The site of the City of Poughkeepsie Sculpture Park is about to be transformed into an apartment complex once more.
Four apartment buildings once stood at the corner of Main and South Bridge streets before a fire destroyed them in 1973. Years later, the vacant site would become a popular destination for artists and sculptors to display their work.
“When the fire destroyed the buildings, there really wasn’t much of a clean-up,” City of Poughkeepsie Second Ward Councilman Mike Young said. “For a time, it was an empty lot and people used to put sculptures there.”
When developer Kenneth Kearney expressed interest in developing the site, he kept both pieces of its legacy in mind.
“The vision of Queen City Lofts is to attract artists into that neighborhood,” Kearney said. “We feel with the location, with proximity to the Bardavon and other venues, that the artist community in Poughkeepsie is alive and well — we just need a location to bring all those synergies together.”
Kearney said the neighborhood in which he is building Queen City Lofts has a high poverty rate, so it is difficult to attract capital to the area. He said his project is a venture that will do just that while also “promoting and preserving the artist community.”
But the project actually wasn’t his idea, it was his son’s.
“It was actually Sean’s vision,” Kearney said. “He felt that this concept would work on this site. We became interested once we heard it was going out for an RFP (Request for Proposal). He was attracted to it because of its location — the waterfront, the train station, Market Street and the heart of Poughkeepsie.”
When completed, the apartment complex will host 70 apartments. Fifty of them will be lofts for artists, with affordable rents ranging from $870-$1100. The other 20 loft apartments will be rented at market rate. Each apartment will have a 16-foot-high ceiling and a sleeping loft.
From the city perspective, Young believes the complex is in a great spot, and both residents of the apartments and of the surrounding area will benefit greatly from it.
“The expectation is that a lot of folks who live there will use public transit, either via buses on Main Street or via the train station which is nearby,” Young said. “A parking lot will be behind the project, accessible from the side street there as well as a driveway from Main Street.
“The ground floor is going to be commercial space so there will be opportunity there for jobs.”
Young said the city council just recently approved some tax details, so development on the property can begin soon.
“We are hoping to get going in the next month or two,” Kearney said. “It is currently a brownfield site, so there is contamination there that will take us two to three months [to clean up] and then we will move forward on the actual construction.”
Kearney estimated that Queen City Lofts will take about 20 months to construct, so it’s not an unrealistic expectation for residents to move in by the Spring of 2019.