Booming Beacon

By Jeff Simms

Five years after its first approval, the 248 Tioronda development project returns to the Planning Board next week seeking new approvals. Here are updates on that development and 12 other Beacon housing projects.

248 Tioronda Ave.

Planning Board approval: 2014 (initial)
Number of units: 64 rental units (reduced from 100 after a zoning law change), plus commercial space
Variances: None requested for latest design
What’s next: Developers have presented conceptual plans to the City Council and Planning Board. The latter’s review begins Feb. 13.

West End Lofts

Planning Board approval: 2017
Number of units: 97 rental units
Variances: None. The building, which will include 22 below-market-rate apartments and 50 artists’ spaces, was granted tax exemptions by the city as a requirement of receiving $4.5 million from the state Homes and Community Renewal agency. Last year the developers agreed to make voluntary payments to the city beginning at $170,000 annually in lieu of property taxes.
What’s next: Construction is scheduled to be completed by September. Eleven of the units are designed to accommodate tenants with physical disabilities or traumatic brain injuries.

226 Main St.

Planning Board approval: 2017
Number of units: 8 rental units on three floors over retail
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed a 10-foot (rather than 25) rear setback and waived on-street parking requirements. Dutchess County agreed to lease the developer eight spaces for overnight parking in a lot across the street. The developer will also add parking by re-striping the municipal parking lot next to 208 Main St., re-striping parallel spaces on Main Street and striping three parallel spaces on the east side of North Elm Street.
What’s next: Construction is ongoing. The facade will be modeled after the Holland Hotel, which stood across the street a century ago.

The 226 Main (left) and 249 Main developments (Photo by Robert Maddox)

249 Main St.

Planning Board approval: 2016
Number of units: 28 rental units on three floors over retail
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed a 10-foot (rather than 25) rear setback, a reduction in landscaped area from 10 percent to 3 percent, and a side street parking area with no setback or landscaping. The Planning Board also has granted the developer a waiver for 25 of the 54 required parking spaces.
What’s next: Construction is ongoing.

The View

The View

Planning Board approval: 2016
Number of units: 42 condos
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the developer a zero, rather than 15-foot, stepback for an elevator shaft.
What’s next: An online listing for the development, at 30 Beekman St., shows no available units, although two condos will soon be offered for sale through the city’s workforce affordable housing program for $192,760 and $275,462.

23-28 Creek Dr.

Planning Board approval: Pending
Number of units: 9 rental units plus 14,000 square feet of commercial space
Variances: The developers say they plan to request variances to exceed the maximum height and stories allowed and to exceed the maximum area for two of the units.
What’s next: The Planning Board was scheduled to begin reviewing the project in January but it was pulled from the agenda.

A rendering of part of Edgewater


Planning Board approval: 2018
Number of units: 246 rental units
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the developer to have more stories per building, more units per building and less space between buildings.
What’s next: Construction is expected to begin this spring.

Ferry Landing at Beacon

Planning Board approval: Pending
Number of units: 6 townhouses
Variances: None requested
What’s next: The proposal to build six four-story townhouses on the half-acre “Welcome to Beacon” site across from the Metro-North station was introduced to the Planning Board in mid-2018, and a public hearing has been held. The project has been listed as “adjourned” (pending) on the Planning Board’s agenda each month since.

The Lofts at Beacon

Planning Board approval: 2016
Number of units: 172 rental units
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the developer to construct a new building with a height of 66 feet, rather than the 35 permitted.
What’s next: The Planning Board in December approved the developer’s request to remove commercial space from the project, which is also known as The Hip Lofts, and instead add 29 more units. About 80 units have been completed.

344 Main St.

344 Main St.

Planning Board approval: 2016
Number of units: 24 rental units on three floors over retail
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the developer to have no rear yard setback, rather than the normal 25 feet, and to have less than 2 percent landscaping where 10 percent is required.
What’s next: The city says one- and two-bedrooms will soon be available for the workforce affordable housing program, with rents starting at $1,508 per month. A number of two-bedroom market-rate apartments are available with rents starting at $2,500.

7 Creek Dr.

Planning Board approval: 2016
Number of units: 46 rental units
Variances: None
What’s next: Rents range from $1,900 to $2,750 per month. The city says studio and one-bedrooms will soon be available through the workforce affordable housing program beginning at $1,508 per month.

River Ridge

Planning Board approval: 2018
Number of units: 18 townhouses
Variances: The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the developers to have 19 feet (rather than 70) between buildings.
What’s next: The developer has submitted a $260,000 bond to the city that guarantees the completion of all public improvements at the site, known as Parcel L.

