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A New Food Hall and Apartment Complex Buzzes Into Poughkeepsie


Led by R.L. Baxter Building and MASS Design Group, The Hive will be a mixed-use coworking, dining, living, and shopping destination in the heart of downtown.

Poughkeepsie is thriving.

Thanks to a steady ascent of growth in 2017 and 2018, the riverside city is fast coming into its glory days as budding businesses and new developments shine a light on local culture. Not just limited to one area of growth, the phenomenon touches everything from housing and shopping to dining and even to the community itself. It’s a movement that began with blockbuster projects like the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory and First Friday events and extends to the more recent 40 Cannon Street complex and the Queen City Lofts.

Now, in 2019, The Hive prepares to bring additional buzz to the city’s downtown. Located inside the two buildings that comprise 33 and 35 Academy Street in Poughkeepsie, The Hive will be an unofficial anchor for local residents in Dutchess County. Once complete, it will function as something of a metropolitan live-work-play destination, with apartment spaces, a coworking center, a grocery market, a brewery, a coffee shop, and a food hall contained inside.

Although the development is just now getting underway in 2019, the original concept for the mixed-use edifice came to life two years ago, when Eric Baxter of R.L. Baxter Building Corp. connected with Michael Murphy of MASS Design Group. The two bonded over their shared experiences as graduates of Poughkeepsie High School and their mutual affinity for the City of Poughkeepsie as a whole.

So, when Baxter purchased 33 Academy, and later 35 Academy, about a year ago, he knew just the man to go to about designing it.

“This was a property that’s pretty prominent coming over the bridge that’s been vacant for at least 10 years now,” he says. He pitched his loose concept for the space, one that mixed a food hall with an apartment building, to Murphy, a Harvard Graduate School of Design alum whose firm, MASS, operates offices in Boston, Rwanda, and Poughkeepsie. Murphy said yes, and the two went to work to develop what they’d eventually dub “The Hive.” Since then, the two firms have collaborated on planning, designing, and getting municipal approval for various stages of the Poughkeepsie complex.

“We’re very excited to do an adaptive reuse project in downtown Poughkeepsie,” enthuses Caitlin Taylor, a design director at MASS. Indeed, the renovations bring to life a property that long lay dormant in the heart of Poughkeepsie. Once complete, the two edifices will show off a number of structural upgrades that reflect modern amenities while still respecting the heritage of the spaces.

Due to the scope of the project, Baxter and MASS recently received $1,205,000 in funding from the New York State Consolidated Fundings Applications. The sum, which is part of the more than $2 million total bestowed upon the City of Poughkeepsie, will help the two companies realize their vision with the buildings. On top of that, additional funding will aid with the retrofitting of a pair of nearby city-owned parking lots with green infrastructure to treat storm water runoff and help improve the water quality of the Fall Kill and the Hudson River.

As for the buildings themselves, the three-story structures will rise an additional two stories upon completion. The top three floors of each site will be dedicated apartment spaces, with an estimated 28 units of mixed studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom options planned. On the top floors, two penthouse suites will overlook the city, offering views of the skyline beyond. Although price points are yet to be determined, Baxter and MASS hope to make the apartments an attractive option for entrepreneurs and young professionals who want to make a new home for themselves in the up-and-coming city.

On the ground floor, meanwhile, The Hive will be a buzzing center of activity – literally. To promote business and community, a coworking space in the corner of 35 Academy will be open to Hive residents and locals who work remotely or for themselves. It will offer dedicated studios for budding businesses that need a place to convene and shared work tables for visitors who want to rent out a desk for the day.

“it will bring a sense of creativity back into the city center and get people living and working downtown,” Baxter enthuses.

Hard to believe there was a snow storm earlier â„ï¸

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To complement the communal offices, The Hive will operate a fresh food market with baked goods, meat, cheese, produce, prepared food, and dry goods. The grocery will serve as a valuable resource within the relatively bare food landscape in downtown Poughkeeepsie. Although Baxter and MASS are still fleshing out whether the store will be independent or operated in conjunction with an established chain, the two parties are adamant that it be an inclusive, accessible destination for all.

Just as the grocery store will be a hub for goods to go, so too will the food hall be a community spot for locals on lunch breaks and passersby who want a bite to eat near the train station. Although not the first food hall in Dutchess County (that honor goes to Hudson Valley Food Hall in Beacon), The Hive’s hall, which will accommodate 5-6 vendors, will be a hub for start-up chefs and restaurateurs.

“We don’t want to bring in a franchise,” Baxter stresses. “Almost all the businesses will be startups who can’t afford a brick-and-mortar restaurant.”

Along that same vein, the upcoming brewery at the space will also be helmed by a startup. No specific vendor is confirmed as of yet, but Baxter and MASS are in talks with a few potential businesses. As of press time, the brewery and the coworking space are furthest along in development, while plans for the food hall are still largely in the works.

As far as the timeline for The Hive goes, the project already has full approval from the planning board and the City of Poughkeepsie IDA. Currently, Baxter and MASS are working to finalize financing with their bank. Once they receive the OK, they’ll begin a yearlong construction process that takes them through to a 2020 opening.

On the whole, Baxter and Murphy are enthusiastic to move ahead with progress on The Hive, which they both see as an impactful way to give back to the city in which they were raised.

“This is an opportunity to create a development that people come back to the city for,” Baxter notes. “It really ends up being a community amenity.”

Murphy agrees, adding that the introduction of a setting like The Hive to Poughkeepsie’s burgeoning landscape takes place at a critical moment in the city’s expansion.

“The City of Poughkeepsie has needed new development, new investment for decades,” he says. “This is a chance to bring all our efforts together. It’s a very homegrown initiative.”

While this is the first collaboration between MASS and Baxter, if all goes well, it may very well mark the start of a continuing partnership between the two.

“We think this can be a pilot program for our two organizations,” Baxter reveals. As he observes, the union does have far-reaching potential. Already, Baxter maintains a strong presence throughout the Hudson Valley, overseeing projects as diverse as Heritage Food + Drink and Ready Coffee in Wappingers Falls, Mill House Brewing in Poughkeepsie, and Scribner’s Catskill Lodge in Hunter. MASS, meanwhile, brings an inclusive, community-minded design process to the region after establishing firm roots in Rwanda and Boston. Although the firm is relatively new to the area, it’s already made a mark on the city with the design of the Trolley Barn in Poughkeepsie, a project that revitalizes the old downtown trolley building as a new magnet for local artists and creatives.

“It takes all of us to take on the City of Poughkeepsie,” Murphy concludes. “We’re excited.”

Related: Poughkeepsie Revitalization Efforts Put Community and Housing on the Rise

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