Developer submits plans for vacant Main Street lot in Beacon

Adeveloper is planning to build a three-story retail showroom at 536 Main St. in Beacon, one of the few remaining vacant lots along the city’s mile-long central thoroughfare.

The proposal, presented to the Planning Board on Wednesday (Feb. 15), is to construct a 13,500-square-foot building that would include retail showroom space on all three floors for Warp & Weft, a custom and designer rug business. There would also be office space on the second and third floors, but no apartments.

The vacant lot, on the east end of Main Street, is in the city’s historic district and is close to restaurants, apartments and other mixed-use buildings. According to materials presented to the board, Warp & Weft plans to construct a brick building with glass “showroom” doors.

The developer’s attorney noted on Wednesday that Main Street zoning permits the Planning Board to waive parking requirements for a building if there is sufficient public parking available within 800 feet. The developer’s traffic study showed 375 parking spaces nearby, with 50 of them available during “peak” hours.

However, John Clarke, the city’s planning consultant, said that the Main Street Access Committee studied parking conditions for all of Main and found the east end “pretty much locked down,” with little availability.

Prophecy Theater

The Planning Board continued a public hearing for a special-use permit and site plan approval of the proposal to convert the former Reformed Church of Beacon into a hotel and event space with a restaurant and bar.

The proposal, first introduced in 2021, has been downsized numerous times after pushback from the board and nearby residents. It now calls for a maximum capacity of 180 attendees at the event space, down from the original plan of 500.

There will be no events on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and there would be a maximum of 160 events per year. Events on Fridays, Saturdays and the night before a holiday would end by 10 p.m. Events on other nights would end by 9 p.m.

The restaurant would also be closed if an event with more than 100 attendees is taking place. Project officials said on Wednesday that only 40 events per year would qualify for maximum capacity and only 80 would go later than 9 p.m.

In addition, “acoustic glass” will be installed over the church’s stained glass windows to help eliminate noise “leakage.”

While project officials stressed several times that Prophecy will not be a concert venue, they may not have swayed the public or the Planning Board. Clarke said “it’s going to be impossible for the city to keep track” of the various times and types of events, while noting that the hours of operation seem to indicate Prophecy will be a live music venue, not a conference center.

Gina Samardge, the founder of Compass Arts in Beacon, submitted a letter in favor of the proposal, saying it could become “a vital resource for us and the greater community” that could host multi-day conferences for artists and other groups. But many others spoke against the project during the hearing, with most saying it would be an intrusion for residents of neighboring apartment and condominium complexes — The View, River Ridge and the West End Lofts — as well as the homes on the other side of Wolcott Avenue.

“What are we doing with this thing in a residential area?” asked John Bono. “I didn’t work and save all those years to have some nice church turned into whatever it is. I know it’s going to end up being a rock ’n’ roll joint anyway.” For those supporting the project, “What would you do if this damn thing was in front of your house?” he asked. “How would you deal with the noise? That’s not why I moved to Beacon.”

After 21/2 hours of debate, the board agreed to ask the city’s Traffic Safety Committee to look into ideas such as valet parking at the site. The Planning Board will continue its review of the other elements next month.

Highland Place

The developer of 12 Highland Place, who planned to subdivide a 1-acre lot with an existing home into five lots, with four new houses, announced Wednesday that the project had been reduced to four lots, essentially combining two of the new lots into one.

The change was made in response to public feedback during previous hearings, the project attorney said. The four homes would still be accessed through a driveway on Highland that will be converted to a private road.

The announcement seemed to catch residents off guard who had come to the meeting planning to speak about the five-house plan. “We should have known about this change prior to today’s meeting,” said Paul Lyons, who lives across the street on Highland Place. “I really don’t know what to say, because this changes all the points I had.”

A public hearing on the subdivision will continue next month. The Planning Board, which has already approved the environmental review of the project, will likely amend the approval to account for the new plans.

Neighborhood residents had previously questioned whether fire trucks and other emergency vehicles would be able to reach the subdivision via the private road, but Planning Board Chair John Gunn read a letter from the Traffic Safety Committee indicating that the planned road will be sufficient.

The traffic committee does not recommend requiring the developer to build sidewalks on Highland Place. Parking can also continue on both sides of Highland, the committee said.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics

7 replies on “One of the Last to Go?”