445 Main St.

445 Main St.

Planning Board approval: 2016
Number of units: 30 rental units above the Beacon Theater
Variances: None
What’s next: So far at least three units are available, ranging from a $1,700 studio to a $2,800 two-bedroom.

6 thoughts on “Booming Beacon

  1. All this overdevelopment is ridiculous! It drove me out of my hometown. How many apartments and condos do you need? Who will buy or rent them with the prices so high? Will never understand how and why all these projects were approved.

  2. I feel very sad that the Beacon I loved no longer exists. The prices are incredibly high and the town has lost its quirky, lovely mix of people to become a wealthy, dull, overcrowded and overblown place. Why did this happen? There is no vision of beauty but greed took over once again.

  3. It looks like all the planning over the years is finally paying off. More and more run-down properties are being purchased and renovated, along with the new buildings Beacon property values are finally increasing and the city is looking good.

    There will always be people who complain the prices are too high, but at least the people that took the gamble years ago in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s are finally reaping the benefits of their investments. Living here for over 40 years I do believe the change is for the better, and sure more traffic, more congestion and new issues come along with the changes, but at least Beacon seems to be moving to a higher class of life.

  4. People are interested in moving to Beacon, and up until this development happened, there was nowhere for them to move to. At one point, Beacon had a less than 1 percent vacancy rate. Prices rose. Supply and demand. Now, with more places to live, prices should stabilize, at least through the next economic cycle. Beacon is better than ever! It’s still lovely, quirky and awesome; and now there will be tax income to fix infrastructure and to bring Beacon up to speed. There is now a possibility of economic development and good paying jobs. I’m optimistic. I love living here; I love our community. Overall, I believe that there is a lot more positive than negative generated by the development detailed in this article.

  5. I have a doctorate in public health with an emphasis in community building. I have lived in Beacon for 20 years and have watched and participated in the changes.

    Transitions are always fraught with unintended or unexpected consequences and must be managed correctly. Beacon has narrow roads and an increasing traffic problem and an acute parking problem. We need multi-leveled parking structures. Why not have the developers help pay for the parking structure rather than hope it disappears?

    Another option is to vary the scale and height of buildings, shorter in front and higher in back so that many more have a view.

    One should read Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. First the poor occupy unneeded land, then the small business and artists move in because space and rent is cheap. Then the wealthy move in because of the culture, rent goes up and the poor and the artists and the businesses move out and everyone wonders what happen?

    This process must be regulated and one must have a plan. Our plan is not even finished. Variances are easily obtained and the process is chaotic, to say the least.

    We are losing the diversity of the community. A third of black residents have moved out, and many Hispanic residents are following suit. Diversity makes the community stronger and better. We are also losing the retired and elderly because they cannot afford the rents.

    • Rather than multi-level parking structures for Beacon, first the city needs better public transportation, including more and better useful sidewalk space along Main Street.

      While The Death and Life of American Cities is a must-read for any discussion of how communities can (and in retrospect, sometimes do) defend against destruction, it must be seen in the context of when it was written — the singular age of Robert Moses. This book was written in a far more optimistic times (1961). Moses was, in fact, after decades, on the cusp of being stopped.

      A somewhat more-recent book, Human Scale, by Kirkpatrick Sale, is perhaps more immediately relevant to the circumstances in which Beacon is faced today. New construction that is (and continues to be out-of-scale) with existing is having a vast transformative effect on Beacon as a community. It’s mostly a deleterious one. However, it’s probably yet to be seen by new residents and by new students most clearly, and only after the perspective of time. The vast changes to New York City from to the last few decades of building can however by studied today.

      A far more recent book, How to Kill a City, by Peter Moskowitz, is useful though far more dismal in the sense that it describes the situations of the communities within four cities largely after their “destruction,” after they were too late to stop.

      I also recommend Jane Jacobs’ last book, Dark Age Ahead (2004). But note the complete difference in the tone of this title. The title is indicative of how the alignment of political and economic forces have shifted in favor of the wealthy and against the more common interest.

      There is a vast literature on urban studies and on urban sociology. It is only peripherally my field. I find it difficult to believe no one currently resident or active in Beacon has seriously studied this field, and applied the study locally with appropriate public recognition. But apparently not.

      Regardless, up till now the mass of interested and active parties within Beacon have not been sufficiently critical to prompt an adequate study and response. Partly it may be that as changes occur many who are impacted are too busy dealing with them at the local or detail level to have the time or energy to do a more thorough study of the larger picture (as did Jacobs). Beacon is a small city, and therefore the number of residents and local stakeholders has been very limited. The forces driving change in Beacon are far larger and more powerful: regional and larger economic circumstances and associated decision makers. A more powerful response and critique to these changes (one from, if you will, a more alert and informed Greater Beacon) is desperately needed.