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Poughkeepsie’s Old Main Street School Is Getting a Live-Work-Play Update

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Rendering by Mass Design Group

Dutchess County-based Baxter Building Corporation breathes life into the Ridley-Lowell building with apartments and local businesses.

And another one.

Ok, so DJ Khaled might not have been talking about developments in Poughkeepsie when he coined his now-famous slogan, but the sentiment still applies. Case in point: yet another exciting construction is in the works in Queen City.

This time, it’s happening at 289 Main Street, in the former home of the Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute. Although the school has been closed since 2018, the building itself sits on prime real estate downtown. Surrounded by popular eateries like Alex’s Restaurant and Mill House Brewing Company, it’s also a short drive away from venues like the Bardavon and The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.

Coming later this summer, the building, which dates back to the 1980s and was once an M&T Bank, will step into its new role as an apartment and business hub in the city. According to Baxter Building Corporation Vice President Eric Baxter, the 289 Main Street project is part of the company’s revitalization efforts in Poughkeepsie and, more recently, Newburgh.

“We have a real passion and reason to help revitalize the City of Poughkeepsie,” Baxter, a Poughkeepsie High School graduate, explains. With Baxter’s headquarters right down the street from 289 Main, the new project is literally in the neighborhood.

After entering into contract on the property in April 2019, Baxter closed on it in August and began work right away to add a 6,000-square-foot third floor and transform the existing structure into a mixed-use residential and commercial operation. Although the project went on pause in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Baxter plans to resume construction once the work restrictions are lifted.

To develop the space, Baxter works with MASS Design Group and Poughkeepsie-based developer William Brocker to bring its vision to life. Once complete, the 12,000-square-foot building will feature six market-rate residential units on the upper floor, with two two-bedrooms, two-one bedrooms, and two studios.

On the first and second floors, five commercial tenants will open shop in Queen City. Three tenants are already confirmed, with talks for the remaining two spaces underway. MASS Design Group, the architecture firm behind the project, will move into one unit, while Laughing Gut Kombucha and Fishkill’s Firefly Yoga will operate two others. As for the 6,000-square-basement, Baxter is considering turning it into artists’ studios to loop into the creative programming at sites like the Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn and Fall Kill Creative Works nearby. Notably, the storefronts will be accessible on both Garden and Main Streets to attract passersby from each avenue.

“We’re expecting most of the businesses and apartments to be ready by this summer,” Baxter explains. “We’re breathing more life into Main Street.”

While this is a newer endeavor for R.L. Baxter, it’s far from the firm’s only renovation in Poughkeepsie. Over on Academy Street, the company collaborates once again with MASS Design Group on The Hive, a food hall and apartment complex planned for spring 2021. Up the street, at 27 and 29 Academy, Baxter recently signed leases with two tenants to develop the properties into a cocktail bar and a brick-and-mortar for Detroit-style pizza company Hudson & Packard, respectively. If all goes well, there just may be a few more openings later this year.

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