Both Sides Now
Two not-so-different visions for the Hudson River Valley
(page 5 of 6)
Riverside charm: New townhomes with Victorian details at Cold Spring Landing
Photograph courtesy of Unicorn Contracting Corp.
Developments In the News
Cold Spring Landing, Cold Spring
The block of 10 townhomes on the Cold Spring waterfront was completed just over a year ago, but you’d never know it. With their gabled roofs, dormers, Victorian porches, bay windows, turrets and large chimneys, these brick-and-wood-sided houses, arrayed in a row hugging the sidewalk, look a hundred years old. Stylistically, the development fits in perfectly with the quaint architecture and early 19th-century townscape of the surrounding village. The houses are a few steps away from a waterfront gazebo and pier and a block away from the train station, which whisks commuters to Manhattan in just over an hour.
The site, a former lumberyard, presented a rare opportunity to develop in a village center on the waterfront, notes developer Paul Guillaro, the president of Unicorn Contracting Corp., based in Garrison. It’s also in a historic district. “We worked with the village and their historical board and planning board,” he said — a process that included determining the existing sightlines on the street so that the new buildings could be properly aligned. He also was required to use natural products — cedar instead of cement-board or vinyl siding, cooper details, wood-framed windows with divided panes — which was very costly. As we go to press, three of the waterfront townhouses have sold for over $1 million; the remainder are being rented. Guillaro says he’s sure they all would have sold if the economy hadn’t taken a nosedive.
Hudson Landing, Kingston
After six years of review, AVR Realty’s proposal to build what would be the largest waterfront development on the Hudson River got environmental approval from the Kingston Planning Board in April. Located on the former site of a cement plant and limestone quarry, Hudson Landing will consist of 1,682 units — a combination of single-family homes, townhouses, condos, and apartments, along with retail shops, a restaurant, and other commercial buildings.
Public input by community and historic preservation groups, environmental organizations, and — especially — Scenic Hudson (which, along with other organizations, proposed an alternative plan) led to many changes in the original proposal, which would have created massive suburban sprawl along the Hudson shoreline. The approved project has been significantly downsized — though critics say it’s still too big — and will consist of two New Urbanist-style villages separated by a wide swath of parkland and fronted by a mile-long waterfront promenade. The buildings will be laid out in a grid, with the architecture reflecting traditional local styles.
A forested ridge will be protected (instead of covered with houses, as called for in the original plan), to some extent preserving the views from the river. A proposed marina has been scrapped in favor of a launching area for kayaks and other nonmotorized craft. There is also a plan to provide shuttle service to the Rhinecliff train station, which is located across the river near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
The New Urbanist redesign requires a zoning change, after which AVR will submit a site plan to the planning board for the first phase, which will be for 200 to 300 units. Dan Simone, director of engineering and planning for the Yonkers-based firm, said construction could begin next year, depending on the market. He said AVR would be targeting empty-nesters, second-home buyers, and commuters in its marketing efforts. Simone said that this is the first New Urbanist project undertaken by AVR, which also developed the Waterfront at Fishkill. Asked whether the New Urbanist plan would result in a cost savings, he responded, “We don’t see it. What you save in site work, you make up in increased costs in finishing. You’re pretty much breaking even from a cost perspective.”
An urban retreat: Harbors at Haverstraw offers luxe amenities and river views
Photograph courtesy of GDC
Harbors at Haverstraw, Haverstraw
An abandoned industrial site at Haverstraw now boasts splashing fountains and immaculately landscaped grounds, courtesy of Harbors at Haverstraw, which, when completed, will be comprised of 500 townhomes and condominiums commanding a stunning view of the Hudson River. More than half of the buildings have been completed, with units selling from $250,000 to more than $1 million (for a waterfront view).
The grid layout suggests a New Urbanist plan. But developer Martin Ginsburg, of Ginsburg Development Companies (GDC), says his project deploys a lighter, more whimsical style of architecture, including turrets, miniature lighthouses, and other fanciful details. Harbors combines the pleasures of a resort with the convenience of urban living. Residents have access to a pool, fitness center, lounge, and café/restaurant. They can also catch the ferry to the train station at Ossining.
The development is within walking distance of the village of Haverstraw, whose depressed downtown is getting a face-lift with funds provided by GDC and state and federal grants. GDC has worked with the municipality to create a master plan for two miles of waterfront, which includes a public walkway, a parking garage lined with small storefronts, a pier accommodating both ferries and river cruise ships, a marina, restoration of a small estuary preserve, and affordable housing units in the village. GDC has also installed several large sculptures and a historic plaque along the walkway at Harbors, the beginnings of an art and history path that Ginsburg hopes will attract tourists.
Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, Towns of Shandaken and Middletown
In one of the most highly contested developments in recent years, Crossroads Ventures LLC is proposing to build two large hotels, 139 townhouses, and 120 timeshare units — a total of 629 units — adjacent to the state-owned Belleayre Ski Center, in the heart of the Catskills. One of the hotels would include a luxury spa, and the other would be oriented toward families. A conference center and 18-hole golf course are included in the plan, which would span two mountainsides. A new trail and chairlift that the state could construct up the neighboring ski center would be in close proximity to some of the units, enabling guests to ski from their rooms. First proposed a decade ago, the resort has been altered and downsized after conservation groups — many formed just to fight the development — objected to the impacts of construction on the Ashokan Reservoir, which supplies water to New York City. That opposition prompted the state, under the administration of former governor Eliot Spitzer, to form an agreement with the developer in which it would purchase the 1,200 acres slated for development in the Ashokan watershed and preserve it; the developer agreed to move that portion of the project to a new site on Highmount mountain, reducing the number of units slightly and clustering them more tightly in a new design. Crossland Ventures also agreed to design the buildings to green standards and eliminate, or at least reduce, the use of pesticides on the golf course.
Supporters say the project would be a showcase for green development and create desperately needed jobs in the area, which a century ago was a popular tourist destination. Vocal opponents — who have organized into several active community groups — contend it would result in traffic congestion, destruction of a mountaintop, creation of an eyesore in a forest preserve, and degradation of the pristine water resources that feed the New York City reservoirs.
The state DEC, which is in charge of the review, is requiring the developer to submit a supplemental draft environmental impact statement on the 75 acres of new development on Highmount. A spokesperson said Crossroads Ventures planned to submit the document this summer. The DEC did not return phone calls asking about the status of the state land purchase and ski center improvements; calls to Crossroads Ventures were also not returned.
Next up: See which projects scored on our “A” and “F” lists