Mixed-use project proposed for congested intersection

Adeveloper has submitted plans to build two four-story, mixed-use buildings at one of Beacon’s busiest intersections, the corner of Wolcott Avenue (Route 9D) and Beekman Street.

If the project is approved, the developer would demolish a three-story commercial building — the former site of the Beacon Popmart, an art event space — and merge its lot with two vacant parcels. The two buildings would include 14,000 square feet of commercial space and 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The project also includes 89 parking spaces, some of which would be located beneath one of the buildings.

The site is almost entirely within Beacon’s Linkage District, a zone that the 2017 comprehensive plan says should promote residential development that reinforces connections between the Main Street and waterfront areas. Specifically, it instructs mixed-use development to be allowed adjacent to the intersection of Route 9D and Beekman Street to create “a more inviting and active pedestrian gateway between the Linkage District and Main Street.”

Developments such as the River Ridge townhouses, The View condominiums and the West End Lofts have been added to the area in recent years. A year ago, the Planning Board also approved the Beacon Commons, a 62-unit building that will be constructed at the corner of West Main and Bank streets, and the 246-apartment Edgewater complex is under construction a few blocks away.

However, on weekday afternoons the area is also easily Beacon’s most congested, as vehicles leaving the Metro-North station routinely back up almost to City Hall waiting to get to Interstate 84. A traffic consultant for the project acknowledged to the Planning Board, which began its review of the application on Tuesday (Dec. 12), that “there’s some issues there,” and suggested adding a traffic signal at Wolcott (which is known as North Avenue in that area) and Tompkins Avenue. A light would have to be approved by the state Department of Transportation.

The consultant also suggested timing modifications for the existing signal at Wolcott and Beekman to better handle the traffic flow.

Planning Board members were cautious. Kevin Byrne noted the importance of the intersection as one of the entrances to Beacon. “The city has an opportunity here to repair some of the damage done” decades ago by urban renewal, “which was significant,” he said. “There’s a real public interest in making this a significant building.”

One of the proposed buildings will also adjoin High Street, which “has a collection of some of the most stately Victorian homes” in Beacon, said Len Warner. “It’s a gem of a street.”

“So don’t mess it up,” said John Gunn, the Planning Board chair.

Cell tower approved

The Planning Board on Tuesday approved an application by Verizon to erect a 120-foot cell tower in the Fairview Cemetery, about 400 feet from residences on Helen Court. Approval was granted despite protests from neighbors, who cited health concerns and its effect on property values.

A Verizon attorney, David Brennan, told the board that the structure is necessary because a tower on Mount Beacon that provided coverage in the 1990s, when few people used cellphones, is no longer feasible. “It’s too far away, it’s too high up and it’s too far from the population it’s serving,” he said.

The new tower will have three “sectors,” each with an antenna, plus three boxes that include overvoltage protectors and other equipment. Other wireless carriers could install antennas on the tower if there is a need, Brennan said.

Verizon’s lease on the site is for five years and will automatically renew, unless canceled by the company, for up to 25 years.

409 Fishkill Ave.

Soka Gakkai International, a Buddhist organization, has submitted plans to repurpose 409 Fishkill Ave., a parcel owned by the Healey Brothers auto dealership, as a worship center that would accommodate up to 200 people. The parcel is one of four being vacated by Healey, which moved its Ford dealership to Route 9 and is building a Hyundai facility on Route 52 in Fishkill.

Project officials told the Planning Board on Tuesday that they are leasing the site from Healey. SGI is not planning new construction, only a new facade on the one-story building. The group also plans to add lighting and landscaping.

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

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1 Comment

  1. Let us not forget that the building at 45 Beekman St. now being proposed for development was recently home to many working artists as Spire Studios — that was, before we could no longer afford to live or work in Beacon. [via Instagram]

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