  1. Prophecy Theater reduced the maximum capacity and the days on which events may be held but it has not reduced the many serious concerns which will impact the more than 400 families who live nearby, such as:

    1. There is no mechanism for preventing event-goers from trespassing on neighboring properties before, during and after events.

    2. There is no on-site parking for the event venue, which means event-goers will park on the narrow streets near the venue or in private parking lots. If there were enough room for on-site event-parking, it would reduce the disturbance to neighbors.

    3. The Planning Board’s noise consultant has indicated that there are many issues that have not been addressed, such as the noise event-goers will inevitably make on arrival and departure.

    4. The city code allows for a conference center as an accessory to a hotel. Prophecy Theater is hardly an accessory to the proposed 30-room hotel, and it is more a concert hall than a conference center.

    During the most recent Planning Board meeting, some Planning Board members and residents noted that, if the developer is sincere in saying that the venue is going to be a conference center and not a concert venue, the proposed hours of operation should reflect that. Rather than late-night hours and weekends, a conference center would be more focused on daytime hours on weekdays.

    The nearby community is happy to see that the Planning Board is referring the parking and traffic issues to the Traffic Safety Committee, and I urge the board to follow the spirit of the city code and not allow Prophecy Theater to build this entertainment venue on the Dutch Reformed Church site.

  2. Beaconers and her visitors apparently are slaves to motor vehicles per city investments. Motor vehicle stations aka parking continue to stand as a given in City Hall.

    Motor vehicle stationing as a threshold for redevelopment of a site represents a sad state of affairs. The time is nigh for an RFP for a city light rail system.

  3. Attend a meeting of the Planning Board, or skim the letters to the editor in The Current, and you might think the owner of the former Reformed Church was planning to bring Madison Square Garden to town. Holding proverbial pitchforks and warning of the rock ’n’ roll apocalypse, the opponents of the Prophecy Theater project are a loud and convincing bunch. Megadeth on 9D? I’ll pass.

    The problem is Gavin Hecker, the Beacon resident behind Prophecy Theater, isn’t planning to plant a pulsing nightclub on the Hudson. Ask him (I did, he lives right down the street from me) and Gavin will explain that what he’s planning is less MSG and more Howland Center West, a neighborhood-focused center for the arts, perfect for theatrical workshops, dance recitals and open mics.

    If the folks opposing the project would take out their earplugs for a second and listen to their neighbor, they might like what they hear.

  4. In your story about the Beacon Planning Board hearing for the Prophecy Theater proposal at 1113 Wolcott Ave., a neighbor is quoted as asking: “What would you do if this damn thing was in front of your house?”

    He hit the nail on the head. As noted by the city’s planning consultant and members of the public, the complexity of the operating schedule makes adherence impossible to track or enforce. Many of us who live no more than a few feet away from this site have valid and serious concerns around the impact on our families’ quality of life if it is approved.

    And we are not a “small group,” as we have been represented to be. To date, more than 350 people have signed a petition and hundreds of letters of concern have been submitted to the Planning Board focused on noise, traffic, parking, trespassing and safety. This project belongs in a business district, away from residential complexes and streets. It is potentially a nice idea but in the wrong location.

  5. I live in Beacon in the building next to the vacant lot at 536 Main St. and the tenants here are upset by the prospect of a retail building and office space going in. Thursday through Mondays we can barely park because of the weekend crowds. I can’t go grocery shopping because when I come back, there are no spaces, even in the small section marked for “tenants,” which everyone ignores.

    The residents living over Melzingah Tap House also use the lot because they don’t have their own. Our tenants have 16 cars and there at least another 10 from residents above the Tap House. It’s horrible.

    This building would make us not only lose any sort of view but all sunlight. Plus, construction dust will be coming into our windows while it is being built.

    The Planning Board members don’t seem to care; they had their heads in their phones during the Feb. 15 meeting. Why do we let the same three builders destroy the city? I have written the Planning Board twice; neither letter has been acknowledged. [via Instagram]

  6. As objections have been raised to the development of the former Reformed Church in Beacon, the projected use has changed from a hotel, nightclub, bar, event center and theater. What’s next? Noise, parking, trespassing, safety and other concerns have yet to be resolved. The city has chosen to keep the project alive despite hundreds of voices opposing the projected uses.

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