Both Sides Now
Two not-so-different visions for the Hudson River Valley
(page 6 of 6)
Eco-friendly Dooley Square is a fine example of adaptive reuse, says Scenic Hudson
Photograph by Frank Roberts
Rating the Developments: Scenic Hudson Weighs In
The “A” List: Models of Excellence
Dooley Square in Poughkeepsie. This complex of businesses and restaurants gets high marks for its adaptive reuse of an old industrial building, its downtown location adjacent to the train station, its utilization of geothermal energy for heating, and its mixture of uses, according to Jeff Anzevino, assistant director of land use advocacy at Scenic Hudson.
Hudson Park in Yonkers. The two-phase development includes a series of nine- to 14-story buildings appropriately scaled for the city. The location — between the ferry terminal and the train station — is ideal, and the site incorporates both residential and commercial uses. It fronts a public walkway on the waterfront, and has a small park. “It’s a perfect example of an infill project on vacant industrial land,” says Anzevino. “The land was going to waste; now it’s housing people and putting people to work.”
Hudson Harbor in Tarrytown. Located on a former industrial site, this neo-traditional development of condos and four-story townhouses fits in with the existing community. The buildings — which utilize geothermal energy and environmentally friendly materials — are within walking distance of the train station and ferry dock. And they border a waterfront walkway and park created by Scenic Hudson, which worked with the developer on the plan.
Newburgh Waterfront Plan. The city selected Leyland Alliance, based in Tuxedo Park, to develop a 30-acre “dead zone” created by urban renewal in the 1960s. In essence, Leyland’s New Urbanist plan will rebuild the missing city and connect the restaurants on the waterfront to Broadway and the Orange County Community College campus. It will consist of a variety of townhouses, condos, and apartments — including affordable units — as well as commercial buildings and public spaces. More than two years in the making, the plan is currently awaiting the necessary financing, which has been delayed by the economic downturn. Leyland Alliance also is the developer for Warwick Grove, a traditional-neighborhood residential complex in Warwick that also gets top grades from Scenic Hudson.
The “F” List: Detriments to the Landscape
Corbin Hill, Fort Montgomery. Located just north of the Bear Mountain Bridge, this sprawling housing development on a hillside in the Hudson Highlands is a jarring note. The removal of trees, naked lawns, the drab color of the buildings, and uninspiring architecture intrude on a landscape that’s recognized as one of the state’s most scenic areas (it is adjacent to Palisades Interstate Park and within sight of the Appalachian Trail).
Plum Point on Hudson, New Windsor. Begun in the 1980s, the final phase of this massive housing development is nearing completion. The rows of barracks-like housing, plunked atop an engineered slope that shows evidence of erosional scars, overlooks the Hudson, destroying the views along the river. “The buildings are all white and totally monolithic,” says Anzevino. (He notes that another riverside development, Riverview Condominiums in Port Ewen, also misses the mark for being conspicuous and ugly.) Open space is lacking, and the development is isolated from existing communities, resulting in more cars on the road.
“Death by 1,000 Cuts.” This term was used by writer and Hudson River environmentalist Robert Boyle to refer to the construction of single-family houses, “the small-scale developments that have a huge impact collectively,” as Anzevino puts it. The building of a house here, a house there is the most insidious threat; it eventually results in many trees being cut down. Open Space Institute President Joe Martens notes that, in his 14 years of riding Amtrak between Albany and New York City, he’s observed a huge increase in the number of single-family units on the ridges overlooking the river. The trend “detracts from the attractiveness of the Valley for everyone not living in those houses,” he says. “And it’s happening right now. New construction sites are cropping up that are highly visible.”