Hudson Heritage Provides Community Amenities
$300 million redevelopment brings new use to abandoned property off Rt. 9
With its last sign of life leaving the empty corridors in 2000, the Hudson River State Hospital, off Route 9, is undergoing a $300 million renovation.
Once a small village focused around a state psych ward, the Hudson River State Hospital hosted amenities in which employees didn’t have to leave the property, and now EFG Saber Realty LLC has a vision to bring the property back to its fullest potential.
They’re calling it “Hudson Heritage.”
The overall plan incorporates a commercial and residential aspect. There will be opportunity for major retail vendors to rent real estate on the property and also the ability for contractors to provide living spaces for residents.
“This is supposed to be a totally walkable community, it’s suppose to be a community where you can come and not really have to leave,” said Jon Baisley, Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor.
After opening in 1871, the hospital has seen Poughkeepsie develop around it and now it’s time for Poughkeepsie to bring back the history and usability of the property.
While the Rt. 9 property has an immense amount of history, some aspects can't be saved, but that's not for lack of trying.
“People want to save what you can, you always have that group. Including us. You never want to lose the history of your town,” Baisley said.
Saber as well as Diversified Realty Advisors who began the project before Saber took over, took immense interest in attempting to salvage what they could. “Our historical preservation commission met with them if not 20 times, a hundred times to try to save what they could,” Baisley said about the importance of keeping the Poughkeepsie history.
One aspect of the property is of the utmost importance in regards to restoration — the lawn.
The lawn on the original Hudson River State Hospital was the mastermind vision of Fredrick Olmstead, a famed and celebrated agricultural architect. His most notable achievements being Central Park in New York City.
The Town of Poughkeepsie and Saber are working tremendously on attempting to bring the great lawn back to its former glory.
“We want to save what we can, the lawn was the number one thing, because it was a historical lawn,” Baisley said. “It was an Olmstead lawn, so they’re trying to save that one.”
Locals and students may have noticed a mass clearing of trees and overgrown foliage, that was the projects first efforts in saving the lawn.
Once all the natural fence that the trees created was taken down, you could see the massive hospital on the top of the hill, which will no longer be there in a short time.
While some buildings have the ability to be restored, some are too decrepit to be salvaged. 52 of the 56 buildings on the property have to come down in order to fit the goal of this site in the long run, and that process is not easy nor cheap.
Saber must go through mandatory regulations by the state to clear each building of asbestos, a cancer causing fiber common in this era of buildings. “Its $15 million for asbestos cleaning and demo. It’s for all 52 out of 56 buildings,” Martin Berger, a managing member at Saber said.
Once the buildings are down the project then turns to making sure the infrastructure is in place for building to then begin.
While the basic roadways and sewage pipes are intact, some date back to the 1800’s. Once the sewage and water is in and basic utilities they can begin to move ahead on the developments.
“This is how quickly could we get it done. So we’re ready, willing and able to build the entire project now subject to two things,” Berger said. “Subject to having users and then having the infrastructure improvements.”
The entrance that people see traveling north or south on Rt. 9 will not be the main entrance once it is done. They will be moving it slightly up Rt. 9 to ensure the space for retail stores and walking areas.
The property's plan is broken up into phases. The initial phase, will plan and construct the commercial center which will house a grocery store and the opportunity for 14 different retail spaces. “There’s over 100,000 square feet of commercial space that will be down there,” Baisley said.
Once the commercial space is constructed, they will roll into the residential area which will develop the back property, away from Rt. 9.
The process to ensure that what is planned gets done is where EFG Saber Heritage LLC takes a step back. “Our entity, which is EFG Saber Heritage LLC is the master developer for everything. So we’ll do all the approvals, we’ll do all the off-site work, we’ll do all the infrastructure work, we’ll do all the site clearing and site demo,” Berger said.
However that doesn’t mean that Saber won’t be overseeing construction on the property and have their hand in it. “In addition to that we’re going to build and own the commercial, the medical office building and the rest of it is likely available to be sold to third party developers to build,” Berger said.
In order to ensure that developers survey and build on the property, Martin Berger and Saber will present them a clean slate. “We go out to the user and deliver them a piece of land that is cleared with all the utilities stubbed into it.” From there they will individually construct the residential aspect of the community.
When making plans to develop on this property, Saber and the Town of Poughkeepsie asked one simple question to Marist College. “What do you need?” Berger said.
From there Marist has been in small discussions with the developers of Hudson Heritage about what the plan for it is. They have been involved purely because of close proximity, but also because there may be a Marist adult learning center on the property.
“We’re working with Marist College, maybe have an arts and education center and toward that we created a plan that builds out the interior into a theater and classrooms and adult education,” Berger said.
The plans aren’t final though, Berger indicated that two other groups are also interested in the space. One interested party includes a Broadway production company, “They are looking for a theater location to work all year and prepare for their Broadway presentations,” Berger said.
However, that’s not the only way it will help the Marist community.
“It’s a benefit to the employees and the students of Marist because all these other options are across the street and as many employees as they have what would be better,” Baisley said as he pointed to a property master plan of the day care center, grocery store, affordable apartments, and commercial units.
What was once cause of larger fires and dangerous conditions, is now getting a new lease on life, “It’s a really incredible property,” Berger concluded while looking up at the abandoned Cheney building.