Hundreds of new units planned
By Jeff Simms
More than 400 apartments and condominiums — overlooking the Hudson River, atop Main Street businesses and filling repurposed industrial buildings — have been approved for construction in Beacon, with many more under review by the city’s Planning Board. As many as 100 new units, many of them rentals, could be ready for occupancy in 2016.
“This is the hottest I’ve ever seen it,” said Timothy Dexter, Beacon’s building inspector. “It’s like a snowball; everybody wants to go to Beacon.”
Here is a summary of the largest approved developments:
- The Lofts at Beacon, a conversion of several former textile buildings, will add 114 live/work studio apartments on Front Street between Route 52 and Fishkill Creek.
- 248 Tioronda is slated to include 100 market-rate units along Fishkill Creek, several blocks south of Main Street.
- The Roundhouse complex, which opened in 2012 in the heart of Beacon’s business district and includes a restaurant, hotel and events center, will add 78 units creekside.
- Two new developments will add 70 and 50 units, respectively, on land near the Beacon train station overlooking the Hudson River.
- The former St. Francis Hospital site on Hastings Drive has been approved for conversion to 68 senior housing units.
In addition, several smaller developments, ranging from a handful of apartments to as many as 50 units, are in the city’s pipeline.
Dexter said he believes Beacon’s proximity and relative affordability continues to draw people from New York City. “The economy has changed [for the better] and Beacon is a desirable place,” he said. “And the developers see that the city is investing in itself.”
Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, a nonprofit think tank, recently released its Annual Housing Report, which indicated that the regional housing market has shown signs of improvement in the last 12 months, although much of the housing available, particularly in Beacon, is not affordable for families making the regional median income (in Beacon, $57,792 annually). The study also noted that Hudson Valley residents are increasingly looking to rent rather than buy due to escalating housing costs.
“The level of housing activity in Beacon is a positive sign for the market,” said Joe Czajka, senior vice president for Research, Development & Community Planning at Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress and the executive director of the Center for Housing Solutions and Urban Initiatives. “There appears to be a high level of confidence by local officials, lenders and developers. One of the six large-scale developments is for affordable senior housing, which there is a high demand for, and the development is an adaptive reuse of a vacant structure, which helps reduce neighborhood deterioration.”
While none of Beacon’s new housing projects involve the construction of new roads, and many utilize existing building space, the city must remain cognizant of the increased demand on schools, emergency services and other infrastructure, Dexter said. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘concern,’” he said, “‘Awareness’ would be a better term. We have to recognize that there’s going to be additional need [for city services].” Dexter also pointed out that new housing will generate tax revenue, which could balance some of the associated costs.
The City of Beacon’s comprehensive plan (the document that sets, among other things, long-term development guidelines, typically for a 10-year period) was adopted in 2007. Mayor Randy Casale said he intends to form a committee to review the document in the coming months.
“My belief is we’re following the comprehensive plan, which says that for Main Street to be more viable you need to have more density there to support it,” the mayor said. “So, we want to make sure we’re on the right track.”
The residential building activity is by far the most Beacon has seen in recent years. Casale said he believes “the density will only help to make the city more sustainable and affordable going forward.”