Other developments also move forward
By Jeff Simms
The Beacon Planning Board has approved redevelopment plans for the city’s historic Main Street Theater, while two new housing projects inched closer to approval this week as well.
The theater has been a mainstay at 445 Main Street since its opening in 1934. After a public hearing last month, the planning board on Tuesday (March 8) granted approval for the redevelopment of the 800-seat theater.
Architect Aryeh Siegel said Wednesday that reconstruction of the site could begin this summer. It will include 32 apartments, many of them one bedroom, behind a renovated 195-seat performance space, which will sit on the building’s second floor, atop a first floor lobby. Small retail spaces will be incorporated as well, Siegel said.
Three of the apartments will be affordable housing. Resident parking, a minor sticking point during the planning board’s review, will be on Van Nydeck Avenue, behind the building. Van Nydeck will be striped for maximum parking efficiency, although Siegel said he hopes the smaller size of the apartments will attract renters more inclined to bike or walk.
The development is not required to provide additional parking based on a city zoning provision that provides waivers for some buildings already in existence prior to 1964.
The Beacon Main Street Theater was sold to Brendan McAlpine of McAlpine Construction last year after the previous owner, 4th Wall Productions, fell behind on mortgage payments. The McAlpine family also restored the factories on East Main into the complex known as the Roundhouse, which is considered to have been the catalyst for Beacon’s east end of Main transformation.
This time around, McAlpine drew some criticism when he abandoned 4th Wall’s plan to restore the space as a full-sized theater, instead announcing plans for the multi-purpose performance/retail space along with apartments that was approved on Tuesday.
Only one person spoke during the planning board’s public hearing Tuesday night for The View, a 50-unit project with five below-market rate apartments proposed for the wooded area on Beekman Street, southwest of City Hall.
Theresa Kraft of Beacon asked the board to consider a moratorium on new residential development, saying that projects like The View and others that fall within designated historic zones “will forever change the city of Beacon.” Citing “over-development,” Kraft made a similar request last month during a hearing for the redevelopment of the Beacon Main Street Theater.
The hearing will continue next month for The View, which is envisioned as a four-story apartment complex with a rooftop patio and garden. The development, which engineer Mark Day said could be built sometime later this year if it’s approved by the planning board, would occupy the wooded area between City Hall and Beekman, adding residential units in the city’s Main Street-to-riverfront “linkage zone.”
The project will also see the construction of a public pedestrian walkway connecting Beekman Street to Route 9D, Day said. The majority of the parking for the development will be in a garage constructed underneath the building.
The planning board set a public hearing for next month on a several-story residential development proposed for 344 Main Street, next to the Beacon Natural Market, at the intersection with Eliza Street. The project, which had been set for 18 units atop a retail space, has now been adjusted to accommodate 24 units without changing the overall size of the building.
Four of the units will be below-market rate, said Day, also the engineer for this project.
I read this article sitting at Beacon Bread Co. this weekend and had write to you guys. I am extremely opposed to overdevelopment in the city of Beacon. The proposal for The View was the thing that really made me nervous. This mill town is so popular today because it was frozen in time. The Main street connector devastated by urban renewal and was replaced over the next 20 years with condos all along the river. People hike up that woodsy street and I do agree there should be something there. I do not think the proposal to put an ugly apartment complex should pass just because it’s easy to slap something in there. We should think of it as a welcome center for visitors who are driving our economy. It should be a gateway to town, it should represent the classic brick classics or tasteful modernism. We could have a community center or gardens down there. We could leave it open space…. Anything that could add to what we have and not take it away. Maybe we can get a developer that will look at the old Main Street look and create a modern nod to the past.
Development in Beacon appears to be happening as quickly as planners can land an approval. I’m happy for the fresh influx of people who are both interesting and community minded, but traffic is becoming an increasing issue with all of this. I know it’s a pipe dream, but I think it would be great to consider reviving the old trolley tracks that still lie beneath Main Street so people can ride from the West end of Main all the way down to the train station and back again. It would resolve many parking issues and ease the traffic congestion from MetroNorth commuters.
We should also be very careful about how we are going to re-connect the end of Main Street with the waterfront. I hope it will not be a long line of condo units like The View, which appears to have no connection with its surroundings, historic or otherwise. This kind of slapdash development will only hurt Beacon’s growing reputation as a destination spot. I hope the architectural review board is paying close attention. We only have one chance to get it right.