Developers Have Some Big Plans for the Hudson Valley’s Small Cities

Developers Have Some Big Plans for the Hudson Valley’s Small Cities
One Park Place, a 181-unit market rate rental development, is under construction in downtown Peekskill. PHOTO BY MARY T. PRENON

The cities of Peekskill in Westchester County and Newburgh in Orange County may be smaller than other major cities in the Hudson Valley, but both have some big development plans in the works.

Peekskill, which has seen major changes over the past 10 years, is gearing up to add five new affordable and market rate residential developments, an independent senior living facility, plus a major revitalization to Fleichmann’s Pier on the Hudson River at Charles Point. Last year, the city secured a $10-million economic development investment from New York State to assist with the many projects now in progress.

“I think what’s attracting developers to Peekskill is the fact that we’re a small city with a lot to offer,” said Jean Friedman, the City’s Director of Planning. “We have already been upgrading the downtown and waterfront areas, we’re right on the Metro-North train line as well as Route 9, and land costs are a lot more reasonable here than in lower Westchester County.”

Because there’s still a steady exodus of people from New York City, Friedman notes that Peekskill represents a very commutable area, lower real estate taxes, and a vibrant walkable downtown with restaurants and art galleries. “It’s a very friendly place to live too,” she added. “Since we’re smaller, people can actually get to know each other.”

The city’s economically-diverse housing developments range from 22 market-rate rentals on South Division Street to 225 units of mixed income housing and commercial space on lower South Street. The new “SoLo” project is currently awaiting site plan approval for the land, owned by the City of Peekskill. “This will be similar to the ‘Lofts on Main’ and will offer affordably-priced one-and two-bedroom apartments,” said Friedman.

The city’s second largest planned development at One Park Place will bring in 181 units of market rate rentals with commercial space on the first floor. Currently under construction, rents are expected to skew slightly less than rentals in White Plains or New Rochelle.

Meantime, noted affordable housing developer Wilder Balter is building a $50.8-million, 82-unit affordable rental project at 645 Main St. Located next to Bohlmann Towers and the Kiley Youth Center, it will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and a 142-space garage. “There is also some state funding involved,” said Friedman, “and potential renters will have to apply to live there since they’ll have to meet Westchester County’s affordable housing requirements.”

Due for completion by summer of 2022, the development will also feature on-site amenities including a fitness center, clubroom, laundry facility, green roof courtyard and management office.

“There’s still a huge need for affordable housing in Westchester, especially for young people starting out and seniors on a fixed income,” said Friedman. In the meantime, to alleviate some of those needs, a 52-unit independent senior living affordable rental facility is now underway on Route 202 in Peekskill. The project is expected to be completed by early Fall of 2021.

Two smaller projects are also in progress—a 22-unit market rate rental building at 505 South St., which will overlook the Hudson River, and a 22-unit market rate rental on South Division Street.

Across the river in the City of Newburgh, new developments are also on the rise with up to 80 loft-style rentals, a 60-unit condominium redevelopment of an old foundry, new commercial buildings and continued upgrading of the waterfront area.

While it’s no secret that the downtown area has become blighted and crime-ridden over the years, city officials are working hard to change its reputation with new developments and refurbishments of abandoned buildings. “There has been a lot of disinvestment in the community,” admitted Alexandra Church, Economic Development Director for the City of Newburgh. “People have walked away from properties, leaving a lot of neighborhoods vacant. But what we’re starting to see now is a reinvestment in those areas.”

The Newburgh Community Land Bank, a non-profit organization established in 2012, is partnering with developers to rebuild local neighborhoods. Funded in part by New York State, the Land Bank acquires title to vacant and abandoned properties then sells the land to contractors or developers.

The Land Bank is now in partnership with RUPCO Inc. of Kingston, to renovate scattered sites of two to four housing units in a concentrated area. “When complete, these buildings can be available for affordable rental housing,” explained Church. “Priority for housing will be given to local residents.”

Currently, they are working on a five-block area that will involve about 40 structures in total. “For example, 10 years ago South Miller Street was 90% vacant, and now there’s only one building not yet completed on the whole block,” added Church.

Orange County, meantime, will be closing on a deal soon with Foster Supply Hospitality for a hotel and restaurant on Grand Street. The company has built and own small, boutique hotels throughout the Catskills and plans to refurbish the city’s old YMCA, Masonic Temple and American Legion buildings near the SUNY Orange campus. “The plan to keep the buildings intact and revamp the interiors, “said Church. “It’s a great location just two blocks up from the waterfront.”

It was in the early 2000’s that the city began to revitalize the waterfront, which is now a hot spot for both indoor and outdoor dining, as well as boat rides. “I think the fact that our waterfront is now fully developed is what’s piquing interest for developers to start coming up the hill from there,” said Church. “That’s a big push in the right direction.”

Meantime, the Kearney Development Group is looking to replicate it’s Peekskill artist loft style undertaking with a 70-unit to 80-unit rental project about a block from the waterfront on city-owned land.

Another proposed project would create 60 units of either rental or condominium housing at The Foundry—an old foundry building—on South William and Johnes streets. “I think the younger generation is more interested in suburbs that look different and they like to be close to restaurants and nightlife that the waterfront offers,” noted Church.

Three city-owned properties in the east end historic district are also being considered for redevelopment, including the former historic “City Club” building. “We do have a lot of projects in the works, and it seems that people who grew up in the area now want to reinvest in the community and help to change the stigma of Newburgh.”

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