State Accepting Proposals for Former Prison

The Downstate prison property

The Downstate prison property (Photo provided)

Housing prioritized for property served by Beacon water 

New York is prioritizing housing as its development arm begins searching for a firm to buy and redevelop the former Downstate Correctional Facility property, which lies north of Beacon and draws water from the city. 

Empire State Development on Tuesday (July 18) released a long-anticipated request for proposals for the 80-acre, state-owned site on Red Schoolhouse Road in Fishkill, which opened in 1979 as a 1,200-cell maximum-security prison and closed in March 2022. 

In the request, Empire State Development specifies it will favor proposals that allocate at least 20 percent of residential units to affordable housing.

The state has set aside up to $8 million in grants for the winning proposal. Responses are due by Aug. 23. 

Although the state is prioritizing housing, Fishkill Supervisor Ozzy Albra said he would prefer to see a commercial development on the property, which is zoned for single-family homes, with one residence allowed for each acre. 

Albra said he is not opposed to housing, but does not want “500, 600 residential units” on the property. “We’d like to see some type of industry, like a microchip plant or a battery plant,” he said. “I’d rather see something that creates a lot of money and creates jobs.” 

The request for proposals says that the property may be eligible for a zoning variance, but Albra noted that would be subject to approval by the Fishkill Town Board. The request also notes that “a general project plan” through Empire State Development could be considered to override local zoning. 

Downstate has 37 buildings with a total of 558,000 square feet. In addition to supplying water, Beacon also treated the prison’s sewage.

New York announced the closure of Downstate and five other prisons in November 2021, estimating that the shutdowns would save $142 million annually. The Department of Corrections and Community said at the time that its inmate population had declined 57 percent since 1999, leading to the closure of 20 correctional facilities. 

The 40-acre former site of the Beacon Correctional Facility has also been identified for redevelopment. The property sits a block off Matteawan Road between Beacon High School and the Fishkill Correctional Facility and is the largest available undeveloped tract in the city.

In 2019, Empire State Development awarded development rights for the site, also known as Camp Beacon, to Urban Green Food, a New York City-based firm that plans to create a “bike farm” with a hotel and courtyard, an indoor track-and-field venue and an arena for indoor cycling known as a velodrome, along with dozens of acres of farmland and bike trails.

Eric Anderson, the founder of Urban Green Builders, the parent company of Urban Green Food, spoke to the City Council in 2019 about his proposal and said in November 2021 that he intended to bring the project to the Beacon Planning Board last year. 

Urban Green Builders has yet to submit an application to the Planning Board. Mayor Lee Kyriacou said in August that he proposed to Empire State Development that the state allocate $6 million to create another access road to Camp Beacon that would “change the nature of what you could do on that site.”

3 thoughts on “State Accepting Proposals for Former Prison

  1. New York should transfer ownership of these former prison properties to the local municipalities and let their futures be dictated by those communities.

    The state wants to increase our population through the construction of housing, and our tax-base-growth-loving local governments are bound to comply. But what if we instead look at these properties through the lens of their potential to improve the well-being, financial security and educational opportunities of the people who already live here?

    Maybe a trade school that focuses on green-energy technologies, an agricultural research and education hub, or an arts and technology camp? Instead of trying to solve the problems of growth with more growth through the construction of “affordable” housing units, let’s focus on ensuring our neighbors can afford to live where they already are. [via Instagram]

    • I can’t think of a way to use that land rather than try and stuff more people down our throats. I use to enjoy things such as the mountain. Now on the weekends it is filled with disrespecting people and the trash they leave behind. This ain’t NYC. I disagree with the governor a lot.

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