Healey dealerships depart, and changes expected
With four substantial parcels on Fishkill Avenue (Route 52) owned by Healey Brothers auto dealerships on the market, the Beacon City Council says it will consider rezoning a portion of the corridor to spur mixed-use development that could include affordable housing.
The council discussed the first draft of a rezoning proposal during its workshop on Tuesday (Sept. 5). A public hearing would be required before any council vote.
There are a number of elements at play in the corridor, which hugs Fishkill Creek as it wends from Beacon toward Hopewell Junction. The first is the four Healey properties.
The largest, with a 20,000-square-foot retail building, is listed for $3.2 million. A second, with a 10,200-square-foot showroom, is $1.8 million, and two additional lots, each with buildings, are listed for $1.45 million and $450,000.
The Healey brothers — Paul and Dwight — announced in April that they were moving the Ford dealership to a larger location on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie after purchasing the Friendly Ford dealership there.
Construction is also underway on a Healey Hyundai facility on Route 52 in Fishkill that is expected to open in December. The brothers’ Mitsubishi dealership moved to Middletown and the Lincoln dealership is now in Goshen.
The Healey business was approaching its 40th year in Beacon; Bill Healey, the father of the brothers, owned a Chevy dealership in Goshen when he purchased Shaw Motors, at 365 Fishkill Ave., in 1984 from the retiring William Shaw, who had opened his dealership in 1952. Healey said at the time that Beacon “seems like a good place, a community on the go with good growth potential.”
In addition to considering the uprooting of those longtime occupants, the city has asked Dutchess County to study creating a 13-mile rail trail along Metro-North’s dormant Beacon Line, which runs roughly parallel along the creek from Beacon to Hopewell.
On Tuesday, the City Council discussed the possibility of rezoning about 30 parcels along Route 52 in Beacon’s northeast corner. Combined with the potential rail trail, John Clarke, a city planning consultant, said he hopes Beacon can create a corridor with amenities markedly different from the “low-slung, parking-oriented, automobile-oriented businesses with drive-thrus, gas stations and car lots” that proliferate on stretches of Routes 52 and 9.
“This area can take on a different character that would benefit from additional housing opportunities and access to the rail trail and the creek,” Clarke said.
But “the clock is ticking,” said City Administrator Chris White, who noted that prospective buyers had already contacted the Building Department to inquire about uses that would be allowed on the Healey parcels.
Clarke’s draft of a Fishkill Avenue zoning district stretches from the eastern edge of Memorial Park to the flashing yellow light at Route 52’s intersection with Mill Street. If implemented as proposed, the zone would abut residential districts while including properties zoned for general business and light and heavy industrial uses.
The goal would be to attract a mix of commercial and residential uses that, complemented by the rail trail, would give the area a walkable, Main Street-type feel, Clarke said.
Mayor Lee Kyriacou suggested extending the zone to the Town of Fishkill line, saying the district should include auto-related uses, such as gas stations and car washes. Council Member Dan Aymar-Blair agreed that the zone could be extended but argued that gas-powered vehicles will be phased out as electric vehicle sales increase.
Nevertheless, “if the zone is fairly flexible it might be beneficial to have a longer zone, as long as we’re not disturbing the existing uses but offering new ones,” Kyriacou said, “if they’re additional uses that we want.”
Among other types of development, Clarke’s proposal would allow microbreweries, bed-and-breakfasts, fitness centers, museums, hotels, places of worship and grocery stores. Development standards, some of which Clarke said he cribbed from Beacon’s linkage zone, would include the requirement that lot owners provide planters, trees, shrubs or other landscaping to enhance the streetscape.
New buildings would have to be a minimum of two stories with at least 15 percent of a parcel landscaped. Parking lots (or spaces) would have to be behind, underneath or to the side of buildings.
The council would need to amend Beacon’s comprehensive plan so the district would comply with the plan before it can be created. One of the objectives in the comprehensive plan’s section on land use and zoning indicates that growth should be encouraged “in and around the central business district, rather than spreading out along Route 9D and Route 52.”
“It’s very exciting,” Kyriacou said. “It’s probably the most forward-looking area we’ve had to consider for a while. In some respects, it’s shocking that we’re so far along [as a city] and we can think about it.”
152-158 Fishkill Ave.
The Beacon Planning Board will continue its review on Tuesday (Sept. 12) of a proposal to replace an auto detail shop and a multi-family home at 152 and 158 Fishkill Ave. with a three-story building with offices on the first floor and 16 apartments above.
The two lots are in the “transitional” zoning district that abuts Main Street. The new building would feature a rooftop terrace and have 62 off-street parking spaces and five new on-street spaces.
In 2017, the developer proposed a 59-unit residential and retail project called Beacon Light Condominiums at the site.
The Planning Board in July approved a “negative declaration” indicating that the current proposal would not adversely affect the environment.