The Old Beacon Correctional Facility Is Getting a Major Facelift
Empire State Development launches a new plan with Urban Green Food to transform the former prison into a lifestyle campus — and create hundreds of jobs along the way.
Beacon Reservoir, on Beacon Mountain, Beacon, NY, USA
Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons
‘Tis the season for giving life to abandoned spaces in the Hudson Valley.
In recent months, local renovation projects have become the name of the game for developers who want to make the most of already developed land. With refurbishments like The Hive in Poughkeepsie and Letchworth Village in Thiells, there’s never been a better time to give new life to old locales.
Case in point: the former Beacon Correctional Facility. Once a minimum-security prison in Dutchess County, the property shut down in 2013 after state budget cuts forced its closure. Now, the facility anticipates a rebirth as an exciting new community center.
Led by Empire State Development (ESD), the renovation project began with proposal submissions for potential uses of the space. In May, ESD announced that Urban Green Food, a real estate and renewable energy collective, won the bid with its outline to design a campus centered around education, farming, food, hospitality, recreation, and sports. The project will make full use of the 39-acre, 22-building site in Beacon and Fishkill and will cost an estimated $62 million to develop.
A true collaborative effort, this proposal is a shared endeavor by Urban Green Builders, a New York-based firm with a presence in the Hudson Valley; Common Ground Farm in Wappingers Falls; and All You Knead Bakery in Beacon. Together, the group plans to introduce elements like a commercial kitchen, a 103-key hotel with a restaurant and event space, and a landscape design and nursery business. In addition, the venue will also function as a community and education center with athletic facilities, a maker space, and classrooms for youth and adult job training onsite.
“Urban Green Food is thrilled to get to work on this project that uniquely combines some of our greatest passions – hospitality, agriculture, sports, and recreation – in a town and in a valley we’ve long loved and admired,” says Urban Green Builders Principal Eric Anderson.
Already approved by Empire State Development, the Beacon initiative must now undergo an environmental review process. As far as public approval goes, the developer will need to secure stamps of approval from the City of Beacon and the Town of Fishkill, which ESD is attempting to expedite with a joint zoning approval process, along with the ESD Board of Directors, the New York State Comptroller, and the New York State General Attorney. Once all the OKs are in place, Urban Green Food can charge full steam ahead into development.
“Throughout New York State, surplus facilities are being transformed in exciting ways that support regional economies,” observes Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “This project is a great example of how a former prison can be reimagined to create new jobs and foster local and regional economies and community growth.”
Although the redevelopment project has a way to go before construction begins, first efforts to rebirth the space actually began in September 2018 when ESD issued a request for proposal for the site in order to maximize community and economic benefits for the City of Beacon and the Town of Fishkill. The submission period closed in December, after which time ESD’s selection committee met to review proposals.
If all goes according to plan with the Urban Green Food outline, the Beacon redevelopment will create an estimated 295 direct construction jobs and 150 to 250 permanent jobs. Once complete, it will serve as a hub for visitors, who can retreat to the onsite hotel, and for the Hudson Valley community, who can make use of its maker spaces, recreational facilities, and retail opportunities.
“This project will be an incredible addition to our local community, and we are thrilled to join Empire State Development in announcing an initiative that will bring such a great influx of economic activity and jobs here to our local area,” says Senator Sue Serino. “This is another great example of all that can be accomplished when committed partners at every level come together to move our community forward, and we look forward to seeing this impressive project get underway.”