Poughkeepsie is in the midst of a renaissance.
As a drive through town reveals, change is underway in the riverside city, which follows in the footsteps of thriving Beacon and up-and-coming Kingston. Beginning with the opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson in 2009, notable developments like the launch of the Middle Main initiative in 2009 and the opening of the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory in 2017 marked a starting point for the influx of revitalization efforts in the region. Now, with multiple housing projects, restaurant openings, and community events on the horizon, Poughkeepsie is on the brink of local and widespread success.
Housing is hot in the Hudson Valley right now. Already in Dutchess County, complexes like the Lofts @ Beacon Falls in Beacon and Eastdale Village and the Water Club in Poughkeepsie continue to create a buzz for residents in and around the region. While those properties, with their proximity to transportation and city centers, lean on the luxurious end of the spectrum, other locales in the heart of downtown bring affordable options into the fold.
Putting up the letters at King’s Court Brewing Co. at 40 Cannon Street / Photo courtesy of 40 Cannon Street
“There’s quite a lot in the pipeline,” observes Paul Calogerakis, the Economic Development Director for the City of Poughkeepsie. He cites 40 Cannon Street (2018) and Queen City Lofts (2019), both of which are near completion, and the Dutton Project (2019), currently in the residential phase of construction with a commercial phase to follow, as a few of the larger affordable developments in the city. In addition, he notes that a number of smaller renovations of vacant homes and apartment spaces, including the construction and development of three two-family homes in the Northside neighborhood by Hudson River Housing, add to the available renting options.
“Some of the highest concentrations of vacancies exist right within our downtown,” adds Paul Hesse, Poughkeepsie’s Community Development Coordinator. To remedy this, he and the city’s planning and development staff work to encourage building owners to rehabilitate their properties and create a medley of housing options that accommodate a range of luxury and affordable experiences.
“We’re establishing a vision for what we think downtown can be and should be,” Hesse notes.
While developers flock to Poughkeepsie’s untapped real estate, so too do businesses tap into the region’s central location. Recently, the city announced a number of large-scale projects, the most notable of which is the collaboration between Marist College and Health Quest to bring a medical school to Poughkeepsie by 2022.
The Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory / Photo by Sean Hemmerlee
Industrial enterprises find a home within the community, too. Fourth State Metals, for instance, operates a fabrication facility on Cottage Street while MPI, a wax-room equipment company, headquarters locally on Smith Street.
“Poughkeepsie continues to have an industrial base, a manufacturing base,” Hesse says, adding that the city’s prime riverside location and proximity to New York City make it ideal for industrialists both in the community, in the Big Apple, and beyond.
Of course, the area’s role as a stopping point between Albany and New York City, along with its close connection to the Hudson Valley’s natural resources and tourism sites, makes it an attractive locale for restaurateurs as well. With the Culinary Institute of America just up the road in Hyde Park and an abundance of farms a stone’s throw away, Poughkeepsie is a natural fit for chefs and foodies. Case in point: Lolita’s, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria helmed by local chef Eddie Kowalski, opened under the Walkway over the summer. Nearby, Chef John Lekic’s brick-and-mortar rendition of Farmers & Chefs, his popular Hudson Valley food truck company, settled by the waterfront earlier this fall.
Even longstanding restaurants are inspired to make changes. The Poughkeepsie Ice House, which sits right along the Hudson River, obtained a full liquor license to operate its onsite bar in July.
Inside the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory / Photo by AJL Studios
Housing and business developments are nothing without communities to support them. Thanks to a number of local initiatives, Poughkeepsie’s network continues to grow and connect at cultural activities and in shared spaces.
In 2016, around the time the Water Club apartments neared completion, the city launched First Friday Poughkeepsie, a monthly event series that aims to bring locals and businesses together to promote a safe, thriving space for all.
Then there’s Middle Main, the multifaceted initiative that supports creative programming at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory, colorful happenings at Mural Square, and rehabilitation endeavors around Main Street. Further toward the river, the Walkway Over the Hudson hosts community events, such as starry night walks and movie screenings, for the public.
The festival scene isn’t too shabby, either. This summer, the O+ Festival returned to Poughkeepsie in August for two days of art, music, and education along the Hudson. In partnership with the fest, graffiti artist Risa Tochigi, a.k.a. BoogieREZ, painted a colorful mural at the Poughkeepsie Gateway, or the Route 9 underpass on Main Street. Now complete, the art adds an unexpected pop of color for passersby headed to and from the train station and nearby waterfront businesses.
Color in Poughkeepsie / Photo by 40 Cannon Street
“Poughkeepsie has inherent qualities and attributes that should be and probably are the envy [of other communities]. We’re second to none,” enthuses Hesse. As he and Calogerakis continue to oversee the multiple stages of development of the city’s projects, they look ahead to what the future holds. Although details still need to be hammered out, talks about a food hall and a hybrid coworking and apartment space in the heart of the city have already tickled Hesse’s ear.
“I’m just excited to see people finally look at Poughkeepsie the way I’ve looked at Poughkeepsie,” he says. “It’s exciting to be on the ground floor.”