

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 view from the Edgewater project site (Photo by J. Simms)

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.

344 Main St. (Photo by J. Simms)

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.

248 Tioronda

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.

14 Responses to "Progress Report: Beacon Developments"

  1. Frank Haggerty   August 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

    An uncommon and peculiar form of hubris is the collective theme in these and other recent real-estate development efforts in the city of Beacon. The exact inverse, I would concede, of central planning.

    Has this ever been tried before, without subsequent disaster? Is anyone reminded of 1928-29?

    Reply
  2. Mary Laffin
    Mary Laffin   August 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Love how they say “affordable” housing. It’s only affordable for out-of-town people. Beacon is not Beacon anymore. God bless all of the original Beaconites who put their blood, sweet and tears into this town and now have to move because they can not afford to stay. Shame on you, Beacon.

    Reply
    • Roxanne Meyer   August 18, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      I am one of the old Beaconites and this is exactly my fear. I don’t want to be run out of my hometown because of rising costs and overcrowding. I do appreciate the new people who have moved here and I believe they are trying to do good things for the city and school district, but enough is enough. We are not Westchester or New York City and don’t want to become like those areas. Beacon has come a long way. Leave well enough alone!

      Reply
  3. Stacie Merrill
    Stacie Merrill   August 18, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    It’s hideous, but I thought it was retail on the bottom and apartments on top — why no taxes? Also, watch the latest City Council meeting on YouTube. Nothing is happening unless they find parking.

    Reply
  4. Sean Breault
    Sean Breault   August 18, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    These developers seem to be so honest and trustworthy. Can’t imagine why no one trusts them.

    Reply
  5. Lisa Ornest   August 18, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    After all this construction, it will be impossible to drive or park anywhere on Main Street. So the idea that any of this will help Main Street businesses is a red herring. The congestion on the side streets and Routes 9D and 52 will also increase. Moreover, the noise level will become intolerable. Or, I should say, more intolerable.

    Reply
  6. Pam Jones   August 18, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    It’s time to stop the building. We are NOT Westchester — don’t want to be a big city. Enough is enough. When you overbuild you take the charm and quaintness out of a town. Just look at the huge eyesore already being erected on Main Street, not to mention the lack of parking.

    And forget about going down Route 9D toward the bridge at rush hour. You can hardly turn in or out of Van Ness Road or Rock Hill onto 9D at certain times of the day. The increase in traffic already is so out of control. Stop the building insanity and allow Beaconites to start enjoying their town again. Everyone talks about business on Main Street — many locals I know won’t go near Main Street because of the parking situation.

    Reply
  7. Lori Merhige   August 19, 2017 at 8:42 am

    These developers roll into town and convince everyone that their projects will be good for the city, but the data shows otherwise. This influx of residents will actually hurt, not help the schools, and the added infrastructure costs will quickly dissolve any short-term tax gains these giant developments provide. I can’t for the life of me understand why we don’t learn the lessons of Westchester, Rockland, or North Jersey — congestion and skyrocketing taxes do not a make a successful city.

    Reply
  8. Christine Flagello   August 19, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Affordable for who people who make $60,000 or more a year — that’s not affordable. For every three luxury units there should be at least two units for people making between $25,000 and $30,000. If it’s not feasible within the same complex then they should promise affordable housing in another location, like the dog park. If you’re going to take from a community, then give back to the same community. If you and your fellow investors built 100 units collectively, let’s see 50 units for real people making less than $35,000 a year.

    Reply
  9. Peter McGivney   August 19, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    I am perplexed. Please correct me if I am wrong about this, but I was under the impression that buildings here in Beacon could not be more than three stories tall because the fire department’s ladders can only reach the third floor. The building at 344 Main is clearly four stories high. How is this possible?

    Reply
    • Jeff Simms   August 19, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      The building is in the central Main Street zoning district, which allows four stories and, in some cases with special permits, five stories.

      Reply
  10. Pascal Boyer   August 20, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Beacon is only attractive because of the MTA connection. There isn’t any land or space, no decent architecture etc. If you are so annoyed with your town’s Renaissance, have the MTA move the tracks on the other side of the river. Newburgh, which has a lot more land and architecture, could use the love and Beacon can go back to being the dump it was 20 years ago.

    Reply
  11. John Murnane   August 21, 2017 at 4:28 am

    If the Eliza Street project was given approval on the condition that the parking was to be supplied from another property and that property is not forthcoming, then the Eliza Street project has not met the conditions of the plan, thus the conditions of the approval are moot. The Eliza Street project must now meet the conditions of the zoning. Reduce the size of the building; re-purpose the building or have the developer provide a equal amount of parking elsewhere within the business zone. We, as a city, are not bound to supply parking for this shell game maneuver. The onus of responsibility still rests with the developer.

    Reply
  12. Joan Martorano   August 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    I say this as the spouse of an artist, but I’m hearing about affordable artists’ lofts, but not affordable housing for non-artist, working people. That’s no way to heal the rift in our community. Fair is fair.

    Reply

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